Mini-Gardening
Revised 3/95 -- Author Reviewed 3/99 HIL-8102
Larry Bass
Extension Horticultural Specialist
Department of Horticultural Science
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
North Carolina State University

 

Gardening in Limited Space

Lack of yard space is no excuse for not growing a vegetable garden. Regardless of whether you live in an apartment, condominium or mobile home, some space us available for growing a few of your favorite vegetables. However, the area you choose to grow your garden must receive five hours or more of sunlight daily. As a general rule, leafy vegetables such as cabbage and mustard greens can tolerate more shade than root vegetables like radishes and beets. Vegetables that bear fruit such as peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers will need the most sun.

Apartment dwellers will probably be limited to using containers or window boxes for vegetable growing. Always make sure the containers used are large enough to hold the vegetable plants when they reach maturity. All containers should have sufficient number of drainage holes in the bottom for proper drainage.

You have many more alternatives if you live in a duplex, a single unit or house and have access to an open yard. You may still use window boxes, but now you have access to borders along walkways and foundation plantings. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how attractive a walkway can be when edged with such plants as carrots in full foliage. There is also ample opportunity to position large containers such as baskets with pepper or tomato plants.

Fences are ideal for growing many vegetables, especially vining types such as cucumbers and melons. Six to 8 ft of fence space could provide enough cucumbers for fresh consumption and ample supplies for pickling. Pole beans (lima and snaps) also do well here. When cantaloupe fruits begin to enlarge, tie to the fence in a sling made from nylon hose to avoid self-picking.

The soil mixture you use will have a great influence on your success. It should be free of disease, insect and weed pests and have a pH of about 6.0 to 6.5. Your county extension agent can provide you with a soil testing kit to test the pH of your soil.

You may purchase commercially prepared mixtures from garden centers or you can make your own mix by using equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil, and peat moss or composted leaves. Sterilization may be done by baking it in an oven for about one hour at 210F to kill any bacteria, fungi, insects, or weed seeds.

For additional reading materials on limited space gardening, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for a copy of Home Vegetable Gardening, AG-06, and Horticulture Leaflet 8105, Container Vegetable Gardening.

PLANTING GUIDE FOR GROWING VEGETABLES IN LIMITED SPACE

Crop

Varieties

Hardiness (Inches)*

In-Row Spacing

Light Requirements**

Where to Plant

Snapbeans (Bush)

Tenderette
Derby

T

2 to 3

FS

Borders

Snap beans

Pole

Kentucky Wonder
Blue Lake

T

6 to 8

FS

Borders and screens

Beets

Little Egypt

T

3 to 4

PS

Containers of medium depth

Broccoli

Green Comet

HH

15 to 18

PS

Single plant in deep container or borders

Brussels Sprouts

Jade Cross

H

15 to 18

PS

Single plant in deep container or borders

Cabbage

Dwarf Morden

H

10 to 12

PS

Borders

Cantaloupe

Minnesota Midget
Burpee Hyb.

T

20 to 24

FS

Along fences or trellis

Cauliflower

Early Snowball

HH

20 to 24

PS

Same as for broccoli

Carrots

Tiny Sweet

HH

3 to 4

PS

Deep container such as basket

Collards

Vates

H

12 to 18

PS

Borders

Cucumbers

Patio Pik

T

6 to 8

FS

Along fences or on trellis; good temporary screen

Eggplant

Fla. Highbush
Morden Midget

T

24 to 30

FS

Basket or border; only 1 or 2 plants needed

Leafy Greens

Assorted

H

1 to 2

PS

Containers of medium depth (5 to 6") or borders

Onions (Sets)

Excell, Ebenezer

H

2 to 3

FS (bulbs)

PS (green)

Medium deep containers

Peppers (Sweet)

Calif. Wonder

T

10 to 12

FS

Deep containers or borders

Potato (Irish)

Pungo, Kennebec
Boone (Mtn.)

HH

10 to 12

FS

Single plant in basket or deep bed

Radish

Cherry Belle

H

1 to 2

PS

Window boxes; container of shallow to medium depth

Squash

Baby Crookneck

T

12 to 15

FS

Deep container or borders

Tomato

Better Boy, Patio
Tiny Tim

T

12 to 15

FS

Large, deep container (basket) and beds

* Indicates ability to withstand cold weather: T = susceptible to cold injury; plant only after frost. HH = Withstands medium but not severe cold; plant 1-3 weeks before last frost. H = Ability to withstand short periods of sub-freezing temperature.

** Vegetables indicated as growing in partial shade can also be grown in full light. When plants can only get light part of the day, such as beside a building, the morning sun exposure is preferred. FS = Full sun; PS = Partial shade.

*** All crops can be grown in ground beds. Where suitable for container culture the size or depth of container is indicated. Some containers are baskets, flower pots (clay or plastic), wooden boxes, tubs, cans, etc.


NOTE: For a more complete list of varieties see Home Vegetable Gardening, AG-06, and Horticulture Leaflet 8105, Container Vegetable Gardening.


Published by

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service


Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.