You don’t have enough time to take care of your vegetables on a daily basis, or you don’t have the possibility to have your vegetable garden close to your home, or you are regularly absent for long periods of time, we present 4 methods to have a better yield, with less maintenance!
Why choose fast growing vegetables?
The raised bed is patient. Sowing, transplanting, harvesting… He does his work to the rhythm of the seasons, and he knows that there is no point in wanting to go faster than the music.
But here’s the thing: when you have little patient budding gardeners who want to try their hand at sowing (read: Mini vegetable garden for children), when the long-awaited vacations interfere with the harvest calendar, when the size of the vegetable garden is limited and the crop rotation must be quick if you want to produce all the vegetables you want, or when the season for gardening is shortened because the climate is a little too harsh, it’s in your best interest to grow vegetables that produce quickly!
4 ways to grow your vegetables faster
1. Feed your floor
We can never say it enough: for a soil to be fertile, it must be alive! And to encourage the development of life in your soil, you have to feed it, or rather feed the millions of micro-organisms that populate it and make it rich. To do this, you need to cover your soil (the “mulcher”), i.e. to bring organic matter to the surface, which will gradually be eaten, digested and transformed into humus by the soil’s living organisms, including the indispensable and precious earthworm!
For this, there are several possibilities that you will choose according to your type of soil and what you can most easily obtain in your context: It can be grass mowing, straw (organic is better), dead leaves and twigs, kitchen peelings (surface composting), cardboard (avoiding cardboard too inked or with too much glue), weeds or plants dedicated to mulch simply cut and left on the surface (technique of “chop and drop”) or BRF (Fragmented Rameal Wood).
By following the permaculture principle “Favouring diversity”, you can choose several of these “ingredients” according to what you have readily available and make your own “recipe” by mixing them to obtain a real treat for micro-organisms and earthworms!
To boost your mix, bring a few handfuls of wood ash (rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium) or composted manure (for example, provide an excellent raw material through their daily dejecta) as long as you know which animals your manure comes from, so that it is not stuffed with antibiotics and other chemicals that are given out in turns on some farms …
As a bonus, a good thickness of organic matter (4 to 6 inches), in addition to nourishing your soil, will greatly limit the emergence of weeds (even if some may be beneficial to your soil and delicious to eat, it is better to reserve a space dedicated to their natural wild development). This will reduce the competition for soil nutrients with your crop plants.
2. Increase your growing area without increasing soil clutter
Except in certain contexts (very windy and/or very dry ground in particular or too draining soil) where it will not be the most relevant solution, it is possible to increase its surface of culture without increasing the encumbrance on the ground by creating certain types of mounds of permaculture such as for example rounded ground tees.
Thus, instead of planting everything flat on the same level, you will create slopes and microclimates: the high point of your earth dome will favor the capture of light and heat and will increase the depth of soil in which the roots of your plants will be able to develop; there will be one slope more exposed to the sun than the other, more shaded parts… You will be able to arrange your plants on several levels according to the requirements of sunshine and heat specific to each one.
For example, wild strawberries, which are often very productive, grow well in the shade of the foliage of other vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, spinach, leeks… Radishes also thrive in the shade of tomato, pear or bean plants that will be placed at the top of the cultivation dome and to which they will also serve as ground cover to maintain the freshness of the soil and limit evaporation.
Same use with lamb’s lettuce which, in addition to enjoying all types of exposure (shade, half shade, sun), gets along well in terms of neighborhood with all the vegetables in the garden. The turnip is also a good neighbor who likes the sun in spring and half-shade in summer, so placing it in the shade of a stalk of corn, peas, tomato or celery is a winning combination!
In short, there are countless possibilities of combinations and layouts of your crops on your mound, which is why, before planting, you will need to list what you want to include and position each vegetable, fruit or flower in the sunny conditions and microclimate zones that will be most favorable to it! Thus, thanks to your mound of culture, not only will you increase your cultivable surface, but moreover your cultures will be in the optimal conditions for their blooming!
3. Stop lining everything up
In traditional vegetable gardens, vegetables are like little soldiers all lined up in a row and the raised bed spends a good part of his time hoeing between his rows of vegetables to remove unruly “weeds”!
In permaculture, the foundation is observing and imitating nature to achieve productive, resilient and biodiverse ecosystems. In particular, nature shows us that it hates emptiness and bare soil, so it fills up all the land left free, so it is better to favour small intensive systems, densely planted other than in rows, to make the best use of the available space and consequently increase your crops.
For example, you can plant high-growth plants such as beans, tomatoes, peas, beans, cabbage, maize, etc. in a triangle rather than in a row, and sow between them, in the middle of the triangle, ground covers or roots with less aerial development.
You can also densely seed different types of plants (with different levels and/or periods of development) on reflected spaces to be easily accessible from everywhere and favour the border effect such as keyhole-shaped spaces for example. Then, the type of shape and layout for your vegetable garden plantings will be limited only by your imagination!
So drop the classic row pattern, let your creativity and sensitivity speak for itself by observing the nature around you and using permaculture principles to create an original vegetable garden that looks like you ! And to make sure you don’t choose the wrong growing medium and use the one that best suits your context and your objectives, discover our training course “Choose your ideal growing medium! ».
4. Enhance the 3rd dimension: height
By observing a forest, it is clear that nature uses all the “floors” at its disposal from the ground covers to the canopy… You can imitate this by creating different “floors” in your vegetable garden and especially by enhancing the 3rd dimension, the height.
By installing trellises, simple stakes or any other vertical support within your reach (wicker structure for example), you will be able to run on it, at different levels, a whole bunch of annual plants and in particular climbing plants such as squash, cucumbers, beans, peas which will free up space on the ground for other crops that cannot grow naturally like root vegetables…
If your space allows it and if it is relevant to your context and your project, you can in addition to the inert vertical supports mentioned above, introduce in your “cultivated ecosystem” one of the masterpieces of nature: trees! In addition to bringing you additional crops (fruits, flowers, wood, mulch of dead leaves…), they can be the heart of a group of multi-stage crops and the support of annual or persistent climbers such as the kiwi.
They will bring much more to your environment: attraction for wildlife, shade and depending on the type of tree nitrogen fixation in the soil and therefore fertilization of your land without any effort on your part.
Beware, however, not to plant lightly! It is essential to think carefully about your context, the type of tree you want to plant and its location, taking into account its development and size at maturity to position it well in relation to the other elements of your system!
Leafy vegetables whose young shoots are picked as needed, leaf after leaf (taking care to pick only the outer leaves), to eat in salads: oak leaf, arugula, spinach, chard, chervil, but also turnip, beet for their young leaves …