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3 Clever Ways to GROW MORE in a Small Space

Welcome to The Urban Harvest, where we are all about debunking the notion that you can’t grow a lot of food or for that matter, any food, in a small space.If you’re a small space gardener with either a small city lot or an apartment dweller with patio and/or balcony access you might have wondered how this is even possible!
In this blog post, we will delve into the transformation that is possible when you maximize every nook and cranny of your available space to grow an abundance of food.
Raised beds in front yard urban homestead in St. Pete Fl
It is common to think that we need lots of land to grow lots of food, but they have actually done studies, and research shows that growing in an urban setting typically has much higher yields than traditional agricultural areas.
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.

Tip #1: Use ALL Space Available

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.


Grow Food in the Shade

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. 

Shade Friendly Crops
  • Chaya: Can take both sun or shade.
  • Moringa: Can take both sun or shade.
Chaya growing in partial shade in Florida front yard. Moringa in florida front yard garden.

     All five of these will all grow wonderfully in partial to full shade.

    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Acaira
    • Longevity Spinach
    • Okinawa Spinach

     Ginger growing in partial shade in Florida backyard garden.Longevity spinach growing against Florida front yard fence.


    These plants can thrive in these subpar conditions where our traditional annual vegetable will struggle.

     Edible Landscaping

    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.

     Edible landscape fruit tree cluster in Florida urban homestead.

    Fruit trees can fit beautifully in your landscaping providing you with production and the structure you're looking for in a traditionally landscaped garden.


    Tip #2: Plant Densely

    My second tip for you to grow more in a small space is to plant densely.

    Raised bed garden densly planted with leafy green vegetables.

    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.

    Florida florida yard converted into a raised bed garden.

    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.

    Raised vegetable garden bed.

    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.

    Florida vegetable garden with tomatoes and carrots.

    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.



    Tip #3: Go Vertical 

    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.

    Passion fruit growing on trellis in Florida urban homestead. Upclose of passionfruit growing on trellis in Florida.

    These trellises allow me to have more space and it still functions as a sidewalk for me, but it also grows me food. 

    Small urban homestead pathway with vegetable garden.

    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.

    Watermelon growing in Florida on a trellis to save space.

    Types of Trellises

    There's so many different ways you can trellis your fruits and veggies, and none of them are wrong.

    Trellis growing food in Florida vegetable garden.

    Think outside the box and use what you have available, whether it's a chain link fence, arbors, cattle panels, pallets or bamboo stakes.

    DIY vegetable garden trellis in Florida vegetable garden. Vegetables growing along fence in Florida vegetable garden.


    All of those will allow you to train the veggies up so that you can squeeze more in the soil you have. 


    Training vegetables up cattle panel vegetable trellis in Florida vegetable garden. Beans growing vertically up cattle panel trellis in Florida urban homestead.


    Container Gardening

    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.

     Small abundant urban homestead backyard in St. Pete.

    Short lived perennials, plants that live for several seasons, like peppers or eggplants in Florida do especially well in containers.

    Peppers growing in container in Florida backyard.

    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.

    Two abundant vertical tower garden on Florida urban homestead. Upclose mustard growing in container. Snow peas growing in vertical garden 

    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. 

    Lush front yard raised bed.

    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.


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