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If I'm going to have a garden, I think I should get as much out of it as possible. So other than sufficient water, sunshine, and heat, what are your hints for increasing yield? Specifically, I'm looking for help with tomatoes, peppers, cukes, corn, garlic, beans, potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus.
 

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Healthy soil - check the pH and the levels of N, P, and K. Amend as necessary.

Mulch to conserve moisture, regulate soil temps, and keep weeds to a minimum.

Cukes can be grown on a trellis so you get more food out of less space.

Pole beans yield more per square foot than bush beans.

Some folks grow potatoes in stacked tires or boxes but I've never done that.
 

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Cindy in NY said:
If I'm going to have a garden, I think I should get as much out of it as possible. So other than sufficient water, sunshine, and heat, what are your hints for increasing yield? Specifically, I'm looking for help with tomatoes, peppers, cukes, corn, garlic, beans, potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus.
after you've nailed down the soil has the nutrient and mineral requirements, I'd choose varieties know for 'prolificness'.

specifically,

tomatoes: good feeding so they continue to blossom and fruit well. I get lots of tomatoes growing determinants without special cages, but mulch it heavily around them. For indeterminates that keep producing fruit continuously until the plant dies, give it room, and lots of area to grow up into such as cages or a sturdy fence.

peppers: again, the variety you choose determines, plus the soil conditions.
I find banana or ramshorn type such as super shepherd gave me lots of peppers compared to bell peppers. For hot peppers, there are several prolific types that produce lots. Don't overfertilize with nitrogen when there is good colour of the plant and fruit development, or it will favour producing foliage over fruit production. Helps also to mulch to keep the soil moisture levels even throughout the growing season,.

cukes: I don't grow many, but have before. The burpless ones for fresh eating that have skins don't need peeling and the catalogues will show some good prolific ones as well. Again, if it's production you are after, whether cucumbers or cukes for pickling, let them grow along a north set fence rather than on the ground.

corn: I had the best production when growing them along rows about 6 inches apart, heavily fertilized and when in the stage about waist high give another good jolt of high nitrogen fertilizer to get best size efficient cobs. Again when tassling isn't a bad idea to boost again with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Corn is a heavy feeder. I also hilled them along with the cultivator attachment on the tiller to keep their roots well grounded. That also helped with conserving moisture at the roots during dry spells. Any way you look at it, you need lots of room for lots of sweet corn.

garlic:
Plant in raised wide beds in the fall. Plant the largest cloves for the larger garlic you harvest in July. Snip the tops off that form (scapes) pods to let growth go to the bulb.

beans: pole beans for sure if you want the most beans for your buck. There are also some good prolific bush beans, especially if you want gourmet filet beans. I grew roc d'or which were very good, disease free and prolific. For pole beans you can't go wrong with scarlet runner or kentucky blue lake. Make a 4 pole 't pee' and let them climb for lots of growth and beans.

potatoes:
heavy mulch with straw as they grow. The deeper the better, and more spuds will grow underneath that. Potatoes need a more acid soil, so mulch in fall with oak leaves, ground corn stalks, compost will do them lots of good to produce good size and many potatoes.

strawberries:
I don't grow these now, but used to in a pyramid with 3 levels. Other than that, keep mulched with straw and manage the runners. Strawberries take space. Another alternative is to grow alpine strawberries on individual compact plants. You could have many in just on row, but the berries are small, but very intense and delicious.

raspberries:
these are shallow rooted, so to get good sized berries, they need good even moisture and don't let them dry out during drought spells. Mulch. Prune old canes to let the new canes develop and spread out for maximum yield per plant.

asparagus:
wood ashes and mulch were the two biggest factors that gave me lots of asparagus once the beds are established (takes 3 years). Asparagus needs an alkaline soil, thus wood ashes to help that. Fertilize well in spring and later after the picking season is over to let the ferns grow and develop good root systems for the following year. cover in fall with a good compost or well rotted manure. If you can, grow tomatoes close to your asparagus as they are good companion plants. grow marigolds around them to deter pests, especially the asparagus beetle to watch out for. Plant the ones that have mostly male plants to select picking and more of them to pick with less of the plant energy going to what it wants to do by making seed.
 

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Thanks so much for your answers! Just the kind of info I was looking for!

Since we have raised beds filled with our home-made compost, do you think we need to do soil tests? Also, I cover my garlic with straw in the fall after planting. Should I be removing this in the spring or leaving it in place?
 

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I have an intensely planted/highly productive garden. The things that make it so are largely as follows:

Growing in wide rows or raised beds. Plants are spaced more closely and you lose less "growing" room to walkways. Soil management is easier (in my opinion) in a good raised bed - as the amendments are concentrated on the growing area and not walkways and once the soil is initially dug ... and assuming you absolutely DO NOT WALK on the beds... the soil dues not need to be "tilled" or double dug again - just weeded and occassionally loosened with the judicious use of a garden fork or broad fork.

Vertical growing whenever possible - peas, cukes, pole beans, tomatoes (in tall cages or trellised), and melons (with support for the fruit). Growing "up" saves HUGE amounts of space, provides greater air circulation, and often more sun exposure.

Succession planting. Lots of seedlings started in trays in the greenhouse (or in the house under lights) and then hardened off and planted out at just the time that a bed becomes available in the garden. Each bed provides (on average) - two crops and often a third "green manure crop" in a 12 month period of time.

Four season gardening. Plantings begin in very very early spring - both in the greenhouse and in the garden - and keep happening well into fall. Winter has several crops in the garden that are "overwintered" and harvested fresh throughout the dark/short days of winter. More hardy items (such as the leeks, parsnips, brussel sprouts, and carrots) are just mulched heavily and left with no additional protection. Slightly less cold tolerant items are protected by a grow hoop tunnel with plastic sheeting - which creates a mini low and long greenhouse. Items in the grow hoop tunnel include spinach, beets, corn salad, and lettuce up until late late fall time frames.

Choosing the right vegetable varieties for your climate and area, your intended use (canning or fresh eating?), and planting appropriately for the seasons. Cold hardy/frost tolerant varieties for the early spring/overwintered items... and heat lovers in the summer.

Daily walk throughs the garden - pluck weeds that dare to show themselves, observe and act on watering needs, pluck slugs and other pests when spotted, and harvest before anything get's too large or "gone by".


There are many other tools to get high efficiency out of your growing area and efforts - but these are the most important ones from my personal experience.
 

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There's a company called "spray-n-grow" that sells organic stuff that will make your garden grow like crazy. It's kind of expensive, but I bought some to use on my tropical trees and they grew like gangbusters. It's really great stuff. Here's a link for anyone who might be interested. http://www.spray-n-grow.com/ I'm not affiliated with them in any way, I just like their products.
 

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I did square foot gardening this year and had the best yields I've had since moving here 14 years ago! Our soil is pathetic so we built the first bed on top of the raised bed and I've never harvested so much stuff. Peat moss, compost and vermiculite is the soil content and it grows things like crazy. If I hadn't tried it I would never have believed it.
 

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If you let your tomatoes ripen on the vine, plant lettuce in between the plants. The tomatoes will shade the lettuce, and the lettuce will keep the tomatoes from becoming bitter.
 

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Cindy in NY said:
Also, I cover my garlic with straw in the fall after planting. Should I be removing this in the spring or leaving it in place?
Whatever you mulch the garlic with, leave in place until harvest. That's especially helpful in time of drought or spotty rains as it assures an even moisture supply. One may sort of part it for the plant to come up but that's all one needs do. What's left by July can be worked in right after the garlic is dug and thus be almost totally broken down in the soil by September.

Martin
 

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Paquebot said:
Whatever you mulch the garlic with, leave in place until harvest. That's especially helpful in time of drought or spotty rains as it assures an even moisture supply. One may sort of part it for the plant to come up but that's all one needs do. What's left by July can be worked in right after the garlic is dug and thus be almost totally broken down in the soil by September.

Martin
Thanks Martin! I bought your selection of 5 different garlic varieties last year. Do you remember what they were? My markers are faded and I can't make out a couple of the names.
 

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Spinner said:
There's a company called "spray-n-grow" that sells organic stuff that will make your garden grow like crazy. It's kind of expensive, but I bought some to use on my tropical trees and they grew like gangbusters. It's really great stuff. Here's a link for anyone who might be interested. http://www.spray-n-grow.com/ I'm not affiliated with them in any way, I just like their products.
What timing, I made a post about Spray N Grow just last evening on another thread.

Yes, good stuff in my opinion and yours.
 

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Cindy in NY said:
Thanks Martin! I bought your selection of 5 different garlic varieties last year. Do you remember what they were? My markers are faded and I can't make out a couple of the names.
I could not begin to tell you what you have. The only records I kept were who they were sent to. Since everything was leftover odds and ends, I doubt if anybody got the same selection. With some varieties, there was but a single small bulb left over and just one person got that. This could be a lesson to never trust white plant markers for garlic. I have crows pull them out here and some simply vanish. That's why I always write them down in a pocket notebook as I plant.

For clues of what you have, go to www.wegrowgarlic.com as everything I had at home was also grown out there.

Martin
 

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Thanks for the website Martin! I still have the markers, they are just faded. I think having the list to look at, I'll be able to figure out the names.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
bump - to keep from being pruned!
 
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