How to grow vegetables in a small garden - an expert guide to a bountiful crop in a tiny space

You don't need lots of soil space to grow your own fruit and veg

Various potted herbs and plants growing on home wood balcony in summer, small vegetable garden concept
(Image credit: Alamy)

The grow your own movement might be one of the biggest things in gardening, but that doesn't mean you need lots of space to tackle the trend. In fact, it's surprisingly easy to learn how to grow vegetables in a small garden – which is good news for anyone who wants to hit their 5-a-day the homegrown way.

That's right: once you've sussed out how to start a small vegetable garden, you'll be able to grow your own vegetables, fruit, herbs and more in no time. Especially if you follow all of our expert tips and advice.

With that in mind, then, let's dive into the wonderful world of small space gardening, and get you on your way to a bountiful crop of tasty veggies.

How to grow vegetables in a small garden

'Vegetables can be grown in all size gardens – including patios and balconies, especially now there are many varieties available for smaller garden spaces,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex. 

Noting that there are plenty of vegetables to grow in pots and in hanging baskets, Morris goes on to say that the first thing you need to consider is this: which vegetables you actually like to eat.

'Grow what you enjoy rather than just trying to grow anything, because this means you will be using your space to grow vegetables that you will actually use when harvested,' he says.

Raised vegetable bed and pots in mid May planted with early peas, radish, shallots, garlic, potatoes, cabbage and lettuce

(Image credit: Alamy)

Keen to get started? Here, then, are all of our favourite ways to grow vegetables in a small garden.

1. Try hanging baskets

Strawberries growing in a hanging basket

(Image credit: Alamy)

The hanging basket GYO trend is the new 'it' way to grow edimentals in a small space, so long as you choose plants that will fit the shallow root conditions.

'Look at the size of the space you have and the size space needed to grow each of the vegetables you want to grow,' says Morris, noting that herbs, strawberries, and tomatoes are both excellent options for hanging baskets. 

'Start with the ones that require less space and go from there.'

2. Think vertically

Small vegetable garden with vertical herb planters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One excellent way to save space is to embrace all of the gorgeous living wall ideas out there and create a stylish vertical garden! 

'Many vegetables can be grown up a trellis such as squash and beans plus fruit such as tomatoes, cucumbers and melons,' says Morris, who says that using all available space will mean you're able to grow a lot more than you think in a small garden.

Patty Willems, PR manager of sustainable plant pot creator, elho, agrees. 'The sky is the limit, and the vegetables will be bountiful,' she says. 

'Aubergines, chillies, tomatoes, beans, and courgettes can all be grown upright, but some support for heavy vines might be necessary to prevent breakage.'

3. Take inspiration from the French

An array of potted flowers and vegetables in a greenhouse at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Companion planting is fast becoming one of the hottest garden trends around, but it's actually rooted (pun intended) in France's traditional potager gardens.

'Consider taking inspiration from potager gardens, where vegetables are planted in groups not rows, and flowers, herbs and fruit are also grown together in the same space,' suggests Morris. 

'This creates a lovely looking garden with a diversity of planting.'

4. Build a raised bed

Vegetables growing in raised garden beds at RHS Tatton Park

(Image credit: Future PLC/Howard Walker)

If you don't have lots of garden space – or you just want to dedicate a small portion of your backyard to your Grow Your Own dreams – then it's time to learn how to build a raised garden bed.

'You can use raised beds, upcycled containers and lots of pots if you have little ground space,' says Morris. 

'Salads, herbs, carrots, potatoes, kale... there is so much that can be grown in containers, so there’s no need to feel limited if you have a small garden.'

5. Give grow bags a go

Potatoes being grown in deep eco-friendly bags on a stone terrace. Shows how to grow food in a tiny garden area.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether it's growing tomatoes in grow bags or potatoes, these clever space-savers are a brilliant way to grow vegetables in a small garden.

'Growing in bags doesn’t necessarily mean less crops per plant either as the bag will soon fill up with fresh veg of various sizes – especially when it comes to potatoes,' says Morris.

6. Keep it compact


(Image credit: elho)

Don't put your greenhouse ideas to bed just because you have a small garden, because there's an array of compact innovations available to make growing your own vegetables a breeze – even on balconies and patios. 

'The compact-sized grow garden house from elho (as seen above) features adjustable compartments, ideal for dividing “cut and come again” salad leaves, fiery chillies or even flavoursome herbs and giving them enough space to thrive,' says Patty. 

'The transparent detachable lid fits snuggly on top to create a mini greenhouse environment and keeps the soil moist, while protecting the plants from damage caused by the weather and wildlife,' she adds.

'The large window also makes watering your precious produce easy!'

A pop-up grow greenhouse like this one from Asda would work just as well,

7. And finally... break the rules

A tabby cat standing near raised beds in an autumn vegetable garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes Photography)

It's easy to get bogged down by all of those oh-so-specific planting instructions, but (wait for it) you don't always have to pay attention to them – especially if you're working with a small garden space.

'The theory might say grow onions, for example, with 15cm space between each set,' says Morris, 'but if you don’t have that much space just plant them however close you need to and watch what happens.' 

He adds that you might get smaller crops, but that doesn’t mean they will be less tasty!


What vegetables are easy to grow in a small garden?

If you're wondering which vegetables are easy to grow in a small garden, you'll be pleased to know that many of the easiest vegetables for beginners are ideal for teeny-weeny spots.

Think garlic, potatoes, onions, beetroot, chard, spinach, carrots, herbs, tomatoes, and beans, to name just a few.

How do you grow a lot of vegetables in a small area?

Whether you embrace the world of chaos gardening, start growing vegetables in pots, or try planting your crops in beds rather than individual rows to allow for closer spacing, there are plenty of ways to grow a lot of vegetables in a small area.

Focus on giving the gardener space to work, rather than the crops themselves; contrary to popular belief, a surprising number of plants don't need that much space to thrive.

Now that you know how to grow vegetables in a small garden, it's time to set to work and get planting. Because, whether you decide to fill your balcony with potted edimentals or build a raised bed, there are so many ways to get that 5-a-day magic.

Good luck, everyone!

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.