Imagine having limited space, but a desire to have a full and fruitful garden. Conventional wisdom dictates that you grow one plant per space, which limits your options. Intensive gardening, however, optimizes the space you have available through various methods, including companion planting.
Rows and rows of empty space between beds for the gardener to walk through is a waste of valuable planting space, and really not necessary. Instead, have one central area to easily access your crops and plant around it. For example, if your planting area is a square, your empty space will be in the middle, with the crops planted around it.
The edges of your garden are perfect for vertical gardening. Use upright trellises, fence posts, or other vertical supports for creeping vines and tall-growing plants. Beans, squash, and tomato plants are plants that need these types of support. Situate them in your garden where theyâ€™ll have the easiest access to them.
Companion planting, also called interplanting, is another great way to maximize your gardenâ€™s limited space. Fast-growing radishes can be planted with slower growing carrots without any ill effects on either plant. Because the radishes are harvested before the carrots mature, you wonâ€™t have any crowding. Other plants are mutually beneficial to each other, helping to repel pests or preventing disease. Plant a smaller shade-loving plant in the same area as a sun-loving plant and both will thrive. The larger plant protects the smaller plant from the sun, and the smaller plant doesnâ€™t compete for root space. For example, plant lettuce or spinach at the base of taller sun-loving plants like corn or tomatoes.
Succession gardening is another method of getting the most bang for your gardening buck. What this method does is, it follows seasonal planting procedures for your region. During the spring, plant crops that are considered early producers. Mid-season â€“ or summer â€“ crops produce during the hottest months of the year. And in late summer, youâ€™ll plant crops like squash for an autumn harvest. This keeps your garden producing on a continuous basis while it also re-energizes the soilâ€™s nutrients by having different crops at all times.
Relaying is another twist on succession planting. With this method, youâ€™ll plant the same crop, but at different times. You might plant sweet corn or cucumbers at the beginning of the planting season, and two weeks later plant more so that when your initial yield ends, you have another one ripening soon. This is a good method to use if you live in an area that is relatively warm and has a longer growing season.
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