Whether you're a first-time vegetable gardener or have twenty years of experience, we all can agree that there is nothing better than a monumental harvest at the end of the season. With just a few secrets and some free time, you'll have a wonderfully bountiful output this year.
The surest way to increase the yield from a vegetable garden is to reduce the space between plants. The idea is to plant wide bands, thus reducing the amount of ground devoted to paths.
To start an intensive garden, make a bed of any length, but limit its width to 3 to 4 feet across so you can reach the center of the bed from either side. Although it's not necessary to box in the bed, this is a good idea. When you enclose a bed with vertical boards, it's not only neater, but the soil won't collapse onto the paths. It also will be much easier for you to install row covers or erect supports for vertical growing.
You'll find that some vegetables grow better with support. They do well on trellises, fences, and other structures. By growing up instead of out, your garden will produce more per square foot. Vegetable plants grown up on a support also tend to suffer fewer disease problems.
There are two types of succession planting, and both are super easy!
The simplest form is to plant varieties that produce for a limited amount of time over a period of weeks. For example, instead of planting 40 corn seeds at once, you could plant 10 corn seeds a week over a four-week period. This will give you corn for a month instead of all at once.
Another example is to plant bush beans every two weeks to ensure a continuing supply. If you want to have three crops, plant one-third of the bed every two weeks. Other crops that benefit from this type of succession planting include corn, carrots, radishes, and heading lettuce.
The second type of succession planting takes a little more planning. It means that when a crop is done producing in your garden you take it out and plant something else in that spot.
For example, after your peas are done for the season, pull out the vines and plant cucumbers in their place. The key to success of this system is to have a new batch of seeds or seedlings ready to go when the first crop is done. This system works best when you are starting with vegetables that do well in cool weather, but not so well in summer's heat. In addition to peas, you can use this technique with lettuce, spinach, and radishes.
A related technique is to plant several varieties with different maturities. For example, you might plant an early-maturing tomato such as 'Early Girl' at the same time as a main season beefsteak variety.
This technique takes advantage of the fact that some vegetables grow quickly while others take their time. For example, if you plant carrots and radishes together, you can harvest the radishes in about 30 days, when the carrots will still be quite small. Another option is to combine a vertical vegetable (like tomatoes) with a low-growing crop (like melons).
Some interplanting combinations that work well include: