Few people grew a vegetable garden as subsistence farmers. For most, gardening is a hobby or a part-time job. However, if you are producing enough vegetables to at least bring them out on a farmers’ market, then you are thinking about boosting yields, right? We have brought 14 ways to Boost Yields in Your Vegetable Garden for you.
If you are, here are the 14 best ways in which you can produce more organic vegetables.
The trick is to start early
In places where the gardening season is short, the trick is to start the garden as early as possible. This includes sowing seeds that will initially grow indoors under lights. Once the weather outside is warm enough, you just replant them in the garden.
Likewise, you should look to harvest crops early. This is achieved through the use of cold frames, miniature greenhouses, and high tunnels. At the end of the season, using fabric row covers helps prolong the harvest.
Growing plants in containers
Another useful tip to boost yields is the use of containers. These pots are usually so small that you can keep them on the deck or the balcony. Cherry tomatoes, for example, can be grown indoors, without the need to carry them outside.
By using containers extensively, you are saving space in the garden for other, bulkier vegetables, such as melons and squash. Apart from vegetables, herbs can be grown in window boxes, as take very little space. Oregano, basil, parsley, catnip, and lavender are among the most profitable herbs to grow.
Crop rotation is a must
Any farmer will tell you that crop rotation is a must. Even if you don’t produce tons of vegetables, crops should be rotated every year. Crop rotation is nothing more than swapping the location of two crops over the course of two seasons.
If you were to grow peppers, for example, on the same lot two years in a row, the yields would drop significantly at the end of the second season.
Moreover, rotating your crops ensures pests and diseases are kept away from the vegetables. This way, the earth has time to replenish nutrients by the following year.
Growing vegetables vertically
There are many plants that are climbers, so you can grow them vertically, saving up space on the ground. From cucumber to beans, all these plants can hang from trellis with shade-loving plants, such as lettuce and spinach growing underneath.
Succession planting comes with numerous advantages
Organizing the vegetable garden like a relay race, i.e. in a row takes several weeks but it pays off in the end. Succession planting starts with cool-season crops (leafy greens, radishes, and beets). These crops are replaced by warm-season vegetables, like beans, watermelon, or zucchini.
Once fall arrives, it’s time to sow new crops, so cool-season vegetables that grow fast are ready before the season is over. Alternating between, i.e. planting in succession these two types of crops ensures you maximize the total yield of the garden.
The right tools for the job
Every green thumb who is looking to take his or her passion to a new level has to have the right set of tools for the job. Namely, there are all sorts of garden accessories like a garden hose that help you get everything done quicker and easier.
Take for example the weeder. Without this handy tool, you would have to pluck out weeds by hand which is tiresome and time-consuming. Furthermore, a retractable hose reel makes it possible to reach every corner of your property, so you can water the garden in a single go.
Although you wish to grow vegetables, a flower patch is more than welcome in your garden. One of the advantages of flowers such as sweet alyssum and catmint when they are planted at the edge of the garden is that they draw in pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies.
Be aware of the spacing between plants
Whether we are talking about seeds or samplings, every plant has spatial requirements. If you make the mistake of sowing seeds too close to each other, then the two plants will compete for nutrients, lowering their yield when harvest time comes.
On the other side, if fail to follow the instructions on the labeling and plant the seeds or samplings too far apart, then you will have wasted fertile land. One of the gardening accessories we wrote about earlier is a waterproof ruler that you can use to measure the distance, i.e. the spacing between plants.
Rain: A natural source of water
Using tap water, even if it isn’t potable to water the garden is perfectly acceptable. However, tap water is usually hard and full of chemicals, not to mention that it isn’t free. Rainwater, on the other hand, isn’t treated with chlorine, for example, and it’s absolutely free if you can collect it.
Investing in a rainwater collection barrel is yet another step to increase yields. Even when the rest of the gardeners and farmers run dry during a drought (the local waterworks do have a maximum capacity), you will have hectoliters of rainwater to water the vegetables.
Switch to permanent beds
Rotating crops is one thing but constantly shifting and altering beds is a different matter. If you wish to boost yields, then your beds have to be permanent. Furthermore, they should be accessible from all sides and shaped like square blocks. This makes it easier to add fertilizer, as you won’t waste any on unfertile soil and paths.
Feeding the plants
We are what we eat and the same is true for the vegetables. Apart from nutrient-rich soil, the garden should be fed with organic fertilizer. You can buy sacks of this fertilizer from a farmers’ market or a garden center or you can produce your own fertilizer.
After you have consumed all the peppers, cucumbers, and potato you grew in your garden, the seeds and the peal can be added to a compost box you would erect in the garden. Add some earth, dead leaves, and other food leftovers and you’ve got yourself all-organic compost.
Ripe for harvesting
If you want your plants to produce more food and more importantly, to keep growing, you should harvest them young. Waiting for cucumbers, for instance, to reach their full length, is not necessary, as picking cucumbers before they are fully ripe increases the overall yield. The same goes for all other vegetables, from zucchini to tomato.
Give precedence to local species
If you look at any plant’s global distribution, you will notice that there are regions where certain vegetables grow and regions from which they are missing. You are free to plant all sorts of vegetables but don’t expect high yields from bananas in Sweden, for instance.
By giving precedence to regional vegetables, you can count on high yields because of the favorable climate. Exotic vegetables and imports should only be grown on small plots, as sort of a horticultural experiment.
Don’t let shady areas remain unused
You have probably meticulously drafted the layout of the garden, so there are few shady areas. However, shade is inevitable but this doesn’t mean that you can’t plant in the shade. Quite the contrary, species such as leafy greens, leeks, and parsnip thrive without too much sunlight.
Boosting yields in a vegetable garden is a sign that you are ready to take gardening to the next level. The money and effort you invest in increasing productivity will pay off after you bring out excess vegetables to a greenmarket and sell them for profits.