Growing Food in Small Spaces

It doesn't matter how small your space, everyone can grow something! The idea that lack of space equals an inability to grow anything is somewhat outdated. It has never been easier to grow food in the smallest of spaces, all you need is a bit of creativity and a good attitude! For those who don't know, when I first started gardening we had a tiny, concrete courtyard. The lack of space was actually one of the things that made me procrastinate on starting my garden. I thought gardens needed space and I wouldn't be successful - I proved myself wrong on this one. Through a fair bit of trial and error, I managed to grow enough food for our family in our concrete backyard. As I experimented in my space, I found that there were so many ways to maximise space and plant for abundance so here are some of my top tips!

A few pictures of my first garden - a 40 square metre courtyard on a concrete slab with fake grass (further proof you can grow anywhere!)

Choose Your Plants Wisely

Having a smaller space means you can't grow everything, so think hard about what you choose to grow. Pick food that you love to eat and varieties that produce well. For example, a crop of beans will feed you for weeks and take up minimal space or choosing to grow cherry tomatoes will provide a better quantity of tomatoes than a larger variety. Research your crops, plant prolific producers and most importantly, plant things you love to eat on a regular basis.

You can also make sure to plant varieties that lend themselves to saving space. For example, Spacemaster Cucumber is a fantastic compact, bush variety that grows well in pots and produces a good yield (see photo below). 

Spacemaster Cucumber grows well in pots and is a compact, bush variety perfect for small spaces

Here are a few varieties I love for small spaces that are heavy croppers but also taste great :
  • Tommy Toe Tomatoes
  • Sungold Tomatoes
  • Blue Lake Beans (bush or climbing depending on your space)
  • Fairytale Eggplant
  • Micro Tom Tomato
  • Mad Hatter Capsicum
  • Golden Nugget Pumpkin
  • Sugar Baby Watermelon
  • Cucamelons
  • Rainbow Chard

Grow Up!

One of the best ways to utilise your gardening space is to grow up rather than out. You can basically double your growing area by using trellises such as arches, teepees, reo mesh or any kind of climbing frame. Vertical gardens and hanging pots have also gained popularity over the past few years and are an excellent way to maximise space. The sky is really the limit! There are so many climbing plants you can try so get creative, observe your space and work out the places you can add some vertical growing. 

You can even take some plants that are traditionally grown on the ground and grow them upwards to save space. Zucchini is a great example. I love growing Zucchini vertically (see photo below). You can train Zucchini up stakes, tying it in at different intervals to maximise space in your garden. It is super easy, just make sure you stay on top of the tying. 

Use Companion Planting

Companion planting can help you maximise your harvests, encourage biodiversity and variety. Choose plants that work well together and plant them in the same bed, pot or container. For example, plant corn and a few weeks later plant beans at the base of the corn. The beans will use the corn as a climbing frame while also adding nitrogen to the soil. You can also add in a squash variety of some sort as a ground cover for the corn and beans. This is a well established form of companion planting called 'The Three Sisters' and can work very well if you are limited on space and time it correctly. 

Companion planting can also be an excellent way to bring pollinators into your garden (which is especially important in a city setting where bees can be scarce) and manage pests. For example, Marigolds and Basil work well with Tomatoes. Marigolds are thought to help with pest control and Basil is thought improve the flavour of your tomatoes, while both encourage bees and other pollinators. There are many different planting combinations you can use just like this one!

Grow in Pots and Containers

If you have a very small space, containers, grow bags and pots will be ideal for you. They can turn a balcony, terrace, courtyard or even a windowsill into a little garden oasis. Not many vegetables and even fruits are off limits when it comes to containers as long as you get the soil, sun, watering and pot size right! It's important to research your varieties and know their requirements before planting. Pot/Container size will play a huge role in your success, so make sure you give your plants the correct sized pot. Your soil is also more likely to dry out quickly in containers as well as lose nutrients at a faster rate so make sure you are watering and feeding regularly. 

Growing in pots also gives you the ability to 'chase the sun' and move things around as the sun changes position in the sky which can be a huge advantage. 

Think Outside the Box

If you are very low on space and have already exceeded your options, think about moving outside of your actual dwelling. Community gardens are an amazing way to learn how to grow, meet like minded people and harvest your own organic, nutrient dense produce. If you are in an apartment building or complex, do you have any common areas? Perhaps approach other owners or your strata board to see if they will allow you to build a small garden there. Such a great way to build community and share your passion with others! 




1 comment

  • Thanks Lee 🙌🏼


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published