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Offset rows

Small-Space Gardening Tips

Gardenerd HQ was recently graced with a visit from John Kohler of Growing Your Greens,where he shot a lengthy video highlighting the bio-intensive power of our small-space garden. We grow 70% of the produce we eat in under 300 square feet. Bio-intensive gardening is our specialty.

We started growing on a balcony, then an apartment patio with inadequate sunlight. Then we graduated to a community garden plot with full sun. Our 15×15-foot space still pumps out produce season after season, but Gardenerd HQ has a little bit more space, 12×17′. Here are our techniques for growing a lot of food in a small space.

Use Bio-intensive Methods

We use a combination of Square Foot Gardening from Mel Bartholomew and GROW BIOINTENSIVE from John Jeavons. We toggle between planting per square foot like this:

Radishes and kale planted in Square Foot Gardening fashion, 1 per sq. ft. for brassicas, 4 per sq. ft. for lettuces and bok choy, and 16 per sq. ft for root veggies.

…and planting hexagonally or in offset rows like this:

Our 4×4 bed is planted on 5″ centers in offset or hexagonal rows.
hexagonal planting1
Offset rows work great for growing a lot of one thing, like wheat, corn, shelling peas or other cover crops.

It’s More Than Spacing!

You can’t expect to grow food successfully in a bio-intensive fashion without starting with (and maintaining) incredible soil. Plants that share root space need more nutrients to deal with competition. Here’s what we use:

  • Home made biologically active compost, compost tea, and worm castings to fortify soils with beneficial microbes, nutrients, and minerals so plants can grow big and strong.
  • Organic veggie fertilizer if needed.
  • Mulch to feed soil microbes (mulch is a fungal food).

If you don’t start with the best possible soil, you won’t see success. Feed your soil, not your plants!

Watch the Tour and Interview Here

Check out John’s video tour of Gardenerd HQ and the interview that follows. The interview starts at 41:25.

Find more information about bio-intensive gardening in Gardening for Geeks (new edition coming soon in 2020). Or check out these blog posts:

Podcast – Grow BioIntensive with John Jeavons

Grow BioIntensive Training – Part 1

Margo and Dan’s BioIntensive Farm

Beef up your garden productivity with small-space, biointensive methods like these. Get the most out of your space and help restore the planet at the same time.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ashley

    Hi Christy! It was neat to see John at your place and see how you’re able to grow so much in a small space. Loved seeing GreenStalk again!

    Ashley Skeen
    GreenStalk Garden

  2. Dana

    Fantastic interview with John Kohler! Loved it! I strongly recommend this one.

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