My Mini Mini 'Plot' For Growing Vegetables

by Lynn
(kent UK)

Possible?... You Bet It Is!

Possible?... You Bet It Is!

Hello, my name is Lynn and I am 37 years old. I am a wife and mother of two boys and live right beside the seaside in the southeast of England.

With the growing recession and rising costs of food I have decided to take the plunge and grow vegetables, fruit and maybe the odd flower or two - as best I can. I have absolutely no idea about how to grow vegetables, I have no lush green space for a vegetable garden, only a square decked area.

My first hurdle was to find a vegetable plot.

Allotments in this area have a 10 year waiting list, and I'm not sure I could handle an allotment, all I need is a small area of which to have a play at growing vegetables. After asking around the family I was offered a small piece of my uncle's garden, approximately 16.5' x 4.5', just perfect enough for me to manage.

Next hurdle is to find out where on earth to start, how to prepare my vegetable garden, what to grow and how to maintain my vegetable plants, and of course with little or no expense, else it would defeat the object.

I hope to encourage my children and maybe their friends to get involved. On first mention they show absolutely no interest whatsoever, all the hard work and prepartions will be done by me. I am curious to see whether as time goes on and the vegetables begin to grow they will start to take an interest, here's hoping. If they don't help grow it then they won't help eat it...

So here goes, the beginning of what will hopefully be a long term, easy to manage, beautifully tasty crop of vegetables. It may be that everything gets eaten by slugs, it may be that there is not enough sunlight, the birds eat everything, ot it may be that I end up with the most brilliant crop of vegetable plants, only time will tell.

I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I do, and most of all I hope it might inspire you to have a go :o) (Or if it fails miserably it will make you feel better about not trying it).

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Mini Plot
by: South African Gardener

Hi Lyn

Sounds really great.

I did this with my 6 year old son a few years ago. He really enjoyed it. We got slack, but are starting again. It will be spring in a few days on the Southern tip of Africa.

You have had some helpfull comments from people, but I really like "Italian Gardener's" comments and attitude best. I hope to follow his further advice to you.

All the best

Slugs and Snails
by: Novice gardener

Hi there,

My first time to comment so I'm looking forward to making contact with fellow grdeners.

Does anyone know how to humainly get rid of slugs and snails? I have a plastic greehouse and the slugs and snails are munching away on my beautiful fruits of labour:-(

Also my strawberries didn't do well last year and aren't doing great this year either even though I have them in the greenhouse.

I've picked all my lettuce, is it possble to seed and plant again at this stage?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks you,

Novice Gardener

slugs snails and bindweed!!!
by: E.A.H

Hi, I am trying the same thing, but have had so many seeds eaten by slugs and snails, I feel ready to give up despite having plenty of frogs or toads in the vegetable garden - I'm not sure which, some are brown and some green.

I have started planting courgettes in hanging baskets, and also peas upside down after reading about the Topsy Turvy method, not sure why would be better that way? Anyone know?

My plot is about 5 feet wide by 15 feet long. I planted some 50 perennial plants, so far only three have appeared. Maybe slugs and snails again, any one any ideas how to deter them? Don't want to use slug pellets.

The onions have grown well from sets, tomato plants are ok so far, am growing them outside. I have grown them in a lean-to greenhouse before but whitefly ruined all. Last year I grew them in growbags against the house but they got blight and didn't fruit. So this time I am growing tomatoes in the ground.

I have grown leek from seed hoping to plant out soon and hopefully they will get left alone.

Does anyone know of a permanent way to get rid of bindweed, I am in the u.k?

Vertical Vegetable Gardening
by: Anonymous

Try vertical vegetable gardening.

For information, look up "Square Foot Gardening" - it's a subcategory.

Basically, you set two upright posts in the ground, put a horizontal on top, and tie a mesh to it. You can grow a lot of things vertically - beans, peas, cucumbers, winter squash (butternut), even cantaloupe - just make little hammocks to support the cantaloupes (I understand old pantyhose are good for that).

I've never done it; I'm trying it this year.

I bought 12' metal conduit, cut off 2', and buried them about 2' in the ground, 4' apart. Then I cut another piece in half.

I put large eye-bolts in the top of the uprights (I didn't attach them; I just set the end into the end of the conduit) and slipped the half piece of conduit into the eye. This formed the horizontal.

I will take a roll of metal fencing and cut it to length, loop one end over the horizontal, and tie it to all three pieces (horizontal and two verticals) to give the vegetable plants something to climb.

I hope I made sense.

Help For Lynn
by: Italian Gardner

Dear Lynn:

The following is what "I would do if it was my Garden Plot?.

First of all before you pull up the grass and weeds grab a comfortable chair and a glass of wine and sit down in a spot next to your future garden, relax and become a plant in your mind.

Observe the wild plants now growing in your plot and notice which ones look the strongest and tallest. And like wise, observe the plants that look the weakest. From this you can tell how the elements affect your plot.

For example: I see in your picture that the weeds prefer the curb rather then the fence. This tells us the sun light is longer as you move forward from the fence, and it is at its best from the pole forward, so this is where tomatoes will thrive.

Behind and in between the tomatoes, plant onions and garlic and forget about them till fall. Though they will not do well in the shade of the other plants they will thrive in the fall (autumn) when the tomatoes start to wane. Summer time, they will keep insects from invading your garden.

In front of the tomatoes along the edge plant Italian globe basil and marigolds. Tomatoes Love basil and will grow strong to impress the its lover. Marigolds will repel insects that the onions and garlic will not.

Observe the coolest shade area in your plot. This is a place that you will prepare a plot for carrots, radish and beets (spring & fall) and bush cukes (summer).

Fill in the cracked pavement between the drive and the stone curve. Sweep in good soil, mixed with thyme seeds.

On the pole I would nail a fishnet shoulder height, swag it down, peg it tightly into the ground and plant pole beans or long climbing peas.

From the white colored picket fence forward, I would plant cukes to grow up the fence. Plant a single row of zucchini in mounds two wine bottles length apart and in between the mounds plant eggplants. In front of this against the curb plant Oregano.

If the foreground in the picture is open without shelter, save room to plant two rosemary bushes side by side that will in a few short years provide shelter from the wind and a pleasant scent to your yard, along with a wonderful addition to your meat and poultry dishes.

Don't move from your seat till you have it all planned out in your head and the wine bottle is empty except for a few drops. Place the wine bottle on its side in your garden and in a few days see what kind of soil creatures have crawled inside. (Snails, Slugs, Beatles etc.)

Bring it to your local nursery and ask someone that knows what organic pesticides will be needed - So you can prepare for the battle to come. If you have a major slug problem randomly throughout the back of the garden plant bachchoy plants. The slugs will feast on that and leave the rest of your garden alone.

For flea beetles, (small gun shot holes in leaves) dust plants with hard wood ash from a fireplace.

Good Luck

If you find my ramblings helpful I would be glad to help more - just ask.

Italian Gardner

Sqaure Foot Gardening
by: Jamie

Bravo for taking on the challenge.

I too have a small area to garden since I live in an apartment complex. I am doing what is called "Squarefoot Gardening." Check at your local library for the book by the same name by Mel Bartholomew. He also has a web site.

My garden is going great guns and we have already been able to harvest lettuce and baby spinach three times for two people. See my pictures of my garden at

Keep it Up!
by: Stinkycat

I used to have a small patio - about 17' X 17'and found that wiskey barrels worked great so you may want to consider that for more growing room. I strongly suggest putting wheels on the bottom and drilling some drain holes. Keep it up! Post some pics when you get a crop.

Love Of Gardening
by: Anonymous

I am so glad to have stumbled across this blog.

My small chaos garden is what calms my spirits... my first love is the water.

I have two girls who love to help me. I pray that they will always love the earth. For now I am so happy they love vegetables.

Maybe this season I'll get to try the tomatoes... THEY ALWAYS eat them before I get to.

Good luck with the growing season.

I am in Arizona....HOT HOT HOT.

Good Luck To You!
by: sue ellen

You will do just great, you can make great use of the small space you have. Try planting taller, vine type vegetables near the fence, later you can fasten them to it. Tomatoes and running beans would be nice, then try squash in the middle to help shade the roots.

If you use herbs such as oregano, put them in the front, but be careful, oregano tends to multiply as does mint.

Containers are a great idea, once I used red plastic ones. Tomatoes love the red color. Just don't forget to drill drain holes in the bottom.

You will do great I'm sure.

Sue Ellen(Southern U.S.)

by: Eli Weiss

I´m starting the same thing in my mother-in-law's garden and now all family love to eat the vegetables. We make soups and salads every day... And all family enjoy to see the garden, watch they simply... and all they take it's some care and love.

Plant Pot
by: marvin

Why dont you try a big plant pot, you can buy those pots and each pot you can plant different types of garden vegetables, like carrots, tomatoes, or some plant bearing flowers... you can try herbs as well...

Good Idea
by: Anonymous

I am Tang Kang from china. It is a good idea. In china, there are a lot of farmers planting vegetables. They make money with them.

I am studing English.

Good Luck and Good Job
by: Holly Dee Hicks

You have a wonderful attitude and that is what it takes to be a green thumb. I am one also, and I love and nurture like a Nanny. I am one. hehe

Well, anyway, I wasn't always, but I tend the plants like I did when I was in the medical field, a little extra here and with a spritz there and oh, a stick like a crutch. Nurturing, loving , caring for what you are doing, and just going with the flow of the seasons. It's all how you look at this.

And to involve your children is the nicest thing that you can do for them and there health. They won't forget, I am example of that. I grew up on a small farm and then in the mountains and then on to the city. The year that we grew the vegetables on the farm and sold them in the mountains to some that had never had fresh veggies before, seems to stick out in my mind like a big yummy ice cream bar.

They were the best vegetables I had ever ate and where told by others the same thing, I was proud to be a part of my parents endevour in those years of strife to feed and cloth for the family. My mother taught me alot about the veggie dishes that she made. I could be vegetarian, and have been before for a few years.

Now, about my Father, his name is George Washington Gentry. He is old time when it comes to his food and vegetable garden. He lives in the same house that my mother and he bought over fifty years ago. And has had a garden in the back yard, right smack in the middle of the city. The best veggie's that you could imagine. They preserve them in jars, and while others buy in the winter my father is eating the fruits of his labors. And it is a kind, good natured , humourous soul that tending that garden has created.

He is as proud of that garden as his wife and kids. (we think it kept him sane all those years during our childhood and high school years). Seeing him toiling the soil, the dirt running through his fingers while he examined it with a critical eye for just the right texture and color, has given me the same abilities as my father to grow what I want, where and when and to also love my earthy side, the one that watches the soil run from my hands and the weeds fly as I am lost in quiet contemplation of my time on earth.

I love my parents dearly for all they have given me, and the love of the land, even when stuck in the city, and for meeting all my and my familys nutritional needs with a little plot of ground.

You will truly be doing the right thing with growing your own food, it nurtures the soul and mind, along with giving the body it's nutritional needs.

Good luck,

Holly Dee Hicks

Us as well
by: Nancy & Geoffrey

Hi Lynn.

Nancy and I are sailing all over the place. Our boat is a 45 foot sail boat and her home port is in Brixham South Devon. Her name is 'Panache" We have been sailing, mostly in the Caribbean, for about 12 years.

we had the chance of 'House Sitting' in Bocas del Toro, Panama and decided it would be nice to put feet on the hard for a while. Our house is right in the Rain Forest jungle. My dear wife Nancy is an inveterate gardener and has not had the opportunity to plant much other than potted plants for a long time.

She now has two wonderful beds growing all kinds of stuff. I will let her tell you about her lovely garden and our battles with Arnold the Armadillo.

It has been so many years since I have had a garden and am loving every minute of it. The problem here is the soil is clay. I would have always thought that jungle soil would be rich with all the leaves and such that fall constantly. However, it is the worst soil I have every used. I have tried to break it up with rotted tree bits (and there is quite a bit of that) and a little sand etc.

I am very concerned about rootrot, if that is the right spelling. It seem that the clay holds the moisture for too long.

I have two tomatoe plants over 4 ft. high and some not so tall. The growing season here is not very much different from yours, unless the rain stays off and then it can be constant.

My squash, butternut variety (something like pumpkin) is really taking off. Geoffrey said you would not know what squash was. I planted both pumkin and squash and only the squash came up. I would love to see a healthy garden and will take any help I can get. I also compost, right in the soil, which makes for an interesting variety of plants coming up, unplanted.

Any comments you may have would be welcome.

All the Best,

Nancy and Geoffrey

Square Foot Gardening
by: David in Atlanta

You have enough space to feed four people, if you use square foot gardening techniques. But be sure to visit Mel's square foot gardening web pages on square foot gardening and follow those methods religiously. You are going to be happy with the results.

Your Veggie Patch In England
by: PickGator

Passing on my recent experience...

I started out with a steeply sloped area behind my cottage at Pickwick Lake (Mississippi-Tennessee border in the US). Soil was brick-hard red clay.

I scrounged up some concrete blocks, which made a nice terrace wall defining a 24 foot by 4 foot raised bed (no mortor on the blocks, just stacked). Then I found some stable cleanings which I brought in by buckets. In the winter I found several homes which were putting out leaves for collection; I chopped these up with a lawn mower and threw them into the raised garden along with anything else organic that I could put my hands on.

Found a pile of topsoil which went into my buckets and onto the garden. I mixed this all up several times during the winter and added some lime to sweeten up the leaves.

This spring I planted turnips, green beans, bib lettuce, radishes, parsnips, sugar peas, swiss chard, squash and eight tomato plants. Not necessarily in rows - more like the matrix of a square foot garden. The swiss chard has amazed me... I planted it in the holes of the concrete blocks, one plant to a hole. Wow, did it ever like that situation! And it makes a beautiful border for my garden.

Everything has done well, but I see a few things that can be improved next winter. Gardening is a learning process for everyone, I believe.

First of all, I am going to add one more row of concrete blocks. My back still rebels when I bend over to tend the garden. Then I will add more stable cleanings or something to dig into the "topsoil" I used. It turned out to be some kind of clay soil that looks great when it is tilled, but it compacts too much when it gets wet. Just needs some amendments (organic material) to loosen it up.

Next spring I'll skip the English (with all due respect) Peas... they take up too much room in my little garden and don't produce enough to justify the space. I'll wait for warmer weather and plant cucumbers on the same trellis.

Here in Mississippi, summers are hot, so tomatoes do exceptionally well if they get daily water and lots of food. I am hoping that a few of my spring plantings will survive the summer with lots of water and mulch.

By the way, I planted two roses in a 4 foot square raised bed two years ago. Filled the bed with stable cleanings. The Climbing Peace rose is about twenty feet up the house (on inch and a half stalks) and blooms profusely. Smells like a real rose, too! The Don Juan climbing rose is also doing very well, but it is not quite so vigorous by nature.

Good luck with your veggie patch! Remember that most of the hard work needs to be done before the growing season, preferably in the fall (autumn).

May you have bountiful harvest and Love for Labor!

Enjoy The Results
by: Joe

I have been gardening for years in my native Nebraska, and now Minnesota. I enjoy seeing results for my effort, (which as a pastor one does not always see). The taste is great, and much healthier and a whole lot cheaper than the stores. I love British comedies, "Keeping Up Appearances", "As Time Goes By", "Waiting For God", and "May To December".

I send many pounds of vegetable seeds every year to a Christian work in Zambia, Africa. The pastor feeds many orphans with this, and sells much. The prefer, Danish Ball Head cabbage, Rutgers tomatoes, Nantes carrots, kale, and sweet onions.

by: Stone

...where there's a will, there's a way!
You can grow a ton of stuff in that small area!! I do it all the time! Just get some info on Square foot gardening, add some containers, and create your own system. Don't forget to make that fence work for you ,too. With the right supplies, it can be your trellis! I'm excited for you to try this new venture. It'll make you feel good! Good luck!

Go for it !!!!!!!
by: sonia

I think you will do well - I have just completed all my planting a few weeks ago and the feeling you get when you actually see things grow is fantastic - my first time too - I just read the back of the packet and hope for the best - so cannot advise you on anything yet, possibly another month - good luck - oh and I hear that radox muscle soak is really good -

good luck

Persistance and Determination Always Win!
by: Laurence

You're going to do great Lynn.

My father-in-law used to grow lots of veg and when I first started courting his daughter (my lovely wife of course) I new nothing about growing vegetables.

I once helped him weed the patch (to get some browny points) but promptly dug up many of his strawberries :( . Ros and I had to elope!

Not really, he forgave me.

But there will be a learning curve and failures but as time goes on they get less with experience so don't give up.

Use containers on your deck space - you will get 30-40 carrots out of a large pot. Grow lettuce, salad leaves, spring onions etc in other containers.

Get the kids to sow carrot seed in pots in the shape of their initials.

See here for growing carrots in pots.

Go for it.

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