There is nothing more disappointing than getting to the end of the garden season and having nothing to show for it. Though there is fun in the journey, the ultimate goal of organic vegetable gardening is to fill your kitchen with fresh veggies to lower grocery costs and encourage healthy eating.
A small harvest can often discourage your gardening efforts and make planting seeds seem pointless. Here are 7, totally organic, gardening tips that are sure to boost your harvest.
Compost is key
One of the most essential parts of a healthy garden is good soil, and there’s no better way to get this than by filling your beds with organic compost. Compost helps with drainage, restores depleted nutrients, and can also aid in water retention. Try starting your own compost bin or buying organic compost to mix into your soil. You will notice that your vegetables increase in size, and your plants are more prolific.
The early bird gets the…tomato
Getting a headstart on the growing season is one of the best things you can do to increase your harvest and ensure a bountiful basket at the end of the summer. Utilize cold frames that allow you to plant earlier and keep your plants producing later, or start seeds indoors so that your sprouts will become hardy faster. Various types of row covers, hoop houses, and other cold protection devices can also help increase the growing season by almost two months.
Obviously, if your goal is to increase your veggie, herb, or fruit haul, it is essential that you select plants that are known to be high yield. Examples of plants that are incredibly productive are radishes, most types of lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, and various leafy herbs. When you are purchasing your seeds or plants, look for varieties labeled ‘productive,’ ‘high-yield’ or ‘prolific.’
Take it up a notch
One of the main reasons that many gardeners struggle with quantity is because they simply don’t have the space to grow as many plants as they need. This is where it’s a great idea to implement vertical gardening. Install trellises, plant near fences, or use wooden stakes and train vines such as cucumbers, peas, beans, and various berries to grow around the support. Vertical gardening is also ideal because it keeps your produce from resting on the ground and rotting.
Follow the leader
Succession planting will require you to be an incredibly proactive gardener who is acutely aware of the growing season and willing to put in a little extra effort. This method will ensure that you can capitalize on every bit of summer warmth and make the most of your garden plot. Essentially, succession planting is when you plant a new crop as soon as the old one is done producing. You could potentially grow two or three crops in the same soil in one season.
For instance, you might plant early lettuce, and then grow tomatoes mid-way through, followed with an end of season plant such as garlic. Succession planting is all about planning, but once you have made your schedule, it’s simply a matter of being on top of the planting schedule. It can be helpful to start seeds indoors to speed growth. Remember, this type of planting can be draining on the soil, so be sure to top off your bed with a layer of organic compost between each crop.
Harvest like a hawk
It is easy to become lazy as the season wanes and begin leaving ripe vegetables and fruit on the plant. Be sure that you harvest the moment your veggies are ready, or even a little early as most food will ripen a little after being plucked. The more you harvest, the more your plant will produce.
Water, water, water
Though keeping your plants sucessfully hydrated is often a challenge, dehydration (especially when plants are young) can greatly affect their yield. Water your plants often and install a rainwater collection system, or consider drip irrigation to cut down on water waste and decrease your monthly bill. Mulch can also help with water retention and prevent you from having to water so frequently.
What tips and tricks have you found to help boost your harvest? Let us know in the comments below!