More harvesting from your vegetable garden is a desirable goal, but how? are what are the most effective methods for increasing productivity? Healthy soil, careful planning, and defending your crops from pests, weeds and weather extremes is the answer, so let’s dig a little deeper.
Hence, here are ten tried-and-true methods for increasing production this growing season…
1. Nourish Your Soil
Deep, nutrient-rich soils promote broad root systems and robust plant growth. Nourish your soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure, or leaf mold.
Compost and leaf mold may be readily generated at home for free, so compost whatever you can and make a healthy composting setup the focal point of your garden.
The optimal time to add most organic matter is in the winter so that it may be integrated into the ground before spring. Then, throughout the growing season, top up with extra organic matter, placing it 2-5cm (1-2 inches) deep around existing crops. This surface mulch will also assist to reduce moisture loss and weed growth, saving you time watering and weeding.
2. Feed Your Plants
Many plants will benefit from an additional organic fertilizer boost, such as liquid seaweed concentrate.
Alternatively, grow a patch of comfrey (next to your compost bin is ideal) and make your own comfrey tea, a potent brew ideal for hungry plants like tomatoes. You may also just wrap clipped comfrey leaves around plants or add them to the compost heap to aid decomposition.
3. Grow in Dedicated Beds
Switch to a permanent bed arrangement to save wasted space while focusing your efforts. Plants may be grown in blocks and beds can be reached from all sides, maximizing output. And since organic materials will be added directly to the beds, there will be no waste on walkways or other unproductive terrain.
4. Choose Plants that Thrive
It may seem obvious, but growing what thrives in your soil and climate will result in stronger growth and bigger harvests. Warm temperatures, for example, are great for cultivating sweet potatoes and tomatoes. In colder climates, use cold-tolerant vegetables such as chard and cabbage.
Choose cultivars that have been bred to flourish in your environment. Early varieties are great for short growing seasons, while heat-tolerant varieties are a must for areas with scorching summer sun.
5. Grow More in the Shade
Boosting productivity entails making the most of every available space, even shadier ones. They’re great for leafy vegetables such as lettuce or Asian greens, slow growers including leeks and parsnip, and hardy fruits like blackcurrants and gooseberries. You may use our Garden Planner to narrow down crop options to just those that can be grown in the shadow.
6. Collect More Rainwater
For watering veggies, rainwater is the greatest alternative. Rainwater is softer, contains fewer contaminants, and is at a pH that is preferred by most plants, encouraging better growth all round. So if you’re still using treated water to irrigate your crops, now’s the time to install additional water barrels and collect as much rainwater as you can. A connection kit may be used to connect numerous barrels.
7. Extend the Growing Season
Learn your first and last frost dates, then prepare to extend your growing season with plant protection. Cold frames, row covers and cloches enable sowing and planting to begin up to two weeks sooner, while harvests can continue a few weeks longer at the end of the season.
This is excellently shown by RainBow Run Farm. Include crop protection, such as row covers, in your strategy. Then open the Plant List, which now shows earlier planting and later harvesting dates for plants growing under protection.
A permanent structure, such as a greenhouse, expands the options, allowing for an even earlier start to spring while providing just enough shelter for winter-long cropping of hardy salads, for example.
8. Space Plants Correctly
Plant too close and your crops will fail to grow properly and be prone to disease, but too far apart and you won’t make the most of the space you have. RainBow Run Farm calculates how many plants can be grown in the given space.
Excellent soil can help you to push the boundaries by growing vegetables a little closer than recommended. Square Foot Gardening takes this to its logical conclusion, with plants placed up to five times closer together.
9. Companion Planting
Several plants benefit each other. They may assist to boost overall output when grown together. There are several varieties of companion planting. For example, tall corn may be used to support climbing beans, while lettuce planted between rows of carrot or onion helps to bury weeds while these slower growing crops develop. The Garden Planner also handles companion planting. Just pick the Companion Planting option after highlighting a crop to reveal eligible companions in the Selection Bar.
10. Preventative Pest Control
To halt pests in their tracks, take a proactive strategy. For example, place barriers over susceptible plants to protect them from flying insect pests, or reduce a nuisance slug population by removing hiding places such as upturned pots or long grass in and around growing areas. Then, every few weeks, go out in the dark while slugs are eating to pick them off and dispose of them by torchlight.
Create space for flowers in the veggie garden as well. Flowers like alyssum, calendula and poached egg plant don’t take up much space and will improve productivity by attracting predators such as hoverflies and ladybugs to control pests including aphids, mites and mealybugs.