There’s a commonly held view that growing veg is possible only if you have a large garden or access to an allotment. Tiny plots, courtyards or the balconies and window boxes of generation rent make grow your own impossible. Or do they? In Tiny Garden, Huge Harvest, Caleb Warnock sets out to prove otherwise.
The American self-sufficiency expert believes it’s possible to grow in the tiniest of spaces, in fact he says a small space can be beneficial: “For busy families, a tiny garden creates a manageable and sustainable workload.”
And he tells us that in a garden of just 8ft by 8ft, he managed to harvest 207lbs of veg.
The key is choosing the right things to grow – and the best varieties – and making full use of the space available.
In Tiny Garden, Huge Harvest, Warnock, who is based in the Rocky Mountains, sets out how to achieve this and passes on the tips and tricks for using space efficiently that he’s learned over the years.
In a small garden, there’s no room for passengers so the first rule is to grow only what you like to eat: “This may seem obvious at first, but surprisingly, many people fail to take this into consideration.”
Crops that take up a lot of room for relatively small reward, such as sweetcorn, are also best avoided and it pays to look carefully at the time from sowing to harvesting when choosing varieties.
One good trick is to grow things that give a long season of cropping. Cut-and-come-again lettuce is an obvious example but you could do the same with many other crops, including chard, kale and celery.
He also points out that the leaves of beetroot and turnips can be harvested for weeks before the roots are used, giving two crops in one.
Every inch of a small plot needs to earn its keep and successional sowing is a good way of making sure ground is never idle. A chart giving four possible crop plans is just one of many handy charts and there are also suggestions for things that will grow in shade.
Having outlined what to grow, the book turns to how to plan your space. This covers traditional small gardens, balconies, containers and even vertical gardens in a bookcase-sized area: “Imagine you are in a library standing in front of a shelf full of books – except instead of books, these shelves are lined with potted plants.” Even potatoes, cabbage and squash could be grown using this method, he says, while a trickle-down watering system is easy and efficient.
The book is small – just over 60 pages – pocket-sized, making it ideal for use outside, and easy to read with Warnock’s ideas clearly and simply explained. Unfortunately, while his ideas of sustainable, grow-your-own living are very current, the book has a rather dated feel due to the black-and-white photos, used, presumably, to keep production costs down.
It’s worth ignoring the initial impression this gives as the book has many easy and interesting ideas and, while it doesn’t cover how to grow, it would be ideal for novice or established gardeners who want to get more out of their garden.
• Tiny Garden, Huge Harvest by Caleb Warnock is published by Familius, RRP £4.99. Buy now (If you buy via the link, I get a small payment. The price you pay is not affected.)
• Review copy supplied by Familius.
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