Adding a bright and bountiful vegetable garden is a productive way to add value and beauty to your outdoor living space.
The trick is to make your planting area fit seamlessly with the other outdoor landscaping on your property.
Traditional gardening methods of planting single rows of crops with paths or walkways in between may work well in large industrial farms with hundreds of acres to plant and full time employees to tend to them. However, when designing your own backyard garden, both space and time required are concerns and can be limitations to how much you can produce.
By using this space wisely, it is possible to produce enough food in your backyard garden to feed your family, or more.
Harnessing the raised bed
Using raised beds is an efficient way to maximize the space and productivity of your garden. Using a raised bed allows you to utilize each square inch of your garden. Instead of having to place rows to walk on between each row of plants, a raised bed provides the backyard garden with a contained space for plants to flourish freely. In a space like this, you do not need to concern yourself with spacing out the seedlings extra distance or spending the extra time and expense to care for the walking spaces. These walking rows require mulching and weeding so that weeds and pests do not spread into your garden. They also soak up some of the water and fertilizer that you use on your crops. This causes you to water and fertilize more often than if you were using a contained raised bed.
Thinking beyond rows
Adding in a second and third dimension to your backyard garden is a great way to get every last ounce of food from your space. When you leave standard rows behind, and plant using every direction in your raised bed, you will increase your crop yield significantly. Where a standard row of carrots may yield one hundred pounds of food using a space of up to three hundred square feet, a raised bed can produce that same amount of food in about thirty five square feet! The space savings is incredible when you move away from these more traditional and commercial gardening methods.
Another great way to increase your production is to utilize to support your growing plants. This adds a third dimension to your backyard garden. In vegetables that grow in both a bush and a vining type, it is a good idea to move away from bush type. These vine type plants, like beans and tomatoes, will produce more fruit for you than their stagnant bush type cousins. As the vine grows, you can twine it around your structures up and up. This will create an amazing increase in your food production over other standard types of gardening.
Along with this, finding plants that support and grow with each other will give a major boost to your food production. In the southwest, there is a group of plants that is often grown together called the three sisters. These sisters are squash, corn, and beans. These plants are grown together because of their productive relationships when grown in close quarters. In the southwest where the weather is hot and very dry, gardeners cannot afford to waste growing space with large rows or allow too much sun into their beds to dry out the crops. Instead they grow these three plant types in close quarters. The corn grows strong and tall. It must be planted fairly close together so that they can cross pollinate. A strong vining bean is grown at the base of each stalk of corn so that the corn can act as a natural trellis for it. This allows the beans to grow optimally without the gardener having to provide extra structures to support them. Finally squash is planted all around the base of the corn and beans. Squash is more sensitive to the harsh southwest sun, and the corn and beans provide shade and regulate the temperature enough for it to grow successfully. In turn, the squash acts as a ground cover, and it protects the other two plants.