Small plot strategy!

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lazza

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Small plot strategy!
« on: June 27, 2011, 12:29 »
I'm wondering if there are others on here with only a small area for growing? I can't manage to keep a full allotment going, so only grow veg in my garden.... and with 2 three-year-old girls, most of the garden is now taken up with plastic slides and pink toys!

So, my growing space is severely restricted, and I always feel I need to plan my growing carefully. I was wondering if others on here have any tips for using small areas to the best of their potential...?

For me, I try to grow slightly more "expensive" crops. I can't believe rocket is 2 a bag in the supermarket, but is easy to grow, and very productive (and if you leave the last lot to go to seed, you don't even need to buy seeds...). And then I try to grow slightly unusual varieties... I can't see the point in growing common varieties of potatoes, for example, when they are so cheap in the shops... but small, unusual salad potatoes seem worthwhile (if I can get them to grow). And that could be the issue: I sometimes wonder if I'm trying to run before I can walk. Do my multiple failures (fennel, asparagus, aubergines, stripy tomatoes, etc.) fail because I'm just being too ambitious?!

So, any tips and thoughts welcome :)

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sunshineband

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 12:35 »
I don't think more unusual varieties are necessarily any more difficult to grow than more common ones, as far as I can tell  :D

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lazza

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 12:36 »
I don't think more unusual varieties are necessarily any more difficult to grow than more common ones, as far as I can tell  :D



Maybe I pass on my negative vibes to the seedlings....  ::) But I do wonder if the more unusual varieties are unusual simply because they are not as prolific or easy to grow...

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Kleftiwallah

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 12:46 »
Try squeezing in vertical crops.  Climbing beans / peas etc as they give more in return over a longer period than crops that just sit on the ground.  Parsnips, swedes etc.     Cheers,   Tony.
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gillian62

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2011, 12:52 »
Asparagus is a long term crop, if you start with seeds you are looking at 3 - 4 years before a good crop.

However, salad leaves, rocket etc save pounds each summer.  I also grow rows of radishes every couple of weeks - B&Q sell a mixed packet for 38p which have been excellent for me, and do enough for 2 - 4 weeks sowings depending on how many radishes you eat.

Swiss Chard is a good one to choose, giving leaves throughout autumn and winter and looks pretty if you buy the rainbow chard.  Kale (even dwarf one) will keep on growing too.

Turnips are very quick to crop, and can be used in stews or I grate them in salads.

If you start early enough it is good to have  a cougette plant which will give you a crop for months throught the summer (you may be able to pick up a small plant at garden centres or car boot sale).

Dwarf french beans can even be grown in pots and don't take up much room.

Think what sort of veggies you like to eat, how much they cost and then look at what you can fit into a small space.

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sunshineband

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2011, 12:54 »
Good advice from gillian to grow what you like to eat  :D

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Potty Plotty Lotty

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2011, 13:05 »
Square foot gardening might interest you. Have a search on this forum and google for more information. Here's one post to give you a feel:

http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=37922.0


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lazza

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2011, 13:21 »
Thanks :)

I have a 6' x 2' lean-to greenhouse full of toms and courgettes, but with no room to actually go in...makes watering an interesting contortion! And usually have radishes and salad leaves on the go... but not tried turnips or swiss chard, so will have to give those a go.

Also, peas have always been good, but never had much success with beans. Not a big fan of runner beans, but my attempts to grow dwarf beans have never been very productive. But never thought before of a "vertical" stragtegy :)

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joyfull

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2011, 13:31 »
have you read this:-

http://www.allotment-garden.org/book/small-space-growing.php

I have this book and it is brill - I can only use a small area for growing as my chickens eat anything that is mine and this way I can help to protect my crops easier  :D
Staffies are softer than you think.

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Nobbie

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2011, 14:20 »
It's probably covered in square foot gardening, but I like to cram in stuff closer than the usual spacings. With pointy cabbage I put two plants in each hole and let them fight for it. One usually takes over, but when you harvest it, the second one develops.

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sunshineband

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2011, 15:07 »
have you read this:-

http://www.allotment-garden.org/book/small-space-growing.php

I have this book and it is brill - I can only use a small area for growing as my chickens eat anything that is mine and this way I can help to protect my crops easier  :D

Excellent advice and excellent value  :D

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Yorkie

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2011, 17:50 »
If you dislike runner beans but like dwarf beans, try growing climbing french beans.  They're like the dwarf ones (except tall  ::) ) rather than like runners in texture, taste and shape.
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days all attack me at once...

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Endymion

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2011, 20:28 »
For quite a long time almost all our veg has been grown amongst flowers, including runner beans, squash etc., because we didn't want to lose valuable grassy playing space. Some things didn't thrive because they were in the wrong place (too damp, too shady, too dry etc) or couldn't cope with the competition, and tomatoes always succumbed to blight.

We tended to concentrate, like you, on the things that would cost a lot or that we really liked but couldn't always get in the local shops.

The children learned that some things could be eaten,  but other things were for looking at - we always carefully labelled the edible stuff. They also had the chance to grow something of their own, in a large container.

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tosca100

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2011, 20:45 »
We also have a really small patch, a small lean-to greenhouse and a windy drive full of pots! Also stuff like beans and herbs and rhubarb are amongst the flowers. We grow what we want and try not to put too much in as there are only the two of us. (No kids, but a destructive hound!) Things which take up a lot of room are grown in pots, eg potatoes (even though they are cheap at the moment, your own are so much better) and courgettes. We just buy two courgette plants and pot them. I grew a few potatoes in the ground this year, to see if there was any difference, but I think I will stick to bins as they took up too much room. We netted the whole of the little plot this year as we have wood pigeons and collared doves who strip peas and brassicas...also keeps the dog out.

Spring pics.




As you can see, the light levels are not ideal, but we still manage to have stuff in all the year round, even if it means buying some winter veg, like leeks and psb, as there is nowhere for a nursery bed.

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lazza

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Re: Small plot strategy!
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2011, 14:02 »
Thanks everyone - really appreciate the advice.

One other thing: we moved our fence out down one side of the house to fit in my lean-to greenhouse. OK, so there's not much room...about 1m between house and fence, but the whole length of the house, except for where my 6'x2' greenhouse is. The house wall is directly west facing, so the ground gets sun for only about an hour a day: in the morning it's in the shade of the house, in the afternoon the shade of the fence (although some light gets through between the planks). The fence is 6' tall (bear with me, I'm getting to the point...!  ;) ) so the greenhouse gets a lot of sun (on the top half), but the question is (told you I was getting there...)...

What sort of veg thrives well in a shady spot with about 1-2 hours of sun each day? I am wondering if I might be able to train some apples (or other fruit) up the wall, as it has no windows, and gets lovely and warm by the end of a summer day... any thoughts?



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