Whether you are gardening by the square method, growing in raised beds or planting your vegetables in containers, choosing compact and dwarf varieties of vegetables preserve valuable garden space. Most dwarf cultivars of common vegetables create full-sized harvests, while some standard varieties are organic space misers. Dwarf varieties of vegetables need precisely the same light and soil conditions and fertilization as conventional varieties. Vegetables grown in containers or raised beds might need more frequent watering, since the roots might dry out faster.
Dwarf varieties of cabbages will take up just 8 to 12 inches of lawn space per plant. Try “Dwarf Head” or “Dwarf Morden” cabbage to preserve garden space. “Green Comet” broccoli is a compact plant, while “Little Miracle” broccoli was bred for containers and small gardens, requiring just 12 inches of distance. “Snow Crown” is a naturally streamlined cauliflower that produces full-sized heads, while “Violet Queen” provides a standard-sized head in an unusual purple color. Cauliflower requires slightly more elbowroom than broccoli and also can be planted 18 inches apart; if gardening in containers, you’ll also need a container 2 to 3 feet deep. Dwarf varieties of cabbage and compact broccoli cultivars require a 1-foot deep container.
Cucumbers, squash and melons, with their vining habit, would be the traditional space-takers from the garden. “Bush Baby,” “Bush Pickle” and “Bush Crop” cucumbers are mounding rather than sprawling varieties of cucumbers. They need no trellising, will consume just 1 square-foot of distance per plant and reunite full-sized cucumbers. “Spacemiser” zucchini is a compact-growing assortment of this magnificently heavily producing vegetable. Winter squash varieties that will grow in two- to 3-foot mounds rather than on sprawling vines include “Bush Acorn” and “Butterbush,” which produces full-sized butternut squashes. If growing in containers, give these streamlined vines containers which are at least 18 inches to 2 feet deep.
Compact varieties of tomatoes still need at least 2 ft of space in the backyard or a 2-foot-wide and 2- to 3-foot heavy container. “Containers Choice,” “Patio VF,” “Bush Celebrity” and “Early Girl” provide small to medium tomatoes on compact or dwarf plants. Many varieties of cherry tomatoes are organic space savers. “Husky Red Cherry’ is a compact plant with quarter-sized flowers that are red. “Yellow canary” produces small yellow fruits, while “Yellow Pear” provides a harvest of small, pear-shaped yellow tomatoes. Stake these compact or cherry tomato varieties to get the best use of your room.
“Little Gem,” Salad Bowl” and “Tom Thumb” varieties produce small heads of lettuce in only an 8-inch space. They will also grow in shallow containers 6 to 8 inches deep. “Bush Blue Lake” and “Bush Romano” beans need 1 foot of space per plant; they’re naturally compact varieties producing full-sized beans. Give them a container at least 12 inches deep. “Little Ball” and “Baby Canning” beets need just 6 inches of distance and create small beets acceptable for pickling or canning.