When Growing Small means Growing Big…or something like that.

Trying to grow the equivalent amount of food I once grew in the country, but on a small city lot might seem like a fool’s mission, but I think it is possible. For me at least. And I don’t mean because I am extra gifted at growing food, because I most certainly am not.

With my gardens in the country I was always in expanding, moving, planning, developing mode. That meant things got spread, not only far and wide, but thin. It was a challenge to keep up with it all. Beans, peas and zucchini often got too big before getting picked, meaning a loss in taste as well as in potential harvest. With so many vegetables the more frequently they are picked while still at their prime, the more they will produce. Miss that window and both taste and harvest diminishes.

Other things suffered from neglect. With three separate garden spots and a busy life, things often got overlooked. Plants wilted before I noticed they needed watering and not all beds got topped up with compost before each growing season. Sometimes weeds got away on me and sucked up valuable water and nutrients meant for vegetables instead. Other things bolted and went to seed before I noticed. I could go on, but you get the picture.

And with having so much space to spare, I often (and by often I mean always) fell to the temptation of trying to grow things that were never meant to be grown in our northern climate. Entire beds were given over to these ne’er do well experiments that always started off in great bursts of optimism, only to end in predictable disaster, providing only fodder for the compost pile. Still, it was worth it for the hope and fun that inspired the planting.

Despite all of this, I always somehow managed to fill our freezer, pantry and cold room simply because I planted a lot of vegetables, rather than because I was a savvy grower or harvester.

Of course, most gardeners do a much better job and would have likely needed only a third of the space to achieve the same harvest. And that’s precisely why I think I can grow as much on our city lot as I did on the farm. And it’s also why I may have been better off growing a smaller garden really well, even when we lived in the country, but that’s neither here nor there.

Right now I am here, not there. What I lack in space I hope to make up for with dedication, attention and decades of experience, such as it is.

When your yard is tiny, no plant goes unnoticed and even keeping up with weeds is a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze exactly, but doable anyway. Everything I water is within reach of a single length of hose. Moreover, I quickly hit a fence or curb whenever I start hatching up any distracting expansion projects and am therefore forced to focus solely on what I already have going on in the ground.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t any expansion projects left to be hatched. I mean, good heavens, that’s just crazy talk! A gardener always has projects to be hatched. Otherwise what we would do all winter? However, the scope of any future projects are far more limited and far less distracting than when I had 60 acres of potential ground to work with. So again, my main focus will be on my small garden instead.

For all these reasons, and probably more that I haven’t even thought of yet, I think my garden will be just as, if not more, productive.

Or that’s the hope anyway! There is never a more optimistic time for a garden and its gardener, than in the spring.

Which is just as it should be.

Our Lower Vegetable Garden in the country in June 2012. The hay mulch kept in moisture, added nutrients and helped smother the weeds aka Ruth Stout Method!

4 thoughts on “When Growing Small means Growing Big…or something like that.

  1. Love it, I know that with your enthusiasm, knowledge and TLC, this year will probably yield your biggest crop of vegetables ever.

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