A huge kitchen garden isn't essential for growing vegetables - a small, easily managed plot can produce plenty of crops for busy people. The secret of success is making best use of available space.
To grow good veg you need a sheltered site that gets full sun for at least half the day, with deep, fertile, well-drained soil that has been enriched with organic matter. Deep, no-dig raised beds are perfect for small gardens.
By working the soil deeply and adding organic matter to the surface, you can plant veg at two-thirds’ normal spacing, with no paths between rows, so you pack lots into the space.
You can also use large patio containers for certain crops, or create a decorative potager – a walk-through area with beds planted prettily with vegetables instead of flowers.
Grow crops that grow fast and crop quickly, so that you have a quick turnover of produce and can avoid any gaps. Pests and diseases are more of a problem with closely spaced crops, so opt for modern pest- and disease-resistant varieties, where possible.
Make the best use of your space by growing the crops suggested below.
Spring onions are easy to grow and give high yields in a small space. Most varieties ‘bulb up’ if not pulled young, so any you don’t use turn into small ‘normal’ onions later in the season.
When grown on a small scale, this crop doesn’t need a chalk stream; just a bucket of waterlogged potting compost in a sheltered corner close to the house. Watercress needs lots of light, but not hot midday sun. Start by rooting sprigs from a bundle.
These heavy-yielding plants keep cropping all summer, unlike French beans, so one sowing should be enough. Runner beans are easy, reliable, and their flowers are decorative enough for them to grow up a fence, trellis or arch, or in a deep container on the patio.