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Gardens might be getting smaller, says Sue Stickland, but they can still give you valuable crops of vegetable – you just need to decide what to grow and what to leave out.

The community garden in my local Welsh town has about 40 ‘micro-allotments’ – plots which average only about 1.2m x 3m (4ft x 10ft).They are gardened by local people (one per individual, two per family) who have to make those difficult ‘shall I grow it or not?’ decisions every year, but that doesn’t put them off.The plots are amazingly full, healthy, and varied to look at, and there is a waiting list for taking one on.

As a volunteer at the garden, I frequently get asked for advice on choosing crops and I usually start by saying: “Well, it depends…”, because many different factors affect whether or not particular vegetables are good value for space.


Soil, sun and shelter all determine what will grow well. One advantage of a small plot is that it is not a big job to improve the soil – adding a couple of barrow loads of compost will make a significant difference, both lightening heavy clays (so you can grow good root crops, for example) and helping sandy soils retain moisture. Even if you have to buy bagged compost or soil conditioner from a garden centre, it won’t break the bank or your back.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

In this month's issue of Kitchen Garden... - Win gardening goodies Instant garden borders & more worth £1325 - Curry night grown by you - For the love of veg 10 pages of red hot growing advice - 27 big crops for tiny plots - Veggies from a jam jar - Prepare for spring 3 pages of essential top tips - 10 ways to boost your harvest - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall