Space Saving Vegetables

You can grow vegetables in the littlest garden. Indeed in a plot 20 by 20 feet or smaller, you can raise enough to make gardening more fun and eating more interesting for a family of five. 

How? With good varieties capable of tiptop yield in small spaces and by succession cropping.

Saving VegetablesPin

Here are the types to look for: 

  • The determinate, non-sprawling or bush that takes a minimum of space while producing maximum yields in a short time; 
  • Hybrids that are earlier and, often, one-third more productive than their parents; 
  • Climbers that use minimum horizontal space when you train them up poles, fences, and trellises; 
  • Vegetables like lettuce, onions, and carrots that do well as close as a few inches apart in rows 15 to 18 apart
  • Long-standing foliage plants, which prolong harvest without curtailing yields, remain vigorously vegetative for an extended period and do not bolt nor go to seed quickly like ordinary types.


Determinate or bush types of vegetables yield generously and soon after planting. However, as with beans and tomatoes, their total production is concentrated quickly. 

While they last, you get plenty of fruits, pull plants out, and use their place for other vegetables.

Early Chatham, determinate, self-topping, extremely early tomato was developed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and has extended tomato production far northward into Canadian provinces.

It is ideal to start from seeds sown directly in the row. 

Transplants spaced a couple of feet apart, in rows 3′ feet apart, give 15 to 20 pounds of smallish, smooth fruits per plant beginning only 60 days after you set them in the garden. 

Sprawling Varieties

Branches do not lengthen beyond 24″ inches, so production drops abruptly as sprawling varieties come in later.

Fireball, equally early, bears larger tomatoes. Early Wonder, Victor, and Bounty are almost as early but have huge globular fruits.

Early Snap Beans

Top-crop and Wade, with green, round pods, are two excellent determinates or bush, extremely early snap beans. 

Robust and top quality, these out-yield (by 50% percent or more) some of the best older snap beans grown under similar conditions. 

They produce 40 to 45 days after planting. However, their season is only about 31/2 weeks long. 

You can prolong it by taking old plants out, making succession plantings 3 to 4 weeks apart until midsummer or 60 to 70 days before frost is expected in your area. 

And also by making simultaneous early plantings of the bush types and the later, longer-bearing pole types. 

Burpee TenderPod is early and brittle, and pods remain edible on the plant for a long time.

Early Prolific Straightneck Bush

Early Prolific Straightneck bush summer squash, an All-America silver medal winner, makes small plants that have gone over in a big way. 

Previous to this, rather large squashes produced only a few productive flowers. Not so Early Prolific Straightneck.

I have picked dozens of fruits from one plant. A half dozen should produce plenty for a family of five with healthy appetites.

Uconn, prolific, bush, acorn-type for baking, and Caserta, prolific, bush, Cocozelle, or Italian-type, are also very early, space-saving summer squashes of merit. 

Here again, a few plants spaced 2′ or 3′ feet apart supply sufficient fruits for a family all season.


The way the public took to sweet corn hybrids encouraged gardeners to develop others, notably tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. 

Any hybrid offered by your favorite species is bound to please you, and all are exceedingly productive.

Homegrown Sweet Corn

Homegrown sweet corn is so different from store-bought, so delicious, and such a treat that despite relatively low yields from the space allotted to it, everyone wants to grow it. 

Golden Cross Bantam cannot be beaten as a late corn, and many superb hybrids yield earlier.

Most seed merchants offer a great early hybrid tomato and a good later or main crop. 

Fordhook Hybrid And Moreton Hybrid

Notable among the earliest are Hybrid A, Fordhook Hybrid, and Moreton Hybrid. It is a remarkable fact that never fails to excite the mind. 

Hybrids are not only very uniform and productive but actually tend to ripen earlier than the earlier parent. 

Fine late or main crop hybrids are Burpee Big Boy and Hybrid No. 3. A look through your seed catalogs will reveal others.


Vegetables that sprawl instead of the bush (like Toperop beans, Fireball tomato, Uconn squash) you can train on stakes, poles, or against sunlit trellises or fences. 

Thus, space consumers like peas and cucumbers can be given rooms in little gardens along with the more popular pole beans, main crops, and late tomatoes.

Kentucky Wonder Snap Beans

Some great ones for training up are the snap beans Kentucky Wonder (brown seeds) and McCaslan (white seeds), which are similar and regarded as the best. 

They give long, round, green pods 60 days from planting till killing frost. Ideal Pole Lima and King of the Garden yield large-spaced, green-shelled lima beans 85 to 90 days from growing. 

Climbing Cucumber

Climbing cucumber China Long is a thrifty variety with fruit, long, slender, and superb for slicing and pickling.

The climbing garden pea Alderman, also known as Telephone Dark Podded, grows 5′ feet tall and yields long pods, well-filled with peas of fine quality, 60 days from planting. Unfortunately, it ends with hot weather.

Dwarf Tomatoes

You can train on stakes or trellises, all but definitely bush or dwarf tomatoes. Bonny Best and Stokesdale are fine oldish earlies. 

Marglobe, Burpee Big Boy Hybrid, fine main crop, or kites. Winsall, Crimson Colossal, and great beefsteak types (like any good strain of Ponderosa or Colossal) yield huge, mild-flavored fruits.

Foliage And Upright Crops

Even if you have nothing but a patch of a plot, you can grow lettuce, radishes, green onions, greens, beets, carrots, and others in rows as close as 12” to 15” inches apart. 

Moreover, you can sow very early to yield in spring and early summer and use the space they vacate for summer-sown crops.

In selecting lettuce, spinach, and other foliage crops, get the longstanding, slow-bolting that gives generous, long yields despite hot weather, along with good looks and flavor.

Long-standing means skillful seed breeding techniques have made it possible to endow a variety with the genetic capacity to remain strongly vegetative for long periods. 

Even under conditions of heat and drought that cause ordinary varieties to stop expanding and to go to seed. 

In this group belong the delicious and good-looking leaf lettuce Salad Bowl and spinaches America and Long Standing Bloomsdale.

Upright Vegetables

Vegetables that grow upright, like beets and carrots, require only enough space between rows to enable you to cultivate a few times during their early stages of development.

Remember, each beet seed is a cluster of seeds. So thinning excess young plants for use as greens and baby beets is essential. 

Thin, and you will get fine yields of egg-sized or larger beets. I know of no better varieties for the home garden than the Red-Cored Chantenay carrot and Detroit Dark Red Beet.

Varieties Of Spring-Sown and Summer-Sown

As for cabbage, get spring-sown or summer-sown early varieties like the pointed Jersey Wakefield or round Golden Acre. 

Set transplants, or thin seedlings, to only 16″ inches apart in the row. Thus you will get as great total yields from each row as you would from bigger, further spaced-out plants. 

About 60 days from transplanting, you can harvest firm enough, 2-pound heads.

44659 by Gordon Morrison