Choosing what to grow in a small veggie plot is a fun part of gardening. Right now, seed companies are sending out catalogs, and garden centers are setting up their seed displays. Pictures in the catalogs and on the seed packets all look so good!
With so many wonderful seed options, how can we make choices that will be good for our own gardens?
Besides choosing crops that our families will actually enjoy eating, it helps to find out which varieties do well in our region, and it also helps to choose varieties that have been developed to stay smaller than the full-size versions.
Smaller crops can be easier to tend, since they stay “in bounds”, and a lot of the smaller varieties have a shorter time to maturity. ‘Little Gem’ Romaine lettuce is just 6 inches tall (super cute!) and should be ready to harvest as a full head in just 46 days. ‘Tom Thumb’ Butterhead lettuce is another small variety, taking 60-65 days to reach full size, and it has done very well in my own garden.
Clues to mature size are often right in the name of the variety. Look for the words like spacemaster, bush, gem, little, baby, and jewel.
Of course, some veggies are naturally space-saving, all on their own. Carrots, radishes, and beets, for example, which only need a square of space 3-to-5 inches across per plant to grow well, can all be good choices for gardeners working with smaller spaces.