According to Star Trek, space is the final frontier. But to a gardener, space is the final constraint.
We search through catalogs or spend time at nurseries, carefully choosing all of the plants we’d like to grow in our garden. We fondly gaze at all the choices available to us and dream a thousand dreams about all the wonderful fruits and vegetables we’d like to grow. Then, like a boulder shot from a trebuchet, reality hits us right between the eyes, and we remember that we only have about one hundred square feet of garden space to play with. Alas, that one hundred square feet is not large enough to hold all the plants in your thousand dreams. Sigh! Time to make choices.
But there is an alternative.
In the book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, the authors, W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill talk about a concept called OPM – Other People’s Money. Likewise, gardeners that lack enough space of their own can borrow space from someone else – a concept I call OPS – Other People’s Space.
Now where can you find OPS? Well, a good place to start is with people who know you – friends or family. Perhaps they have some unused part of their backyard that they’d be willing to loan you so that you can plant more of those thousand garden dreams.
Another source of OPS is your local park district. Many of them offer garden plots for use by local residents for a small fee.
Lastly, perhaps a local business that owns some land might be willing, again for a small fee, to let you sharecrop a few square feet for your gardening pleasure.
Using OPS is a wonderful way to gain some additional space to plant more vegetable crops and increase the yield of your favorite vegetables – just as using OPM is a tool for becoming rich. But using OPM requires, in the words of W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill, that the borrower “operate on the highest ethical standards of integrity, honor, honesty, loyalty, consent, and the Golden Rule,” Using OPS requires the same.
For starters, you must be willing to be a careful steward of the land you’ve been loaned. If you borrow tools from your “landlord”, make sure that you return them in just as good a condition as they were when you borrowed them. Second, keep your garden clean and free of weeds and debris. This is especially important if you are using a park district plot. A weed-choked untidy garden looks unsightly. Furthermore, the weeds can spread onto your neighbor’s plots – something which will win you no friends, and may result in the revocation of your rental privileges. Lastly, if you are using space loaned to you by family or friends, be sure to offer to share part of your yield with them. Better yet, before you plant, find out what vegetables they like; then be sure to use some of that space to plant it.
Doing all of the above will most certainly increase your odds of having a bumper crop of fruits and vegetables for you, your family, and your friends. I speak from experience. I am a proud user of OPS – the S in this instance located in the backyard of my friend (and singing partner) Jean and her husband. For the past ten plus years, I have planted a vegetable garden on three hundred square feet in their backyard. I live in a townhome where there is very little land for gardening, so I am grateful for the space that they have loaned me. Thanks to Jean and Dan, I am able to plant a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables that I would not be able to otherwise. In turn, I take good care of what they’ve given me, and I’m more than happy to share what I’ve grown.
So if you’re short on space in your own backyard, I encourage you to utilize the power of OPS to maximize your garden results.