Nobody plants a vegetable garden expecting poor yield. But more often, people’s expectations are thwarted by poor yield because of lack of knowledge. You must have a goal when starting a vegetable garden. Your goal should be to get maximum returns with minimum input.
This dictates that you employ the best farming techniques and practices. These are the ingredients that will boost your prospects for high yields. In other words, you need to uncover the secrets for a high-yield vegetable garden. But how do you uncover these secrets when you have not been getting it right in the first place? This is where we come in.
We know the secrets and we wish to share them with you. So, be ready to learn and employ these 7 secrets for a high-yield vegetable garden. We have gleaned these strategies from successful gardeners. They are the very ones who have succeeded from their home gardens.
1. Enrich Your Soil
Gardening experts will not shy from telling you this. Enriching your soil is the most important determinant of a garden’s productivity. Most vegetables need deep, organically rich soils. Such soil will encourage the development of extensive and healthy root system. An extensive root system is able to more water and nutrients. Here is a list of 7 ways to enrich your soil:
• Use manure: Use cows and hens manure. The manure from cows will encourage soil flora while that from hens is rich in phosphorus and nitrogen. These are great for both vegetable gardens and lawns. Avoid manure from carnivores.
• Spread grass clippings: These tend to add nutrients as they decompose. They improve soil drainage and provide shade that keeps root cool. Grass clippings will also reduce water loss during hot days. It would be wise to mix them leaf matter or dig them in the soil.
• Add compost: This material improves soil drainage. It also provides slow-release nutrients that encourage root development. Compost also attracts worms that also improve soil. You can make rich compost from kitchen scrap.
• Tree bark: These form very good mulches. They degrade slowly and therefore you will not need to apply them often. Use them to shade the soil, repel weeds and retain soil moisture. They are also decorative. Keep in mind that they are not good in adding nutrients to the soil.
• Try laying straw: Experienced gardeners recommend peas and Lucerne to strengthen soil straws because they break down rapidly. This will give your soil faster nutrient injection. Dig them into the soil to increase the speed of degradation.
• Conduct soil test: The results of this test will tell the condition of your soil so that you can make the necessary amendments. There are soil test kits in your local agricultural stores. You can use the help of a professional if you are not sure of what to do. Follow these steps for testing soil.
• Create raised beds: Enrich your soil by building raised beds. Evidence indicates that vegetables grown on raised beds yield four times more than an equal amount of space planted in rows. Raised beds have loose, fertile soil. They also make use of space is efficient through tight spacing.
2. Plant the Right Vegetables
So many vegetables can grow in home gardens. However, you must discriminate. Choose the vegetables that use soil more efficiently and produce higher yields. For instance, you may love cauliflower. But cauliflower takes too much space. It also requires a long growing season to mature.
The space taken by one cauliflower plant can grow a dozen pole or bush beans plants. The dozen beans plants will produce hundreds of beans pods throughout the growing season. Here is a list of good and bad choice vegetables:
Examples of common Veggies that use soil efficiently
• Pole beans
• Edible flowers
• Dwarf beans
• Fava beans
Examples of vegetables that as space hungry
• Squashes (unless climbing)
• Brussels sprouts
• Maincrop potatoes
3. Use a Greenhouse
Another great strategy for a high yield vegetable garden is to plant them in a greenhouse. Greenhouses provide controlled and optimal conditions for the growth of vegetables. This establishment can attract a heavy initial capital but the benefits are enormous. Here are some benefits of greenhouses:
• Optimal Temperature Control
Outdoor temperatures range widely. This can affect the growth and productivity of your garden. Modern greenhouses feature temperature control, heaters and air ventilation for specific vegetables.
Most have sensors and timers that allow you to alter the temperature settings of the greenhouse depending on the time of the day. This will ensure each vegetable species’ temperature is optimal. The result is improved foliage, fruits, and flowers throughout the year.
• Controlled Humidity
The transpiration of plant foliage relies heavily on a constant supply of moisture from its roots as well as surrounding atmospheric conditions. If the outdoor conditions are persistently dry, your veggies will depend solely on the roots for transpiration. This can cause water stress and reduce yields. Humidity is thus a major factor. A greenhouse with humidity control provides optimal humidity for perfect transpiration.
• Reduced Exposure to Pests and Disease
Pests are diseases are the major determinants of the productivity of any garden. Greenhouse container soils do not harbor any harmful plant diseases and pests. Because of that, most greenhouses are free of bacteria, pests, borers, and fungi. Rodents too cannot access your vegetables.
• Carbon Dioxide Concentration
Plants depend on carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Outdoors, carbon dioxide is available but not in optimal concentration. Greenhouses have strategically placed horizontal fans throughout. The fans concentrate carbon dioxide closer to the plant leaves for optimal photosynthesis. The results are stronger stems, larger leaves and early flowering and fruiting.
Here is a short list of vegetables that grow best in greenhouses:
• Leafy greens
• French beans
• Sweet potatoes
• Brussels sprouts
4. Pick a Prime Location for Your Garden
The mantra of successful gardeners is right plant, right place. What does this mean? Well, consider this example. You plant a sun-loving tomato variety in a shade. Do you really expect to obtain any decent yield? I guess not.
You have to know the amount of sunlight your preferred vegetables need. This will optimize productivity. Place the garden of sun-loving veggies in a place that receives adequate sunshine most of the day. For shade-loving varieties, a good option would be to plant them indoors.
Sun-loving garden vegetables
Examples of common veggies that light to partial shade
• Brussels Sprouts
5. Start Your Own Seeds
Do not believe what commercial seed producers say about their seeds. Some seed companies may be honest with their claim. However, you can trust no one. A good secret for a high-yield vegetable garden is starting your own seeds.
You cannot be sure what the seeds you adopt have gone through to reach you. Did the vegetables that produced them grow in enriched soil? Do they harbor any diseases that can interfere with their growth and productivity? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself. Since you cannot get any answer, the safest and surest way to get decent yield is to start your own seeds. Follow these steps to harvest your own seeds:
Step 1: Allow Desired Plants to Go To Seed
It is always necessary to deadhead blooms of zinnias, sweet peas, black-eyed Susans and cauliflower to give a re-bloom. You cannot deadhead the plants you intend to harvest seeds from. Allow them enough time to go to seed.
Step 2: Remove the Heads of Seeds, Capsules, and Pods
Pick a warm and dry day to clip the heads of capsules, seeds, and pods. Place them in labeled paper envelops or bags. I would recommend you label the clipped seeds heads, pods and capsules with nametag containing seed name, the location of harvest and date of harvest. A brown paper bag or envelope would be great because it keeps the clipped seeds free from moisture.
Step 3: Harvest Your Seeds
Once in the bag, shake to separate the seeds from stems and flowers. A good idea is to place a few pebbles along with the clipped seed heads. After shaking the bag or envelop satisfactorily, open it. The filaments will fly away. Select and pick out the pebbles. This will leave you with seeds
The process is a little different for capsules and pods. When dry, pry open, pinch off or roll to remove the seeds. You can then screen to separate the seeds from the residues of the capsules and pods.
For the pulp-encased vegetables and fruits, allow them to fully ripen on the plant. A little research is necessary to learn how to harvest the wet seeds from particular plants. For instance, tomatoes may need artificial fermentation to extract seeds.
Step 4: Dry, Sort and Store Your Seeds
The seeds you obtain for your new planting season will need proper drying, sorting, and storage. This will ensure the growth of healthy and high-yield plants. You have to mimic the natural processes. For instance, you will have to store some seeds in the refrigerator to mimic winter conditions. You will have to plant perennial vegetables in the fall to mimic the time they fall on the ground, germinate and grow. For others, you will simply need to store them in a cool dry place.
6. Grow Plants Vertically
You can get the most out of your garden by being smart. Consider growing them vertically. Even if you have a small space, vertical growth will tame vining vegetables. Such vegetables are always hungry for space. You Examples of vegetable you can grow vertically include
• Pole Beans
This technique of growing vegetables also saves time. You will be able to harvest faster. Maintenance will also be fast and easy. Plants that are high up are also resistant to fungal diseases. This is because of better air circulation. Vertically grown plants can be supported by cages, fences, trellises or stakes.
You do not have to worry about vegetables that set heavy fruits such as melons. You may be tempted to support them for fear or them dropping on the ground. Due to the vertical growth, such veggies will be forced to develop thicker stems to handle the weight.
7. Try Succession Planting
Another secret for a high-yield veggie garden is succession planting. Succession planting is a technique that allows you to grow more than a single crop in a particular space over the course of a season. After you harvest one vegetable, you plant another in its place. After harvesting the second crop, you can plant the third if time allows.
You can take four approaches to succession planting:
- Two or more crops in succession: After harvesting first veggie, plant another one immediately in its place. The key determinants are climatic conditions, length of growing season and crop selection. For instance, you could follow a cool season spring vegetable with a heat-loving summer crop.
- Successively planting the same crop: In this case, you make smaller plantings at timed intervals. The plants will therefore mature at staggered dates. This will establish continuous harvest over an extended period. Examples of plants you can plant this way are lettuce and other salad greens.
- Planting two or more crops simultaneously: This technique is possible with non-competing vegetables that have different maturity dates. You plant them in different patterns. The best approach is intercropping or interplanting.
- Same crop planting, different maturity dates: With this approach, select different varieties of particular vegetables often with differing maturity dates. You plant them together but they will mature for harvest at different dates. This will give you yield spanning the seasons.
Add some organic soil food such as compost manure before planting the next crop. This will replenish the soil’s fertility for the next veggie in line. Experts recommend you replenish 0.5 to a 0.75-inch layer of well-decomposed manure every time you plant.
Wrapping It Up
You are definitely on the right track if you use these 7 secrets for a vegetable garden. They will help you say goodbye to the grocery store. This is because you will harvest enough vegetables from your garden to feed you and your loved ones through the whole year. You can only imagine how much money you will save in grocery bills. You will also stop wondering why your neighbors’ garden seems to be healthier than yours. You can carry out more research if you need more information.
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