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7 Organic Gardening Secrets for Vegetable Growing Success

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These 7 tips can help you maximize your garden space and increase your garden’s productivity.

Want to grow a lot of veggies in your organic garden? If you’ve heard all the hype about chemical fertilizers being needed to grow good crops, you may be thinking you can’t grow large amounts of vegetables organically, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, regular use of chemical, petroleum-based fertilizers is actually a very unsustainable method of growing food. Not only is it using up a limited resource, but you are actually depleting your soil of needed nutrients and beneficial microbes, meaning reduced yields – unless you keep adding more and more fertilizers.

Instead, you can build up your soil naturally, and create better and better yields from healthier, heartier plants. It all starts with the soil, as this article reveals….

Imagine harvesting nearly half a ton of tasty, beautiful, organically grown vegetables from a 15-by-20-foot plot, 100 pounds of tomatoes from just 100 square feet (a 4-by-25-foot bed), or 20 pounds of carrots from just 24 square feet. Yields like these are easier to achieve than you may think. The secret to superproductive gardening is taking the time now to plan strategies that will work for your garden. Here are seven high-yield strategies gleaned from gardeners who have learned to make the most of their garden space.

1. Build Up Your Soil

Expert gardeners agree that building up the soil is the single most important factor in pumping up yields. A deep, organically rich soil encourages the growth of healthy, extensive roots that are able to reach more nutrients and water. The result: extra-lush, extra-productive growth above ground.
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2. Round Out Your Beds

The shape of your beds can make a difference, too. Raised beds are more space-efficient if the tops are gently rounded to form an arc. A rounded bed that is 5 feet wide across its base, for instance, will give you a 6-foot-wide arc above it—creating a planting surface that’s a foot wider than that of a flat bed…..

3. Space Smartly

To get the maximum yields from each bed, pay attention to how you arrange your plants. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed.

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4. Grow Up

No matter how small your garden, you can grow more by going vertical. Grow space-hungry vining crops—such as tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash, melons, cukes, and so on—straight up, supported by trellises, fences, cages, or stakes.

Growing vegetables vertically also saves time. Harvest and maintenance go faster because you can see exactly where the fruits are. And upward-bound plants are less likely to be hit by fungal diseases thanks to the improved air circulation around the foliage.

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5. Mix It Up

Interplanting compatible crops saves space, too. Consider the classic Native American combination, the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash. Sturdy cornstalks support the pole beans, while squash grows freely on the ground below, shading out competing weeds. This combination works because the crops are compatible. Other compatible combinations include tomatoes, basil, and onions; leaf lettuce and peas or brassicas; carrots, onions, and radishes; and beets and celery.

6. Succeed With Successions

Succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, many gardeners are able to harvest three or even four crops from a single area. For instance, an early crop of leaf lettuce can be followed with a fast-maturing corn, and the corn followed by more greens or overwintered garlic—all within a single growing season.
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7. Stretch Your Season

Adding a few weeks to each end of the growing season can buy you enough time to grow yet another succession crop—say a planting of leaf lettuce, kale, or turnips—or to harvest more end-of-the-season tomatoes.

To get those extra weeks of production, you need to keep the air around your plants warm, even when the weather is cold, by using mulches, cloches, row covers, or coldframes.

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Read the full article at RodalesOrganicLife.com.

 

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