Tips For A Better Veggie Garden
Picking the Ideal Spot
What a garden needs…
- day-long sun (at least 6-8 hours)
- good drainage
- protection from the cold wind
If you choose the right environment for you plants, they will grow healthy & strong. If you see that a plant isn’t happy in one place, try moving it to another. Every yard is different and what works in one, doesn’t necessarily work in another. Try to stay away from tree, their nutritional needs are different than your average fruit or veggie plant. If you can manage to plan your garden close to the kitchen or the back door you will probably take better care of your garden because you won’t have far to walk and you won’t forget to water it. You’ll spend more time in a garden that is conveniently located and recognize a problem as soon as you see it.
Putting your tallest plants on the north side of the garden will insure that they won’t block the sun so that your smaller plants can get the sun they need.
The easier you make your frequently harvested crops to get to the more likely you are to harvest & use them. Put them towards the front so you won’t have to go trampling through the garden bed to get to them. The garden doesn’t like compacted dirt, so tread lightly and give yourself a landing pad that you can step on instead.
Families like to hang out together. By planting veggie families together you will yield better crops & it will make it easier for crop rotation in the coming years..
- Legumes: peas, beans, limas
- brassicas: cabbage, kale, broccoli, collards, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
- cucurbits: cucumber, melon, squash
- nightshade: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant
- root veggies: beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips radishes, onions, garlic
- leafy greens: spinach, chard, lettuce
- Vertical cropping: Train sprawling plant to grow up. Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes & melons.
- Intercropping: Planting quick-maturing veggies such as lettuce & spinach between widely spaced rows of a slow-maturing crop like tomatoes or growing squash with corn.
- Succession planting: Making a second planting like putting in beans where you just harvested early spinach. Just make sure you add some compost or fertilizer before you replant.
Saving Space Means Saving Time
Trying different methods other than the more traditional veggie rows may yield larger harvests with less work.
You may want to broadcast your seeds, letting the plants grow closer together. To do this just rack a section of the of the garden. Then scatter your seeds within the width of the raked section. This will allow you to…
- plant more quickly
- weed less because plants will crowd them out
- save on watering because the plants will keep the ground shaded & moist.
- grow cool-weather plants like spinach & lettuce in hotter months without bolting.
- grow more produce in less space
- extend your harvest period
I wouldn’t recommend this method for potatoes, tomatoes, corn, melons, squash or cucumbers.
For this system of gardening you will plant your veggies close together on beds that are 10 inches or more wide and are built up 6-10 inches above the ground. Beds are separated by walkways for easy pickin’. People who use this method of gardening claim that they get higher yields, up to 4 times more veggies per acre!
- improved drainage
- warmer, drier soil for earlier spring planting
- little to no room for weeds
- plants will shade the soil keeping it moist
- you won’t have to worry about trending on the soil so it doesn’t get compacted
- no deep digging
- you can form beds a month or two before the actual planting
There are 2 big disadvantages to this method of gardening.
- the beds dry out faster
- paths between the beds become overrun with weeds.
To combat these issues you can use a heavy mulch of dried leaves or hay. When you see weeds popping up or dry patches in your beds, just add more mulch.
Be creative with your planting. Look around to see what you can recycle into a planter or what you can use to make raised beds. I have used baskets, pails, coffee containers, old wheel barrels or a bicycle with a basket in front…the possibilities are endless. I’ve even used my banana tree trunks as planters!
Square It Up
4×4 sections with paths in between will make it easy to calculate your layout & get to your produce once it’s time to harvest. Read your seed packets to find out how much room each plant needs, then in your 4×4 planting space proceed to space them accordingly. Again, get creative, by adding a vertical vines in the center, surrounded by root crops.
- no compacted soil
- get more harvest from less space
- less weeding, watering & compost
- no overplanting
- looks cleaner & neater
- no having to thin out
- easier to plan crop rotation
The only disadvantage I see are that you may have to do more preparation of the beds at first and you may have slower planting in the spring.
That’s it for this month…
***Stay tuned, because my next garden post will be about: Landscaping: walkways, lawn & trees & edging. Also, flower & herb gardening. Until then…
This post was inspired by the book, TIPS FOR THE LAZY GARDENER, by Linda Tilgner