All gardeners want to make the most of their time and effort by maximizing food production. If space is the limiting factor in some gardens, inclement weather and short growing seasons could be challenges elsewhere. Here are some practical ways to increase the production of your garden despite these problems.
1. Provide quality culture medium.
In open-air orchards, normal soil is the usual growing medium, but to obtain a good yield from vegetables, you must amend it appropriately to match the requirements of the crops you grow.
Adding a lot of good compost is the best solution for a series of problems related to the soil, including soil compaction, water saturation and too much acidity / alkalinity. Compost improves water retention and drainage by changing soil structure. It also increases soil nutrients and facilitates the proper functioning of the root and aeration, all of which are essential for good performance. You can also change the pH of the soil without chemical additives.
Get good quality compost or do it yourself with yard waste, such as turf grass clippings. Try composting worm kitchen waste. The worms add their own nitrogenous waste to further enrich the soil.
2. Make sure your garden receives a lot of sunlight
Almost all vegetable crops need total sunlight for maximum production, although some leafy vegetables and root vegetables may be of a partial color. It is solar energy that drives the process of food production or photosynthesis, so the production of vegetables will obviously depend on the amount of sunlight they receive.
Whenever possible, choose areas with south or southeast exposure for orchards. Reduce the shadow of the roof by cutting the branches of the trees. Choose the sunny places of high light plants like tomatoes. Leaf vegetables Like spinach and lettuce, they can be placed on taller plants to optimize space and the use of light.
3. Provide sufficient amount of water
Most vegetables have a high water requirement. Providing enough water can be a challenge in arid areas and during the summer months when irrigation restrictions are in place. But depriving vegetables of water can lead to the fall of flowers and fruits, which, of course, would affect performance. Water stress should be avoided, especially when the seedlings are young and at the time of flowering and fruiting.
Rainwater collection and storage can help alleviate water problems in the dry season. Conserve water and make the most of it by installing drip irrigation and other water saving methods. The quilting around the plants avoids to a certain extent the loss of water from the soil. Protective windbreaks around the garden can reduce the rate of perspiration.
4. Use organic mulches that enrich the soil.
Mulches are used in the garden to conserve moisture, maintain optimum soil temperature and reduce weed problems. By forming a physical barrier between the soil and the aerial parts of the plants, the coverages can even reduce the risk of pests and diseases caused by pathogens and spores transmitted by the soil. All this can translate into higher yields, but the use of organic mulches can further improve soil fertility and increase food production.
Padding of leaves, grass clippings and straw are some of the best organic mulch You can get it from your own garden. In fact, it is worthwhile growing nutrient-rich herbs on the periphery of the orchards to provide enough straw for mulching. Grass hedges can also prevent runoff from rainwater. A mulch 2 inches thick throughout the garden should be enough to protect and enrich the soil.
5. Use plastic mulch to maximize the yield of specific crops
Many organic gardeners stay away from plastic mulches, but they have been shown to increase yield in certain cases. The landscape tissue that allows gas exchange and water drainage can eliminate weeds without suffocating the soil.
The color of plastic mulch also seems to matter. It has been found that red plastic mulch increases tomato yield by 10-30% and green ones seem to help summer crops of courgettes and melons. The black mulch keeps the soil warm and helps prolong the growing season, and the silvery ones are used for effective pest control.
6. Invest in the best varieties of vegetables and fruits.
Many varieties of high yielding plants have been developed, and it is up to the gardener to use them to maximize the harvest. There are excellent varieties of relic that offer a unique taste and flavor, but it is worth considering some hybrids to obtain abundant crops.
High-yield hybrids can be expensive, but you can invest in some plants and then increase your stock by increasing the stock of cuttings. However, new varieties should be carefully studied to ensure that they are suitable for their climate and growing conditions. Resistance to diseases is another characteristic that you should look for in these plants.
7. Obtain varieties of early maturation.
This is another trick to get the maximum performance of the minimum space. There are early maturing vegetables that are ready to harvest in just 4-8 weeks. In addition to reducing the waiting period, they allow you to have several lots one after the other. Early maturing vegetables are also excellent for areas with little growing season. You can compress into two crops instead of one or, perhaps, even more.
The radish is a vegetable that always gives the earliest performance in less than a month from sowing to harvest. But now you can get spinach, lettuce and vegetables from Asia that need only 1 ½ months to mature, and kale, okra and summer squash that take around 50 days. Then there are a lot of other vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, the beets and carrots that are prepared in two months.
8. Harvest on time or a little earlier.
Most gardeners wait impatiently for the first harvest, but then relax. Choose the vegetables as soon as they are ready. Most vegetables are continuous producers, so the more they harvest, the more they produce. This helps increase overall production.
Unlike the fruits that ripen better on the tree, the vegetables taste better when they are tender, the possible exceptions are melons and tomatoes. Cucumbers and courgettes are better when they are very young. The same goes for okra and eggplant. You can wait for the pea pods to fill, but the beans must be picked before the seeds begin to appear. Most green leaves, except lettuce that form the head, can be harvested continuously by cutting the lower leaves as they mature.
9. Practice sowing succession.
Planting successively means growing a new crop as soon as a crop is harvested. With careful planning and execution, sowing and harvesting can be carried out for the continuous production of food throughout the season. For example, when you end up with a summer bean crop, you can grow it and plant lettuce in the same place for fall. This can be followed by a spring pea crop.
Depending on the time it takes for different vegetables to mature, the same beds can be reused for successive generations of crops from one season to another. If you grow some varieties of early maturation, you could have successive crops within the same season.
When some crops are at the end of their useful life, it may be better to remove them and add them to the compost pile, instead of waiting for the last pod / fruit. You can plant something else in its place after adding some fresh compost.
10. Between crops
Intercultivation is another smart way to get every bit of space limited. Here, you have a mixed plantation of crops that have different sowing and harvest times. When the early maturing crops are sown between those of late maturity, you can harvest the first ones and start new plants in their places. Young seedlings can even benefit from the shade provided by the long-standing ones.
There are proven intercropping companions such as tomatoes and lettuce; winter squash and spinach; Sweet corn and radishes. But you can also experiment with your own combinations.
11. Crop rotation to reduce the risk of disease and high performance.
Crop rotation is an ancient technique to break the cycles of pests and diseases. Most pathogens and microbes are host specific; They affect certain plants or plant families exclusively. If the same crops are sown repeatedly in one area, the pest populations increase and result in crop failure. On the other hand, when a new crop takes its place, these organisms, especially their wintering larvae and spores, become stranded and eventually perish.
Soil fertility is another factor affected by repeated plantings of the same crop. That's because they selectively use certain nutrients from the soil, which results in their depletion. But a new crop may have different nutrient requirements. Another advantage of the use of leguminous plants for crop rotation, in particular, is that it leaves the soil richer. Beans and other legumes are often sown between subsequent grain crops for this same reason.
12. Use cover crops in winter.
If your climate does not allow vegetable crops in winter, you may be able to increase soil fertility by planting winter cover crops. The idea is to protect the soil in places where there is no guarantee of snow cover during the winter.
Legume cover crops are ideal because they have root nodules inhabited by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. They increase the availability of nitrogen in the soil for the next crop. Another option is to grow plants that can be used as mulch in the following season. Take them to the ground at the end of the season; They will decompose and add to soil fertility.
13. Gardening in elevated beds.
It has been shown again and again that this method of gardening results in a very high yield, in part due to its high density of planting. The vegetables are planted so close together that they leave almost no space for weeds to grow between them.
From the raised beds are full of good soil and compost, solves all existing soil problems at once, whether it is clay soil, rocky terrain, unfavorable pH or other problems that affect performance.
The loose soil structure of the filled beds facilitates good aeration and root functioning, resulting in healthy plants. The gardening tasks are reduced to the minimum and the plants receive more attention. The problems of pests and diseases are easily noticed and remedied. The harvest also becomes easy.
The aisles between the beds can be minimized, leaving more space to grow vegetables. You can further increase the planting area by giving the top of the bed a dome shape.
14. Add vertical garden features
Another way to grow more plants and increase productivity is by incorporating some elements of vertical gardening in your garden. Not only natural climbers, such as beans, peas and squash, are suitable for vertical cultivation. Free space on the ground by directing vines such as pumpkins, watermelons and sweet potato vines to poles and trellises. Even tomatoes benefit from vertical growth, especially indeterminate types.
A wire mesh frames can provide good support for large fruit vines such as melons. The space below can be used to cultivate shade-tolerant greens. Lifting vines from the soil has many advantages, such as a uniform ripening of the crop and a lower risk of pests attacking the fruit. They have no chance of touching the ground and rotting at the point of contact. The harvest becomes much easier too.
Shelves or stairs equipped with several rain gutters can support a large amount of salad greens. Hanging baskets and vertical growth The towers are other options for growing vegetables, as well as strawberries and tomatoes in the least amount of space.
15. Attract pollinators.
Some vegetables and fruit trees are self-pollinating, but not all. Some need pollinators such as bees and bumblebees to carry pollen to the stigma of flowers. Even in plants capable of self-pollination, bees and others pollinating insects They are known to increase performance.
The best way to attract pollinators is to grow colorful nectar-producing flowers in the garden. Many herbs are bee magnets when they are in bloom, although flowering decreases their flavor. Flowering tips are routinely removed to promote vegetative growth, but allowing some of them to bloom is a good idea.
Make your garden friendly with bees by avoiding any chemical spraying that would harm these beneficial insects. Use biological control agents against specific pests when necessary.
16. Fertilize the garden regularly and according to the requirements.
Good quality compost should have all the macro and micronutrients that plants need. However, an intensely planted, high-yielding garden can deplete these nutrients fairly quickly. Farm manure, fish emulsion and other well-rotted organic fertilizers should be applied at regular intervals to help maintain soil fertility.
The foliar sprays are ideal to give a quick boost to your plants. Compost tea is an excellent foliar spray rich in micronutrients. Urine is another. Collect the urine separately and use it at a dilution of 1:20 to spray the cultures. It can be added to the soil after dilution to 1:10. Urine contains urea, a fertilizer commonly used to increase nitrogen levels in the soil.
Beware of early signs of nutritional deficiencies such as the yellowish color of the leaves, the purple tints, the tips of the burned leaves and the margins of the brown leaves. If left unattended, nutritional deficiencies result in poor performance. Identify the specific deficiency of the characteristic symptoms or by soil tests, and take corrective measures immediately.
17. Beware of pests and diseases.
If something can be more devastating to your garden than nutritional deficiencies, it is the occurrence of infections and infestations. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause diseases that can reduce yields or completely destroy crops. Choosing disease-resistant varieties and keeping plants in good health can prevent them to a certain extent, but once they do appear, control measures include chemical treatments and the removal of affected crops.
Pests that infect the aerial parts of the plants can be controlled successfully when they are identified with sufficient anticipation. But nematode worms and root borers can be equally harmful. Crop rotation helps minimize pest infestations, but in many cases additional measures may be necessary.
Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/17-organic-secrets-to-turbocharge-your-garden-harvest/, by Susan Patterson
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