To maximize the production in your garden space, there are few things you can do to make the most of your time, energy, garden space and money. Even if you have oodles of space, maximizing your production per square foot saves time and money. Less to weed, less to fertilize, less to mulch.
1. Healthy soil.It all starts with the soil. You need nutrient and microbe rich soil. Chemical herbicide, pesticides and fertilizers all kill microbes and worms scatter when chemicals are applied. For alive soil, use organic, natural fertilizers and compost. Apply both in early spring so the nutrition can seep into the soil, ready to nourish the seeds and plants you put in the ground. For more details on creating healthy soil, see this blog: next step in garden production.
2. Smart garden plan. You can maximize the production of the plants you put in your garden with a well thought out plan. Divide out what you like to eat into the seasons they thrive in. Plant your veggies in the right season and you will be rewarded with healthy plants and bountiful harvests. Before you plant, check the heights and sun requirements. Plant the tallest plants in the back so they don’t shade out the shorter sun loving plants. Using trellis for vertical gardening of cucumbers, beans, and peas is a great use of space at the back of the garden bed. For those that appreciate some shade, interplant between taller varieties. Look for those that help each other out. This is called companion planting. For more information on companion planting, see this blog: companion planting.
3. Choose wisely. Choose the most productive varieties to maximize the production per square foot of space. Dwarfs are a great choice for small spaces and containers. You can get the same production from many dwarfs as you can the full size varieties. Look for those that have “abundant”, “prolific”, and “heavy yields” in the descriptions. Some great choices are cucumbers, pole beans and peas, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and many varieties of greens.
4. Think for season gardening. Use as much of all four seasons as possible. Start seeds indoors in late winter to get an early start on spring and summer. You can plant out as soon as the weather is willing. Help heat up the soil so your plants or seeds get a jump start when planted. You can put down plastic or cloches where you want to plant to help get the soil warm. Your seedlings will appreciate it! You can also cover your seedlings with a row cover or cloche after planting to keep the warmth of the sun past sundown. Be careful with cloche’s as they can get really hot and fry your plants. A good choice is one with vents. Also look for varieties that are adapted to the season. There are tomatoes adapted to cooler temperatures to get a jump on summer and lettuces that are heat tolerant so you can continue to have salads into summer. For more on four-season gardening, see this blog: garden year round.
5. Eliminate competition. Weeds and pests take away from the vigor of your veggies. Use mulch to keep weeds suppressed. Mulch does triple duty as a fresh coat of mulch in the spring can help warm the soil, helps keep moisture from evaporating during the summer, adds organic matter while suppressing weeds. There are good bugs and bad bugs. Attract the good bugs by interplanting your veggies with flowers like marigolds and calendula. Good bugs help pollinate your veggies, increasing yields. They also eat bad bugs. Be careful using sprays as a spray doesn’t know a good bug from a bad bug. If you are just starting your organic garden, it may take a couple of seasons for the garden to come in balance. For more on pests, see this blog: controlling bugs naturally.
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