Veggies for tight spots

When I look out my back door and imagine the garden I hope to create this spring and summer, I count myself blessed and fortunate. Not everyone has even a half acre in which to plant almost everything they want to grow. Just do a Google search for “urban gardening” and you’ll find hundreds of articles on the topic, as interest in living self-sufficiently expands into cities where many people have only a small patio or even just a window sill in which to grow.

Thankfully, plant breeders are starting to catch up, offering dwarf varieties of vegetables like tomatoes and eggplant, that can be successfully grown without requiring a lot of space. I decided to scour the seed catalogs and list all these varieties in one place.

Tomatoes:

  • Minibel (determinate) – tops out at about 12″ without sacrificing fruit production
  • Patio Princess hybrid (determinate) – 1-2′, produces 4-5 oz. fruit
  • Tumbler hybrid (determinate) – a tomato for hanging baskets! Early harvest, up to 6lbs of 1 oz. tomatoes

Corn:

  • On Deck hybrid – maxes out at 4-5′, 2 to 3 bicolor ears per stalk
  • Blue Jade – open pollinated heirloom variety that tops out at 3′, producing interesting steel blue kernels that turn jade blue when boiled

Cukes:

  • Spacemaster – short, compact vines; still produces respectable 7″ long fruits; resists scab and cucumber mosaic virus
  • Salad Bush Hybrid – similar to Spacemaster but with slightly larger fruit (8″), higher disease resistance; an AAS winner
  • Picklebush – a compact pickling cucumber with 2′ vines and tolerance of downy mildew and cucumber mosaic virus

Eggplant:

  • Patio Baby – compact, dwarf variety that tops out at 24 inches; thornless and less bitter than other varieties and produces 2-3″ long egg-shaped black fruit

Okra:

  • Baby Bubba hybrid – stays about half the height of traditional okra plants
  • Gold Coast – open pollinated heirloom; compact, 5′ plants, resists root-knot nematodes

Squash:

  • Butterbush – a shorter-vined version of the classic butternut squash, only 3′ vines
  • Patio Star zucchini – half the size of most zucchini plants, full size fruit

Watermelon:

  • Sugar Pot – compact plants only get about 12 to 24″ in diameter yet still yielding 8-10lb fruit
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