Vegetables battle for space in small garden

Jerry Apps
As the weather heats up, vegetables in Jerry Apps' small garden battle for space.

In my many years of gardening, I’ve never seen anything like it. I have a tiny little garden back of my house, only 4 x 8 feet. I also have a much larger garden, but the little garden is close and handy. It’s a raised garden, with a four-foot fence all around it to keep out the hungry bunnies.

Last May, in my little garden, I set out four struggling tomato plants that I started from seed. I planted a few feet of leaf lettuce, two short rows of climbing beans, two hills of zucchini, and a hill of climbing cucumbers on either end.

The lettuce came up and took off. The tomatoes looked like they were going to die. The beans came up but just sat there, not growing. Same for the cucumbers and zucchini. We harvested beautiful leaf lettuce, three or more times. The lettuce flourished. By early June, I wondered if maybe lettuce would be my only crop.

Then the weather turned hot. The other garden crops took off. Within a few weeks, the beans had climbed up the fence and then along it. The tomatoes grew four feet tall, the cucumbers climbed the fence, and the zucchini took off as well.

And then the fight began. Soon the lettuce was snuffed out. The green beans and the tomatoes declared war on each other. The cucumbers stuck their little vines outside the fence to avoid the fight. And can you believe it; the zucchini met its match—no zucchini so far. Such is small space gardening in the summer of 2020.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sort of fun to watch vegetables fight for dominance.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to