How to Plant a Small-Space Organic Garden

Psst! Here's a secret we hope you won't keep to yourself: You can grow an organic garden brimming with delicious herbs, juicy tomatoes, and other luscious veggies even if you only have a few sunny feet to spare. A patio, balcony, or even just a front step is enough space to grow your own food. First order of business: Choose whether you want to grow in containers or a small raised bed.

How to Plant a Small-Space Organic Container Garden

Planting in pots is the simplest way to go. Whether you have room for just a single container or a whole cluster, you can grow culinary herbs for the kitchen, ingredients for a salad, or your favorite beefsteak tomatoes for BLTs. Yum!

Secrets for Success:

  • Make sure the spot you choose gets enough sun for the plants you want to grow. Greens like lettuce and kale, along with many herbs (think parsley, thyme, mint) can get along with just 4 hours of sunlight, while veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, not to mention light-loving herbs like basil and rosemary, need at least 6 hours. (The plant tag will tell you how much light each new green baby needs.)
  • Give your small-space organic garden a head-start toward an impressive harvest by skipping the seeds and planting strong young veggies and herbs.
  • Use self-watering containers to keep your veggies growing strong. As plants get bigger, their roots start take up more of the container, leaving less room for the soil needed to supply the moisture they need between waterings. A self-watering pot provides extra water storage in the bottom of the container, so there's less chance that you'll return from a little weekend getaway to find your cucumbers all shriveled up.
  • Make the most of your space by grouping different container sizes and shapes. Put the taller, larger pots with bigger plants toward the back (so they won't block the sun), with smaller containers in the front. Use every inch available, including corners and ledges. You can even make a multi-level container garden on a set of steps or by using the top of a low wall. Get a sneak peek at what your garden will look like by placing containers before you plant and eyeballing the overall arrangement. Not sure what size container you'll need? Our How to Pick the Right Pot for Your Plant article is a great reference, plus it's a good idea to check the plant tag that comes with each plant.
  • Create culinary combo containers like a pizza garden, salad garden, kitchen herb garden, or salsa garden. For example, a salad garden might contain a few lettuce plants, a kale plant, a parsley plant, and a few green onions. An kitchen herb container could hold sage, thyme, and rosemary, giving you big flavor from a small space.

Time to Plant!

  1. Fill the container ⅓ full of Miracle-Gro® Organics Potting Mix for Vegetables & Herbs. Made from organic and natural ingredients, including aged compost, this light, fluffy mix gives plant roots a seriously nurturing environment. Plus, you'll end up with twice the harvest (vs. unfed plants)!
  2. Remove plants from their original pots and place them in the new container. Be sure to check the spacing requirements on the plant tags.
  3. Fill the rest of the pot with more potting mix, stopping about an inch below the rim of the container to leave room for watering.
  4. Water well right after planting. If you planted your small-space organic garden in self-watering containers, you'll want to check the reservoirs regularly to make sure they stay full. Otherwise, check daily and water when the top inch of soil is dry.
  5. A month after planting, feed plants with Miracle-Gro® Organics Plant Food Granules for Vegetables & Herbs, which is specially designed to keep both plants and beneficial soil microbes happy by providing just the right nutrients for great growth. Repeat every 6 weeks during the growing season, making sure to follow label directions. Then, be sure to follow up with Miracle-Gro® Organics Water Soluble Plant Food for Vegetables & Herbs every 7 days for greater results.

How to Plant a Small-Space Organic Raised Bed Garden

If you have a small yard or patio that gets a good daily dose of sunlight—think 6 hours or more, in case you ever want to grow "full sun" plants like tomatoes and peppers—you probably have enough room for a small organic raised bed garden. 

Secrets for Success:

  • If you put the raised bed on a patio and the frame doesn't have a solid bottom, you may want to line it with landscaping cloth to keep the soil from falling through any cracks.
  • A 12-inch high bed will be enough for most veggie plants, though if you plan to stick with small plants like lettuce, herbs, or annual flowers, a 6-inch depth will also do the job.
  • Always check the plant tags so you know how much space to leave between plants.
  • Plant some flowers and herbs in your raised beds, too. Not only are they pretty, but they'll also draw pollinators and some may even help repel insect pests.

Time to Plant!

  1. Fill the bed with Miracle-Gro® Organics Garden Mix for Vegetables and Herbs. This will give you a just-right blend of fluff (so that oxygen can reach the plants' roots) and density (for plant support). Both the soil and the container mix contain compost, which is full of microorganisms that help feed the soil and nourish your plants.
  2. Plant each of your plants to the depth noted on the plant tag. Vining plants, such as peas and cucumbers, and tall plants like tomatoes should be planted along the north side of the garden bed so they hog all sunlight.
  3. Follow steps 4 and 5 in the section above.

Whether you plant your small space organic garden in containers or a raised bed, know that you when you follow these tips, your harvest will be anything but small! To find out more about growing an organic garden, check out our How to Grow an Organic Garden article.