Nourish Your Soil
Deep, nutrient-rich soils encourage extensive root systems and strong plants. Nourish your soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure, or leaf mold. Compost and leaf mold can be easily made at home for free, so compost everything you can and put a thriving composting setup at the heart of your garden.
The best time to add most organic matter is in winter to give enough time for it to become incorporated into the ground before spring. Then top up with more organic matter during the growing season, laying it 2-5cm (1-2 inches) thick around existing crops. This surface mulch will also help to slow moisture loss and suppress weeds, saving you time watering and weeding.
Feed Your Plants
Many plants will benefit from a further boost of organic fertilizer such as liquid seaweed concentrate.
Alternatively, grow a patch of comfrey (next to your compost bin is ideal) and make your own comfrey tea, a potent brew ideal for hungry plants like tomatoes. You can also simply drape cut comfrey leaves around plants, or add them to the compost heap where they’ll help to speed up decomposition.
Grow in Dedicated Beds
Convert to a system of permanent beds and minimize wasted space while concentrating your resources. Beds may be accessed from all sides and plants can be grown in blocks, which maximizes productivity. And because you’ll add organic matter directly to the beds, there’s no wasting it on paths or other unproductive ground.
Choose Plants that Thrive
It may seem obvious, but growing what thrives in your soil and climate will result in stronger growth and bigger harvests. For example, warm climates are ideal for growing sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Or in cooler areas, opt for crops like chard and cabbage that can cope with the cold.
Choose varieties that have been bred to thrive in your climate. Early varieties are great for short growing seasons, while heat-tolerant varieties are a must for areas with scorching summer sun.
Grow More in the Shade
Increasing productivity means making the most of every space available to you – and that includes shadier areas. They’re great for leafy vegetables such as lettuce or Asian greens, slow growers including leeks and parsnip, and hardy fruits like blackcurrants and gooseberries.
You can use our Garden Planner to filter crop choices to show only those suitable for growing in the shade.
Collect More Rainwater
Rainwater is the best option for watering vegetables. Rainwater is softer, contains fewer contaminants, and is at a pH that is preferred by most plants, encouraging better growth all round.
So if you’re still using treated water to irrigate your crops, now’s the time to install additional water barrels and collect as much rainwater as you can. You can use a connector kit to join multiple barrels together.