Planning a Postage Stamp Garden

You don’t need lots of space to grow your own vegetables. With a little planning, a postage stamp garden can provide enough for seasonal meals with extra for canning and preserving.

| June 2015

Karen Newcomb provides tips and tricks for planning and growing a productive vegetable garden with minimal space in The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden (Ten Speed Press, 2015). Tiny plots that require little upkeep are ideal for today’s lifestyles, and they can still be tremendously productive. For example, a 5 by 5-foot bed will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables—even a container garden can be a very effective way to grow your own vegetables. The following excerpt is from Chapter 1, “Planning Your Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden.”

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden.

If you like growing vegetables, there are few things more fun than planning the garden for next season. The best wintertime garden dreamers draw up dozens of illustrations of what their next garden is going to look like. I suggest that you do it, too. After all, things always go better with a plan. A good plan keeps your mistakes to a minimum by giving you some idea in advance of where to put your garden, what to plant in it, how much space to allocate, and what shape it should be.

Where to Put Your Postage Stamp Garden

The first thing to do in planning your garden, of course, is to decide where to put it. Your plants don't really care where they grow as long as you give them a lot of tender loving care—that is, good fertile soil, enough water, and whatever heat and daylight they need.

The main rule to consider is this: Most vegetables need minimally about six hours of direct sunlight. As long as your garden receives this minimum amount of direct sunlight every day, you can put your garden almost anywhere. Warm-weather vegetables (tomatoes, squash, peppers) can never get too much sun. Cool-weather vegetables (lettuce, greens, cabbage) will tolerate a little shade.

In addition, there are a few other placement  considerations. Keep your garden bed at least 20 feet away from shallow-rooted trees like elms, maples, and poplars. Not only will the foliage of these trees block out the sun, but also their roots will compete for water and nutrients. Generally, tree roots take food from the soil in a circle as wide as the tree’s farthest-reaching branches, and plants usually do poorly within this circle.

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