Get A Better Vegetable Garden Yield
If your garden bed is 4 feet x 7 feet with a little bit of know how you can have a yield that good, and its easier than you may think. The secret is planning and taking the time to choose strategies that will work for your garden in particular. The following are seven strategies to increase your yield gleaned from gardeners young and old who have discovered ways to make themost of their gardening space.
Build Up Your Garden Beds
Almost all gardeners will agree that raising up your soil will give you a better amount of produce from your garden. By raising your garden beds you will have more room to add quality soil allowing deeper garden beds. Deep, quality soil allows the roots to grow freely and to reach more nutrients and absorb water more effectively. With better growth beneath the ground, you'll get lusher, more productive plants above the ground.
Raising your garden beds also saves you space. You aren't allowing more room than necessary for paths between your rows. You have more room to plant out plants. Your soil will also remain loose and crumbly – when its raised up you arent treading on the edges and impacting the soil.
When plants are planted closer together in a raised bed they compete out the weeds – less work pulling weeds for you. It's easier to get in and harvest your crop and easier to water too. Because your soil is better quality and loose, you are less likely to have your water run off too – better for the environment and better for your garden.
A rounded garden bed can make a difference. While raised beds are more efficient, rounding out the garden bed will actually give you more garden bed to work with as opposed to a perfectly flat garden bed. While you may scoff at the notion of a little extra area that a rounded bed gives you, multiply it by every row or bed in your vegetable garden and see the difference rounding out your rows and beds can make to your produce.
If you have a garden bed, raised or ground level, which is twenty feet long and you round out the soil on the top giving you a total planting area that was 100 but rounded out is now 120 square feet. That's an increase of 20%. That's a potentital increase in yield of twenty percent, and twenty percent more room to grow more vegetables. The best plants to plant out in this new found curved space are the greens family – lettuce, spinach and kale are perfect partners to this type of gardening.
Space Your Plantings Carefully
Don't just throw your plants into your garden beds, consider how you will plant them out to maximise the space you have. Square patterns and rows actually take up more space. Planting out your garden in a triangular fashion will make a moreeconomical use of the space that you have. If you plant out in a triangular pattern, you can gain up to 10 % more planting space.
If you plant your plants too tightly you may in fact decrease your yield – they wont grow properly when they are crowded. Planting too closely together can also make plants more susceptible to pests and disease and the plants can also become stressed in trying to compete for nutrients, root space and sunlight.
Upwards and Onwards!
Only got a tiny garden? Go up! You can always create a vertical garden and gain more from your vegetable garden. Vines which would normally take up a lot of room in your garden bed can be trained to climb up instead. Support your crop with fences, trellises, cages or stakes. Anything to keep your vegetables growing upwards adn leaving space in the bed for other crops.
Other benefits of growing your vines on a trellis include more air flow – some vines are susceptible to fungas and rot when they get too damp. You can see where the vegetables are – they are right on eye level rather than having to carefully wade through pumkin vines to find the fruits of your labor trying not to break any stems.
If you're worried about the fruits and vegetables dropping off the vines, watch as your plants grow. You wont need to secure individual vegetables as the stems will grow thicket to support their weight as the vegetable grows. If your vegetabkles are falling off before they are ripe, check them for disease.
Companion Planting Can Increase Your Vegetable Garden Yield
Not only is companion planting good for the prevention of pests and diseases, it also saves on space. Consider the famous three sisters planting, described in our article on companion planting. In this planting, corn, beans and squash are all planted together to support each other and provide a beneficial crop.
Consider other traditional companion plants such as tomatoes and basil or borage, peppers and okra, beans and lettuce or beets, spinach and cauliflower – the list is endless of companion planting that you could try in your garden.
Succession planting is when a gardener plants more than one crop in a garden bed over the space of the growing season. In this way, the space is utilized for the entire growing season with up to four crops being harvested from a single space in the right growing regions.
One example of sucession planting in a garden bed could be early growing lettuce followed by a variety of fast maturing corn then a crop of spinach or other greens and finally planting out a crop of garlic to make use of the garden bed as the weather cools.
To use your time economically when you are practicing succession planting, don't plant from a seed. While your crop is being harvested, make sure that you have the next crop growing as seedlings and ready to transplant into the grouind. You will lose precious time if you plant out your next crop as seeds if you have to wait for them to germinate and come to fruition.
Choose vegetable varieties that are known for fast maturation. You will see this on the packaging.
Every time you plant a new crop, make sure that you prepare the soil before hand. Add compost and other organic matter adn fertilizers to ensure that the soil is as healthy as you can make it. Fast growing crops will draw the nutrients out of the soil and you will get better results if your soil is in better condition when the transplants are first planted out. You only need an extra half inch of compost on top of your garden bed and then worked into the existing soil to make a significant difference.
Can You Stretch Your Season?
Seasoned gardeners know all about the extra care they take in the garden in those weeks leading up to the growing weather. Many of them will get a headstart by using equipment such as mulch, c.loches, row covers and cold frames to keep the last of winter's chill from their seeds and seedlings.
Covering the soil with an infrared blanket or plain old black plastic can heat up your soil prior to you sowing your seeds. it will absorb the heat and once the soil reaches 65 degrees farenheight you can remove the plastic and replace it with straw. If there is a danger of frost you can cover your tiny seedlings with row covers, clear plastic tunnels that allow the warmth to enter but keep the worst of the cold out.
By adding a few weeks to each end of the growing season you can squeeze in one more crop. Late harvest tomatoes are an excellent crop to finish up with and hardy lettuce are an ideal crop to start the season off.