10 tips for a more productive garden
I recently ran across a video I would like to share with you. Although it was filmed in England, the 10 tips it offers are just as applicable to a productive Zone 9 garden.
The 10 points made in the film are:
1) Build up your soil over the winter.
Adding compost during the winter will allow it to age and allow worms and microbes to break it down so your spring plants can use it easily. It is not a good idea to put compost out just before you plant, because the compost may be too “hot” for your plants.
2) Crack down on the enemy.
Here, he is talking about slugs, which are not a problem here. However, this also relates to other insect pests. You need to be vigilant about pests. You can pick them off, for instance hornworms, or spray them, such as aphids. You can use beneficial insects to control the bad insects, or use repellor plants to discourage the bad pests.
3) Succession planting.
There is are two types of succession planting. The first is to plant one type of plant, then plant again one to two weeks later to extend the season. The second type is to plant one type of plant. say a plant with a short day to harvest time in the spring, then plant another crop in the summer to finish the season.
4) Growing vertically.
Growing things vertically allows for more production in the same square footage. Make a trellis for cucumbers, pole beans and peas or climbing spinach. You can even train zucchini squash or cantelope to grow up instead of out.
5) Undercover growing.
Here, he is talking about using small row covers to extend the growing season. This is not actually necessary in Zone 9, but you can use row covers to protect against flying pests that lead to caterpillars that eat your crop.
Plant two compatible plants in the same bed to increase the harvest. You can plan for different harvest times, different height requirements or different root depths. A famous example is the Three Sisters: plant Corn, Squash and Beans. The corn provides a scaffold for the beans; the beans provide nitrogen for the corn. The squash shades the ground, keeping it moist and inhibiting weeds.
7) Pushing the boundaries.
Try Square Foot Gardening or intensive gardening rather than row gardening to increase the amount of produce you can get from the same garden plot.
8) Grow more of what grows best.
Grow what grows well in your area, instead of what may just grow “good enough.” You will have to learn the various methods to preserve the harvest, so it can be enjoyed in the “off season.”
9) Use free fertilizers.
Ask local farmers for cow manure or rabbit droppings. Grow comfrey, and use the leaves to make a compost tea. Use leaf rakings or grass clippings as a mulch to retain moisture and build the soil as it decomposes.
10) Take care of those pesky weeds.
Mulch deeply to hinder weed germination. Any weeds that do make it through the mulch layer will be easy to pull. An added benefit of mulching is that it shades the soil, and retains moisture around the plant roots. As it decomposes, it will add nutrients to the soil.
Using these ten tips and other ideas from this blog, you can create a very productive, long-season garden that gives you more of what vegetables you love. Share with us any other tips you have in the comments