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What's In My Small-Space Veggie Garden

Sunday, July 16, 2017
When I was growing up, my mom always had a huge veggie garden. No matter how many times we moved, we'd always end up cutting away grass to make room for a patch that tended to take up half our backyard. Now that my parents have moved to an acreage just outside the city, they have a garden with more square footage than my house! Naturally, when I bought my house I automatically assumed I'd spend my summers tending huge tomato plants and searching for zucchinis under the massive leaves. Until I remembered, of course, that I bought a house with a lot the size of a postage stamp. I definitely don't hate the fact that I have hardly any backyard when it comes time to mow, but it certainly put a damper on the giant garden idea. So instead, I had to get a little creative.




My driveway and my neighbor's driveway is separated by about 5 feet of space. Up by the houses, this is filled with all kinds of plants, from peonies and tulips in spring to hostas, lilies and sedums in the summer. Down past the sidewalk and near street though it was just a boring patch of neglected grass and dirt. A perfect place to grow some food! After cutting out all the grass, rototilling the soil, and throwing in some fertilizer, I was left with about a 10 foot by 5 foot garden plot.

With such a small area, I'm always quite surprised how much I can plant. Here's a look at what I'm growing this year:

Tomatoes

Last year I might have gone a little overboard with the tomato plants. I still have an entire shelf of frozen tomatoes from last year's crop! This year I promised myself I'd ease up, but somehow I've still ended up with six different plants. I'm justifying it though because this year's tomatoes are all different types than I had last year.



This year I have four heirloom plants, one cherry tomato plant and one roma tomato plant. Someone please hold me back next year. 

Cucumbers

This one I don't need to justify at all. In fact, last year I planted two cucumber plants and both of them immediately died for some reason. This year to be safe, I planted four cucumber plants and three of them made it. I've grown cucumbers on the ground before, just guiding their vines between the other plants, but this year I found a cheap square tomato cage that I flatted out and I'm using as a trellis. It was only about a month before these guys shot up and outgrew my contraption, so I bought a few stakes and tied twine between them to give them even more room to grow. 

Peppers

Peppers have always been a bit hit and miss for me. I've always grown some bell peppers, and the plants seem to do just fine, but they never seem to produce much. Meanwhile, I plant a few jalepenos, neglect them through the whole summer and then end up with so many that I'm sending my friends home with pockets stuffed full of jalepenos.



This year I decided to focus only on bell peppers because I love munching on them raw. I have four red bell peppers and four yellow bell peppers. Now to figure out how long to wait until I actually pick them...

Eggplants

Ah, the poor eggplant. It's not your fault what your emoji has come to mean. I always grow a couple eggplants each year, because they make fantastic bases for little mini pizzas! Last year every single eggplant that popped up was stolen by some passing stranger (okay there *might* be one downside to having a garden in the front yard), so I'm really hoping this year I actually get to eat one or two.   

Watermelon?!

And for the grand finale, I have something incredibly random. And a bit of a cheat. I picked up a tiny, adorable watermelon plant on a whim and figured what the heck, let's give it a try. I technically didn't even plant it in my veggie garden, because I didn't think it would actually do well, so instead it's planted in the midst of all the other flowers between driveways up by my house.




Turns out watermelon plants love my house. And they get huge! My plant is at least 20 feet long now. I keep having to direct the vines because it wants nothing more than to grow all over my driveway. So far only one tiny watermelon has started forming, but we'll see what happens!

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