Vegetable Gardening: What’s Your Style?

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Discover Your Gardening Style

There are so many different styles of gardening that you should easily discover your niche in this ever-expanding world. Here are a few to explore:

  • Row, inground
  • Raised beds
  • Intensive
  • Square foot
  • Container
  • Vertical
  • Frugal
  • Community
  • Organic versions of the above

Inground Row Gardening

New garden space dug out of turf in May 2011.  Notice wide rows vs. single rows.

New garden space dug out of turf in May 2011. Notice wide rows vs. single rows.

Garden in the ground, usually a fairly large plot, can have single or wide rows. This bed was double dug. Notice how I dug the walkways out and moved the soil onto the wide rows to create slightly raised beds. In areas with clay soil you can actually water the walkways and the water will seep horizontally into the wide rows.

New garden area in August.  Pumpkins went crazy.

New garden area in August. Pumpkins went crazy.

Raised Beds — Wooden

Two wooden raised beds with tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, garlic, snow peas

Two wooden raised beds with tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, garlic, snow peas


The easiest way to start a garden is to build one or two wooden beds, plop them down on top of the grass and fill with soil and compost. Instant garden. Can cost a bit of money, though.

Intensive Gardening

Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers (left), lettuce, spinach, garlic, carrots, herbs, snow peas (right)

Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers (left), lettuce, spinach, garlic, carrots, herbs, snow peas (right)


Whether in ground or raised beds, this method is preferred by most modern gardeners. Plant close together, mix different vegetables that share similar needs, and the plants shade the soil to hinder the growth of weeds. Does require staking, vigilance against pests, powdery mildew and other diseases. My favorite gardening style.

Square Foot Gardening

Nearly identical to Intensive Gardening. Mel Bartholemew’s book of this title is a great resource for any beginning or experienced gardener. Grow a lot in a little space. Companion planting, vertical gardening, consecutive plantings, and so on make this a very practical way to grow vegetables at home.

Container Gardening

Fall veggies in containers on deck

Fall veggies in containers on deck


Do you rent? Don’t have the space in your yard? Not enough sunlight? Buy a few large containers, fill with good soil and organic compost and grow your tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, beans, peppers and whatever else you want wherever you get the most sunlight. This is a great method for beginners. Containers do require more water and feeding, though. Be sure to have a garden hose within reach of your containers. Hauling a watering can to any spot quickly makes container gardening a chore.

Vertical Gardening

Suyo Long cucumber growing on trellis in wooden raised bed

Suyo Long cucumber growing on trellis in wooden raised bed


Many vegetables lend themselves to growing on trellises. A trellis can be as simple as two $1.50 wooden stakes and a small piece of chicken wire to large, expensive structures.

Frugal Gardening

Canned tomatoes: had leftover tomato plants.  Did not grow many tomatoes; containers were too small.  Be creative!

Canned tomatoes: had leftover tomato plants. Did not grow many tomatoes; containers were too small. Be creative!


I mention this separately because you can grow vegetables anywhere and in nearly anything. Use only what you have on hand, barter for some heirloom seeds, and go for it. Americans are so into having everything picture perfect that they sometimes forget what they are really doing: growing food. The food doesn’t care if you have expensive tools or pretty pots, or if your wooden beds are exactly the same size, or if you have commercial trellises. You can grow vegetables in any container large enough to hold soil and the roots. Please do take into consideration the composition of the container: you don’t want your soil and plants to pick up toxins.

Community Gardens

Don’t have the space or money for even soil and containers? Join a community garden. For a small fee you can rent a garden plot and have access to many resources. I enjoyed the community garden in the Burnett Road area when I lived in Austin, Texas. Great way to make friends and grow food.

Organic Gardening

One of the main reasons people choose to grow their own vegetables is health. They want to avoid pesticides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers. Organic gardening is a bit more challenging than conventional gardening but it is well worth it. Please take some time to understand what “organic gardening” even means. I have lived on this property for almost 13 years now and never used pesticides. I even raised my goats and chickens organically with organic feed. I consider this a selling point when it comes time to sell. Vigilance will be required for organic gardening to work for you.

Hope you discover your gardening style!

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