The past May, Grumpy found himself among some of the most creative gardeners in the country at the Garden2Blog blogger’s event hosted by P. Allen Smith in Arkansas. One of Allen’s sponsors, Bonnie Plants from my home state of Alabama, challenged everyone to design a really cool miniature vegetable garden measuring a mere 4 feet by 4 feet. Much of the delight of all sentient beings, Grumpy’s entry, “The Munchkin Garden,” (shown above) was chosen as one of the winners!
Little Garden for Little People with Little Mouths
Grumpy had three goals in designing this.
- Make something attractive that combines a number of different, easy-to-grow plants in a small space.
- Create something that anyone could copy (and then pay Grumpy HUGE royalties).
- Put together a fun garden that kids like, because veggie gardening is the best way to get young people excited about gardening in general.
The garden consists of 4 plants on each side, spaced 1 foot apart. Because of the formal shape, I anchored each corner with one ‘Boxwood’ basil (#4 below). This basil gets its name from its small leaves and tight shape. It looks like a little boxwood. The leaves have that spicy, basil flavor I like for pasta, grilled lamb, etc.
I thought the garden needed a centerpiece, so I added a decorative pot filled with a dwarf blueberry called ‘Top Hat.’ ‘Top Hat’ (#1 above) grows only 20 inches tall and 24 inches wide, plus it doesn’t need a pollinator to set fruit. It’s great for growing in containers and here the pot gives it a little extra height. The berries are delicious — although thanks to your ravenous kids, you’ll probably never get a chance to discover this.
Grumpy doesn’t like raw tomatoes (a feeling shared by THOUSANDS OF OTHER PEOPLE), but his wife and son do. So each end of the garden contains two Sweet ‘n’ Neat cherry tomato plants (#2 above). This determinate variety grows only 10 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Judy loves them for salads. Brian just pops them in his mouth in a vain attempt to fill that bottomless pit that could swallow a Dodge.
Sweet Little Peppers
Grumpy does like peppers, though, especially colorful ones he uses for a variety of healthy, delicious dishes he fixes for his grateful family. So the remaining two ends of the square contain two each of two miniature sweet peppers (#3 above). Yummy Snacking Pepper (below) produces oblong peppers of yellow, orange, and red and is nearly seedless. Sweet Red Cherry Pepper bears fruit that look and taste just like the name. I could have used hot peppers, but little kids picking hot peppers is not a hot idea.
I know, I know — my design is magnificent and inspiring and all, but it’s August. Why plant basil, tomatoes, and peppers now? Don’t. Just leave the blueberry where it is — its leaves will turn a beautiful red in fall — and substitute cool-weather veggies for the hot-weather stuff.
- In place of the basil, plant cabbage.
- In place of the tomatoes, plant lettuce.
- In place of the peppers, plant kale, Swiss chard, or mustard greens.
Your munchkins will be so excited.