Garden / June 16, 2018 / .
Fertile soil that retains nutrients and water is one of the keys to success with intensive planting, which is a fancy way of saying planting a lot in a little area. America’s intensive-growing tradition has two fathers: John Jeavons and Mel Bartholomew. In his classic 1974 book, How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine, Jeavons introduced Americans to French intensive-gardening techniques, notably deep soil preparation through double-dug beds and intensive crop-planting patterns. Seven years later, Bartholomew offered a new way to think about these patterns in a classic book of his own
If you must have a giant beefsteak tomato or a row of sweet corn, the space for growing other vegetables in your small vegetable garden will be limited. But even then, you can choose varieties that are bred to grow in small spaces. Anything with the words patio, pixie, tiny, baby or dwarf in their name is a good bet. Just because a plant is bred to be small does not mean the fruits will be small or the yield will be less.
No south-facing window, balcony or yard? Consider a community garden, it is a great way to grow food while strengthening relationships with neighbours. If there is not already a community garden in your neighbourhood, might there be a vacant lot on which to start one? One thing is for sure, learning how to grow vegetables with others in your community while sharing information and resources will do more than put food on the table. Collective gardening or even just sharing gardening space will help to build and strengthen relationships within your community.
That is one way to get a large yield from a small space, but not the best. If you are truly short of space, interplant your vegetables with your flowers. There is no rule that says you can not mix the two. It can be a bit harder to harvest, but many vegetables are quite ornamental in their own right. If you do opt for a variety of vegetables in your garden, recommend the compact varieties and also vining crops that can be trained up on supports. Pole beans take up less space than bush beans. Vining cucumbers and squash, as aggressive as they can be, actually take up less area than their bush cousins.