Top 5 Ways to Grow More Vegetables in Small Spaces – John Kohler








Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

  • City-living doesn’t have to limit your food-growing abilities.
  • Learn the secrets to growing lots of food in small, urban spaces.
  • How certain vegetables can MULTIPLE the volume of your harvest.
  • Improving soil fertility to increase garden yields.
  • How to best space your plants to maximize your harvest.
  • Vertical planting solutions. (Grow UP!)
  • Fungal compost vs. bacterial compost—which is better!
  • Growing more by using FREE, local real estate!

About The Speaker:

After almost losing his life in his twenties, John Kohler realized that you are what you eat—and decided that he wanted to put the best foods in his body. However, after shifting his diet to whole plant foods, he realized that if wanted the BEST foods, he needed to grow them himself.

His challenge? He didn’t live on a farm, but on a standard suburban lot.

So he figured out how to grow the majority of his vegetables on his small urban property—and began sharing his learning journey online. Today his online gardening show has over 332,000 followers, with over 1,200 free episodes getting over 47 million views.

QUESTION: Are you an urban farmer? Tell us about where you’re growing food!   How much space are you growing in?



  1. Christina

    We have a small yard so this video was excellent for helping us take advantage of our small space. It also validated that we are doing some things right with our raised beds and compost. Enjoyed this presentation.

    1. Marjory WIldcraft

      Hi Christine, John is definitely the master of gardening in small spaces. Glad you liked the presentation!

  2. Amanda

    Good presentation. I absolutely agreed with John that we should all be eating less meat. We don’t have to become vegetarian or vegan, but to just shift the balance a towards smaller portions of meat and larger portions of veggies at each meal would be a healthy move and more sustainable for the future of the planet.

  3. Joan

    I am loving the ‘live’, on location presentations where you can actually watch the presenter and experience their enthusiasm. John’s was packed with information and well organized.

  4. Elaine Backus

    Valuable presentation for me since I am going from a small homestead to growing on an apartment balcony.Five stars all the way!thank you.

    1. Marjory WIldcraft

      Elaine, you are welcome. Glad you liked the presentation.

      1. Tara

        Hi Marjory! Loved the presentation! Just wanted to say that in his defense, hundreds of scientific studies have shown that a plant-based diet (or even one where animal products constitute only 5-10% of total calories) is vastly better for your health. The China Study, written by one of America’s leading nutritional scientists, does an excellent job of summarizing the research.

        1. seamonkey

          Sing the praises of a vegan diet if you like, but please dont quote the China Study. It is shockingly unscientific, and does the plant-based diet movement a discredit.

  5. Shereen

    I really liked the tips about adding worm castings and trace minerals to compost – have never made my own compost so this gave me something to consider.
    I also liked the simplicity of his raised beds, and the practical advice on choosing short-growth crops that you can get the most yield from.

  6. Valerie

    Love your passion John!

  7. Jess

    5 stars-great information. Thank you, John.

  8. ellen

    Tree collards….who knew… would love to grow some.

  9. Pete

    Excellent presentation! Like the emphasis on a better diet!

  10. Yme

    for the third day in a row now, I am unable to get the videos to play. So frustrating! Suggestions please!

    1. Jimerson (Post author)

      Tim, I’m so sorry for this! Here are a few things you might try according to our video hosting service:

      • Internet Connection Speed – The most common issue is slow or unstable internet connection. If you are experiencing slow connection speeds, you might try contacting your internet provider.

      • Clear your browser cache – This is often an amazing wonder-fix for many browser problems, including video playback.

      • Try a different browser – some older/out of date browsers can cause issues with video playback. Try updating your current browser or trying a different one.

      • Reset your internet connection – Try resetting your router!

    2. Sheryn Young

      Me too. We had our internet checked and it is working good. They keep pausing every few words . Finally gave up.

      1. Christina M Tucker

        Mine is streaming well from Chrome, not a single freeze yet. Internet Explorer crashes all the time. I hope this helps.

      2. Christina M Tucker

        John- This was great! I am looking into a garden in Florida. Dad plants in the ground and it’s pretty rough. I have some raised bed forms I purchased a long time ago- time to haul them out of the garage and put them to use. We also compost. DAughter is vegan and produces about a gallon of peels a day for the composter. We need to grow more food. Thanks for the inspiration.

        1. Sandy

          Composting is a terrific aid to gardening. Thought, since you live in Florida, that you might like to be aware that an excess of citrus peels can be a bit more than the standard compost pile can handle. You can check with your state ag extension agents to see if they have suggestions on how to keep balance in your compost pile. Happy gardening!

  11. sharon

    Thank you John. Another informative video!! I too was forced at a young age to rethink what I ate to physically survive but it is not until recently that I realized that I must start growing my own food. My area has poor soil, limited water (rain water only) and small growing spaces.

    You have been such an inspiration to me and now I am sprouting like crazy and growing my own Malabar and Egyptian spinach for my morning green drinks.

    When I saw your episode on the purple garden boxes you scored from Home Depot, I started researching that and found that I could get Lowes to mail a similar product to the Virgin Islands (where I live). That has been such a god send. All of the self-watering containers and boxes have provided me with growing space that works in my situation, I’m even making my own self watering containers now from 5-gallon grow buckets.

    Bravo to you John. Because of you and, I have accomplished this in 2.5 months with many more food plants on the way. And I have another 10 PatioPicker boxes on the way to me right now! THANK YOU THANK YOU. I did not have a clue on how to proceed with this project until I ran into your videos.


    Growingly yours,
    St John, Virgin Islands

  12. Inge Leonora-den Ouden

    I like the way he presents this. If his climate was more like mine, I would register for his videos on youtube. But I live in a rainy moderate climate, so in my front and back yard I can’t grow the same vegetables he has. But I can apply most of the advice he gives in this presentation!

    1. Jon

      If you have the time I would consider still looking at what they do in other areas outside of our climate.

      Besides just value of side information potential you also gain some insight that may be beneficial for periods of similar climate such as drought or similar temperature and humidity.

    2. seamonkey

      I am not in Jon’s climate, but his videos still apply. I first discovered him when I was searching for the right juicer to make almond milk, and his juicer videos helped me out so much. So much of what he says applies to everywhere.

  13. Nikki Thompson

    I really enjoyed this presentation; the presenter and the information! Thank you! My highlight was on your 4th point “Most Productive Greens” in regards to your “Leafy Greens” emphasis. Our local health store, Center Stage Market, has an employee who is also an Herbalist, Ms. Debbie. Everyone jokes with her about “Leafy Greens” being her middle name because in nearly every conversation you you have with her, she’ll at least advocate their importance once! Thank you for the presentation and reiteration!

  14. Chele

    Absolutely wonderful presentation! Thank you, John!!

  15. Sara Grosso

    I learned so much from John! I haven’t grown my own foods but have been wanting to get started at it. I and my daughters are allergic to corn, wheat, rice and all chemicals. (I am allergic to water also- the chemicals in it) We have a problem with some of our stores claiming some veggies are organic when the are not, and since we get violently ill- therefore growing our own is next step. Thank you so much for these videos Marjorie. And I definitely am going to check out John’s site. He is so very helpful. Thank you again

  16. Dan

    This was a wonderful presentation with respectful comments from Marjorie. What I think I am seeing is that even with modest resources people can create a lot of healthy food for their family. Can this truly be a cost effective way to feed the family? And feed them well. For families across America. On the surface, it looks like it can if people take the time to learn and execute. Then, with the $$$ saved here, can the high quality meat products be purchased at farmers markets and the like so the family has the best of the best nutrition in a manner they can afford, if they want to remain living in the “city” or the idea of raising livestock seems intimidating. This is all wonderful information, and it really seems the plant/healthy America part could be executed in a cost effective manner with what John and Patrick Jones have presented. Thank you for this summit.

  17. Jean-Guy

    Great ideas ! TY

  18. Kelly Lowe

    Great presentation! Can’t wait to begin watching and learning from his YouTube channel!!

  19. Jennifer

    Third day trying to watch these presentations and have not been able to view even on of them completely as well as without the constant interference of cutting out.
    I have attempted to view them in both Mozilla and IE to no avail.
    Needless to say I am greatly disappointed.
    My only hope of viewing these is to purchase the flash drive.
    I’m not sure where the problem is coming from. I cannot seem to rectify it and I am simply not in a position to continue to take so much time to try and get something out or this summit.
    Sorry and sad.
    Thank you anyway.

    1. Jimerson (Post author)

      I apologize for your frustrations!
      Here are a few other things you might take a look at, if you wish:

      • Internet Connection Speed – The most common issue is slow or unstable internet connection. If you are experiencing slow connection speeds, you might try contacting your internet provider.

      • Clear your browser cache – This is often an amazing wonder-fix for many browser problems, including video playback.

      • Reset your internet connection – Try resetting your router!

      1. Jennifer

        Yes thank you Jimerson. I read in a couple of other posts your suggestions. Nothing is working.
        My connection speed is high and working perfectly.
        The cache is gone.
        The router has been reset several times.
        Honestly, I don’t think it is on my end. Also there are so many individuals with this same issue.
        Have you checked to see if it is on your end?

    2. Christina M Tucker

      Do you have Chrome?

    3. Valorie Smith

      Not working for me either, and I watched the last 2 days fine.

  20. Kay


  21. Leza Raymond

    I always enjoy your enthusiasm, passion, and info, John! 🙂

  22. Marilyn

    The best I have seen on the summit! He’s right when he says that fruit and vegetables are the healthiest diet, of course with nuts and whole grains. It’s been proven!

  23. Caroline

    Very elementary. Good for beginners.

  24. Dale Ann Purlia

    How much of the compost/ trace minerals do I add? I am trying to reboot my garden.

  25. Bonnie Krause-Gams

    Oh John, your enthusiasm is awe-inspiring. If only everyone knew how easy it is to grow food and stop wasting time and money on all the frivolous flowers. Nothing like walking thru the yard and snacking all the way.
    I live in zone five, can you grow tree collards in that zone? We have some pretty blustery weather. I do grow broccoli into December.

    Thank you for taking time to share your knowledge. I have found that since I have added minerals to my soil my yeild has doubled.

  26. Jon

    I have seen Johns work for awhile and I have used in teaching some others in some aspects.

    I recommend embracing some aspects of natural farming/Korean farming. Especially in the inputs and IMO’s.

  27. brittany peters

    John is #1! I love his videos on youtube, and have been watching them for years. I love that he is 100% authentic and cares more about this stuff than anyone else I’ve seen! Keep preaching the good word about eating a plant-based diet John, I love that you are ALWAYS true to your values! As always, thanks for all that you do to make our planet a better place!

  28. Pam

    Have you not found any kind of leaching of the concrete into the garden bed soil? I often thought it would be a great idea and then saw an article about chemicals leaching from those concrete blocks. – ???

  29. Lou Anne McKeefery

    I am limited to space because I have deer and I live in a canyon with limited sun exposure. I am searching for ways to grow in limited sun, especially winter. Any suggestion?

  30. Ellen

    Fantastic presentation! Thank you! I’ve been gardening in cement block raised beds since 2003, in the high desert of NE Arizona, now producing about 90% of the food my hubby and I consume. Many of John’s tips I already have learned the hard way, and happy to say I’ve learned some new ones today! We also keep a few chickens, ducks, geese and goats. While I agree with John that the animals require more attention, their contribution to our entire food production system is incalculable. The free range poultry keep weeds and bugs cleaned out of the garden and barnyard, saving me a ton of backbreaking labor; Fresh organic eggs, milk, & cheese provide protein and variety in our diet; The manure and soiled bedding keep our compost bins overflowing; and finally, the place would just seem so barren without all of our animal friends doing their thing. We love them!

  31. Wendy Barner

    Ms. Wildcraft you have not censored any other presenter and I do not appreciate you interjecting your opinion on Johns presentation. Sensitivity to the plight and mis information out there about animal consumption should be gladly invited to this open forum. Eating industrial farmed animals is WAY out of balance in our culture. Thank god there are people like John who speak out for heath, balance, and humane alternatives. There are not nearly enough voices like John’s to counter balance the capitalistic inhumane voices of the large corporations skewing information and practices for their profit. GREAT JOB JOHN! HERE IS TO THE FUTURE.

    1. Minxola

      Agree! I also did not appreciate the introducers opinion.

  32. Bellen

    Love John’s videos – always informative.
    As to raising livestock – it’s great if you live where you can, I don’t so it’s veggies for me.

  33. Susan

    Won’t stream for me did the same thing yesterday and its not my PC or server cause I’ve been streaming the thyroid summit with no problem.

  34. Becky Doyle

    Hi, John, I’m one of your subbies, how much azomite do I use, ? do you put it all right in your dirt? I have a very small rise garden, and the rest are containers. Live in Fl. Can you tell me which products are best? Or will what you shared all I need? I also don’t have any compost going yet.. Thanks, for your help.

  35. Ann

    I like this summit BUT in previous summits I was able to forward or reverse the video and I find that I cannot do that with these vids. So, is there any way these can be made more user-friendly for those short on time [who like to edit things themselves]? Thanks. Great info.

    1. chet

      Hi, Ann–I’m just a fellow lviewer, but yes–you can go forward or back just by using your cursor as you would in any other video.

      1. seamonkey

        I find that my iphone doesnt like me to touch the video at all, or it will hang. so i end up taking my laptop out in the garden with me, with a bluetooth headset! then i can use the back and forward. i am thinking it is the particular web service they use for the summits maybe? not sure.

  36. Barb

    Great video. Really enjoying these presentations. Thank you for the summit!

  37. Glenn

    Thanks, good info. Picked up a lot of new ideas and thoughts.

  38. Carolyn

    John is so awesome. I was a You Tube fan before seeing him here. He has so much energy and love for his gardens. Thank you John.

  39. Sandra P. Gann

    John, who lives in an urban environment comes at growing your own food from a totally different perspective than the country homestead farmer that has large areas and more options of where to plant. His advice gives those who are urban,viable options and alternatives that make it a reachable goal to actually grow a garden that will feed a family on a small urban lot.

  40. Kaye Yokely

    What do you use for stakes? Do you ever use bamboo??

  41. Del

    I totally agree ith John. Keep the animals and animal by products to a minimum. Fruits and vegetable primarily are what is going to create health and wellness. Too many farmers I see are overweight and in poor health and I suspects it’s because they aren’t eating the produce they grow, they are eating the animals and animal by products far too much and using mechanized farm equipment rather than their whole body. Organic Homesteaders may be in a whole different arena however.

  42. Teresa

    I love this guy and his videos … I always learn something from every video I watch!!!

  43. Trish

    Ann I am able to forward and reverse the video.

  44. Pamela Dzeko

    I have a fairly large yard but not what I believed to be large enough to be self sustaining year round. After watching Johns presentation I am an instant Fan. I now have inspiration of how to organize this large space of yard I have to do this,,, plus still have room for flower gardens and another pond. I cant wait to be a subscriber to his own website. so off I go to do just that right now. Thank you Marjory and John. Im Really loving these presentations. 😉

  45. Kim

    John is wonderfully informative. My kids and I adore him and refer to his videos often! Thanks to john and all of the presenters and Homesteading Summit organizers! You guys “rock”!

  46. Trina

    I have had so much fun watching all these videos. My garden is in a 15×15 area I have two raised beds out of 12x’s cut at 7′ then my tomato, squash. snap pea are grown along the side fence, Scott your awesome and your enthusiasm are refreshing. My husband just had no IDEA what gardening was when he made this area for me, without complaint I accepted the area and I make it work just fine, he owned the home before we married. Recently we have added corner posts to one raised bed and put a re purposed temper-glassed patio window on top then use visqueen (sp) it is reusable to the sides for around 12 weeks to protect from coastal fog and some very cold mornings low 20’s (central coast) now I have a small green house. now behind his work shop there was a 20 x 8 area that now is my second raised bed garden here I have re purposed box spring beds check your local refuse center for info to where the send used beds for tear down, go speak to them i did receive mine free at first but heck give it a try. I had to clean staples and minor stuffing material but wonderful 12″ high beds. Again thank you I really enjoyed your presentation and now your website.

  47. Sandy

    Marjory: Please excuse me for bringing this up in John’s comment section. It’s late, so maybe no one will see it but the few people crazy enough to stay up this late learning to garden. My message to you is a request that you lower the audio in the first few seconds of each segment. I love your theme music, but it comes blasting in with every one of the presentations, and it is so loud it makes my ears and head hurt for a while. I know John has a very strong voice, so I finally remembered to lower the volume before clicking the start arrow, but 3, 4, or 5 blasts a night is getting to me!!! If it is too late to adjust, well, I’ll just turn off the speaker for the first few seconds. Other than that, fabulous summit, as I said earlier, having learned a little more in the past year, I am getting more out of all the expertise each year.

    1. Debbie

      I have been having the same problem. I have been listening through headphones because my computer has no speakers, and I have to remove them for the theme music. At first, I thought it might be a fluke due to my aging equipment. Also, the volume level does not always seem consistent from one presentation to the next. I can live with it, but future summit presentations would be more pleasant if this could be fixed. Besides that, I am enjoying the information presented by the speakers. Thanks.

  48. Sandy

    John, that was even more power packed than usual. It is so exciting to see how lush your garden is, even in the desert. You have even figured out how to grow your own shade! A suggestion for a green, cooling, durable way to manage your walk paths. Have you heard of permeable pavers? You could grow Dutch White Clover into it, which is low growing, and planted where there is frequent traffic, will not require any mowing. Of course, it is also a nitrogen fixer, and grows densely enough that it will keep ahead of weeds. Once established it will survive dry, sandy conditions well, and since your raised beds are on drip irrigation, should get a little moisture and grow better than the usual desert plantings would. If you want something scented you could alternately plant a creeping thyme, of which there are several varieties or Roman Chamomile. My Dad used this as a groundcover in a hot, dry, sunny area in Honolulu. We used to walk and roll around on it, smelled so good!

  49. Desiree

    Hi Marjory
    Thank you for this presenter, really appreciate all the info.

  50. Desiree

    Hi Marjory

    Couldn’t get the rating scale to show, Ill definitely give him 5 stars xx

  51. Marie

    really enjoyed this presentation, love the energy and dedication as well as the advice given,thank you. will definitely subscribed to the video channel.

  52. Emily

    @Marjory, I think your comment at the end was unnecessary. First of all, if you really needed to say something, you could have just left it as, “fyi, dear audience, John’s entitled to his opinion about a plant-based diet, but we at MEN offer information about how to raise animals for food in a natural and sustainable way as well, and we don’t endorse any one particular dietary or lifestyle preference.” You didn’t need to “respectfully disagree” or interject your own opinion into his presentation. It cast doubt on his talk and devalued him as a presented.

    And personally, I don’t think John was trying to convince people not to eat meat – just to eat more plants, or a plant-heavier diet. And while animals might be more predictable to raise than plants, in a sense, I don’t understand how you could reasonably say that they are easier or cheaper, either financially or on the environment, calorie for calorie. I’m not vegan myself but even I understand that animals consume more resources than plants, and cost more in the end. Or maybe I misunderstood you?

  53. Sophie

    Great presentation! I wish there was a bit more information on balcony and apartment living green growing.

  54. susan

    One problem with perennials like onions is the squirrels. Round here they even eat daffodils. We must be one of the few streets in Wales where none of the houses have our national flower in any of the gardens.

    I have tried onions and garlic but they became part of the squirrel feast. Even iron cross daisies are not safe from them. Problem is your talk on fencing dealt with how to keep large animals where you wanted them. I could do with ideas on how to stop these beautiful creatures eating what I want to eat. Loving your neighbour has its limits!

  55. seamonkey

    Best video so far. Practical dirt-under-the-fingernails advice, and inspiring!! Each year I gonna get the greens scene happening in my garden.

  56. Fabian

    I loved that presentation, and I must say I totally agree with John about the amount on work for greens compared to having animals.
    Besides this, you get all you need from a plant based diet.

  57. Debra

    I enjoyed John’s presentation! I’m in the AZ desert, with challenges in the soil (aka caliche/clay), and you’ve given me many ideas for how to get more out of my garden space. Thank you!

  58. Deb Miller

    I am an urban farmer in north Alabama. I have 36 4’x4′ raised beds and I also have a 3’x20′ plowed row for corn. I raise tomatoes, corn, crowder peas, english peas, bush beans, lima beans, cucumbers (not too much luck), squash (not too much luck, either), peppers, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, greens, radishes. The most successful are the crowder peas, lima beans and volunteer tomatoes.

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