Thursday, February 19, 2015

Maximizing Your Harvest in a Small Garden by Sharon Faircloth

So, are you starting to get spring fever with all these nice days in February?  It really doesn’t take very much space to grow a variety of interesting vegetables in satisfying quantities.  Recent postings give you some ideas about varieties to try with realistic growing periods.

Rectangular beds can be DIY with minimal expense and labor.  If you don’t have that handy gene, you can purchase premade beds from catalogs and garden centers.  If you choose raised rectangular beds, try a block style planting rather than long rows.  Plant, using equal distance spacing in each direction.   Yield is higher; weeds should be minimal; plants are easily reachable for harvesting and it’s easier to cover in sketchy mountain weather.  Detailed information on block planting can be found in CMG Garden Notes #713.

Containers are also a great idea for the mountains because they can be moved about for optimum weather and water; they can be located away from critters, and harvesting is easy.  Consider height and length of roots when choosing containers. Use existing pots you can find a plethora of containers for sale specifically for vegetables.  Be aware that most vegetables need continuous moisture and nutrients so containers need watching.  Additional information is found in CMG Garden Notes #724

Planting against a wall can be a perfect location for cold weather vegetables in an early planting and then be way to hot later in the summer. Remember plants that call for full sun might thrive better in partial shade in Colorado.  As with all these suggestions, you will have to experiment and use your imagination.  Take pictures and notes!  If you write down your successes and challenges, it will give you a leg up next year. 

Emphasizing vertical plants will give you more room for variety, but will likely require trellising.  Interplanting or the practice of planting fast growing with slower growing plants makes sense for salad vegetables like lettuces, radishes, spinach and beets.  Use succession planting to extend your yields from early spring to late fall. There are many ways to protect, research Garden Notes #722.    Don’t forget to throw in flowers!   Flowers can aid in pest control and many are edible, all add to the color and interest of your plantings.

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