High Yielding Crops
Regardless of the size of your farm, you can get the most out of every inch of acreage by planting the right veggies for the most return. Many of these plants can be grown in indoors/hothouse during winter months. According to Nona Koivula, former Executive Director of NGB, vegetables have become generally more productive since this rating was established, thanks to breeding improvements (especially in peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and winter squash). However, it remains a good guide for comparing one crop to another.
Harvest lettuce leaves whenever you need them, and more will grow right back in their place as long as you don’t damage the crown. Leaf lettuce varieties you can grow include oak leaf, red sails, and mesclun.
Plant cherry or grape tomatoes and you’ll get gobs of tomatoes in compact clusters. They’ll do well in the ground or in containers on a patio or deck, so use any sunny spot that you have available.
Give cucumber plants a place to climb so that they don’t take up a lot of space, and you’ll end up with more cukes than you can pick, pickle, and give away. If you want to grow cucumbers in containers, opt for compact or bush varieties. Their vines will only spread a few feet.
Left to its own devices, squash will take over every inch of your garden. But if you grow it vertically, it will do nicely in a small garden and still produce plenty at harvest time.
What Are Summer Squashes?
Summer squashes, such as zucchini, crookneck squash, pattypan squash, and others, are classified as Curcurbita pepo, as opposed to winter squashes and pumpkins which generally belong to either C. maxima or C. moschata. Members of C. pepo do not store well, unlike their winter squash relatives, so they are absolutely perfect when eaten fresh and young — baby summer squashes are absolutely delicious, and can be a rather pricey treat unless you grow your own.
Planting Zucchini and Summer Squash
Summer squash is grown very easily from seed. You can either start seeds indoors, three to four weeks before your last frost date, or sow them directly in the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds in hills of six seeds, and thin to the three strongest seedlings after they have their first true leaves. Summer squash should be planted in full sun, in rich, well-drained soil that has been amended with compost and manure — these plants are heavy feeders!
Other Easy Producing Crops
Bell peppers grow up, rather than out, so they’re the perfect candidate for a pint-sized garden plot. Smaller pepper varieties also do well. Tuck them into your landscaping where they’ll look ornamental or grow them in pots on your patio.
Pepper plants all look pretty much alike, some taller and bushier than others. There the resemblance ends. Sweet peppers can be boxy, stocky, long and thin or round, in shades of green, red, yellow, orange and purple.
Leaves: Alternate, lance-shaped leaves.
Flowers:White or yellow star-shaped flowers.
Fruits: Fruits begin forming 2–6 days after the flowers drop. The shape and size will depend on the variety being grown; stocky bell, elongated banana…
Common Name: Peppers
Days to Harvest:
Varies with variety, but most begin producing within 65 to 75 days from transplant.
How and When to Harvest:
Harvest sweet peppers when they reach the preferred size or color. If you like green peppers, go ahead and pick them at any time. The more you pick, the more the plant will set. They will not reach their full color until fully ripe. If you prefer ripe peppers, you will have to wait longer and you will get fewer peppers, which is why they cost so much more in the store.
Cutting is the best method of harvesting peppers. You can snap the stem off the plant, but very often you’ll take the whole branch with you.
Gardeners with long, warm growing seasons can direct seed peppers once the ground is warm and not too wet. The rest of us will need to start seed indoors, about 8–12 weeks before transplanting, or purchase seedlings.
Peppers are slow starters. Start seed 8–12 weeks before your last frost date. Seed can take awhile to germinate, although sweet peppers are usually faster than hot peppers. Using some type of bottom heat, either with a heating pad or simply placing the flats on top of the refrigerator, will speed germination. It will also dry out the soil faster, so remember to water.
When the seedlings are about 6 weeks old, they should have their first true leaves. Transplant them into larger pots (about 3″) and continue growing indoors.
Enjoy all-you-can-eat peas in the spring since they are cool-season vegetables. Then replant the space with something else for the summer and fall. How’s that for making the most of a small space?
Plant a small plot of beets, and you can eat the beet greens early in the season and then the actual beets later in the season. Now that’s productive garden space.
It only takes about 45 days for radishes to reach harvest size, so that’s another spot in your garden that you can replant, either with radishes or another plant.
Train pole beans up a pole or trellis, and your bean plants will give you a huge (and long) harvest in the teeny tiniest of spaces.
Herbs love to share space with other plants. Use them to fill in around your larger edibles, and you’ll get more food from every inch of your garden