High-Yield Vegetable Gardening | Vegetables | Mulch

High-Yield Vegetable Gardens

How to obtain incredible yields from a small urban square footage, and make it all look beautiful, too! Plant edibles. It sounds really obvious, but
Americans tend to plant way too many flowers. Fill your space with food plants and then add a few flowers in the left-over spaces. Learn which food plants are handsome: the glossy evergreen leaf of citrus rivals any ornamental hedge. Pomegranates are breathtaking in nearly every season.

Use intensive spacing. Space closely, but not too
close, to avoid weakening plants and bringing on mildew and disease. Try dwarf and ultra-dwarf fruit trees, genetic dwarfs, or dwarfing rootstocks, to get the most diversity into your small urban yard. For the ultimate optimization of what growing space you do have, John Jeavons’ book How to Grow More Vegetables supplies charts and spacing information.

Take advantage of your full growing season.
Don’t limit yourself to summer. For instance, our Southern California cool season includes some of our most productive months! Use a local planting calendar to time your vegetable plantings throughout the year. Select fruit tree varieties that bear sequentially to have an ongoing harvest.

Maximize the square footage of your garden. Put the most land you can to work at
growing vegetables. Much more than a small rectangle in the remote back corner of your yard, you can grow food in all the places that you used to call “flower” beds, and between the ornamental shrubs too!

The Community Garden at Holy Nativity, Los Angeles

Build your soil. This includes using mulch (big
chunks, used on top of soil) and compost (decomposed, fine texture, tilled into soil), rotating your vegetables, and constantly planting legumes (peas and beans).

Choose “prolific” varieties. Also labeled as
“abundant yield” and “vigorous” in the seed catalogs, these vegetable varieties will give you more food per plant than other varieties.

Nurture your soil critters. Earthworms are only
the visible part of the life spectrum; there are billions of live critters that live in symbiotic relationships in healthy garden soil. Garden chemicals sear them out of existence. Keep them happy with food (give ‘em compost) and moisture (use mulch as a quilt to “tuck them in”). Your soil should feel moist, like a wrungout sponge.

Cultivate diversity. Plant a cool-weather variety
and a drought-tolerant variety to cope with unexpected weather events. Observe which plants yield best for you, save seed and repeat your success in following years. Join a seed library and help preserve heirlooms. You’ll get far better flavor than with the supermarket varieties, and you’ll help guarantee the survival of a diverse gene pool for the future.

Environmental Change-Makers
www. EnviroChangeMakers.org

Go feral. Make your garden easy-care by planting
vegetable types which are likely to reproduce abundantly and go wild in your location. Then, allow them to complete their full life cycle so that they provide you with abundant offspring.

Pick functional flowers like beneficial-insectattractant flowers and edible flowers. Consider colored heirloom vegetable plants – like red-leafed lettuces, rainbow chard, or purple-podded snowpeas. Let some vegetables go to seed – their flowers are pretty, they bring in “the good bugs,” plus you’ll gain a sustainable source of vegetable seed.

Group similar needs together. Put droughttolerant black-eyed peas with drought-tolerant Mediterranean herbs. Put high-water lettuces with other high-water plants. Observe microclimates and use them as a tool. If a tall tree gives you a shady spot, use that as the place for summer lettuces and leafy vegetables. If you have bright searing sun, use that spot for heat-loving peppers and droughttolerant vegetable varieties.

Use art and design principles. In your layout,
use symmetry and asymmetry. Notice how vegetable leaves and plant structure provide enormous variety of color, texture, and form. Undulate your pathway lines. Go 3D. Use the open space of patios and living space, and offset it with intensively-filled vegetable beds.

Go vertical. Use trellises to train cucumbers,
beans, and other vines upward so that you can plant underneath. Use “forest garden” layering to grow food in 3 dimensions rather than just on a flat plane.

Make it a space you want to visit often. And
do so! Rather than marathon backbreaking sessions once-in-a-while, give your garden short tender-lovingcare sessions on a set, regular schedule.

Use containers to supplement your garden space.
You can increase the square footage of your growing area by clustering pots together in corners of a patio or along walkways.

The Environmental Change-Makers focus on “What We Can Do” about our environmental issues – including
peak oil, climate change, “peak everything,” economic contraction, and social injustice. The Change-Makers have built two community gardens and launched the Southern California presence of the international Transition movement. The Change-Makers’ garden publications are available through www.EnviroChangeMakers.org

Environmental Change-Makers
www. EnviroChangeMakers.org

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