Your successful harvest starts when you plant your garden in the spring. Follow these seven harvest tips to get the best yields in your garden this year.
You put a lot of effort into planting a garden each spring and fall. The garden beds are cleared of weeds and perhaps even unwanted plants from the last garden. You’ll dig into the soil and add compost or other improvements and then get down to settling in the plants you’ve purchased or grown. None of this ensures a successful harvest, though. Planting a garden and harvesting the fruits of your labors are two different things!
When you use these seven tips as you plant and tend your garden, the volume of your harvest will increase.
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Look After Your Soil
The secret to having a fantastic garden harvest is having rich, fertile, and healthy soil. What’s awesome is that you have complete control over how to make your soil healthy based on what you want to grow in it, and based on your location.
You can improve your soil by adding homemade compost. Even small space gardeners can make compost from kitchen scraps. You’ll add a layer of compost each spring and fall as you plant your crops. This gives them a needed boost and improves our soil.
Another way to improve your soil is to keep it covered. You can adjust your soil with the right cover crops, mulches, composts, and more. In between seasonal growing periods, you want to use cover crops to restore the fertility and nutrients of the soil. In addition, cover crops prevent erosion, suppress weeds, and stop diseases. The best cover crops to plant are those that are native to your area of the world
Keep a Regular Fertilizing Schedule
Fertilizing your plants may not be quite as simple as it would be if you used chemicals in your garden. Chemical fertilizers are undoubtedly convenient, and most of them come in a form that only needs to be mixed with water and sprayed onto plants. Organic gardeners who are looking for a good, chemical-free way of fertilizing their plants will use these natural materials instead.
Many of these natural fertilizers can be purchased, but a lot of them can also be made at home. Some common types of organic fertilizers include
- blood meal,
- fish emulsion,
- cottonseed meal,
- manure, and
- seaweed fertilizer.
You must be careful to fertilize when the ground is warm enough. Organic fertilizers need organisms in the soil to break them down and release the nutrients they contain. So the soil needs to be warm and moist so the microorganisms in the earth will be active.
Most vegetables need fertilizer at the time they are planted and then again as they are setting fruit. Summer vegetables can be heavy feeders, taking nutrients from the soil; corn and tomatoes are the heaviest nitrogen users. To provide consistent nutrients for fruit-producing plants, add quick-release fertilizer to the soil every three to four weeks. Set up a schedule in your garden planner, so the plants stay healthy and provide a maximum harvest.
Choose Plants That Thrive in Your Region
Most everyone loves mango’s, and it might be tempting to get a mango tree for your yard, but if you don’t live in the right climate for mangos, you won’t be successful. So it is with vegetables. As you are setting up your garden, research the types of plants that are most likely to do well in your growing zone. Remember to take into consideration the amount of sunlight and rainfall your garden receives. Most vegetables and herbs require at least 6 hours of sun, but there are a few plants, such as lettuce and spinach, which do best in a cooler location, even in partial shade.
Your local agricultural extension office, garden clubs, and nurseries are an excellent source of information into which specific varieties would do best in your area. They can also offer insight on the pests and diseases which are prevalent locally. They may even be able to recommend cultivars that have been developed to be resistant to these diseases and pests.
Another source for information is specialty seed companies. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange sells seeds that do exceptionally well in the south, and Territorial Seed Company sells seeds specifically for the northern climate.
Use Succession Planting
Succession planting is a growing method designed to maximize the amount of fresh produce that can be harvested from a particular growing area. It is all about the efficient use of time and space to produce high-level results. For this reason, succession planting is worth a look if you have limited space or if you just want to get as much reward as possible from your gardening efforts.
Single Crop vs. Multiple Crop Strategies
There are a couple of ways you can approach succession planting. One option is to focus on growing a single crop in a defined area. The other option is to inter-plant several complementary plant species within the same area. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s a good idea to start small with one or two beds until you get the hang of creating a planting schedule that works for you. In general, experimenting with a single type of plant or several that are closely related, such as different types of salad greens, is also recommended.
Use Your Space Efficiently
While gardening in long rows has been the traditional method for growing vegetables, it’s really only more effective in the case of large farms using farming equipment. Instead, plant your vegetables in 3 to 4-foot-wide raised beds. This allows you to get around each bed for better access while saving room compared to row planting.
Most seed packets and seed catalogs list information in regard to how close you can safely plant vegetables next to each other. Give each individual plant enough room to grow, but don’t be afraid to push the recommended boundaries and add plants closer together than is recommended.
Deal With Pests Promptly
Pests can be the bane of a thriving garden, and when they take hold, they can decimate your garden overnight. Don’t let them get the upper hand! Each day as you are watering and harvesting, it is the perfect time to be on the lookout for pests. Get prepared for them at the beginning of the season – before they make an appearance – so when pests are found, you have a plan in place.
Make and use this Trusted Homemade Hot Pepper Garden Spray and use it at the first sign of trouble. Be familiar with the pests that are likely to show up so you can recognize them when they arrive (and they will come!) A good gardening book for your region will have all the answers.
Once your garden is set up and growing, the most important thing you can do is to harvest regularly. Once a plant begins to set seeds, it will stop producing fruit and concentrate on creating seeds. You want this to happen at the very end of the season, not at the beginning. The way to encourage the plant to keep producing is to harvest frequently.
Spend time in your harden every day and harvest the things that are ready. Your plants will be stimulated and continue to flower and set fruit. This is the best possible outcome—more fresh produce for you, set on big healthy plants.