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How to Grow Lots of Food in a Small Yard

Updated on July 6, 2024
I love my little "farm"!
I love my little "farm"! | Source

My Suburban Farm

We live in a smallish town in South Georgia. If my neighborhood were near a larger city, it would probably be described as “suburban.” Our yard is on the small side, measuring 1/3 acre. Of course, all that isn’t growing area. The house takes up part of the yard, and the east side yard gets very little sunlight. The back yard is completely taken up by the doggie play yard, the pool, and a huge deck. The west side yard isn’t ideal for growing veggies because it doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, so that pretty much leaves me with the front yard for my vegetable garden. You’d be surprised by how much food I grow in such a small area!

We grow a lot of food in our container garden!
We grow a lot of food in our container garden! | Source

What I Grow

I always have a spring garden and a fall garden. Because of our long growing season and mild winters, there’s always something growing in my garden. In the spring and summer, we usually grow:

Bell peppers

Bush green beans

Cherry tomatoes



Jalapeno peppers


Pole beans



Summer squash

Sweet potatoes



In the fall, I usually grow:




Collard greens

Lettuces (different types)

Mustard greens



Swiss chard

One of my apple trees.
One of my apple trees. | Source

Fruits I Grow

In addition to vegetables, I also have fruit trees, bushes, vines, and plants. I have four apple trees, four peach trees, two satsuma orange trees, blueberry bushes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, three dwarf banana trees, and grapes. I plan to add two cherry trees in the fall.

Remember that some fruit trees and plants are a longterm investment. It might be several years before you get any fruit. On the other hand, we've picked strawberries and blueberries from newly planted plants, and we harvested two varieties of apples, blackberries, and raspberries from plants and trees that were planted the previous year.

Don’t Forget the Herbs!

I always make room for herbs. In fact, some come back every year! I grow rosemary, sage, dill, oregano, chives, garlic chives, basil, and mint. Fresh herbs impart incredible flavor to the foods I cook! Best of all, most herbs are super easy to grow and maintain. Growing herbs is a great way for you to sample container gardening.

Where we once had boxwood shrubs, we now grow delicious blueberries!
Where we once had boxwood shrubs, we now grow delicious blueberries! | Source

Take Advantage of the Space You Have

I don’t plow up the yard in order to grow food. Instead, I use containers for vegetables, herbs, root crops, and strawberries. Not only is this a great way to maximize space, but it’s also much easier on my back. I have spinal stenosis, so there’s no way I could tend an inground garden. With my container garden, I can take my chair from plant to plant.

Another way to maximize your garden space is to grow up instead of out. To do this, we use stakes, cages, and trellises. Last year my husband built me a large trellis, and I supplied it with grow bags from Amazon. First, I grew sweet potatoes on the trellis and in the grow bags. They worked great! Now I’m growing pole beans in the bags, and they’re happily climbing up the trellis.

I have strawberries growing on the deck around the swimming pool, and I grow blueberry bushes in shrubbery beds in the front yard. We used to have boxwood shrubs

there, but now we have blueberries! We made long wooden planters for the blackberries and raspberries.

Make sure wherever you decide to plant that your plants get a good amount of sun, with a minimum of six hours a day.

One of my berry beds.
One of my berry beds. | Source

The Containers I Use

I use a variety of containers for my garden. I’ve already mentioned grow bags, but I also use flower pots, plastic Walmart storage containers, and 5 gallon buckets. Actually, one of my favorite types of containers was free. A friend who raises cattle gave me his empty feed supplement buckets, which are big!

You can use most any type of container for growing plants, as long as it insures proper drainage. The biggest problem I hear from container gardeners is plants’ retaining too much water. We use a drill to make numerous drainage holes in the bottoms of the containers.

I love grow bags!
I love grow bags! | Source

Why I Love Grow Bags

I’d read some great reviews from other container gardeners about grow bags. To be honest, I was a little skeptical, but I ordered some, anyway. I’ve been very pleased with them! They come in a variety of sizes, and they’re made of semi-permeable fabric, which means they don’t hold too much water, nor do they allow the plants to dry out too quickly. I was worried the bags wouldn’t be sturdy enough, but they’ve proven to be very sturdy. My plastic containers often get brittle and break after months of exposure to harsh sunlight, but I don’t have to worry about that with grow bags. Another thing I like is that they have strong handles attached, so moving plants around is easy.

A Note About Fruit Trees

If you’re not familiar with different types and species of fruit trees, ask for advice. Talk to growers who live in your area to find out what they grow and which varieties they recommend. Otherwise, it’s probably best to purchase trees from a local nursery. First, decide if you want dwarf trees, semi dwarf trees, or standard trees. Remember that in most cases, even the growth of standard size trees can be somewhat controlled by pruning.

Two of my apple trees bore fruit just one year after being planted.
Two of my apple trees bore fruit just one year after being planted. | Source

How Much Food Can You Really Grow in a Small Space?

I grow a lot of food in our little yard! I usually have plenty for us to eat fresh, to preserve, and to share with family and friends. When you take excellent care of your plants, shrubs, and trees, you’ll get a bigger harvest. We enjoy fresh fruits from April through December, and we usually harvest fresh veggies and herbs all year.

To preserve foods I grow, I make jellies, jams, pickles, and relishes. I also freeze a lot of vegetables and herbs. I freeze sweet potatoes and pumpkins, too. If you have a good place for dry storage, you can store apples, onions, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes for several months. Furthermore, it’s easy to dry herbs.

Growing your own food is satisfying, enjoyable, and healthy.
Growing your own food is satisfying, enjoyable, and healthy. | Source

A Final Word

Growing your own food is one of the most fulfilling activities you’ll ever do! I realize it’s not for everyone. Some homeowners prefer to have a manicured lawn, which is nice to look at but doesn’t really serve much of a purpose. My motto is “groceries over grass!” Stepping into your yard and harvesting fruits and vegetables you grew yourself is very rewarding, and it’s also healthy. You know exactly where the food came from, how it was grown, and when it was harvested. You won’t have to run to the store every time you need a few sprigs of rosemary, a tomato, or a bell pepper, either. If, like me, you prefer food over a perfect lawn, get busy growing your own food!

© 2024 Holle Abee


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