Whether you’re toiling in the soil on acreage, in an inner city courtyard, or on a balcony, you can increase your vegie crop yield with some skilled planning, smart planting and a little dedication.
Whether you want to re-invigorate your garden or start afresh, the first thing to do is plan. It’s easy to get excited, but TV presenter and author of The Edible Balcony, Indira Naidoo warns that enthusiasm must be tempered. So before you decide on a terrace of tomatoes or shrine of string beans, there are a few things to ask yourself. Indira says, “The key issues to assess are how much time you realistically have to set aside each day to maintain your garden.” For Indira, 15 to 20 large pots of edibles require about 10 minutes every day. She emphasises the need for every day. “Next, look at what your light conditions are like. Lots of sun means high productivity; shade means you need to select your plants wisely.”
2. Getting back to your roots
Healthy roots equal happy healthy plants. Costa Georgiadis from Gardening Australia says building or maintaining a rich soil is the key to increasing your yields. “If your plants are nourished and watered they will do what they know to do: grow!” Costa also reminds us that soil is a living organism and we need to treat it this way. “It needs to be fed and nourished so that it can feed and nourish and create produce. A fertile rich soil also acts as a sponge to hold water. The true role of soil is to slow the passage of water to the sea and make it available for plants to take it up and create oxygen, create habitat, create groundcover and of course create edible produce. So there is nothing more important than the soil. It is living and breathing.”
Permaculture designer and teacher Nicola Chatham goes on to explain, “All of your abundant growth will depend on the quality of your soil. Not just the quality of your soil, but the number of micro-organisms that live in your soil. So, you really want to feed your micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, worms and protozoa). They love things like manures, compost, weeds (ideally without seeds so they don’t spread) and, funnily enough, molasses.”