This page explains how to grow enough food for your whole family in small spaces, without any pest problems. With the right solutions, it’s very cheap and easy. You only need to dedicate about 5 minutes each day to ensure a productive garden. The alternative is perhaps 8 hours of work each day to buy food that’s loaded with unhealthy artificial preservatives.
This page focuses on the actual vegetables, but also see the pest control page to deal with various pests. Basically cheap insect netting solves all pest problems in one go.
IMPORTANT: Genetically modified vegetables produce seed that either doesn’t grow, or produces toxic vegetables. Only use “organic heirloom” seeds which are natural.
The Best & Easiest Vegetables to Grow
Below is a list of the best vegetables to grow. We consider various factors including how easy they are to grow, the nutrients they provide, and the amount of space you need. Click each link for detailed instructions.
Warragul greens (also called New Zealand Spinach): This may be one of the most important plants on Earth. It grows well in almost any conditions, is highly pest resistant, and quite nutritious. Once you plant it, you can forget about it and just harvest the leaves whenever you want. The only problem is it has high levels of oxalates as any spinach does, so you need to blanch the leaves (put in boiling water for 30 seconds then in cool water). If you are looking for great survival plants, this plant is a must. Unless you regularly harvest, it will grow out of control. That’s not such a bad thing if you want a constant food supply.
Broccoli: Easy to grow and super nutritious.
Garlic: Just plant and forget it. Very healthy and unique health benefits. You can just buy garlic from your supermarket, then split and plant each bulb. They’ll grow into full bulbs.
Spring onion: These have similar health benefits to garlic. They grow quickly and have barely any pest problems.
Silverbeet: Quick growing and hardy. It grows well in a wide range of conditions.
Kale: One of the most nutritious foods. A leafy green that grows quickly, but is vulnerable to insects and needs proper care.
Lettuce: Quick growing and nutritious. But pests loves them too, so they need close attention.
Tomatoes: Very productive summer fruit
Cucumbers: Quick growing and very productive
Beetroot: Productive and grows in the ground with very few pest problems.
Peas: Easy to grow. There are lots of varieties. For winter, grow snow peas.
Beans: Great source of protein. Easy to grow and spread. There are a lot of different varieties, so choose what grows well in your region.
Spinach: Very easy to grow. I suggest the “Warragul greens” variety as it’s quite hardy.
Potatoes: Loads of energy, filling and very easy to grow. You can easily grow them in buckets or even bags. The soil should be light and loose.
Peppers / Capsicum: Highly nutritious.
Carrots: One of the most productive vegetables. Space them out or you’ll get lots of smaller carrots instead of large ones. In either case you will get lots of food for little work.
Mushrooms: Easy to grow and excellent nutrition. They are a great source of protein and grow in the dark.
When To Plant and Harvest
The site http://www.gardenate.com is a brilliant website that tells you when you need to plant and harvest your vegetables. It allows you to specify where in the world you live, and your climate.
Growing Vegetables In Small Spaces
Vertical Gardens: If you have limited space, a vertical garden may be what you need. There are countless simple and affordable solutions. If you have a higher budget, you can find ready-made vertical garden kits from your hardware store or even ebay. Otherwise they are easy enough to make yourself.
Pots and tubs: You can also grow most vegetables in pots or tubs, so you can move them around as needed. You can also use portable shelves to hold the pots, and they’ll still get enough light to grow well. Just make sure the shelves can support the weight, especially when the pots are full of growing plants and wet soil. Try to avoid using black pots because they will overheat in the summer and damage your plants, although you can move them in the shade if needed. Also give careful consideration to pot depth because shallow pots will inhibit growth.
If you have above-ground gardens, they tend to dry out quickly in the summer which can kill the plant.
The Fastest-Growing and Most Nutritious Food To Grow In Small Spaces
Spirulina is a super-nutritious food that grows quicker than any other food. It is easily grown in very small spaces. It has almost all the protein and vitamins you will ever need. Just a small amount of it gives you the same nutrition of a meal of vegetables. So it’s no surprise that it is a leading candidate for astronauts to produce their own food in space.
Essentially Spirulina is an algae, but don’t let this put you off because it has virtually no taste or odour. You can mix it with other foods, or even blend it into fruit smoothies.
Its only downside is it’s not an exactly a huge satisfying meal. But you can combine it with more filling foods like rice or potatoes.
- Super nutritious – it has almost everything your body needs
- Perfect survival food. Can be dried and stored.
- Grows very quickly
- Cheap to grow
- Virtually no taste or odour, so you can mix it with anything.
- Not a filling meal (must be combined with more filling foods)
- Requires equipment (like water tank, water heater etc)
- More technical than planting a seed
If you are looking for the ultimate superfood to grow, either in a survival situation or just for good health, this is what you’re looking for. Spirulina could easily end world hunger. An entire family could be fed from a very small space.
Food for thought: Raising one cow to eat takes 3 years and about 1/4 acre of land, and it partially feeds a family for a few weeks. If the same 1/4 acre was used to grow Spirulina, it would provide over 100 times more nutrition forever. Growing Spirulina may be the most productive use of space ever.
Your body needs more than just vegetables. You also need proteins.
Eggs (how to produce eggs): Chickens can easily survive on your left-over food and bugs they find themselves. Usually each chicken produces one egg per day, which is a great source of protein. You will need to properly protect chickens from predators such as foxes. If there is a way into the pen, foxes will find it. They will easily dig under fences, and reach through and grab sleeping chickens. Foxes are very persistent.
Milk (milk from goats): Goats will eat grass that grows everywhere, and they’ll provide you with all the milk and calcium you’ll ever need. You usually only need one.
Fish (raising fish for food): Raising fish is not overly difficult but you need to take care of their water. You can create automatic systems that use their waste to fertilize your vegetable garden, while filtering their water in a symbiotic arrangement. You can produce fish in a limited space with the right equipment.
In the event of natural disasters, its good to know what you can eat to survive. Below are resources which are invaluable in case of a disaster:
Common Wild Food | Weeds You Can Eat
Also consider growing Spirulina if you are in a survival situation, as it grows very quickly and has almost everything your body needs.
See the Pest Control page for more detail. Dealing with pests is much easier than you might think.
Automatic Watering & Hydroponic Systems
Natural rain is all you need although manually watering vegetables will certainly make a difference. But if you are particularly lazy, you may prefer an automatic watering system. This is typically just a bunch of tubes and carefully placed sprinklers with a tap timer. It’s not difficult to setup and does the watering for you.
Many people also prefer hydroponic systems where there is no actual soil. The plants are placed in a series of tubes, and are fed by specially prepared nutrient-rich water. The main advantages of this is your vegetables will grow significantly quicker, and you need much less water. Hydroponic systems don’t need to be expensive if you know how to build things, but carefully select your components because many have toxic chemicals that will leech into plants.
- Most vegetables will grow in just about any soil, but I suggest pay attention to the type of soil each vegetable prefers.
- If you find some vegetables don’t appear to grow well, it could be the soil is too sandy, too acidic, or too alkaline. It could also be missing trace minerals or something else.
- In most cases though, you don’t need to get out a soil test kit to make everything perfect, provided your soil isn’t visibly “lifeless”. Good soil is usually reasonably light and full of organic matter. Bad soil is often full of clay or sand.
- Each year you need to refresh soil to ensure healthy plants. One solution is a compost bin where you put food scraps into it, add some soil and live worms, then just leave it. The worms then eat the scraps and excrete perfect natural fertilizer. Each season before you re-plant vegetables, plough the old soil and mix in some of the fertilizer.
- Unless you add something to the soil such to renew it, don’t grow the same plant in the same place each season. This is because specific plants use elements of the soil, and there may not be much of it left for the next season. But the same soil might be perfect for another vegetable. So rotate the positions of your vegetables, and pay attention to the needs of each plant. If you are lazy you can usually just ignore soil quality, and things will still grow, but sometimes not well. If conditions are particularly bad, then vegetables may grow very poorly.