6 Proven Strategies to Boost Garden Harvests

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Garden harvest in a basket

A well thought out garden will provide you with an abundance of harvests, but to get the most from it you’ll need to think strategically. The growing season is just around the corner, so now’s the time to start planning!

1. Choose High-Yield Plants

The first step towards bigger harvests is to grow crops that are either very quick to grow, very high yielding – or both! Good examples of fast-growers include radishes, which are ready to lift just four to six weeks after sowing, and lettuces, which may be cut repeatedly for a steady supply of leaves, so long as the central crown isn’t damaged. Other quick growers include most leafy herbs, scallions, and beets, whose leaves can also be eaten just like spinach.

High yielding vegetables include zucchini, tomatoes – particularly smaller cherry varieties – and the good old potato, which will produce masses of tubers for salads, baking and mashing.

Fruits are often very high-yielding for the space and effort they take to grow. Once established, apples, raspberries and blackcurrants can all produce astoundingly heavy crops.

Take time to read the catalog description when choosing varieties too. Varieties described as ‘prolific’, ‘high-yielding’ or ‘productive’ will usually outperform other varieties.

Blackcurrants are very prolific plants once established

2. Grow Vertically

There’s never any shortage of vertical space, and by growing upwards with climbing and vining vegetables you can pack a lot more into your high-yield garden. Cucumbers, climbing peas and beans, sprawling squashes and vining tomatoes are just a few of the many sky-reaching crops that will help you to pack a lot more into your space. Vertical vegetables are also easier to pick and because they’ll enjoy better air circulation they’re less likely to be sullied by disease.

Unless you have very hot summers, avoid shading lower-growing crops by growing vertical veggies at the sides or ends of beds, furthest away from the midday sun. Trellises, either free-standing or against a fence, are a really efficient way to grow these vegetables and will provide the support they need as they set fruit and become heavier.

Make use of hanging baskets and planters attached to sturdy walls and fences to pack even more produce into your space.

And, of course, don’t forget vertical fruits including wall-trained fruits and cane fruits such as raspberries, blackberries and their hybrids.

The Garden Planner makes it easy to maximize your space

3. Stagger Spacing

If space is particularly tight then get clever with how you space your plants. Rather than growing plants in parallel rows, stagger rows for more efficient use of space and up to 10% more plants.

Our Garden Planner neatly demonstrates this concept. The colored background on each plant shows the space it needs to grow. Instead of dragging out a block, place plants individually (hold down Ctrl when selecting the plant to keep it selected) and stagger them to fill the space available far more tightly, while taking care to give each plant the space it needs.

4. Start Interplanting

Grow two crops in the same piece of ground by mixing slow-growing and fast-maturing vegetables. The quick-to-grow veggies will be harvested before their slower growing bedfellows start to crowd each other and need the extra space.

Sow both crops in the same row – for example radishes with parsnips – or alternate closely-spaced rows of slow and fast growers, for example lettuces set in between corn. Take care not to disturb the slower crop when it’s time to harvest the quicker one.

Interplanting helps make most of your space

5. Succession Planting

Keep the harvests coming by planting a follow-on crop as soon as an earlier one has finished. This way you can grow two or more vegetables in the same piece of ground each and every season. A typical succession planting schedule might see, for example, lettuces or early carrots followed by squash or tomatoes, which could then be succeeded towards the end of the season by overwintering garlic. Another example is peas or spinach, followed by beans or greens such as kale.

Growing in succession requires quick reactions. Use quick-maturing varieties to give yourself the best chance of success. It often works best if you start crops off in module trays or pots so they’re ready to plant out as soon as the first crop is done. Top up the soil with a layer of compost between crops to keep plants well-fed and happy.

The Garden Planner makes succession planting a lot simpler. Start by double-clicking on the plant in your plan and setting the dates that each crop is in the ground. Once you’ve done this you can view your plan during a particular month, which will show when and where any gaps will appear. You can then click on the Filter button to the left of the plant selection bar and choose to narrow down the vegetables shown in the selection bar to those suitable for sowing or planting during a particular month. Click OK and the selection bar is filtered accordingly, make it easy to peruse and select a suitable crop to drop into position.

The Garden Planner simplifies succession planting

6. Extend the Season

Finally, don’t forget to extend the season to enjoy more growing time. Hoop houses, cold frames, cloches and row covers will all raise the temperature around plants enough to stretch the growing season by a couple of weeks at either end.

Cloches, for example, will help to warm and dry out the soil in spring, allowing sowing of early vegetables such as salads to begin up to two weeks sooner. Similarly, placing row covers over the ground later in the year could extend the season just long enough for one final crop of something like turnips.

Drop in cold protection onto your plan and the Garden Planner will automatically calculate how this affects both planting and harvest dates and display it in your Plant List.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these steps – they’re incredibly powerful and are sure to turn your plot into a high-yield garden. Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any other tips for growing an abundant garden this growing season.

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Show Comments


"Very informative video segment. always looking for more efficient ways to expand our organic yield and limited space. I'm thinking of subscribing for use of the Garden Planner app and tips for improving qualitative yield. I'm still focusing on building my soil culture over the next couple of years. This will be the 2nd season producing at this location. Thanks. "
Paul on Tuesday 20 March 2018
"Hi Paul. Thanks for your kind words. Soil is definitely at the heart of any healthy garden, so you're onto a good thing there. I hope you have a very productive season."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 20 March 2018
"your software forgets to take into account seasonal flooding which allows your plants to take in as much water as their growing rate desires."
Kevin on Wednesday 24 April 2019
"Thanks Kevin. It's hard to take in the very specific nuances of every local climate. The software works on temperature, giving an accurate indication of when the growing season starts and ends."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 30 November 2020
"Hi, I am starting my first garden and using The Garden Planner. I would like to do succession planting. I know about adding the info. and the layer view, but how do I know how long any particular plant/crop will be in the ground? Also, is there a guide to interplanting? I have a 4x6 raised bed in zone 7b. Thank you for your time."
Jenifer on Sunday 4 April 2021
"Hi Jenifer. The time between first recommended sowing or planting date, and the first recommended harvest date in your Plant List can be used as a general guide for how long the crop will take to reach harvestable size. However, how long it will be in the ground does depend how you plan to harvest it - for instance if you're going to harvest it all at once as a mature vegetable, or small as 'baby' vegetables, or picked little and often over a longer period. Use the search box at the top of this page to find our articles on interplanting / intercropping. If you have any further questions our customer support team will be happy to advise - just get in touch using the Contact button on any page on this website or within the Garden Planner."
Garden Planner Customer Support on Sunday 4 April 2021
"Thank you so much! :)"
Jenifer on Sunday 4 April 2021
"Hi, I've just built a greenhouse and have 2 smallish windows on either side (length) and a gate on the short side (width). I've used greenhouse plastic but the temps get high within. I'm based in the East Rand. Should I replace the opposite short side with grow net for more ventilation to keep temps more regulated. The size of the structure is 6m x 4.1m and approx 2m high. Kind regards."
Vaughan on Monday 5 July 2021
"Hi Vaughan. Anything you can do to improve ventilation will certainly help. Netting would certainly allow more air through, and it might provide a little shade too. If it's easy enough to do then that could be an option."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 7 July 2021
"Hi Ben, I think I have been with you from the start. With allotments in the UK and now growing in the mountains in the Pyrenees in France, where temperature fluctuations in a day is my biggest challenge. I love using the garden planner and plan one thing and then do something else when actually in the garden 🙄 but that is because I use succession planting to the maximum. My strategy is to grow as you shop so a little of everything to be ready together. This is of cause not possible with all plants such as fruit and tomatoes but I’m able to go ‘shopping’ in the garden every day throughout the year (well nearly every day as we are covered in snow at the moment but I have parsley and salad in the poly tunnel). Your videos are always an inspiration and I learn something every time which I think is one of the joys of gardening."
Helene on Saturday 22 January 2022

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