Backyard Gardening: How to Grow Food in Small Spaces

How many times have you wanted to grow some of your own food but just haven’t had the time, space, or know-how? Gardening seems like it should be easy, but it’s not always practical. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the pleasures of gardening even if you live in an urban area with no yard to work with. With some simple techniques and tools, you can start growing food right in your own backyard or on your fire escape. Here are 5 ways to grow food in small spaces.


You can garden in small spaces! Find out how to garden in small spaces, explore the different methods for going about it, and learn about what kind of plants you can grow. Whether you live in a crowded city or simply don’t have much outdoor space, there are ways to get your hands dirty and reap the rewards.

From container gardening on a balcony or roof top, to vertical planting techniques like square foot gardening – there are many ways to take up the challenge of growing your own food in a small space. Square Foot Gardening is an intensive method that encourages efficient use of space. With this method, you can harvest up to 30% more than traditional row cropping techniques.

Another way is by using raised beds, which allow vegetables and flowers to be grown without soil contact. Raised beds also make weeding easier, because all the roots are above ground level, so there’s no need to bend over repeatedly (or use chemicals).


Make sure the area you pick has enough sunlight to garden in. The more sunlight you have, the better and faster your garden will grow. Choose a sunny spot that receives 6-8 hours of sun per day to begin with and plan on adding at least six hours in spring and fall. A south-facing slope is ideal but it’s not always possible to get the amount of sunlight you need from this direction.

Be prepared for some obstacles to arise, such as a large tree casting shade in the garden, snow covering your plants during winter months, or excessive moisture that leaves a surface waterlogged for days on end. It’s important to be creative and work around these issues, so your garden can grow properly.

Soil pH

Is the soil pH important for vegetable gardens? Yes, it is very important! Vegetables are sensitive to a change in pH levels, and if the soil is too acidic or alkaline, they will not thrive and produce a good harvest. It is recommended that you check the pH of your soil before planting anything, so you know how to prepare the ground properly. You can get an estimate by using soil testers, and then letting it sit for five minutes before reading the level. Adding crushed eggshells, baking soda, and white vinegar can change the pH of your soil, if needed. Once you have determined the pH of your soil, don’t forget to add plenty of organic material, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to ensure great nutrition for your plants.

Proper Propagation Tools

It’s surprisingly easy to get started with gardening, whether you want fresh vegetables for your family or are interested in adding a different and unique element to your backyard space. You just need the right tools and techniques for successful plant propagation. Here are some important steps and items you will need when it comes time to propagate plants.

Start with a seedling or small plant from the nursery; they should come packaged with the appropriate tools. For seeds, all you need is a jar filled with soil and moistened paper towels on top. Label the jar or baggie so that you know what kind of plant is inside! Keep the soil moist by putting wet paper towels on top every few days until it’s ready to be transplanted into its permanent home.

When transplanting seedlings (or larger plants), use pots deep enough for roots to grow down into, but not too large, so that there is plenty of room for air circulation around them. If using small pots, fill them up only about one-third full, so that as roots grow down into the potting mix, they don’t get constricted.

Another technique is to cut off excess root growth before transplanting into a new container. Fill the new container with potting mix, leaving at least an inch of space at the top. Gently place the seedling or cutting into position, then firmly pack in more potting mix around it without burying too deeply – this helps keep any tender stems intact. Add water and cover with plastic wrap until rooted plants can tolerate normal watering levels again.

Plant Care

Vegetable plant care is simple, and a great way to have fresh produce year-round. Some vegetable plants are low maintenance and can grow easily, so that you can enjoy harvesting your own produce, knowing exactly where it came from. The best thing about planting vegetables is they are not picky when it comes to soil and climate! You can also plan ahead for winter with a quick garden before summer ends. Plant some broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, parsley and carrots. These vegetables will last through winter into spring, without any fussing on your part. Beets, carrots and parsley make excellent additions to soups and salads.

Assemble everything you need for planting (potting mix, seeds, fertilizer) outside on a sunny day. Dig up the area first by loosening the dirt with a shovel or hoe, then rake away large clumps of grass or weeds. Mix one cup potting mix with one gallon water until it has the consistency of cake batter (add more water if necessary). Fill each hole three inches deep, then sprinkle seeds generously over top–or else follow directions on seed packet–and press them gently into the dirt. Add a little fertilizer around the plant, mixed with water, and allow it to soak in. Add mulch around the base of the plant for extra protection against weeds. Water regularly, but do not overwater; fertilize every other week.

Watering Tips

Be sure to water deeply and consistently. Most garden plants need at least an inch of water a week, but some vegetables need as much as two inches. Check with your local garden center for recommended watering frequency for the area. Make sure you measure your plot’s dimensions accurately, before calculating how much water you’ll need. For easy outdoor watering, invest in a soaker hose or drip irrigation system for a few dollars at the garden center. It’ll give you the flexibility you need without carrying big buckets of water around all day!

Watering early morning is best, because it prevents evaporation from heat, wind and sun, which can rob moisture from soil during warm afternoon hours. Rainwater is an excellent source of water for gardeners, who are handy with rain barrels and rain harvesting systems. The downside? If you have wells nearby, there may be too many minerals in well water that could harm plants if applied too frequently to lawns and gardens. Contact your local utility company about obtaining safe drinking-quality well water if this concerns you. Also note that rainwater collected off impervious surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete, should not be used on food crops unless you filter it first.

Fertilizer Tips

Fertilizer is a crucial component for any garden, but you may be surprised to learn that too much or too little fertilizer can do more harm than good. If you’re looking for the best fertilizer tips for a vegetable garden, here are some helpful tips.

First and foremost, it’s important to select the appropriate type of fertilizer for your vegetables. For example, if you’re growing tomatoes on your porch, then your goal should be to produce as many tomatoes as possible. For this particular plant, tomato food should suffice – and will help them grow well on just about any surface.

Soil types also come into play when it comes to fertilizing – so make sure you know what type of soil you have before adding anything other than water!

Finally, while most people focus on fertilizers that only offer one nutrient (such as nitrogen), make sure not to neglect those like phosphorous and potassium – which also play an important role in growing healthy plants!

Willow Stevens

Willow is a mother of six who begins to feel the empty nest, with faer oldest child living with his long-time girlfriend in another state, and the next three begin their talks about jobs and the excitement of college and living alone. Willow started couponing in 2007 to save their family some money on the grocery budget. That's how Freetail Therapy was born, so that fae could share their knowledge of saving money with others. Though the site has become so much more since then, and now includes homeschooling and homesteading info, Willow still does it all on a budget and shares how. Willow enjoys snagging freebies, snuggling with their dog, Xander, drinking decaf coffee, gardening, cannabis and of course, their large frugal family.

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