Like most people with kitchen gardens I would love to have more growing space than I currently do. When having a smaller space to grow your garden, planning is essential. Knowing what you are going to grow, when and where is key to maximizing yields and getting the most out of the space you have. This means picking and choosing what you are going to really focus on growing or giving space to in your garden. In a small space garden you have the option of growing an abundance of a few things or a little bit of a lot of things. The choice is yours each year and it’s fun to experiment, so I suggest trying both ways of growing to see what really works for you. For example, if you want to grow all the tomatoes and herbs/spices to make enough spaghetti or pizza sauce to last your family through until the next harvest season, you will need to grow a large amount of those crops. Often leaving little room for other produce if your growing space is small. Another example is growing a few tomato plants, but adding to your growing space, squash, herbs, beans, peppers, okra, etc. You won’t necessarily have the large amount of tomatoes to can enough sauces for your family, but your family can eat well through the growing season with fresh picked seasonal produce from your garden. With all that said, this year I have decided that there are a few things I would rather purchase from our local farm instead of giving it real estate in my kitchen garden. I love supporting our local farms by shopping at our farmers markets as well as making farm stand purchases at the farm. By making the decision to not grow everything mentioned below, I am opening up space in my garden for other crops as well as knowing I can support our local farmers.
5 Crops I Will Not Grow This Year
- Broccoli – I am not growing broccoli because frankly, I usually fail when trying to grow it. Over all the years I have tried growing it, I have had a handful of successful harvests. So with that in mind and it’s need for a larger section of my garden space, I will not be growing any this year. I would rather purchase it from our local farmer.
- Cauliflower – Another one that is a larger plant with minimal harvest for the amount of time and space it takes to grow, I will also be looking to our local farmer for. I have struggled in the past growing cauliflower, mainly because in my backyard microclimate, we seem to go from cool weather (optimal for cauliflower) to blazing hot summer like weather rather quickly. This leads to the cauliflower starting to go to flower before it has reached a larger size. I try not to give garden space to those things that give me little harvest yields in comparison to their growing space and time needs.
- Brussels Sprouts – My husband loves these so much, but we don’t eat them as often as we’d like to. Plus while we have grown them before, there are other things I would rather give the garden space to. (Things like kale, spinach, chard, etc.)
- Pumpkins – I would love, love, love to have a pumpkin patch, we just don’t have the space for it. I have tried various places in both our front and back yard with not much success over the years. With the amount of space pumpkins need, it is hard to justify taking that space in the garden when I can grow many other things in the same spot.
- Bell Peppers – Another one that I would just rather purchase from our local farmer. I love bell peppers, but with limited space I choose to grow hot peppers and more tomatoes instead. (We eat fresh salsa almost daily in the summer.) Plus I give the growing space I would use for bell peppers to my son who loves to grow his own hot peppers. I may sneak in one plant in container if there is room, but space is at a premium in my garden.
Picking and choosing what to grow can sometimes be difficult, other times it is super easy. Each year you have the option of choosing what to grow, so you can change it up yearly. A motto I love is to grow what you love and to grow what your family will eat the most. Look to your local farmers to fill the gaps and purchase those things you chose not to grow from them. In small space gardens, we have to really plan out the space to make the most of it. By choosing not to grow something because it either takes up too much room or too much time or both, you open up that garden space for other plants. Instead of growing the above plants, I am making room to grow a wider variety of crops that will either be harvested from several times, or I can plant successions easily in that space to maximize yields. I should state that my raised bed growing area is four 4’x8’ raised beds giving me a total of 128 square feet of growing space. I do have many, many grow bags and other garden beds, but this year I am growing a lot more herbs in those spaces for school assignments and projects. I think it will end up being a 50/50 split between food crops and medicinal herbs that I will be growing this year and years to come. I would love to know if you also purposefully not grow certain plants in your garden, let me know in the comments.