This year, let’s harvest even more from our vegetable gardens! But just what are the most effective ways to increase productivity? In this short video, we share ten deceptively simple techniques proven to boost both the productivity and the overall health of your garden.
10 Ways to Boost Yields in Your Vegetable Garden
Clever tweaks to the way we grow can make a big difference to gardening success.
Here are 10 ways to boost productivity in your vegetable garden.
1. Feed Your Soil
Good soil equals strong, healthy plants, so enrich your soil with plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted compost, manure, or leaf mold this winter.
Top up with another 1 to 2 inch thick layer of organic matter from time to time during the growing season to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
2. Feed Your Plants
Plants will benefit from a boost of organic fertilizer such as liquid seaweed concentrate. Alternatively, grow your own fertilizer. Comfrey can be used to make comfrey tea, which is fantastic for hungry fruiting plants such as tomatoes, or simply lay cut comfrey leaves on the soil around plants. Added to the compost heap they’ll help to speed up decomposition.
3. Grow in Dedicated Beds
Growing in beds minimizes wasted space and means you can add organic matter directly to the growing area without wasting it on paths or other unproductive areas.
Beds are easy to access from the sides, and plants can be grown in blocks instead of rows to maximize productivity.
4. Grow What Thrives
Growing plants that will naturally thrive in your soil and climate results in stronger growth and heavier harvests. For example, sweet potatoes and tomatoes are ideal for warmer climates, while crops such as cabbage and chard cope well with cooler temperatures.
Shop around for varieties bred for your climate. Early varieties are suited to short growing seasons, while heat-tolerant varieties are essential for sun-baked regions.
5. Make the Most of the Shade
Shadier areas can be productive too! Try leafy vegetables such as lettuce or Asian greens, slow growers like leeks and parsnips, and hardy fruits such as blackcurrants and gooseberries.
Use our Garden Planner to filter crop choices to show only those suitable for growing in the shade to make choosing what to grow simple.
6. Collect Rainwater
Rainwater is softer, contains fewer contaminants, and is at a pH that is preferred by most plants, resulting in better growth all round. Install water barrels – you can use a connector kit to join multiple barrels together – and collect as much rainwater as you can.
7. Extend the Growing Season
Learn when to expect your first and last frost dates, then push your growing season further using plant protection. Use cold frames, row covers, or cloches to begin planting up to two weeks sooner and to stretch harvests for a few weeks longer in the fall.
The Garden Planner enables you to see by how much you can extend the season. Add crop protection such as a row cover to your plan, then click on the Plant List to view earlier planting and later harvesting dates for the plants grown under protection. A greenhouse or hoop house provides an even earlier start to spring while providing over-winter protection for crops such as hardy salad leaves.
8. Space Plants Correctly
Plant too close and your plants will struggle, but too far apart and you’ll fail to make the most of your space. The Garden Planner shows you exactly how many plants may be grown in the area available.
Square Foot Gardening uses very rich soil and deep raised beds to grow plants up to five times closer than normal. Select the SFG option in the Garden Planner to design your own square foot beds.
9. Companion Planting
Some plants will be even more productive when grown with the right partners. For example, corn can be used as a sturdy support for pole beans, while lettuce can smother weeds in between rows of carrots or onions.
In the Garden Planner, highlight a crop then select the heart-shaped Companion Planting button to show suitable partners in the selection bar.
10. Preventative Pest Control
Stop pests in their tracks using barriers such as tulle or fine netting to protect them from flying insect pests. Reduce the slug population by removing hiding places such as upturned pots or long grass around growing areas; then every few weeks, pick off and dispose of slugs in the evening.
Grow flowers such as alyssum, calendula and poached egg plant in the vegetable garden to attract predators such as ladybugs to control pests including aphids, mites, and mealybugs.