Try a small-scale garden this year

Published 6:24 am Monday, April 9, 2018

With more people living in urban areas, many think they do not have the space to garden. A new publication from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, ID-248: Gardening in Small Spaces, describes how you can garden in a limited area.

Besides space, an issue that may limit gardening is sunlight. Most vegetables require full sun conditions, which equals six or more hours of direct sunlight each day. If you have an open yard free of tall trees or a south facing sunny patio, you should have sufficient light. If you only get four hours or so of light try lettuce, spinach and radishes for the spring garden, or Swiss chard, cucumbers or winter squash for the summer garden.

Gardening with limited space is best done in raised beds or containers. Use raised beds for gardens in your yard. Beds can be made of many materials such as lumber made of wood, plastics or vinyl or concrete blocks. Kill or cover any existing grass within the bed area and add 6 to 8 inches of amended soil. Amended soil includes 25 percent garden soil and 75 percent organic matter such as a mixture of peat, humus and compost. Little fertilizer should be needed if the mix contains at least 25 percent compost.

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For patio gardening, use pots or other containers to grow vegetables. These containers should be filled with potting soil, not garden soil. Use containers large enough to provide soil for good plant root growth. Plants in containers will need occasional fertilizer. Consult the fertilizer label for specific instructions. Larger pots will need less frequent watering than small pots, although container vegetables may need water once a day in the heat of summer. Make sure there are drainage holes to allow excess water to escape the pot. A five gallon bucket is the perfect size for a tomato while a 10-inch pot will hold a hot pepper plant.

The Gardening in Small Spaces publication includes information on plant spacing for beds and containers.

A companion publication, ID-128: Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, provides information on planting dates and care instructions for most vegetables. Both publications are available online. Gardening in Small Spaces is available at Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky is at

You can also contact your Harlan County Extension office for a copy or additional gardening information.

Lora Davidson is the Harlan County Extension agent for family & consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.