40 Gardening Tips to Maximize Your Harvest

Save time and money while growing even more great-tasting organic food.

| April/May 2011

Chard and Trellis

This garden maximizes yields by growing cut-and-come-again crops, such as chard, and by growing vertically on a trellis. 


The best way to keep top-quality, organically grown produce on your table year-round is to grow as much as you can, and preserve plenty to eat for when your garden isn’t producing. This is a worthy goal, as organic, homegrown produce is more nutritious, delicious and sustainable than the typical store-bought fare. To help your garden reach its potential, you can implement many creative growing and preserving strategies. As you attempt to grow more organic food, be realistic about the time you have to maintain your garden and manage its harvest, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. 

To create a roundup of the best gardening tips on maximizing returns, I brainstormed ideas with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors. Then I talked with readers who left wise comments on our online gardening surveys (sign up for our surveys). The result is a checklist of 40 ways to make your garden more productive. Choose the ones that work for you, and enjoy maximizing your return on the time, work and money you invest in your homegrown food supply. 

Plan for Good Garden Production

Whether you draw your garden plans with pencil and paper or use a software tool such as the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner, you’ll need to think ahead to incorporate the following yield-maximizing strategies. 

1. Grow High-Value Crops. “Value” is subjective, though growing things that would be costly to buy makes good sense, provided the crops are well-suited to your climate. But value can also be about flavor, which may mean earmarking space for your favorite tomato varieties and fresh herbs first, and then considering how much money you could save by growing other crops at home. 

2. Start Early, End Late. Use cloches, cold frames, tunnels and other season-stretching devices to move your spring salad season up by a month or more. In fall, use row covers to protect fall crops from frost and deer while extending the harvest season for a wide assortment of cold-tolerant greens and root crops. 

3. Grow the “Shoulder Season” Fruits. You can usually pick and stash June-bearing strawberries and early raspberries in the freezer before your garden’s vegetables take over your kitchen. Raspberries that bear in the fall and late-ripening apples are also less likely to compete with summer-ripening vegetables for your food preservation time. 

7/19/2017 3:36:13 AM

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7/19/2017 3:35:28 AM

Being a good gardener is a tough task but with your tips and some other tips anyone can be a good gardener https://goo.gl/DH4SqF

6/15/2016 5:36:04 AM

When I pick my potatoes (soon) can I plant any other crop where they grew ?? Ie. Kale ,chard etc? Thanks Gareth UK.

3/23/2015 7:26:05 AM

Amazing write-up. Those are wonderful gardening tips. These tips definitely comes in handy for the beginners like me in maximizing the harvest, Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge. - Artificial grass http://www.artificialgrassgb.co.uk/

4/12/2014 1:09:12 PM

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9/9/2013 1:44:22 PM

These are some great tips. Thank you! To see some more great gardening tips just visit http://gardeningforteens.com, they post incredible tips as well! Thanks!

4/23/2013 9:39:35 PM

Thank you for these great tips.I recently begin aquaponics gardening. I have heard about it from my closest friend and it is wonderful for me. These little cute fish really good for my garden. Maybe you don't know this gardening technique, but you should learn that. Applying process is very fast and easy. My little garden is very fertile now :) Actually you can learn everything about aquaponics in this website. I also learned everything form there and believe me, you will like this ;).

frank plummer
2/29/2012 7:00:48 PM

Did you know if you dig your beans plants up and store them were they wont get frost bit they will grow again the next year???

lisa wagner
5/6/2011 10:12:12 PM

What a wonderfully helpful article - full of great tips and helpful advice! Thanks, Barbara.

louise rosevelt
4/5/2011 12:52:27 PM

When I lived in Nebraska I had kentucky wonder beans come back from self sown seed every year. I would let some pods mature on the vines at the end of the season and they would be sown when I pulled them down in the spring. I never reseeded the bean patch. Here in Florida I switched to yard long beans that love the heat. As an added bonus, the tropical bean vines are very pretty!

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