Tips for Growing More Vegetables in Any Sized Space
Vegetable gardens are rarely planted all at once. To get the most from the limited space of a home vegetable garden, there are several methods of extending your vegetable harvest throughout the vegetable growing season. Extending the vegetable harvest is easy enough to do, but it takes a little pre-planning, whether you are getting your vegetable garden started in spring or pushing the limits with a fall garden.
1. Companion Planting
Companion planting a gardening technique that involves planting two or more plants near each other to derive some type of benefit. That benefit could be more vigorous growth, higher yield, repelling pests or attracting predators of common pests. It’s an age old practice, although sometimes field studies and research don’t bear it out. Still, who knows? Science changes and at the very least, we know that diversity in the garden cuts back on problems.
Unlike companion planting, interplanting is generally done to save space or to have a plant do double duty. Probably the most famous instance of interplanting is the Native American 3 Sisters. Corn, beans and squash are grown in the space. The corn stakes the climbing beans and the squash acts as a natural mulch, choking out weeds and using its scratchy leaves to prevent marauding animals from getting to the corn. [p]There’s also no rule that says you can’t interplant vegetables and flowers. In fact, a few flowers in your vegetable garden will help attract beneficial insects, bees and other pollinators.
3. Succession Planting
Planting in succession rather than all at once is a great way to extend your harvest season. There are 4 basic ways to succession plant:
- Same vegetable, staggered plantings.
- Different vegetables in succession.
- Two vegetables in the same space.
- Same vegetable, different maturity rates.
4. Perennial Plants
There are a handful of vegetables that are perennial plants, including: artichokes, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and yams. These plants will stay in the garden and produce for years, so more pre-planning is involved with growing perennial crops.
- Choose a spot where the plants won’t be disturbed when you cultivate. Pick a corner of your garden and designate it to perennials and know that you will always be working around that corner.
- Soil preparation is even more important than normal, because it’s much harder to correct mistakes when the plants stay in the ground all year.
- Ongoing maintenance is also important. You want to catch problems early, before they spread and you have to start all over again.
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