Book cover Donwsized Veggie Garden

My ¼ acre lot hosts a house, driveway, sidewalks, and ½ of the paved street in front of the property. Restrictive covenants prohibit “vegetable and fruit plantings” in the front yard so my veggie growing space is reduced to a narrow band inside the full-shade backyard. Kate Copsey’s book, The Downsized Veggie Garden, was written for gardeners who have limited space but desire to make the most of it.

Copsey begins with a discussion of gardening options in various living arrangements such as apartments, condominiums, townhomes, and suburban homes with postage-stamp lots. She acknowledges the additional challenges present by restrictive covenants, though the reader should not expect suggested workarounds. When the gardening bug bites, dedicated gardeners struggling under those covenants may need to seek a new property.

The book offers ideas suitable for nearly everyone—window boxes, containers, vertical gardening and Square Foot Gardening. In a chapter dedicated to raised beds and containers the author states, “The ‘ideal’ vegetable garden is the one that fits into your lifestyle, your available space and how it connects with your home activities.” Copsey then explains the importance of sketching the property and planning the garden before planting, and she reminds the reader of the need to understand the sunlight patterns for the chosen garden spot.

Copsey covers the benefits and disadvantages of planting seeds directly versus purchasing starter plants. Tips for progressing from seeds to healthy plants take the guesswork out of the process, and the author’s experience is evident in the myriad suggestions directed toward making the gardener successful.

Guidance for choosing plants that behave in limited space permeates the book. Seasonal planting grids for use with a 4’ x 4’ raised bed remove the guess work on designing the garden. In addition the reader will discover twelve easy-to-grow herbs that can spice up meal time. Imagine the feeling of stepping from the kitchen to the patio to pick fresh basil for the evening meal.

The Downsized Veggie Garden presents a wide-spectrum of veggie gardening knowledge from the author’s extensive experience. This useful book would make a great addition to any gardener’s library.