The seasonal fluctuations that occur on an annual basis here in Sacramento can be somewhat extreme, but those fluctuations allow year round gardens to flourish. Whether we are complaining that the summer temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit or that the winter temperature has dipped down into the the 20’s, our gardens are not complaining at all. The local weather allows organic gardens to be useful all year long, and that means that growing gardens in smaller spaces will work for most of us. An idea of being green is to buy produce that is in season and locally grown. Why buy produce that is in season and locally grown when we can grow it ourselves?
Growing gardens in smaller spaces is not a new idea. That idea has been around since the dawn of time. It was not so long ago in American history that nearly every home had a garden. We have grown away from those traditions, and many of us have forgotten our past. Following the world wars gardening was actually encouraged by the Federal Government because fresh produce and groceries were not always available. Those gardens were called Victory Gardens and they were a supplement to food rationing and food vouchers that were common during those periods in our history. Many of those gardens were small, and they provide the example of this article. Gardens do not have to be huge and lavish to provide food for your table. In fact, some smaller gardens will produce as much produce as a larger garden will. The art of growing gardens in smaller spaces is just that, an art. In the following paragraphs, we will go over how master gardeners use trellising to grow bountiful gardens in smaller spaces. The key concept that is used in smaller gardens is Elevation. Elevation is growing plants from the ground onto a vertical plain. This is one of the major ways to save space in a smaller garden.
This process might sound technical, but it is actually a fairly simple set of steps to follow. The idea is to take almost any plant that would normally sprawl across the ground and train it to grow upwards instead of allowing the plant to meander where it wants to grow. By training the plant to grow vertically instead of horizontally, the organic gardener is saving valuable growing space. For instance, a cantaloupe plant would normally take up about sixteen square feet of growing area or a space that measured four feet by four feet. By training the cantaloupe to grow vertical, the gardener can reduce the plants ground-growing space from sixteen square feet down to two square feet. While the reduction in space needed for the cantaloupe is rather dramatic, it is fairly accurate. What we gain by growing plants on a vertical plain rather than a horizontal plain is a lot of otherwise unused space. So the question for gardeners is what shall we grow in the reclaimed space? This is one example of how to grow massive crops in smaller spaces. If you were a commercial farm how many more cantaloupe could your farm produce if you trained your plant to grow vertically? The draw back to this method is that heavier fruited plants like a cantaloupe will need to have the fruit supported. Here is a look at what you would gain by incorporating vertical growing in your garden.
- Decrease plant sprawl space.
- Increase planting space within your garden.
- Increased garden yield for small gardens
- Increased profits for larger commercial gardens
The negative impact of growing plants vertically are:
- Heavy fruit must be supported.
- Added cost to trellising material
- Marginal additional labor to erect trellis and to tend to developing fruit.
- Not beneficial for all types of plants
Vertically growing has been an idea in practice since for generations; however, it was not until the 1970’s that small plot gardeners really began to utilize the practices of growing plants vertically. Some of the philosophies from back then have become staples of growing smaller gardens today.
Home made trellises are easy to build and fairly cheap. All that is needed are some bamboo stakes and twine. Feel free to substitute anything that is sturdy in place of the bamboo. This trellis cost about $6 and will last about 2-3 years. It will last longer if you take it down each year. You can also visit a store such as Home Depot, and in their concrete section they have 8’x4′ wire structures that work really well as a trellis. They cost about $8, and they should easily last 5 years or longer.
Following these guides can help your garden produce massive yields.