Once you’ve got your vegie patch up and running, the next step is to coax as much food out of your space as you can. Here are some great ways to maximise production.
1. Exploit every space
Who said vegie gardens belong in the backyard? Why not utilise the front garden as well, and that sunny pocket down the side of the house? If your council allows, try growing a few herbs and other edibles on the nature strip out the front, sharing them with neighbours. Lots of vegies and herbs look great among flowers in a decorative border, too.
2. Start seed in punnets
While sowing seed directly in the soil has its benefits, there’s always the chance they might fail due to poor viability or difficult weather conditions, wasting time and valuable space. Think of your patch as prime real estate, reserved for plants that are up and running, healthy and productive. Starting seed in punnets allows you to keep all your seedlings in one place, making it easier to provide optimal conditions. Most can go in the ground at about three weeks from sowing seed. If the spaces aren’t ready, plant the seedlings into small pots and continue to nurture them until some space opens up. This also means you always have something on hand to fill gaps as they appear. The only vegies that need to be sown directly in the soil are carrots and parsnips.
3. Intercrop plants
You can effectively double your growing area by planting small, quick-growing crops between rows of bigger, slower-growing vegies. By the time the larger ones are big enough to occupy their allotted space, the quick ones have done their thing and are up and out of the ground. If you’re planting zucchini or squash, surround them with turnip, lettuce and other fast-moving leafies. In rows between broccoli, plant quick-growing pak choy, which is ready in just six weeks. Speedy radishes can be tucked in next to just about anything, and upright growers, such as garlic, spring onion and leek, can be slipped in between rows of beetroot. Look for opportunities to plant new crops among outgoing crops, too. Sow carrots in rows between lettuces that are nearing their end, push garlic cloves into the ground between rows of outgoing rocket or turnip, and give cabbage seedlings a head start by planting them at the base of tomato vines that are nearly done.
You’ll find seven more ways to make the most of your vegie-growing space in the August 2020 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.