Working in the Garden – Doing A Lot With Limited Space

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Working in the Garden - Doing A Lot With Limited Space | Follow Me on Pinterest

I am constantly surprised at what you can do with a small space in regards to gardening. I have been able to grow a lot in my teeny tiny yard. My garden area is 5 feet by 12 feet. It takes up about half of the backyard – the other half is a concrete pad. But, I still manage to produce quite a bit of food, and I’m hoping this year will be even better. I’m learning more about what works and what doesn’t, and I have made a commitment to fertilize my garden often (once per week)! And no, that will NOT include peeing on my garden! 🙂

Garden in 2010 Follow Me on Pinterest

In-ground garden in 2010

The first two years that we lived here, I just dug an in-ground garden. I was able to grow lettuce, greens, and tomatoes quite nicely. I didn’t have much luck with peppers or cucumbers. This year, I am using a raised bed, which I created last fall. I used 6″x8″x16″ concrete blocks to create it. Then, I filled it in with a 50/50 ratio of top soil and compost. I also stirred in some organic matter up until the ground froze. This spring, I treated it with some minerals and added in a little more compost. So far, my seedlings are coming up great.

I don’t know how many people tell me that they don’t have the space to garden. Well, that’s simply not true. Even if you live in an apartment or condo, it’s amazing what you can do. There are also many great resources out there that can help you. Growing your own food is empowering. It makes you feel good about yourself – gives you a true sense of accomplishment. When you can go out and pick some lettuce, tomatoes, and other veggies for a salad, you are taken back to a simpler time when food was produced at home, rather than big factories in dirty cities. In addition to better quality food, it’s also more eco-friendly than buying produce in the grocery store. You don’t have all the expenses of labor and transportation coming out of your pocket.

Now that I am crazy about gardening, it makes me want to do more to be sustainable. But, a lot of the other stuff requires more space than I have right now – like chickens. Some day! For more pictures of my garden, check out my 2009, 2010, and 2011 albums on Facebook!

I highly recommend the fertilizers and soil amendments from MightyGrow Organics. This is my sister and brother-in-law’s company and they are master gardeners and experts when it comes to soil health. They have a very unique process for creating the soil amendments they offer and their products have helped re-build the health of some of the poorest quality soils around. I personally use their products on both my garden and my houseplants, as does our mom and other friends. Check them out here, or visit them on Facebook. They also run an organic gardening group on Facebook called “Gardening For Nutrition – Growing Nutrient Dense Food“. If you’re on Facebook, I recommend checking that group out.

If you’re a budding urban gardener, here are some of my favorite resources – I checked the books out at my local library. If you do a catalog search for “gardening”, “container gardening”, “urban homesteading”, “sustainable living”, etc., you’ll find enough information to keep you busy for quite some time!

container gardening Follow Me on Pinterest

Pepper and tomato plants in containers

The Urban Organic Gardener – Mike Lieberman is the man behind this website. He’s a super nice guy and very knowledgeable about growing food in small spaces. He has tons of tutorials on a variety of gardening projects.

Life on the Balcony – Another great  resource for container gardening in apartments, condos, etc. The author, Fern Richardson, has lots of great info and videos that are sure to help your container garden, big or small, start growing!

Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Yourself Guide – I really liked this book. It has a lot of pretty in-depth info (IMO) on how you can be sustainable in the big city. It’s more than just gardening too. It’s collecting water, managing waste, and alternative energy sources too.

The Backyard Homestead – This is another really in-depth book about urban homesteading. They talk about gardening, but they also talk about chickens, goats, food preservation, making cheese, etc. Pretty much all the things you can do to be self-sufficient in the city. It’s more than I can bite off right now, but someday, I hope to have chickens and maybe a cow and a MUCH bigger garden!

Fresh Food From Small Spaces – This is the perfect book for people living in condos, apartments, or town homes with limited access to the outdoors. The author does a great job of going step-by-step on how to get things set up and what all you can do in a teeny little space.

These are just a few of the resources out there that can get you started with gardening, urban homesteading, and sustainable living. I’d love to hear about your favorite resources. Leave me a comment below and tell me what sites you love to read about any of these topics! I look forward to hearing from you!

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food wellness educator and the founder of the Delicious Obsessions website. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. She began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she's been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.



  1. Aww…come on. You know you want to convert your vegetable pot into an outdoor restroom. 😛

    • Hi Fern! Thank you for stopping by and commenting! You know, if my dogs could get to my garden, they would gladly “fertilize” for me! But, alas, they are banned from that area!!! 🙂


      Posted 06/04/11

  2. Okay, enough with the potty humor. But seriously, urine is a GREAT source of nitrogen in a plant-ready form, ammonia, the type that plants love the most.

    There is a movement (no pun intended) in Mexico where urban dwellers, living WAY below the poverty line, are growing lettuce in an improvised “earth box” filled with just leaves, to which the family adds its liquid fertilizer. Lettuce can be grown with not much more than urine and water. Not that you are going to get super nutritious lettuce that way, but it’s almost free and any kind of fresh veggie is important to those living on such limited means.

    Then the next year they will get red worms and food scraps from local grocers to add to their now decomposed leaves. Voila, you have the basis for a small, container garden using only what is available. And the worms convert the food waste to a nearly perfect fertilizer, that they can use to grow “real” food. Apparently, there are large numbers of people south of the US border supplementing their diets this way.

    One permaculture farmer in Kentucky has several interns that work on her farm every summer. She encourages her interns to go out into the field and find something yellow and PEE on it. 🙂


    Posted 03/02/12

    • Things you don’t want to hear your husband say as you finish your salad,
      “The lettuce is really doing great now that I started peeing on it…”
      “ON IT????”
      “Well, mostly just around it….”


      Posted 03/02/12

    • Hmmm. Yeah. Not sure how to respond. I totally believe you. I guess I’m just not quite that crunchy yet … maybe some day … but not now! 🙂


      Posted 03/03/12

  3. I don’t see as being that big of a deal… people really need to reconsider what ‘natural’ is and understand how our ecosystems work. Permaculture is a great way to get into this… lots of information and very accessible. We have become so used to a sterilised (and unhealthy) world that things gross us out so easily. Think about how other people view raw milk, fermentations or eating ‘weird’ animal parts – the mental step is often huge but the reality is not when armed with information.


    Posted 03/03/12

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