Top 10 ways to grow more food in the same space
- Grow your own transplants and plant them at the most efficient spacing. Use pelleted seeds and a precision seeder when direct sowing to avoid wasting space.
- Grow in a hoophouse, caterpillar tunnel, or low tunnel. Yields and quality are significantly higher in an environment that is protected from wind, hail, rain, disease, and insects.
- Overwinter cold-tolerant crops under Quick Hoops™; they will start to grow very early in spring and be ready for harvest long before spring-planted crops.
- Use plastic mulches to warm soil, prevent weeds, repel insects, and increase yields.
- Protect crops from insect damage with floating row cover. Use support hoops for upright plants with growing tips that could be damaged by contact with the row cover.
- Use drip irrigation. Without wasting a drop, drip irrigation delivers the water plants need for steady growth.
- Companion plant for maximum space efficiency. For example, plant lettuce on the outer edges of a bed and tomatoes down the center; the lettuce will be ready for harvest by the time the tomatoes need space.
- Hoe regularly when weeds are tiny to keep them from competing with crops for water and nutrients.
- Graft tomatoes to reduce disease and increase yield, especially in heirlooms. Then prune and trellis them to improve air circulation, prevent disease, and focus the plant's energy on fruiting.
- Get a soil test and follow the recommendations for fertilizers and cover crops.
Lynn Byczynski is the editor of Growing for Market and the publisher of The Hoophouse Handbook.