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If your garden space is small, try growing vertically

A zucchini plant with large green leaves and a bright yellow bloom grows in soil in a raised bed with a white trellis behind it.
Kamadie/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Small gardens can still provide plenty of room for traditionally large plants, like zucchini and melons. Look for varieties that allow you to go vertical! These plants will grow up on trellises and smaller fruits, providing plenty throughout the summer.

If space is tight this gardening season and your appetite for growing larger plants is big, try to grow smaller or grow vertically.

Seek out seeds and plant types that can produce smaller fruits or try vining varieties of certain plants and train them to grow up instead of out.

As for growing plants that produce smaller fruits, plant breeders have created a wide variety meant for a small-space situation.

Perfect for petite raised beds or even containers, certain zucchini and tomato plants are dwarf indeterminants. The plants grow to only two or tree feet tall and will continue to produce fruit all summer long.

One zucchini, called Astia, will produce a plant that will stay small. Plant it in a pot or container to grow on a deck or patio. The bush will grow to be compact. And despite its demure size, you'll still have plenty of zucchini all summer long.

Cherry tomatoes are also great plants for smaller gardens or containers. If you're downsizing in the tomato area, try the varieties called, Goodhearted or Super Bush for smaller plants with high fruit yields.

Plants like squashes and melons grow to be large and sprawling. They might even trail and leave the confines of your garden space.

If your square footage is small, plant some squash and melon varieties that produce small fruits and that you can train to grow upward.

Try growing cantaloupes and melons, like the cream-colored sprite melon, the dark-orange fleshed Sugar Cube, or the heirloom Jenny Lind named for a Swedish opera star!

The fruits these plants yield tend to be on the smaller side, weighing in at one or two pounds each.

And if your watermelon plant got gargantuan last season, try the type that grows just-for-one-sized melons. The tiny Mini Piccolo watermelon has a thick, dark green rind and deep-red flesh.

While these plants will grow smaller fruits and veggies, they'll still need some support as you train them to grow up a trellis, fence or wall.

As they grow and produce, keep the fruit supported by wrapping something soft around them, like a nylon stocking. Ensure that as they become ripe, they won't slip off the vine.

This method also works with zucchini, especially a new variety called Incredible Escalator. This small-space zucchini plant climbs up a fence and produces plenty of dark green zucchini.

Even heirlooms like the yellow crookneck squash tend to want to vine. Train the plant up a trellis to save space. You won't have to support the fruit of this plant though; just pick them when they are still quite small.

Q: I'm going to plant one fruit tree this spring in a garden bed. One that doesn't need another tree for cross pollination and if that doesn't exist, some other small tree that flowers and ideally drapes. Ideas? - Maria, via email

A: A number of fruit trees, like cherry, plum, peach and apple, are self-pollinating.

If you're dreaming of cherry pies, try the dwarf North Star cherry. Stella also produces a nice, sweet cherry.

For other fruit trees, try Reliance for peaches or Greengage for plums.

And if you're growing an apple tree, as long as you have crab apples or other wild apple trees around, your tree will get the pollen it needs from them.

Growing fruit trees depends on what you like to eat. Then shop around to find a self-pollinating variety.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with Vermont Public host Mary Williams Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublicWe've closed our comments. Read about all the ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.