A well thought out garden will provide you with an abundance of harvests, but to get the most from it you’ll need to think strategically. The growing season is just around the corner, so now’s the time to start planning!
Read on or watch our video and article to discover six steps to a super-prolific, high-yield garden...
1. Choose High-Yield Plants
The first step towards bigger harvests is to grow crops that are either very quick to grow, very high yielding – or both! Good examples of fast-growers include radishes, which are ready to lift just four to six weeks after sowing, and lettuces, which may be cut repeatedly for a steady supply of leaves, so long as the central crown isn’t damaged. Other quick growers include most leafy herbs, scallions, and beets, whose leaves can also be eaten just like spinach.
High yielding vegetables include zucchini, tomatoes – particularly smaller cherry varieties – and the good old potato, which will produce masses of tubers for salads, baking and mashing.
Fruits are often very high-yielding for the space and effort they take to grow. Once established, apples, raspberries and blackcurrants can all produce astoundingly heavy crops.
Take time to read the catalog description when choosing varieties too. Varieties described as ‘prolific’, ‘high-yielding’ or ‘productive’ will usually outperform other varieties.
2. Grow Vertically
There’s never any shortage of vertical space, and by growing upwards with climbing and vining vegetables you can pack a lot more into your high-yield garden. Cucumbers, climbing peas and beans, sprawling squashes and vining tomatoes are just a few of the many sky-reaching crops that will help you to pack a lot more into your space. Vertical vegetables are also easier to pick and because they’ll enjoy better air circulation they’re less likely to be sullied by disease.
Unless you have very hot summers, avoid shading lower-growing crops by growing vertical veggies at the sides or ends of beds, furthest away from the midday sun. Trellises, either free-standing or against a fence, are a really efficient way to grow these vegetables and will provide the support they need as they set fruit and become heavier.
Make use of hanging baskets and planters attached to sturdy walls and fences to pack even more produce into your space.
And, of course, don’t forget vertical fruits including wall-trained fruits and cane fruits such as raspberries, blackberries and their hybrids.
3. Stagger Spacing
If space is particularly tight then get clever with how you space your plants. Rather than growing plants in parallel rows, stagger rows for more efficient use of space and up to 10% more plants.
Our Garden Planner neatly demonstrates this concept. The colored background on each plant shows the space it needs to grow. Instead of dragging out a block, place plants individually (hold down Ctrl when selecting the plant to keep it selected) and stagger them to fill the space available far more tightly, while taking care to give each plant the space it needs.
4. Start Interplanting
Grow two crops in the same piece of ground by mixing slow-growing and fast-maturing vegetables. The quick-to-grow veggies will be harvested before their slower growing bedfellows start to crowd each other and need the extra space.
Sow both crops in the same row – for example radishes with parsnips – or alternate closely-spaced rows of slow and fast growers, for example lettuces set in between corn. Take care not to disturb the slower crop when it’s time to harvest the quicker one.
5. Succession Planting
Keep the harvests coming by planting a follow-on crop as soon as an earlier one has finished. This way you can grow two or more vegetables in the same piece of ground each and every season. A typical succession planting schedule might see, for example, lettuces or early carrots followed by squash or tomatoes, which could then be succeeded towards the end of the season by overwintering garlic. Another example is peas or spinach, followed by beans or greens such as kale.
Growing in succession requires quick reactions. Use quick-maturing varieties to give yourself the best chance of success. It often works best if you start crops off in module trays or pots so they’re ready to plant out as soon as the first crop is done. Top up the soil with a layer of compost between crops to keep plants well-fed and happy.
The Garden Planner makes succession planting a lot simpler. Start by double-clicking on the plant in your plan and setting the dates that each crop is in the ground. Once you’ve done this you can view your plan during a particular month, which will show when and where any gaps will appear. You can then click on the Filter button to the left of the plant selection bar and choose to narrow down the vegetables shown in the selection bar to those suitable for sowing or planting during a particular month. Click OK and the selection bar is filtered accordingly, make it easy to peruse and select a suitable crop to drop into position.
6. Extend the Season
Finally, don’t forget to extend the season to enjoy more growing time. Hoop houses, cold frames, cloches and row covers will all raise the temperature around plants enough to stretch the growing season by a couple of weeks at either end.
Cloches, for example, will help to warm and dry out the soil in spring, allowing sowing of early vegetables such as salads to begin up to two weeks sooner. Similarly, placing row covers over the ground later in the year could extend the season just long enough for one final crop of something like turnips.
Drop in cold protection onto your plan and the Garden Planner will automatically calculate how this affects both planting and harvest dates and display it in your Plant List.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these steps – they’re incredibly powerful and are sure to turn your plot into a high-yield garden. Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any other tips for growing an abundant garden this growing season.