Choosing Edibles When Space Is Limited

Of course, in some sense, space is always limited, whether you measure your garden in number of pots or number of acres. We all have choices to make about how we will allocate our growing space.

For those in need of edible plant ideas for their containers, I recommend edible flowers like dwarf nasturtiums and tiny, always-fruiting strawberries like the alpine strawberry ‘Mignonette.’ That one is easy to grow in window boxes or as a ground cover in a larger garden.

But what every gardener needs is a value system that helps them make the hard choices about what to grow year after year.

At Maplehurst, I’ve learned over time which edible crops hit the bullseye of delicious, easy to grow, and either expensive or impossible-to-find in the supermarket. Here are those that make my list year after year:


  • Fingerling potatoes: Easy, prolific, and absolutely delicious. Fingerlings can be expensive, but fill a single raised bed with them, and you will almost take them for granted for a month or more each summer. I love growing the ‘La Ratte’ variety from Seed Savers.
  • Ground Cherries: Sweet cherry-like fruits that you can grow from seed in one season? Yes, please! Ground cherries grow in a papery husk and taste like a cross between a cherry, a tomato, and a pineapple. They make the most beautiful and delicious jam. I grow them in a raised bed covered in black plastic, which makes the papery husks much easier to collect when they fall off, ripe, from the plant. ‘Aunt Molly’s’ is a great variety.
  • Leeks: There’s nothing like potato leek soup, but leeks can get pricy at the store.
  • Asparagus: If you have a spot for it, a perennial food crop like asparagus is well worth planting. The plants are long-lasting, and the flavor of fresh-picked can’t be beat.
  • Japanese sweet potatoes: I was introduced to these nutty-tasting sweet potatoes with white flesh by a friend who lived in Japan for many years. They are more nutritious than plain white potatoes, but the pale color fools my kids into eating them. I like ‘Murasaki.’
  • Thornless blackberries: Easy to grow, easy to harvest, and delicious straight from the canes or baked into a cobbler. We grow ‘Chester Thornless.’

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March 10, 2020

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