Your goal of gathering more produce from your vegetable garden is an admirable one; however, you may be curious about the methods that are likely to be the most productive in this regard. The solution is to have healthy soil, to plan carefully, and to protect your crops from things like weeds, pests, and extreme weather. Let’s delve a little deeper into this topic.

The following is a list of ten tried and true methods that have been shown to increase productivity during the growing season…

1. Give Your Land Some TLC

Soils that are both deep and nutrient-rich encourage the development of extensive root systems and robust plant life. You should add a lot of organic matter to your soil, such as compost, manure, or leaf mould, so that it can get the nutrients it needs. Compost and leaf mould can be easily and inexpensively produced at home; therefore, you should compost everything that you can and place a flourishing composting setup at the centre of your garden.

The addition of the majority of organic matter should take place in the winter as this allows sufficient time for it to become incorporated into the soil before the onset of spring. Then, during the growing season, add additional organic matter by spreading it around existing crops in a layer that is 2–5 centimetres (1-2 inches) thick. This surface mulch will also help to slow the loss of moisture and suppress weed growth, saving you time that would have been spent watering and weeding.

2. Ensure That Your Plants Are Fed

A further application of organic fertiliser, such as liquid seaweed concentrate, will be beneficial to a great number of plant species.

Illustration of person planting in a raised bed.

You could also cultivate a patch of comfrey (ideally right next to your compost bin) and brew your own comfrey tea, which is a strong infusion that is perfect for nutrient-hungry plants like tomatoes. Comfrey leaves can also be cut and draped around plants, or they can be added to a compost pile where they will hasten the process of decomposition. Either way, the leaves are beneficial.

3. Cultivate your plants in specific beds.

Convert to a method that utilises beds that are fixed in place to maximise efficiency while minimising the amount of unused space. The productivity of the beds can be increased by growing plants in blocks, which can also be accessed from all sides of the bed. Because the organic matter will be added directly to the beds, none of it will be wasted on paths or any other area of the garden that is not productive.

4. Opt for Vegetation that is Capable of Thriving

It might appear to be common sense, but it is important to remember that cultivating plants that are well-suited to the environment in which you live will result in more robust growth and larger harvests. Tomatoes and sweet potatoes, for instance, do best when grown in climates that are relatively warm. Or, you could choose to cultivate cold-hardy vegetables like chard and cabbage in regions with a lower average temperature.

Choose cultivars that have been developed specifically to flourish in the conditions of your region. Early varieties are ideal for regions that have brief growing seasons, while heat-resistant varieties are an absolute necessity for locations that receive intense summer sunlight.

5. Develop Your Plants More in the Shadows

To raise one’s level of productivity, it is necessary to make the most of every space at one’s disposal, including those that are more shady. They are ideal for growing slow-growing plants such as leeks and parsnips, as well as hardy fruits such as blackcurrants and gooseberries. Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and Asian greens, also do well in these conditions. You can narrow down the available crop options in our Garden Planner so that it only displays plants that are suited to growing in the shade.

6. Collect Additional Amounts of Rainwater

When it comes to watering plants, rainwater is the most ideal choice. Rainwater is gentler to the touch, has a lower contaminant count, and is at a pH that is preferred by the majority of plant species, all of which contribute to better growth overall. Therefore, if you are still irrigating your crops with treated water, now is the time to install additional water barrels and collect as much rainwater as you possibly can. This will ensure the health of your plants. When joining together multiple barrels, you can do so with the help of a connector kit.

7. Make the Growing Season Last Longer

Acquaint yourself with the dates of your first and last frosts, and then make a plan to extend your growing season by protecting your plants from the cold. The sowing of seeds and planting of crops can begin up to two weeks earlier when cold frames, row covers, and cloches are utilised. Additionally, harvesting can continue for a few weeks longer at the end of the growing season.

The Garden Planner provides a stunning illustration of this point. Include crop protection in your plan, such as using a row cover, for example. Bring up the accompanying Plant List, which will now show earlier planting and later harvesting dates for plants that have been protected from the elements.

A permanent structure such as a greenhouse opens up more possibilities. This makes it simple to enjoy an even earlier start to spring while also affording just enough protection for winter-long cropping of hearty salads, for instance.

8. Arrange Plants in the Appropriate Manner

If you plant your seeds too closely together, they won’t get enough sunlight and could get sick, but if you plant them too far apart, you won’t be able to make the most of the space you have. The Garden Planner will give you an accurate estimate of the number of plants that can be grown in the space that is available.

9. Growing Plants Together in Unity

Some plant species are beneficial to one another. When grown in close proximity to one another, they have the potential to boost overall productivity. There are many different approaches to companion planting. For instance, tall corn can serve as a support for beans that are trained to climb, and lettuce planted in the spaces between rows of carrots or onions can help smother weeds while these crops are still establishing themselves. In addition, companion planting is taken care of by the Garden Planner. A list of crops that would work well together is displayed in the Selection Bar after you highlight one of the crops and then click the Companion Planting option.

10. Preventative Measures in the Fight Against Pests

It is important to take preventative measures against pests in order to stop them in their tracks. For instance, you could place barriers over susceptible plants to protect them from flying insect pests, or you could reduce a nuisance slug population by removing hiding places such as upturned pots or long grass in and around growing areas. Both of these methods would be effective. Then, once every few weeks, go outside in the evening when slugs are feeding and use a flashlight to pick them off of plants and throw them away.

Create some space in the vegetable garden for some flowers as well. Flowers such as alyssum, calendula, and poached egg plant do not take up a significant amount of space, but they do increase productivity by attracting predators such as hoverflies and ladybugs, which in turn control pests such as mealybugs, aphids, and mites.