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Small space gardening

Many gardens today have become much smaller and more manageable than years ago. As a child growing up on a farm, I remember how much bigger the garden was and how the rows seemed like they stretched on for miles, especially when I was in trouble and had to weed them! The harder I cried, the longer and weedier they seemed.

With limited space and time for larger garden plots, many of us have become more innovative and creative with our gardening skills. The use of raised beds, containers, trellises, and even going up, with vertical or tower gardens has become more common.

Raised beds are easy to plant and care for, they are easier on the knees and back with less bending, and provide a great deal of produce with little planning. Rows in a raised bed can be planted closer together because there is no need for a tiller. Narrower rows reduce weeds and compaction of the soil, and watering is much simpler.

For very limited space, container gardening is a wonderful option. It is ideal for apartment dwellers or life at the lake. If you have limited time, only need or want a few vegetables, or just want a spot to have blooming flowers that brighten your day, container gardening is the way to go.

Vertical gardening has become extremely popular in the last few years. A vertical garden can be free standing or mounted to a wall, indoors or out. There are many vertical garden kits out on the market, but do your homework before buying one. If you plan to build your own, there are a few things to consider. Vertical gardens can be heavy and demand a sturdier structure. The vertical garden itself or even a tall plant will cast shadow on nearby plants, affecting their growth patterns. Plants grow differently in a vertical garden as well, some will need to be physically attached or trained to a different growth pattern. Additionally, this type of gardening requires more frequent watering and fertilizing because of the increased exposure to sunlight and wind.

Tower Gardens are similar, however this system is designed for inside use. These gardens take up a small amount of floor space and some are even small enough for the counter top. With appropriate lighting, tower gardens allow gardening during the winter months or all yearround.

Trellises are great for all those space hogging garden plants like cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, beans, or peas. I happened to stumble upon a benefit of trellis growing years ago. I had a dog that would always eat the cucumbers, but he would not touch the ones that happened to be climbing up with the peas. Any cucumber growing on the ground though was his for the taking. I then starting growing all of my vining vegetables that way, including bushel gourd. I really enjoy not having to dig through prickly leaves or be hunched over; there is less powdery mildew and no jungle of plants to fight your way through. Most plants will need a helping hand to get started on the trellis. Sometimes you may have to tie some of the vine to it until it gets started. Another benefit we often do not think of is that a trellis can add some much-needed privacy.

Vertical gardens and trellises are not just for vegetables – flowers add beauty to everything, and some you can even eat. There are many edible flowers that can be added to the garden. Edible flowers serve two purposes: they spruce up a dull and boring area of the yard by adding a touch of color and they are helpful to pollinators. An added bonus is that they also taste good!

If you have limited space, I encourage you to give vertical or trellis gardening a try.

Happy Gardening!

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