Growing food - small garden tips and tricks!

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,744
733
Lancashire
Hopefully we'll be in our first house with a garden. Where we want to live it's likely our garden will be small, especially with room for a 7/8 year old and dog needed. If we live somewhere else we could have a big garden so not an issue.

So we're thinking about productivity in Tue garden. We both like the idea of growing food but smaller gardens need more creativity about it. Edible crops in among decorative plants for example.

So has anyone done this and what advice would you give? Did anything work better than other ideas? Obviously soil type, light and how quickly your soil dries out plays a big part in plant choice but despite that there will be tricks common to all situations or at least most cases to be helpful.

I know there's some very knowledgeable, big garden/ small holding people on here. I'm not excluding you, I'm hoping you'll input too.

Especially interested in time saving tips too.

I have learnt more than the basics from a keen gardening dad and grandad too. My dad's parents I believe had a nurseryman as a father so I believe my grandad 's side is very green fingered. I learnt, and probably forgotten, many old school tips from my grandad. But he had the space to be self sufficient. I doubt I will.
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
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Look at permaculture .
Container gardening is also very successful. I've grown many things in containers from beans and peas tomatoes carrots parsnips beetroot aswell as radishes and other salad crops.
Window boxes can be used to grow herbs. I like to grow nasturtium and baby tomatoes in hanging baskets and I also grow thyme and other herbs like basil and parsley this way.
You do have to commit to a watering and feeding regime though to get decent crops.
Smaller containers need watering more often .
I've pressed all sorts of things into pot service.... years ago old abandoned wellington boots with holes became pots for carrots!
Use your imagination and have fun planning , and give the littlies a corner/ container to grow their own bits and bobs .
A small garden can still give a lot of food. I have most of my fruit and herbs in pots and have only a couple of small raised beds 6'×3'and I grow more than enough for myself and some to give away.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
I was thinking cropping among the borders and their cosmetic plants. Vertical gardening might be interesting.

I happened to watch by chance a gardeners world recently where they were giving tips for post lockdown and even played videos from viewers. One was a guy somewhere in the Midlands with no really only a yard with a wall to grow against. He put cheap shelves up and filled it with strawberry plants. Right up to almost had height. He didn't grow the suckers off like most who grow strawberries because he simply got so many strawberries the way he grew them that new plants wasn't needed. He supplied family and friends with all the strawberries they wanted as well as his own household. Looked an interesting growing style.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,744
733
Lancashire
As far as growing in borders, are there any good looking plants for cropping to eat? I'd imagine carrot plants would look nice, I always like the carrot plants personally.

I'm thinking I might need a nettle patch too. I'm drinking nettle tea right now for the first time and like it. Not a herbal tea type but I like Scots pine needle tea and nettle tea. I wonder what else like that I might like and be able to grow. Must point out I bought the nettle tea bags in a garden centre.
 

zornt

Forager
Apr 6, 2014
201
54
Ohio, USA
Years ago there was an American PBS series called Square-foot Gardening there was also a companion book by the same name.
It had all kinds of tips for small spaces.
One that comes to mind is 144 scallions in a 12 by 12 inch space.
Lots of ideas for raised beds containers etc.
Jon
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
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Good things to grow in the back of borders are sweetcorn and beans and peas.

You can make a wigwam of canes and dot them around the borders at the back. Give yourself a stepping stone or two so that you can access them and pick them without stepping on other plants or compressing the soil too much.
I've had a couple of decorative ones with dragonflies on sometime back.
Sunflowers for the seeds. Save a couple for birds and some for your own stores.
Carrots do much better in deep containers.over a foot/ 18 inches high as the carrot root fly will not be able to fly high enough to get to them.
Globe artichokes are both ornamental tall plants for the rear of the bed and a tasty treat when ready for picking.
When you plan a bed , tall plants at the back, medium height in the middle and short ones at the front such as parsley and chives strawberrys lettuce spring onions etc.
Just have fun and go mad!
Paul B if you pm me with your address I'll send you a selection of seeds for next season.
I have several duplicate packets that I don't need.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
603
361
Ceredigion
Go for decorative AND edible. Maximises the crop and looks pretty. Berry bushes, strawberries, beans etc. Many herbs like dry and sunny conditions, so ideal for many small gardens. Frequent pruning (for the kitchen) keep them tidy and manageable, many do well in big pots as well and the bees love them.

We've got a big raised border and some big planters with rosemary, oregano, sage, lavender, thyme, chives, parsley, marjoram, borage and some other ones too. Herbs are easy to identify too, just rub the leaves and sniff your hands.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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733
Lancashire
Not got it yet. We're moving house out to the countryside from a small, semi rural town. From backyard to a place with a garden and garage. However, the place is a bit pricey so the garden is likely to be small, unless we're lucky. Obviously with a 7.5 year old the will need to be lawn space for football, summer paddling pool, etc. That would probably leave very little space for other things.

Of course 15 minutes down the road for the same money you get big gardens. It's just not as nice area.

Basically I'm thinking ahead.
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
Basically I'm thinking ahead.

Any local allotments?

Get your name on the waiting list ASAP. You can do the good life thing as best as you can from a smaller home but may find it restricting especially with a small child.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,744
733
Lancashire
Would prefer not to get involved with allotment associations again. I got a half plot when I was a batchelor. Terrible plot because a committee member had motivated it with couch grass!!! I lost a foot of soil height with the roots I took out!

Then after a two weeks of solid rain followed by a week's holiday I came back to crops that had bolted, weeds and a committee that had determined to take the plot off me. They didnt tell me that had happened I found out when was turned up to work on my plot!

Add in the fact one guy at the end I entered from took a dislike to me walking on the designated footpaths past his two full plots! He used to put barriers up so I couldn't get past. He was a committee member or chairman so probably why I got kicked out.

I wouldn't have been so bothered if I hadn't put so much work in to recover a plot. My face simply didn't fit being young at the time and not a retired couple or even a near retirement couple.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,744
733
Lancashire
It's not about self sufficiency but about growing a few good fruit and vegetables. Possibly stuff hard to get in shops or too expensive. Or simply good quality, homegrown stuff to add to shop bought veg and fruit. I think you get better flavour home grown.
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
Would prefer not to get involved with allotment associations again. I got a half plot when I was a batchelor. Terrible plot because a committee member had motivated it with couch grass!!! I lost a foot of soil height with the roots I took out!

Then after a two weeks of solid rain followed by a week's holiday I came back to crops that had bolted, weeds and a committee that had determined to take the plot off me. They didnt tell me that had happened I found out when was turned up to work on my plot!

Add in the fact one guy at the end I entered from took a dislike to me walking on the designated footpaths past his two full plots! He used to put barriers up so I couldn't get past. He was a committee member or chairman so probably why I got kicked out.

I wouldn't have been so bothered if I hadn't put so much work in to recover a plot. My face simply didn't fit being young at the time and not a retired couple or even a near retirement couple.


I have sympathy , but One bad Chapter doesn't make a bad book.

Maybe try again. Not everyone is the same. And we all grow and change with the seasons.
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
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It's not about self sufficiency but about growing a few good fruit and vegetables. Possibly stuff hard to get in shops or too expensive.

Such as ? May help in the design and use of the growing space if you can identify which Fruits and Veg you are referring to.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,744
733
Lancashire
Such as ? May help in the design and use of the growing space if you can identify which Fruits and Veg you are referring to.
Good question. We eat a lot of carrots but they're dirt cheap. Unless we go for something special in the carrot family. Perhaps the original colours, weren't they originally purple or something like that? Or more flavoursome varieties?

My partner likes salads. I like the kid's starter veg, the radish. I'm not overly impressed by supermarket spuds but they take a lot of space and nutrients from the soil I believe.

Basically open to ideas and suggestions. No bad ones I reckon.
 
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TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
6,365
772
46
Exeter
Good question. We eat a lot of carrots but they're dirt cheap. Unless we go for something special in the carrot family. Perhaps the original colours, weren't they originally purple or something like that? Or more flavoursome varieties?

My partner likes salads. I like the kid's starter veg, the radish. I'm not overly impressed by supermarket spuds but they take a lot of space and nutrients from the soil I believe.

Basically open to ideas and suggestions. No bad ones I reckon.

True on carrots being stupidly cheap and yes , originally purple from Desert regions IIRC.

Cut-again Rainbow Chard would be useful.
Micro Greens.

Pots could be grown in a high vertical box and just keep adding soil but realistically you won't get the kind of return that you need.

I'd be looking to grow on Vertical surfaces wherever possible. - Alot can be achieved in a small foot print area that way.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
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Florida
Scupernongs or bullseyes grow well as long as they have sun and something to climb. Maybe a trellis along a sunny wall Or fence? Of you have room you can even make an overhead trellis for them so they form the shade over a patio.