Planting Vegetables With Limited Space

limited space

limited space

Up until now, gardening for food was considered a thing meant for the rural areas. The main reason is the availability of huge areas in such locations that can be utilized for planting crops. But this notion is in the past now. With modern techniques and practices, we can now plant our vegetables even in urban areas in limited spaces. Many urban gardeners can produce sufficient amounts of vegetables for their consumption. Others are even able to share the excess with their neighbors or sell their harvest to interested buyers. And that's pretty interesting! Now, let us take a look at how you can work on a garden with limited space. Do not worry because even if you are living in sky-rise apartments, growing your vegetables is very much possible.

Planting Vegetables With Limited Space

Make Use Of Vertical Space

Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers can be easily grown using vertical space. Get creative and use hanging baskets, trellises, and espaliers to save space!

Think Potentially Unconventional Veggies

Look for unconventional veggies like lemongrass, shallots, sea kale, and garlic chives that can be grown in containers and don’t take up much space.

Crowd Your Containers

Vegetables typically require a large amount of space. To make the most of containers, grow multiple vegetables together at once. This will save space and allow your veggies to enjoy the support of their neighboring plants.

More Growth on Less Space

Try using companion plants which can help vegetables grow even in limited spaces. Many vegetables need the nitrogen that beans can provide, so planting them side by side can help them better thrive!

What Happens When Plants Compete for Space?

Before we move on to the step-by-step procedure, it is crucial to understand a few principles about plants and gardening. There are some limitations brought about by lack of space but it does not mean that you cannot grow them successfully. 

Let us understand first what happens when plants compete for space. 

Competition for Light, Water, and Nutrients

Plants must have sustained access to resources such as light, water, and nutrients. These three basic resources are important for plant growth and development. 

Light is instrumental in the production of food, a process we call photosynthesis. As plants grow, they develop the leaves. And as leaves develop, they create a canopy that could trap the incoming light. In limited spaces, younger plants have trouble looking for light because the older ones are more competitive. 

Water is another resource that could be limited by space. In container gardening, we use small pots and containers that hold little soil. Once watered, the moisture dissipates quickly and drains out of the pot. That is why it becomes essential to water the plant frequently. 

Nutrient deficiency is a common phenomenon among container plants. With limited soil and water, there would not be many nutrients that the roots could pull. If you are unfaithful with your fertilizing routine, you would have to say goodbye to the vegetables. 

Solution: Provide an artificial light source. Do frequent watering and fertilization.

Overcrowding

There are many drawbacks when plants are overcrowded. It limits the capacity of the plant to grow and develop to a desirable size due to tough competition. As a result, the plants will remain stunted. During the seedling stage, it is important to thin out the weak seedlings and retain only the vigorous ones. This prevents overcrowding in the area. 

Another problem you might encounter with overcrowding is pest attacks and diseases. Plants that are too close to each other are most likely to invite pests and diseases. When you have limited space, chances are high that your vegetables are not spaced out well. There is improper air circulation allowing the foliage to remain damp most of the time making it prone to fungal diseases.

Due to a lack of resources, plants in overcrowded areas lack the much-needed energy to undergo flowering and fruiting. If ever they bloom, the flowers are either small or sparse. That could also lead to a low yield of fruits, for example, tomatoes. 

An overcrowded garden area makes it extra challenging to harvest the produce. You have to be extra careful not to damage the neighboring plants whenever you pick your veggies. 

Solution: Space out your garden vertically to maximize space and create leveling. Put the small plants on a higher level so they would not be covered by the larger ones. 

Decrease in Yield

With limited space, fewer plants are grown meaning that you only have a limited number of productive plants per unit area. Of course with this dilemma, you cannot expect to harvest a large number of vegetables. 

Solution: You can use high-yielding varieties to compensate for the low plant population. 

Now the question would be,” Is it still productive to invest in container gardening?”.  Of course, it is! There are a lot of techniques now that you can apply to maximize your little space to produce a sufficient amount of vegetables. One of which is that you have to choose the right size of the container. 

What Is the Right Container Size?

You may be wondering what size of container to use for your specific veggies. Generally, there are five sizes: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. Let us take a look at what types of vegetables we can grow in each size of the container.

Extra Small Containers

Extra small containers can hold up to two gallons of soil. Examples of these are an 8-inch terracotta or nursery pot, a two-gallon grow bag, and a 10-inch hanging basket. 

In these extra small containers, you can grow small plants with shallow root systems. Examples include sage, rosemary, thyme, nasturtium, kale, green onions, basil, radishes, lettuce, chard, arugula, and calendula. 

Small Size Containers

Next are small-sized containers that can hold up to three gallons of soil. If you have 10-inch terracotta or nursery pots, three-gallon grow bags, and 14 inch hanging baskets, they would fall under the category of small containers. What you can plant on them is kohlrabi, carrots, beets, strawberries, dill, cilantro, and celery.

Medium Size Containers

If you are planning to plant beans, broccoli, cabbage, lemongrass, okra, potatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, ginger, and turmeric, we suggest that you use medium-sized containers. This size can hold up to five gallons of soil. Five-gallon plastic buckets, 12-inch terracotta or nursery pots, and five-gallon grow bags will all do. 

Large Size Containers

Sweet potatoes and tomatoes grow well in large containers because they can hold a lot of soil. Such volume gives enough space for the roots to anchor and grow. Large containers include 16-inch terracotta or nursery pots, and ten-gallon fabric grow bags. 

Extra Large Size Containers

Planning to plant a dwarf citrus tree or fig tree? Worry not because even with limited space, you can do so. Just choose extra-large containers such as 18-inch terracotta pots (2.3 cubic feet of soil), 24-inch terracotta pots (3.8 cubic feet of soil),  20-gallon grow bags, and half wine barrels (4.3 cubic feet of soil). These containers are large enough to sustain the plant’s growth. 

Pro-Tip: 

While choosing containers, always combine different sizes. Do not just stick to one size as it limits the type of vegetables that you could grow. Also, look around for containers that you could recycle. There’s no need to buy new ones. Just be resourceful and creative.

Techniques to Conserve Space in Gardening

After choosing the right sizes of containers, you can plan the type of gardening technique to apply. All these have one thing in common - they aim to conserve space. You just have to pick the one that best suits your place. 

Container Gardening

This is where you use various types of containers, even recycled ones to grow your veggies. Instead of planting directly into the ground, bring the soil to containers to serve as their growing medium. 

Containers make it easier to move plants from one place to another because they are not fixed. Apart from the regular containers, you can also include hanging baskets as planters for your container garden. 

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised bed gardening is still being done on the ground. The only difference is that you raise the bed a little higher than the ground as if you are creating a landscape. Raised bed gardening offers several benefits such as higher yield, better soil, water conservation, fewer weeds, and better pest control. 

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening is a modern and cool method of gardening. It utilizes the vertical orientation of space to plant veggies like herbs and lettuce. With vertical gardens, you can grow more with less space. You just have to create a sturdy structure that would carry the weight of the mature plant. 

Hydroponics Gardening

In this technique, you can grow plants without soil. A solution equipped with all the necessary macro and micro-nutrients will be enough to sustain the life of your growing plants. 

Installation of the hydroponics system could be costly, though. But it is a great one-time investment. You can even have it installed on your rooftop!

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