Fun stuff to do

Plant a compact vegetable garden

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What makes this compact garden so productive is that you will be placing plants close together in squares instead of traditional rows. You can continue to plant as you harvest.

garden-big2WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Shovel
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape measure
  • 4 4-foot 2-by-10’s
  • 16d galvanized nails
  • 2 6-foot 2-by-4’s
  • 4-foot 2-by-4
  • 49 feet of 12-gauge galvanized wire, cut into 7 7-foot lengths
  • 8d galvanized nails
  • About 1/2 cubic yard or 14 cubic feet of good garden soil
  • A sunny spot for your garden



1. Using the 2-by-10’s and 16d nails, hammer together a 4-foot square.


2. Nail the 6-foot 2-by-4’s to the back of the frame.

3. Nail the 4-foot 2-by-4 across the back of the uprights.

4. Attach the 7 wires on the back of the trellis by wrapping wires around nails.


Fill the frame with good garden soil. Divide it into 16 squares. The smaller the mature plant, the more you can plant in each square.

A Helpful Garden

Nail 5/8-inch or heavier exterior plywood to the bottom of the frame and lift the frame to table height by placing it on sturdy saw horses or legs. Once filled with soil, it will be easily accessible to a person in a wheelchair or someone who is more comfortable sitting than kneeling.

Comments about “Plant a compact vegetable garden”

  1. 1stimer says:

    Can you substitute different plants for the ones shown?

  2. lantanagurl says:

    You can often get used fencing from local fence companies. You can ask tree trimming companies of they’ll drop their haul of the day at your place for mulching. Flag one down in your neighborhood. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help establish gardens!

  3. RLS says:

    I echo Sarina’s question what direction should it face?

  4. kelly says:

    this may be silly, but what holds the bottom together? Like if I wanted to set it on sawhorses what would be holding everything together?

  5. Sabrina says:

    What’s the best direction to face this garden. Should the vines face south so they don’t block the sun?

  6. Just Done says:

    Our local lumber yard suggested using cyprus for this. We did and it turned out great, light weight too. If we decide to move it to another spot in the yard we can before we fill it with dirt and seeds.

  7. Sammy says:

    Maybe a dumb question, but what are the measurements of this box?

  8. GrandmaMarilyn says:

    This sounds great. Will have to have my hubby build one of these for me on the saw horses.

  9. Robinson says:

    If you use pressure treated wood can you use a weed liner around the box so that it doesn’t make direct contact or will that still hurt the veggies?

    • marvlus says:

      Yellawood is a pressure treated lumber that will not hurt your plants. You can get Yellawood at Home Depot.

  10. KJohns says:

    Can this type of planter be used on a deck or cement patio?

    • Robie says:

      This can also be put on sawhorses for wheelchair gardeners. There is a book by Mel Bartholomew called Square Foot Gardening that teaches you this method and it is great. I got all my wood from construction sites garbage piles, and old litte league bleachers.

  11. MrsJimmer says:

    This is such a great idea. One tip; putting lots of mulch around the plants will help keep the moisture in as well as help keep the weeds at bay.

  12. Em says:

    What would you say the average cost for the building materials is?

  13. Ang says:

    Can lattice be used instead of wire, I’m not very hands on with building.

  14. Green Thumb says:

    This is great! We have a built up small garden spot at our new home. It’s built up on the ground with bricks. I was wondering how to best plant the veggies this year and this is just the ticket!

  15. jman says:

    I have 16 veggies in my room. what about fruit?

  16. Ash says:

    What time of year do you need to start planting veggies?

  17. Just me says:

    @ Metallica, please give more details. Sounds like a great idea!

  18. Jamie says:

    Can you plant it in the ground but use the same design for the square?

    • Southern Gardener says:

      Yes, you can do it in the ground if you have good dirt. Most types of in-ground dirt is either too wet (clay) or too dry (sand). You have to know your dirt. Using good, loose, fertile, well-drained, near neutral dirt that has a lot of decayed organic matter will yield you a good start to a great harvest.

  19. Marcos says:

    Pine or spruce construction lumber will last a couple of years before the rot becomes significant. White oak lumber will last a lot longer although it is more expensive. Do not use pressure treated lumber with vetetables.

  20. barlinade says:

    If you wanted to substitute cantaloupe or watermelon, where would you put them? We would have a larger garden but I like the layout of yours.

  21. Mel says:

    I have a table garden like this. Something to keep in mind is that you need to be sure to water frequently– more frequently than if the garden was sitting on the ground. The soil does not retain as much of the moisture as it would if it could leach moisture from the surrounding area.

  22. may says:

    this is a square foot garden – check out the book called All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Brilliant ideas! promise success if you use his recipe for filling the container – 1part vermiculite, 1part compost (mixed from different sources) and 1part peat moss. Makes for a light, fluffy fill that roots love and plants thrive in – plants grow like you can’t imagine! so worth it!!!

  23. braxman84 says:

    Will be trying this!

  24. lettuce eater says:

    Any ideas for small apartment living spaces :) I have house plants and they always seem to get a pesticide. If I can grow indoors or in a hallway area with lots of light,I will try it!

  25. Mommy says:

    Why does it say 2×10 in the directions but not the supply list

  26. silly nilly says:

    Been waiting for this. This is great.

  27. BananaBread says:

    Hmmm…Any recommendations for type of lumber that won’t rot after one season? Maybe composite or something? I’ve seen some reaised bed kits made of composite/resin but they’re pretty expensive. Would love to built one myself but I want to be sure I’m building something that will last. Thanks!

    • Georgia Gardener says:

      We used marine treated wood for our raised beds. We also lined the bottoms with 1/2″ mesh stapled to the inside bottom of the boxes to keep moles and voles out.

    • Kat says:

      Pressure treated redwood will last for years and will withstand termites too! Redwood alone is great too:)

      • seaoatz says:

        Pressure treated wood used for gardening will leach arsenic into soil & plants. Arsenic is used to pressure treat wood. There are other choices like cypress & redwood for example.

  28. kitten06579 says:

    Awesome idea! I think there may be a typo in the supply list? It say 4 – 2×4’s but in your instructions it says 2×10’s.

  29. TTC Camper says:

    The compost and compost tea from the compost barrel works great as the soil for this garden.

  30. TTC Camper says:

    You can make this garden smaller in size if you combine it with hydroponic gardening. I used a system like that to get my FFA State Farmer Award Philadelphia.

  31. Den Robin says:

    We actually board raised beds last spring, but didn’t know “what next.” So, good timing for this info, and now we’re ahead of the game. Thank you so very much!!!

  32. dtlux says:

    I am not a fan of vegies but I might try home grown ones :D

  33. Anonymous says:

    Awesome info! Glad I found this!

  34. cindy says:

    amazing small space with lots of possibilities

  35. cobblerman says:

    This reminds me of the Square Foot Gardening method. If you look up that book, go for the revised version called “The All New Square Foot Garden”…or somtihng like that.

    • csociable says:

      We’ve got 4 beds via Square Foot Gardening. Look it up. the soil composition is phenomenal. My son can’t get enough and I love that he’s learning to self-provide.

  36. thewrestler says:

    awsome i will try this

  37. snakeboy says:

    I’m going to try this.

  38. jake says:

    i think its a good idea

  39. 216DnDer says:

    Thanks metallica! That’s a realy cool idea, I am going to try that with an apply and orange tree.

  40. blfan says:

    Go Green!! This thing is awesome!

  41. grandma says:

    I will try this!! Do I need to have drainage holes in the bottom of it? I will put it on sawhorses or legs.

  42. Countryboy96 says:

    This also works really well in a larger area if you have one

  43. SailorDude says:

    For a larger scale of this principle check out the book “How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine” from your local Library. If you want to start a VERY productive produce garden in a relatively small area, this is the book to have!!!

  44. rabbit dude says:

    I will try this

  45. spyscout123 says:

    great it will help prepare for the garden.

  46. metallica says:

    another good way to get a bunch of fruit in one area is makeing a tree with branches that produce diffrent fruit. Its done by tieing the end of branches together for a few months and they will all make one tree. My Uncle Planted one of these and it produced apples, pears, and peaches. Real Cool

    • Gardener wannabee says:

      Please give more details. Are existing apple, pear, and peach trees growing close together and branches are tied together while still on the trees or what? Thanks! Sounds like a great idea!

  47. klove says:

    you can also hang window box flowerpots on the sides with marigolds in them to keep out rabbits and other small critters.

  48. Archeopteryx says:


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