You just can’t beat the taste and satisfaction levels of home-grown produce. If you have a smaller garden, a paved yard or even a balcony, you may feel that you don’t have enough space to grow your own fruit and veg. However, there are lots of great fruit and vegetables that are great for growing in small spaces. Whether you’re in the middle of the city or surrounded by countryside, crops can grow happily and provide you with lots of delicious produce – it’s just about picking the right kinds to grow, and making sure your space is prepared for them.
In this article I’ll let you know my favourite crops for small spaces, and some tips for making sure your outdoor space is ready to welcome your new crops.
Growing crops in an urban location
The particular conditions that can exist in heavily built-up areas can actually make a really great environment for growing some fruit and veg. Sheltered by surrounding buildings, urban gardens tend to be less windy, stay a bit warmer and even trap heat in the summertime. This means you may be able to get an earlier start on growing your crops and may enjoy produce later in the year. If your garden is really sheltered, bear that in mind when watering your plants as they may not be getting reached by any rainfall. If you have a smaller urban garden, it’ll also be much easier to maintain!
Growing crops on your balcony
Even the smallest balcony can be used for growing your own delicious fruit and vegetables. Balconies can be exposed, particularly on higher floors, so choose lower-growing crops and make sure any taller plants have robust support like canes or a trellis (which can also act as a windbreak). Be careful when positioning your pots and containers, ensuring they can’t be blown away and are securely fixed where possible. Avoid overloading your balcony – wet compost is heavy and crops will gain weight as they grow.
Fruit and veg for small spaces
If you’re keen to start growing your own crops in a smaller space, savvy planting is key. You may want to build a raised bed if you have space or use different types of containers if you prefer. There are lots of great containers out there such as flatpack vegetable trugs, troughs, large pots, oil drums, and even repurposed household items like ceramic sinks and storage containers. Get creative with your planting, and play with different levels by installing a trellis or using cane supports.
Crops grown in containers will dry out faster than if they were growing in the ground, so be prepared to keep on top of watering. Invest in a large watering can or opt for a hosepipe with an attachment for your kitchen or bathroom tap for ease. If you have space, a water butt is a great eco-friendly way to water your plants with collected rainwater.
I just love popping a shiny red strawberry from its stalk when it’s nice and ripe – it’s the taste of summer for me! Most strawberry plants will happily grow in containers and come back year after year. Alpine strawberries have tiny, but flavoursome berries that look gorgeous too.
Likes: Small or large pots, window boxes and hanging baskets.
Radishes have a delicious, fiery crunch and the leaves are wonderful in salad – they’re a great all-rounder if you’re short on space. Keep sowing seeds throughout the season for a continuous crop to enjoy. Radishes are also great pickled – read my guide to preserving fruit and veg here.
Likes: Large containers and raised beds.
Carrots are a delicious choice for growing in your small space. There are lots of different varieties and even baby and rounded types, so you can experiment with growing different shapes and colours to brighten up your roasted veg! Carrots need a deeper container to grow in so they can reach a good length.
Likes: Large pots and raised beds, but baby and round types will grow in small pots and window boxes.
Freshly-picked tomatoes have a lovely, sun-warmed flavour that shop-bought varieties just can’t emulate! Tumbling Tom variety is perfect for growing in hanging baskets, with its rambling stalks of sweet red fruits. Golden yellow Idli variety looks and tastes beautiful in a salad.
Likes: Large pots and raised beds, and tumbling varieties will happily grow in hanging baskets.
French and runner beans
French beans and runner beans are a delightful, fresh taste of the garden and they grow brilliantly in small gardens. Many types of bean have a climbing growth habit, so can be grown up canes or a trellis.
Likes: Large pots and raised beds, with cane supports.
Salad & herbs
For me, no summer meal is complete without a lovely fresh salad. If you’re already growing tomatoes in your small space, why not fill up your salad bowl with leaves like lettuce, rocket and spinach? Simply pluck off the leaves you need and they’ll grow back in no time. Herbs like basil, parsley, thyme and mint are a great choice for brightening up your dishes, or even brewing into a refreshing pot of tea.
Likes: Most herbs and salads will grow happily in large containers and window boxes. Thyme, coriander and parsley will thrive in hanging baskets.
- Read my article on design tips for small gardens here.
- Read my beginner’s guide to growing vegetables here.
Happy growing! Katie x