Tobias WhitakerFor the last decade my family has been growing food on 1/16th of an acre in a quiet rural village located near the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Due to the limited space we have had to be creative in our efforts and though we are flexible to change we have had to develop a long term plan as we progress year after year. I would like to pass along a couple of suggestions that have worked for my family here at Whitaker Gardens, Sidney, New York.

Garlic plays an important role in our diet.

In the beginning, our gardens were very experimental in regards to the items grown. Over the years, our focus narrowed to those items that we ate on a regular basis. Part of the approach was to save money, the other aspect being that our staple items were grown healthy and holistically.

We learned very early on the value of heirloom seeds in regards to cost and taste. Consider the price of a head of lettuce. In my neck of the woods it runs around $2 a head whereas a packet of lettuce seed cost around $3 for an heirloom variety. You can easily grow a few hundred heads of lettuce from seed if you have the room or desire. The math is rather obvious; by growing from seed you can grow plants for pennies on the dollar. This holds true on all crops – beans, tomatoes and corn just to name a few. Heirlooms tend to offer produce that have unique flavors and appearances, in turn making meals more interesting. In my opinion, one of the most cost-effective aspects of heirloom seeds is that you can save your own seed at the end of each season thus eradicating the cost of seed altogether if done properly.

With that said some plants may make more sense to buy from a greenhouse depending on your zone's growing conditions and length. For example some winter squash cut it awfully close to the first frost date here in Sidney so my family tends to buy winter squash starter plants rather than starting seed directly in hills.

Consider using heirloom seeds for greater variety.

3/25/2015 3:44:55 PM

Tobias, small lot growing always has to be creative. I have some of both in my gardens. I just haven't found a way to grow the vine stuff vertical yet. Squash, Watermelons, Pumpkins, and corn are just real estate hogs. Luckily I do have enough room to grow some of the large space plants. Every year I try something different and slowly I'm coming together with a plan that works for me. This year I'll be incorporating marigolds around the garden plants as bug deterrents. ***** Have a great successful small property gardening day.

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