Gardeners Dublin: Growing Vegetables in a Small Area

For anyone accustomed to the notion that a vegetable garden must be a fairly large affair – its rows stretching fifteen or twenty feet at a minimum, the concept of crops pushing up from a small container or appearing to burst the bonds of a tiny patch of ground only a few feet square – it is almost unsettling. Yet growing vegetables in cramped spaces is not only possible but highly rewarding. One can grow tomatoes in tubs at the edge of a patio, strawberries in empty milk cartons on a windowsill, lettuce in a modest window box, watermelons along a strip beside a driveway or beans on a trellis on a small apartment balcony.For more details browse the gardeners dublin site

A year-long harvest of several kinds of vegetables can be gained from a single area no wider than a card table. To achieve this kind of bounty in lap-sized spaces it is necessary merely to provide the right growing conditions and to purchase seed varieties that are appropriate for small-scale circumstances. Luckily a number of seed companies have responded to the newly recognized demand for miniature or compact plants, and more new strains are being offered to the public every year, often grouped together under such headings as “space savers,” “space misers” or “midgets.”

Producing vegetables on a reduced scale, however, is basically a different proposition from other kinds of gardening. Small gardens devoted to woody ornamentals like dwarf conifers, rhododendrons or heathers or to miniature bulbs or alpines are arranged and managed largely for appearance: they exist to be decorative, to please the eye. Vegetables are most often grown to reward not the eye but the palate. So while corn stalks and bean bushes can make the mouth water they rarely make the eye pop, and they are not likely to be found gracing a well designed border, although creative horticulturists have combined a few of the handsomest vegetables with flowering plants to good effect.

The greatest difficulties are practical ones. Although the leafy greens, like lettuce, can do fairly well on only four hours of direct sunlight a day, any vegetable that produces a fruit (tomatoes, beans, corn and so on) must have a solid eight hours of warming sun or its yields will be disappointing or virtually nonexistent; but that bright light does not benefit dwarf azaleas. Similarly, a friable soil mix, amply fertilized, is desirable in vegetable growing but too heady for many dwarf plants that are expected to stay small. The major problem, however, is presented by the need to turn over the vegetable garden’s soil every year, in effect reconstituting it; such heavy tilling cannot be done in a bed of rock garden plants and perennials. In most cases, a vegetable patch must be sited differently and separated from the conventional small-scale garden.

This said, there is no doubting the fact that the smaller vegetables are worth trying, especially if space for the larger kind is at a premium. It is important to choose, however, the kind of smallness desired, whether it is the fruit or produce itself that will be miniature, or the plant that yields it. Miniature vegetables as such are amusing and eye-catching, a novelty that many restaurants and imaginative cooks offer with great success. Some miniatures, for example, cherry tomatoes, are accepted for their own sake, while a number of vegetables are of course just naturally small – radishes, for example.