If gardening is only a hobby to you, you might not care about the yield of your garden. However, in case you sell the fruits and vegetables you grow to make a living or use them to feed your family, maximizing your yield is definitely one of your primary concerns. Regardless of whether you are stocking up for the colder season or simply want more produce that you can offer to your customers, making the most of the garden at your disposal is necessary.
Perhaps you are a novice gardener and are not sure how to approach this task. Maybe you’re an experienced gardener but are still looking for some tips that will help you reach your goals. Either way, listed below are the steps you need to take in order to increase your yield this season.
- 1 Test your soil
- 2 Improve the quality of the soil
- 3 Implement raised beds
- 4 Go vertical
- 5 Think about a greenhouse
- 6 Choose the right fruits and veggies
- 7 Get the necessary equipment
- 8 Find the right location
- 9 Know when to plant
- 10 Understand the best planting patterns
- 11 Try undersowing and interplanting
- 12 Plan for succession planting
- 13 Extend your season
- 14 Collect rainwater
- 15 Prevent pests
- 16 Encourage pollinators
Test your soil
For any gardening endeavor to work, you have to be aware of your soil’s quality. If the soil is not healthy and full of nutrients that your veggies and fruits need, they will not be able to thrive. Therefore, the first step you need to take is testing the soil.
You can purchase test kits in your local nursery or order them online over Amazon or Lowe’s, for example. However, before you buy them, read some reviews to see which ones are the most accurate. Other than that, there are even ways to test your soil’s pH without a kit and see whether it’s more alkaline or acidic.
Improve the quality of the soil
Seeing as how some plants prefer acidic, some alkaline and others a neutral soil, you need to decide which varieties you will plant and try to improve your soil accordingly. Plus, if you’ve discovered that your soil is lacking in some crucial nutrients like oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, you also need to work on amending that issue. Luckily, there are many ways how you can enrich the soil in your garden.
For example, you can use cow or hen manure as it is good for vegetable gardens; however, avoid carnivore manure. Mixing grass clippings and leaf matter and putting it in the ground will also add nutrients to the soil and improve the drainage. Compost and mulch can be of great help as well. It’s best to start adding organic matter in winter so that it can incorporate into the ground just in time for spring.
Implement raised beds
There is a lot of evidence that suggests that vegetables and fruits that are planted in raised beds produce more than those planted directly in the ground. This is reason enough for you to find a way to add raised beds to your garden. When using this approach, it is much easier to amend the soil and it will be looser and more fertile. They are also great because the water can drain much faster which means that those living in wet spring areas can start working the soil much sooner.
What is also amazing about raised beds is that they help you maximize productivity as they can be approached from all sides and there is no wasted space as plants are grown in blocks. Finally, to increase the surface available for planting, mount up the soil in the shape of an arc.
In case you don’t have too much space at your disposal but still want to grow fruits and veggies, you need to go vertical. Plus, even if you do have plenty of space, you can also do this to maximize your yield. Set up poles, fences, and trellises and look for plants that benefit from this setup. For example, peas, beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and melons are all suited to this kind of cultivation.
While some produce might seem too heavy, there is no need to build any kind of support as these plants will develop strong stems that can hold the crop. Other plants that you can grow in vertical planters include strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, and various herbs.
Think about a greenhouse
While not everyone has the space and the funds to build a greenhouse in their backyard, if you are lucky enough, you should most certainly consider this option. This is a great strategy that can have a high yield because greenhouses provide plants with controlled and optimal conditions.
You will need to invest in heaters, ventilators, and humidifiers among other things but then you will be able to grow peppers, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and many more veggies.
Choose the right fruits and veggies
The choice of fruits and vegetables that you can grow in your home garden is truly countless and can often be overwhelming. However, in order to maximize your yield, you have to be selective and find the right plants that you can benefit from the most. So, look for those that produce more crops, use the soil more efficiently and only take a few weeks to reach maturity.
For example, some plants like cauliflower take too much space and need too long to mature. Regardless of how much you love it, it might not be the best option. Some other varieties that will take up too much space include celery, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and even squash and melons unless they’re climbing. Instead, go for eggplant, radishes, peas, lettuce, pole beans, and some edible flowers, just to name a few.
Another thing you should consider is opting for hybrid seed varieties. They have been selectively bred and cross-bred with the goal of improving their characteristics which means that they are potentially more hardy, disease-resistant, and unappealing to pests. Finally, native plants are best suited to your climate and conditions so you can expect them to thrive in your garden.
Get the necessary equipment
In addition to purchasing the right seeds for your garden, you will also need quality gardening equipment. From gardening caps and aprons to planters and wheelbarrows, there is a lot to think about. Of course, you cannot forget about the necessities like garden knives, forks, trowels, and weeders as well as secateurs, pruners, loppers, rakes, shovels, and hoes.
Luckily, gardening supplies companies such as Hoselink can easily meet all your requirements. Plus, don’t forget about watering the plants, so either consider setting up an irrigation system that will make your job a bit easier or get hoses and spray nozzles and do it by hand.
Find the right location
Finding the right location for your garden is also of the essence. If you have a lot of space at your disposal, this should not be a problem. However, if you’re limited on space, you will have to look for the best way to provide the plants you’ve chosen with the conditions they need.
You are probably aware that certain plants need full sun, some prefer the shade while others thrive in partial shade. This information is necessary when deciding where you will place your raised beds and how you will organize your plants.
Know when to plant
Just like the placement plays a big role in increasing your yield, so does the timing. You don’t want to start too soon and be caught off-guard by one last frost that affects all your crops. You also don’t want to be too late.
However, there is some evidence that planting a bit later can help you avoid pest infestations and certain diseases. Luckily, there are various charts and calculators that can help you figure out the right time to plant your fruits and veggies.
Understand the best planting patterns
You need to understand that placing plants too close to each other will result in failed crops, them being prone to disease or simply not growing to the right size. However, if they are too far apart, you will not be utilizing the space you have to the max, you’ll be wasting water and you might be dealing with plenty of weeds.
A great approach you can turn to is staggering the plants. This means planting them in triangles instead of straight rows. That way, you will be able to plant more while still making sure that all veggies get enough water, sunlight, and nutrients.
Try undersowing and interplanting
Other than staggering, there are other practices that can help you increase the yield of your garden. For instance, undersowing means planting varieties that enjoy a cooler microclimate under a bigger variety that loves being in the sun.
Ensure, however, that the plants you undersow are light feeders that don’t require a lot of the soil’s nutrients thus allowing their neighbor to feed properly as well. Planting lettuce under tomatoes is a nice example of this practice. Then, there is also interplanting. This is a technique that allows you to plant non-competitive species together as they will help each other grow and potentially protect one another from pests.
For example, corn, beans, and squash like being interplanted together as they all grow better in these circumstances. Also, planting legumes with fruit trees or tomatoes with cabbages all have different benefits.
Plan for succession planting
Besides all the aforementioned practices, you should also do your best to create a succession planting plan. This enables you to have plants that will mature at different points, meaning that you will not waste any space or time. Once one variety has matured and been harvested, you will be able to plant another one in its place and maximize your yield.
There is no need to wait for next season to use the planter again, just plant something that can mature in the same season. After the second crop is harvested, you can even plant a third if there is time. Test your soil after each crop and amend it if necessary before you plant the next crop.
Extend your season
There are also ways how you can extend your season so that you can produce more crops. In addition to the greenhouse we talked about earlier, you can provide your plants with protection from the frost by using fabric, cold frames, high tunnels, and caterpillar tunnels.
Not only will you be able to sow earlier but you will also be able to end your season a few weeks later than usual. Being familiar with when the frost starts and ends will be of great significance in this endeavor.
Seeing as how watering your plants is vital, you should look for a way to improve this as well. So, instead of using tap water that has been treated with various chemicals, opt for rainwater which is softer and contains plenty of nutrients. Set up a system and start collecting rainwater as soon as possible.
You will also need to find a way to deal with the pests that might affect the success of your garden. It’s best to take preventative measures early on as then you will not have to handle this issue once the pests have already damaged your plants. Place protective barriers over and around susceptible plants, use organic pesticides if necessary and consider adding some flowers to your garden as they can also control pests.
While you do not want pests around, you should encourage pollinators to find a place in your garden. The presence of these insects can increase your yield by 70% so consider planting some easy-care perennials which can attract pollinators such as bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Keeping a record of your yields as well as a gardening journal will be of great assistance for all your future undertakings as you will be able to see which approaches worked and which didn’t. Implement these tips a bit at a time and you’ll see your garden growing more produce than ever before.