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OTHER ITA SITES:
Double Your Crops
Is there too much digging and not enough harvesting going on in your garden? Try these ideas to make your garden work harder for you without breaking a sweat!
When one crop comes out of the ground, quickly turn the earth and plant something else straight away. This could be late summer lettuce or over-wintering salad varieties. Some beans can be successfully planted in the autumn, in particular broad beans, along with late cropping cauliflowers and other brassicas.
Make small cloches to protect the young plants from autumn weather. Cut a clear plastic bottle in half to produce two min-cloches!
What you plant as a second crop will depend heavily on your region, climate and availability of seed. However, when this crop comes out in the Spring, there will be far less weeds than if you had left the patch fallow all winter.
Don't do this every year as the earth will need feeding and resting, but even a small garden can be divided into rotatable patches, and if you get double your crops from one space, you won't need the extra space every year. Pile on as much green manure as you can and keep your fallow patch weed free.
Plant your crops close together so those pesky weeds don't get a chance to grow. Companion planting enables you, not only to save space in the garden and control the weeds, it will also help with pest control. A line of onions next to a line of carrots confuses the onion fly and the carrot fly!
Plant your good companion plants close together but avoid putting large crops of the same species too close. Plant a tomato plant here and there round the garden, then if one plant gets a disease, it doesn't easily spread to the other plants. The same with cabbages. The cabbage white butterfly, dreaded enemy of brassica growers everywhere, won't be so attracted to your garden if the cabbages aren't neatly planted in rows.
Not only good for controlling the weeds and saving space for those extra crops, but also great for controlling aching backs! The raised bed system in principal means you don't walk on your beds, and therefore they should be no wider than a couple of metres, preferably less. You need to be able to reach everywhere on the bed without stepping onto the soil at all.
Once dug, fill with your plants and hoe regularly. When your first crop is harvested fork over the soil lightly. It shouldn't need any heavy digging again for some years.
Keep permanent patches in your garden. A small herb patch or corner in your vegetable garden will attract bees and also give you and your family lots of new tastes, natural medicines and even cosmetic preparations.
Herbs will establish themselves fairly quickly and will thrive with regular picking. You honestly won't know what to do with all those wonderful fresh herbs, that would otherwise cost you a fortune in the supermarket.
Another great permanent patch to create is asparagus. Most new gardeners are put off growing this wonderful vegetable because of all sorts of crazy reasons. I've even heard it said that it's a "luxury crop" - whatever that may mean! Asparagus is extremely good for you, is ready to pick during the 'hungry gap' in the vegetable garden, and best of all, with very little attention, it will produce more and more every year. Create a permanent asparagus bed and indulge in the luxury!
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