Four Steps to Creating a High Yield Urban Garden

by Bill on April 4, 2012

Growing vegetable gardens has become extremely popular with the current emphasis on self-sufficiency, economics and the environment. While urban dwellers may not be able to use a regular garden plot they can make use of other types of gardening. Companion gardening and sequence planting are two efficient growing methods that urban gardeners can use to create high yield urban gardening. When combined with imaginative uses various planters, containers and baskets, these methods can create a sustainable garden for anyone wanting a garden.

1. Companion Gardening for a High Yield Urban Garden

The first step into high yield urban gardening is to start with identifying plants that can grow together. There are many that can be beneficial to each other in sharing nutrients, space and resources. Examples would be planting carrots around beans, peas and lettuce; planting celery with cabbage, spinach, bush beans and tomatoes; or chives with carrots, grapes or potatoes. The result of the companion planting creates a good high yield urban gardening effect. Look at the pages in the source list below to get a complete list. Once you have an idea what plants go with other plants you can move on to planning when to plant using sequence planting.

2. Sequence Planting for a High Yield Urban Garden

Next comes the understanding of sequence planting. Planting in sequence makes the most use of soil for the greatest amount of days possible through the season. An example is planting peas, then beets when the peas are finished, followed by cauliflower when the beets are harvested using the same soil from start to finish. Sequence planting is done by matching the growing periods of different vegetables. Write down the vegetables you want, with the number of days each needs from seed to harvest next to them. Pick out the spring planting vegetables first since these are the first in the soil and the first to plant. Pick out the winter vegetables next since these are the last to plant. On scratch paper write the total days for your growing season at the top. Pick one of the spring vegetables and write the corresponding number on the scratch paper. Pick a winter vegetable, making sure it is not from the same plant family to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients, and write that number under the first number. Add these two numbers. Subtract that total from the number at the top of the page. That gives you the amount of time between the two for another vegetable to grow. As an example using a 130 day season with a 5 foot section of garden – radish is a spring vegetable with a 30 day harvest date; turnips are a fall vegetable with a 40 day harvest date. Add the two numbers to get 70 days; subtract 70 from 130 to get 60 days in the middle. You can plant lettuce, greens or kale as the middle crop using the same 5 feet as they all mature within 60 days.


3. Planters, Containers and Baskets for High Yield Urban Gardening

Using both companion planting and sequence planting you can reduce the needed space for high yield urban gardening. To further reduce the space requirements you can avoid the ground completely by using planters, containers and baskets. This also allows you to spread out the garden around to any available space where there is an open outside area or window. Window boxes are good for small vegetables such as radish, chives, kale, beets and other small plants. Hanging baskets can hold cucumber plants, vine tomatoes, peas or pole beans where the vines hang over the side. Large deep pots can be used as locations for bush vegetables. Tires can be stacked in patio corners and used to grow potatoes, herbs, tomato and onion. Set up the container to hold the largest plant in the planting schedule or group created above. Fill the containers with potting soil and mulch or compost.

4. Maintenance and Care of the High Yield Urban Garden

A quick word about maintenance and care of your urban garden: Watering is important. Keeping the soil moist, but not wet is critical to having enough moisture in the soil. Avoid standing water. Put about an inch of mulch or compost over the soil to help in moisture and temperature retention. Keep the soil at an average temperature of 70 degrees; keep all the plants in the sun for at least six hours daily. Check outdoor crops daily for insects, weeds and disease. Spray the leaves to remove pests. Snip off diseased or damaged leaves, runners or stems to keep the remaining plant healthy.

Using the methods mentioned above you can create your own viable garden in under one season. The harvest alone will far outweigh the cost, time and effort of getting your urban garden started.

 

Companion Gardening Resources:

Gardens Ablaze: http://www.gardensablaze.com/Companions/CompanionYield.htm

Garden Simply: http://www.gardensimply.com/comchart.shtml

Sequence Planting Resources:

National Sustainable Agriculture Service: http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/continuousharvest.html#succession

National Gardening Association: http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=succession

William Swan, writer

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