With the right plan, you can take a small home garden and turn it into a high-yielding source of fresh, healthy vegetables for you and your family.
Plan for Multiple Crops Per Season
If you think a dedicated bed is for only one crop per season, think again. Though some crops, like tomatoes, can grow and produce all season long, many common garden vegetables can be grown at different times throughout the growing season to maximize the yield per square foot of your garden. Spinach and peas, for instance, tend to grow best in cooler springtime weather. If you plant these crops early, you can harvest in early summer and then rotate them out for more heat-loving vegetables, such as peppers, zucchini or green beans.
This same approach can also be applied to replacing exhausted crops with more of the same vegetables to produce multiple harvests throughout the season. Carrots and lettuce are good examples, as they can be planted at multiple intervals to guarantee consistent harvests on a weekly basis during late spring, summer and even into autumn. By giving some thought to when you plant, you can ensure that vegetables will be routinely coming out of your garden all season, rather than in just one or two very brief periods.
Vertical Growing Techniques
Some of the most productive plants in a garden are large vines that can take up considerable amounts of valuable ground space. By growing these plants vertically, though, you can optimize your space and make your plants easier to manage and care for in the process. Vertical growing can be done in many different ways, but one of the easiest methods is to support your vines with strings that are tied to a standing trellis. Vertical growing is especially popular for growing tomatoes, but it can also be used for squash, cucumbers and other large vines.
Replace Petroleum-based Fertilizers With a Good Compost
Just like large-scale farmers, gardeners often find it necessary to give their crops extra nutrients by adding fertilizers to the soil. Research is increasingly showing, however, that the standard petroleum-based N-P-K fertilizers that have been favored by growers of all sizes for decades may not actually be the best way to fertilize your crops. Dependence on chemical fertilizers, while useful in the short run, has been shown to decrease soil health over time by depleting microorganisms that contribute to the biological balance of the soil. On traditional farms, natural compost has been shown to increase yields considerably. The same principle applies to home gardens, just on a smaller scale. If you want to see your garden produce the highest possible yields, consider switching to an organic compost that will add nutrients to the soil while at the same time supporting the microbiome that exists in your dirt.
Use Protective Covers to Extend Your Growing Season
Most gardeners assume that the growing season ends when the weather starts to get cooler in the autumn. Though you can’t protect against cold weather indefinitely with anything short of a greenhouse, there are easy ways to get a few more weeks of production out of your plants when cooler temperatures begin to set in. By covering plants with protective sheets or blankets and using garden fabric to keep the soil warm, you can extend your growing season and get a final harvest out of your plants. These methods are especially useful if you have vegetables that are close to ready, but still need a little additional time to ripen.
Try these techniques in your garden, you can greatly increase your production of fresh, healthy vegetables. If handled the right way, even a small garden can yield plenty of produce for an average family. The next time you prepare to plant your garden, consider giving one or more of these tips a try, and you’ll be surprised by just how much more produce your home garden can provide for you.