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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Harvest More from a Vegetable Garden: Using Raised Beds and Intensive Gardening Techniques

Mar 26, 2017 09:37AM ● By Jordan Scroble

Home gardeners can learn a lot from urban farmers, pushing the limits of production from the smallest of spaces. Techniques like inter-planting and succession planting maximize the existing garden footprint. Trellises, cages and other structures enable vertical growing, which frees up even more space. Cold frames, row fabric or even simply a warmer microclimate around the yard extend the gardening season both in the early spring and late fall.

The foundation for a productive vegetable garden begins with the soil, and unfortunately, most urban and suburban soil is far from ideal. Home gardeners have a solution though—raised beds filled with the best possible soil available locally. Raised beds are by far the easiest way to turn lawn into fresh, organic produce, and when combined with other intensive gardening techniques, can provide a significant amount of food in a small space. Not only are they highly functional, but raised beds can also be an attractive addition to the eco-friendly yard.

In a traditional garden plot, vegetables are typically grown in long rows. Sufficient space between these rows is needed so that the gardener can move around to water, weed and harvest. This row spacing is unnecessary in raised beds though because they are designed in a way that a gardener can reach all plants from outside of the bed. This condenses the plant spacing significantly and allows more vegetables to be grown in a smaller amount of space.

Once a raised bed is established, inter-planting and succession planting ensures maximum production and a continued harvest throughout the season. A well maintained raised bed can and should be replanted as soon as vegetables are harvested. It is well within reason to harvest at least three different crops from the same garden space. Radishes grow so quickly that they can easily be planted between lettuce plants and mature just when the lettuce is filling out. Basil can easily be planted at the base of tomato plants or between tomato plants and be harvested before the tomatoes take over. Better yet, the radishes and lettuce can both be grown and harvested in the same space before the basil and tomatoes are even planted.

For help establishing a new raised bed or rehabbing an existing garden, email [email protected] or visit

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