Easy Ways to Get a Bigger Harvest This Year
Easy Ways to Get a Bigger Harvest This Year
February 13, 2018
We all dream of a garden brimming with delicious abundance, yet the reality often falls short. But there are some simple techniques that even new gardeners can use to grow bumper harvests. In this short video, we share six proven strategies to boost productivity, turning your garden from average to high-yield in just one season.
Think strategically and plan your garden with care, and you’ll enjoy a truly prolific plot with lots to pick!
6 Proven Strategies to Boost Garden Harvests
In this video we’ll share six steps to help make your garden super prolific.
1. Choose Prolific Plants
Choose crops that are either very quick to grow, very prolific—or, both!
For example, radishes are ready to lift just four to six weeks after sowing, and lettuces can be harvested repeatedly for a steady supply of leaves. Other high value veggies include most leafy herbs; scallions; beets, whose leaves are edible and can be used like spinach; zucchini; tomatoes, particularly cherry varieties; and potatoes.
Fruits such as apples, raspberries and blackcurrants are often very high-yielding for the space and effort they take to grow.
Variety choice is important too. Varieties described as ‘prolific’, ‘high-yielding’ or ‘productive’ in the catalog will usually outperform other varieties.
2. Reach for the Skies
Tall-growing plants can help you to pack a lot more produce into your garden. As they’re up off the ground they enjoy better air circulation and are less likely to succumb to some diseases. They’re also easier to harvest, with less bending required.
Unless you have very hot summers, grow tall veggies at the sides or ends of beds furthest away from the midday sun to avoid casting shade on lower-growing crops. They can grown up trellis that are either free-standing or fixed to a fence.
Examples of plants that grow tall or can be trained up supports include cucumbers, peas, beans, vining tomatoes, plus trained fruits and cane fruits such as raspberries and blackberries.
You can also use hanging baskets and planters fixed to sturdy walls and fences to pack even more produce into your vertical space.
3. Stagger Spacing
Instead of growing plants in parallel rows, by staggering rows you can grow up to 10 percent more plants.
If you have our Garden Planner, we can show you this concept. Rather than dragging out a block of plants using the corner ‘handles’, by dropping in plants individually at staggered intervals (hold down Ctrl to keep the plant selected) more plants can be squeezed into the same space, not forgetting to give each plant the space it needs, which is indicated by the colored background on the plant.
4. Start Interplanting
Mixing slow-growing and fast-maturing vegetables can really maximize your space. The speedier veggies will be harvested before the slower-growing ones need the extra space. You can grow both crops in the same row (for example radishes with parsnips), or alternate closely-spaced rows of slow and fast growers (for example lettuces between rows of corn). Take care when harvesting the quicker crop not to damage the slower one.
5. Grow in Succession
Plant a fresh crop as soon as an earlier one has finished to grow two or more vegetables in the same piece of ground each season and avoid leaving unproductive gaps.
Try starting with lettuces or early carrots and following them with tomatoes or squash, then later in the year plant garlic for overwintering. Or grow early peas or spinach followed by kale or beans.
Quick-maturing or early varieties give you the best chance of success. Start crops off in plug trays or pots so they’re ready to plant as soon as the first crop is finished. Spread a layer of compost between crops to keep the soil rich and nutritious for your plants.
If you have our Garden Planner, succession planting is simple. Double-click on a plant in your plan and set the dates that it will be growing in your garden. Then click on the calendar drop-down box to view your plan during a particular month, so you can quickly see when and where gaps will appear.
Click on the Filter button to the left of the plant selection bar, then choose to show only plants that are suitable for sowing or planting during the relevant month. Click OK and the selection bar now only shows plants that can be planted during that month, making it easy to select a suitable crop to grow at that time.
6. Extend the Season
Hoop houses, cold frames and row covers will all help to stretch the growing season.
For instance, placing a cold frame or row cover on your soil in spring will help to warm and dry out the soil and help you to start sowing early vegetables up to two weeks sooner, or doing the same in fall could extend the season just long enough for one final harvest of turnips or another fall crop.
If you have our Garden Planner, add a season extender to your garden plan and it will automatically calculate how this affects your sowing and harvest dates.
You can try the Almanac Garden Planner for free up to a week, giving you ample time to plan your garden.