Any Age Anywhere Garden
Our OWG Trial Plan Garden. You can create any size with the box units – but this 16 x 16′ layout grows enough for a family of four! You can click to see the plan enlarged

Every year, we like to try a few new garden experiments at the farm. Some flame out, others hold their own – and every once in a great while, one leads to something really new and exciting.

In the case of last year’s tomato bucket and potato crate trials (see: The Tomato BucketGrowing Crate Potatoes) – it worked so well we are creating a brand new 16′ x 16′ experimental container garden at the farm for 2016! One that we will call our Any Age Anywhere Garden.

Today we’ll cover the overall garden set-up and layout, and next week – the details on how to build your own.

Any Age Anywhere Garden Basics

Why the name? Because it’s truly a great way for anyone, of any age, living anywhere, to grow some, most, or nearly all of their family’s food. Even when space is limited!

As much as we talk about the beauty, simplicity and ease of raised row gardening (see : Raised Row Gardening Basics), – we realize that not everyone has the room or ability to grow with that style.  We receive emails from all over the world asking for alternative gardening methods for those with small yards, patios, or others that might have trouble turning the soil over or bending down to tend rows of crops. 

Over the last two years – in addition to the main garden at the farm – we experimented on a small scale with a few traditional container gardening methods – and then adding in some tricks and methods we use in our own garden ( like the Stake-a Cage) to see what we could create.

any age anywhere garden
The trial planters last year worked perfectly – and had high yields

The goal was simple.  Design an attractive, inexpensive and functional container garden that anyone of any age could plant. It needed to be simple to create, maintain and harvest – and conserve on space. It also of course had to produce enough that you could grow some serious food!

Last year, we trialed tomato bucket containers.  We built wooden frames with scrap lumber that went over the top of 5 gallon buckets or nursery containers. We then attached a 4’ high x 16” wide wire frame to the inside of the wooden frame for a built-in, heavy-duty trellis. It was a take off of the Stake-A-Cage that we use in our main garden – and it worked incredible – all at a cost of about $2 for the wire trellis. If needed – we could have even made that from scrap lumber for free.

The higher level bucket allowed for easy watering and maintenance.By screwing in the trellis to the box – it provided a perfect support for the tomato that was easy to reach and tie up the plant as it grew. The bucket provided more than enough room to establish a deep and complete root system – and the cover not only made the planter attractive, but helped to insulate the plant’s base from harsh winds and helped to conserve water. It also made harvesting a breeze.

BEST of all – it all but eliminated weeding and ground pests like slugs. It also stopped potential damage from voles, moles and rabbits – a problem many of you write to us about each year!  And with its compact space  – it even made it easy to protect from raccoon and deer. The same can be said for our potato crates.

any age anywhere garden
Our potato crates were a big success!!! Growing a lot of potatoes in a small space.

So we decided – why not design an entire garden around this concept? After all – it can be built anywhere – a patio, a small backyard – or even in the middle of a garden.

The OWG 16′ x 16′ Trial Garden

We settled on a 16′ x 16′ “garden” space using the buckets for planters – and then filling in the edges with simple raised beds for salads, potatoes and greens. 

What you have is a small space garden that can produce!

How much can it grow you ask? Well, based on production levels from previous trials – we expect the following:

4 + Bushels/ Assorted Tomatoes , 2 + Bushels / Assorted Peppers,  1+ Bushel of Assorted Cucumbers / Zucchini,  1 + Bushel / Green Beans,  1.5 + Bushels / Potatoes –  and Greens & Salads that can easily feed a family of four to six, with some to give to neighbors and friends! 

Any Age Anywhere Garden
The boxes are easy to build from any material – and add a touch of beauty to the garden

Not bad for a small space garden!  In addition to trialing the garden at our farm – we will have a 16 x 16 Any Age Anywhere Garden on display in the Weaver Barns Urban House Area at the Great Big Home + Garden Show in Cleveland Feb 5th through the 14th. We will be sure to share pictures of the set up on a future Farm Update.

Next week – we’ll cover the process of building the planter boxes, growing crates, and laying out the garden. One big advantage – since the soil nor plants never come in contact with the wood – you can use reclaimed lumber or pallets to build your boxes  – so for a resourceful person – they can be made for little or no cost!

We’ll cover that and more in next week’s segment. If you haven’t yet – be sure to sign up for our free email newsletter to get our 3 articles each week delivered straight to your inbox! You can sign up here :  OWG EMAIL SIGN UP

Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary

Old World Garden Farms

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15 thoughts on “Creating The Any Age Anywhere Garden, A Small Space With Big Yields!

  • March 19, 2016 at 1:19 am
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    Hi, this looks wonderful. I have hodgepodge gardening style LOL. I have raised beds constructed with concrete blocks, not till beds that I installed this past fall for my greens and peas, a success! I grow lots of things in pots and planters, many of them “harvested” from my neighborhood alleyways. I am amazed at what perfectly serviceable items my neighbors toss out. I have a question about using the 5gallon buckets; do you put drainage holes in the bottoms of them? I live in Arizona in zone 13 and like being able to move my garden to take advantage of shade from my mature trees when it gets hot. It makes it possible to extend the spring growing season here. I appreciate and enjoy following you on Facebook and have just signed up for your email articles. Thanks for the great information and inspiration!

  • January 26, 2016 at 6:22 am
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    My husband and I will be coming to the Home show! It’s not a far drive for us and we would love to see the garden layout in person! While we do have 7 acres, a lot of it is in a flood zone so our garden space is limited. This layout may work out very well for us! Thank you for all the time you put into this website! I am going through it all the time!

  • January 22, 2016 at 7:10 am
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    I’ve really enjoyed reading your emails over the last couple years, thank you for sharing your lives, your trials and successes.

    Your new format looks really nice and I’m sure you are pretty excited to have it up and running.

    Jim and Mary, part of the appeal that has kept me coming back is your simple, wholesome, uncommercialized approach to life, getting back to the basics, trying to live a good life, being kind to others and that which has been given to us.

    I’m not one to write comments but I’m so very surprised and saddened at the intrusion of unwanted and may I say unwarranted ads, while trying to read your newsletter/post in your new format… What a thorough distraction! On my phone, the entire page is advertising, i.e., someone else’s product multiple times and I’m really not interested in buying roofing shingles today from some web advertiser! This was not the enjoyable, fun, relaxing experience I’ve grown accustomed to when reading your posts, today it felt very commercialized, with a hook at every corner.

    I know you folks are growing exponentially and with that comes many challenges and choices, to your credit you folks don’t strike me as the type to do things just cause everyone else does it that way or you’re told “that’s just the way we do it”. I can see that you are thoughtful regarding your life decisions. Hey, getting rid of one thing every day for 365 days takes guts!

    Having said all this I guess what I would like to say is, I would rather have your old, simple format and not be harrassed or seduced by anyone.

    Wishing you the all the best,
    Garden Girl

    • January 22, 2016 at 7:36 am
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      Garden Girl – Thank you so much for your comments and we do appreciate them! First and foremost, yes, we will always be true to our cause!

      As for the ads, please understand that they are now unfortunately needed because the blog’s growth and size has made it impossible to continue without purchasing a lot of server space at a very high cost to us personally. In addition – our email list (90,000+)has now grown to the point that no service will send it out for free, and in order to have our free articles and updates sent to everyone that signs up – we had to hire third party service to handle them and that is a large monthly cost to us. And we refuse to ever “sell” our email lists for revenue – it would no be right or true to our cause.

      You are so right in that we want to make sure everyone can have free access to our information, recipes, diy and gardening tips! The only way to keep that free is to employ some advertising to offset the cost – because creating a paid subscription service is out of the question for us.

      We actually took the least possible rout on ads – 2 in the sidebar,and one for the main body. However, we did not realize at first that Google automated the ads on mobile units. We have now taken that off to just reflect two main ads per story as of this morning – so it should read a little better on mobile devices in the future.

      Thanks so much, and Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary

  • January 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm
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    I don’t live in Ohio anymore but I told my mom and sister that they must go and report back to me. Is the garden show at the I-X center?

    • January 22, 2016 at 8:13 am
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      It sure is – and we hope to see your mom and sister at the show!!!

  • January 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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    How many plants do you put in each of the containers? I would assume just one tomato plant per container, but as far as the squash, beans and peas and such.

    • January 22, 2016 at 8:13 am
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      We just put one in each, except for the cucumbers and zuch’s – we will put 3. The beans and peas will go in the lower raised beds and planted in masse

  • January 21, 2016 at 10:51 am
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    This sounds great. I think I will start of with an 8 x 8 space. There’s just 2 of us and that might be all we need. I have had so much trouble with tomatoes here in Georgia. Can you get free 5 gallon buckets anuwhere or should I just buy tomato plants already that large in a 5 gallon bucket?

    • January 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm
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      I go to, or call the local grocery stores with a deli or bakery department and ask for 5 gallon buckets. They usually have several on hand, or will save some for you. Also, you can ask at local fast food places or delis to hold some for you. These are food grade buckets and would not pose a hazard to your health. Then, all you need to do is drill some holes in the sides and bottom for drainage.

    • January 22, 2016 at 8:15 am
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      Phyllis – if you ask around – you can usually find them for free – and even some nurseries will have left over nursery pots as well – good luck!

  • January 21, 2016 at 10:43 am
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    My biggest concern about this method is watering. We live in Texas where the summer heat really turns it on. We have enough trouble keeping the soil moist in the hot summers. How do you think bucket gardening would be affected? I would guess it would dry things out even quicker, but I may be wrong. Do you have any suggestions for those of us in particularly hot areas? Thanks!

    • January 22, 2016 at 8:17 am
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      Chione – I would use a 3″ thick coating of mulch, compost or straw on the top of each bucket and planter – and can even fill in the sides of the box with straw to help keep in moisture – that should make it much easier!

  • January 21, 2016 at 9:08 am
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    I have a tiny yard so I do a lot of container gardening with mixed results. Would love to hear about your soil mix and watering strategy!

  • January 21, 2016 at 8:36 am
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    I love this idea! We have not had a vegetable garden for a couple of years now. This looks like a great way to get started again.

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