Whether you live in town or the country, in an apartment or on a farm, raising your own garden can be fun in any size space. We’re here to help! So grab your seeds or starter plants and grow along with us!
There are 4 basic types of gardens for raising produce:
- In Ground (Traditional) – this type of garden takes up the most space. However, if you have good soil, it can also be the most economical way to feed your family with healthy produce for most of the year. We recommend this type of garden for larger yards and families.
- Raised Beds – Raised beds are perfect for rocky, sandy, or less than ideal soil. If you have imperfect soil but space for a larger garden, this is probably the option for you. You can improve the quality of your soil and increase your yield.
- Containers – Containers are a good way to get your feet wet as a first-time gardener. They take up less space and require less weeding than in-ground beds. You can choose the container size that’s right for your space and grow from there!
- Window Boxes – These gardens are ideal for apartments or homes with little to no yard space. Window boxes can fit on patio railings or outside window ledges and are ideal for smaller plants, herbs, and plants that have shallow root structures.
Aside from the space you have available for raising your garden, you’ll need to think about the space, sun, and moisture needs of each type of plant.
Squash, for example, requires more compost and more space to grow, and it can choke out most other, more delicate plants.
Root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and radishes, require at least 12 inches of soil in order to produce efficiently. Tomatoes will need stakes or cages to help the plants stand upright as they grow and prevent the fruit from rot caused by laying on the ground.
Cucumber vines should also be allowed to climb up, rather than out, when planted in the ground or in a raised bed. Make sure to provide trellises or cages for them to climb. For a container or window box garden, you may want to choose one of the bushy cucumber varieties to save space.
You can find online worksheets to plan your garden here, and plant space/ sun requirements are listed on seed packets and starter plant tags.
The University of Illinois extension offers a chart and other useful information to use when planting and spacing between plants.
Remember to water your plants, get your hands dirty, and have fun! Regardless of the size, your garden should reward you all summer!
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has cooperative programs with universities in most states to help answer your agriculture and gardening questions. See the complete list of colleges and links here.
Don’t forget to send us your pictures, gardening tips, and experiences in the comments to keep growing with us!