By Melinda Myers for Milorganite
Photographs courtesy of Melinda Myers, LLC
Increase your harvest without expanding your garden with a few space saving growing techniques. These strategies allow you to maximize every square inch of garden space.
Grow plants in wide rows or blocks. You’ll save space by eliminating paths typically placed between each individual row of plants. Instead, plant vegetables with just enough space for each plant to reach its full size. Check the tag or seed packets for recommended spacing between plants. Just make sure you can reach all the plants from the area surrounding the planting beds or those few pathways that remain between the wide rows and blocks. In either case, less space is dedicated to pathways leaving more room for growing vegetables.
Try interplanting quick-maturing vegetables like radishes, lettuce and beets between cabbage, tomatoes and other vegetables that take longer to reach full size. By the time the bigger vegetables need the space you will have harvested and enjoyed the quick-maturing veggies. Use this technique to grow more vegetables instead of weeds while waiting for larger plants to reach full size.
Increase the number of vegetables grown in a row or block with succession or relay planting. Once one vegetable is fully harvested, replant that space with another. Make sure the second or in some cases third planting will have time to mature before the end of your growing season. Just count the number of days from planting until the average first fall frost. Then compare this to the number of days from planting to harvest listed on the seed packet or plant tag.
This strategy also allows you to work with the weather by growing cool season vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and spinach during cooler months and heat-loving vegetables like beans, cucumbers and summer squash during the warmer weather. Diversify your relay plantings by using unrelated vegetables for each successive planting. This reduces the risk of insect populations and disease organisms building up and damaging your plants. For example, start the season with lettuce, follow it with beans and if your growing season allows finish with radishes. These unrelated plants have fewer problems in common, reducing the risk of a failed planting.
Fertilize as needed when switching out your plantings. Use Milorganite, a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer, when replanting a row or block. It won’t interfere with flowering and fruiting or burn plants when weather is hot and dry.
Train vining crops like cucumbers, squash and melons onto a support and tomatoes onto stakes or in cages. Growing vertically saves valuable garden space, reduces the risk of disease and makes harvesting that much easier. Create a sling from cloth or macramé and attach it to the support to prevent the weight of large squash and melons from breaking the vines.
Extend the season and planting opportunities with floating row covers, cloches and cold frames. These allow you to plant earlier and harvest later by protecting seedlings and plants from cold temperatures and frost.
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