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The National Proceeding of Sciences found that community gardens in Australia actually had twice the amount of produce in the same space an agricultural farm in that same area did.
First up is the front yard. We often think we have to hide our food production in the backyard, but unless you're in an HOA, and there are guidelines you have to follow, you can grow food in your front yard.
Don't leave that space vacant. Fill it with productive food and landscaping.
If you don’t have a full city lot to work with, you can use balconies, porches, stairways to get upstairs, and sunny window sills for containers.
There are lots of ways you can squeeze food into all of the nooks and crannies you have around your house.
Next up in using all available space is utilizing shady areas. A lot of people think that you can't grow food under trees or in other shaded areas but there are a lot of crops that do quite well in the shade.
All five of these will all grow wonderfully in partial to full shade.
These plants can thrive in these subpar conditions where our traditional annual vegetable will struggle.
Another way to incorporate food in a way that maximizes your space is through edible landscaping. Rather than putting a Crepe Myrtle or another type of ornamental shrub into your landscaping you can swap it out for a beautiful and productive edible fruit tree.
Fruit trees can fit beautifully in your landscaping providing you with production and the structure you're looking for in a traditionally landscaped garden.
My second tip for you to grow more in a small space is to plant densely.
In a nutshell, you want to ignore the recommendations on the back of the seed packet. The information listed is for traditional settings, where farmers and gardeners with ample space need to be able to till between rows.
If you are to use a traditional style of gardening with rows when you are actually gardening in raised beds or containers,, you're not going to be able to grow very much food at all. Instead, I recommend interplanting and taking some time and thought to plan out your garden. This way we're going to be able to plant way more plants in the same amount of space and still allow the plant the room that it needs to thrive.
For example, with planting densely it allows us to fit three cabbages in the space that a traditional plant spacing would only grow one by offsetting them just enough so that they can grow and expand to their full potential without leaving space in between.
When planning out your garden for maximum abundance, you can think about things like plants’ growing patterns- the veggies that grow low, like a ground cover can be planted next to something that grows more upright.
For example a tall tomato plant with lower growing carrots around the edges of it.
Those nestled together can allow you to grow more food in the same amount of space without competing for light. It is really important though, when you're planting more densely to make sure that you have quality soil.
If you’re looking for more information on how to properly amend your soil so that your plants have the nutrition they need, check out this video HERE.
My last tip to grow more food in small spaces is going vertical. Growing vertically allows you to have the same number of plants but use less space for them. At my own urban homestead in St. Pete, Florida, I have a passion fruit vine and black beans that climb on trellises that lead down the side of my house.
These trellises allow me to have more space and it still functions as a sidewalk for me, but it also grows me food.
Watermelon is another great example of the benefits of growing vertically. If we were to let it sprawl out on the ground, a watermelon plant could easily take up four to six square feet. If you trellis it, it takes up six inches.
There's so many different ways you can trellis your fruits and veggies, and none of them are wrong.
Think outside the box and use what you have available, whether it's a chain link fence, arbors, cattle panels, pallets or bamboo stakes.
All of those will allow you to train the veggies up so that you can squeeze more in the soil you have.
I love container gardening. It's a great way to grow food in patios, porches, lanais or somewhere where you can't really fit a raised bed.
Short lived perennials, plants that live for several seasons, like peppers or eggplants in Florida do especially well in containers.
By growing them in pots and containers, you're keeping them out of the annual vegetable garden bed where you have this constant turnover each season allowing the roots to grow undisturbed.
On the other hand, when you work with traditional pots, you might have one plant in one square foot but to truly maximize your space even more, you could grow in something like a GreenStalk Vertical Garden where you grow vertically.
It’s pretty remarkable that in the same space that you would have one traditional pot, with a vertical growing system you can have 30 plants instead! I love the GreenStalk Vertical Gardens and have both the Original and the Leaf.
We also have them at the farm school where I teach because of how much food they can grow in a small space.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Greenstalk, use code "urbanharvest" to save $10 off your order.
And now a whole new perspective on how you can grow more food in a small space utilizing these three tips!
What do you think? Are you ready to get planning to see how you can maximize your space? There are so many more ways that you can use your small space to your advantage but this will get your creative gardening juices flowing. Start small and from there you can build your momentum into a vibrant urban homestead.