Yes, You Can Grow Edible Crops in Your Tiny House

Learn how to make the most of every available inch of space.

lettuce and herbs growing on a wall

boonsom / Getty Images

As we discussed in our previous article on whether you can garden with a nomadic lifestyle, living in a small space is not necessarily a barrier that will prevent home growing. Even in the tiniest of tiny homes, indoor growing is possible with the right approach. 

Today, I will focus on space—and how to make the most of it—which is, of course, one of the main constraints when growing your own in a tiny home. As Treehugger readers will be well aware, tiny homes come in a wide range of styles, shapes and sizes. But whatever type of tiny home we are looking at, these basic tips should help you make the most of every inch of space available, and to grow at least some of your own food.

Think Vertically as Well as Horizontally

One of the most important things to remember when growing in small spaces is that the area available always has a vertical component as well as a horizontal one. Vertical gardening is used in a range of different small-space gardens to take advantage of this vertical dimension.

Vertical gardening includes:

  • Layering plants one above another in tiered planting schemes. Even indoors, where you cannot grow trees above shrubs above herbaceous plants, you can still create smaller-scale tiered planting in pots and containers. For example, you might have a pot with a wigwam of canes to grow peas, and place cut-and-come-again salad crops below these at the base.
  • Supporting plants with trellises or other supports to grow them upwards rather than outwards. One example of this is growing a tomato plant in a pot and choosing a cordon (vine) variety to train into a narrow, upright form.
  • Creating vertical garden structures. Simple shelving, DIY vertical gardens with planting pockets to hang on a wall (made from reclaimed fabric or other reclaimed materials), planting towers, and dedicated "green wall" structures that you can buy are all examples of vertical garden structures.
  • Using hanging planters. Even when you have a severe lack of floor space, higher up on walls and the space above your head might potentially be used as space to grow food. Traditional hanging baskets are not the only option. There are plenty of other containers you might use. Suction cup hooks can be used to attach hanging planters to windows or other surfaces in a tiny home. And curtain rails across a space, among other simple solutions, can give you areas to hang more plants.
vine tomatoes climbing side of house

Clara Nila / Getty Images

Embrace Multi-Functionality

Those who already live in a tiny home will know that multi-functionality is key to living in small spaces. The key is to create an interior for your tiny home where everything that is in it can serve more than one purpose.

Shelving to grow food in a tiny home, for example, might also serve as a staircase up to a mezzanine area. An open ladder or steep stair leading to such a space might become a structure from which to hang planters for food production on the reverse side. A shower rail in a tiny home bathroom might screen off your wash area, but it might also be used to hang a few planters filled with plants that like more humid conditions.

Rather than using a solid wall to partition one room or zone of your tiny home from another, you might create a wall or partition screen of plants using some kind of vertical garden, or a series of planting towers. With some imagination, you can always find ways to incorporate edible planting in your space.

Extend the Footprint of Your Space

Even when you make the most of every inch of space inside a tiny home, you might still be left wanting more room to grow your own food. Fortunately, there are some simple tricks that you can use to extend the footprint of your space.

chard and basil in a window box
Swiss chard and basil in a box.

Michel Viard / Getty Images

For example, you might be able to hook window boxes over sills to create small planting zones that jut out from the sides of a tiny home and can be easily removed if you want to move. Though it will likely be more expensive, you might consider adding some decking to the outside of a tiny home to create an outside area for recreation and for home growing.

Tiny home owners who move more frequently might consider adding a trailer, which can be like a small movable garden that you can tow along behind you on your travels.

Make the Most of Time, as Well as Space

Even if a few small pots on a countertop or windowsill is the extent of your tiny home growing, you can still make sure that you increase yield and grow as much as possible by carefully planning your gardening year.

Every time you harvest and remove one crop from a pot or container, another should be ready to take its place. Successional sowing, and sowing little and often, can prevent gluts and allow you to make the most of all the time, as well as all the space, that is available.

Consider Growing Microgreens

microgreens growing in an upcycled plastic bottle

Dougal Water / Getty Images

There are, of course, many edible plants that can be grown in containers in relatively small spaces. But tiny home residents should be sure to embrace those that take up very little space, like microgreens.

Harvested while still extremely small, microgreens are easy and quick to grow, but pack a lot of nutrition into their tiny leaves, so are a great addition to a home-grown diet. Anyone growing in a tiny home with limited space should be sure to embrace these micro-crops.