In today’s world many of us live in apartments and small condos with little or no garden and yet, there still seems to be a need for us to dip our hands into the soil and have the pleasure of watching plants and vegetables grow.
Gardeners have put their heads together a creative method of managing a reasonable output of vegetables.
This is called the inter-cropping system and the key requirement is that you know the needs of your crops and plan the season carefully. The first thing is to find vegetables that only need a small space, certainly no more than six inches per plant, but even this will depend on the amount of space you have. This amount needs to not only grow the plant but allow space for the fruit.
Vegetables that work well with this system are things like radishes, spinach, beets turnips, green onion, carrots, lettuce, parsley, chard and kohlrabi. These are also plants that enjoy and can germinate in cold soil to the point of being able to cope with quite deep frosts. This means that they can be planted earlier in the year, before the frosts have finished.
Think about growing the plants that offer the maximum returns as space will be so limited. Vegetables such as spinach, pepper, tomatoes, green onions, kale, celery and herbs (particularly parsley) are all good because you can harvest them over and over again during the season. Think carefully about vegetables like cabbages, cauliflowers or lettuces that take up a lot of space and only yield a one off harvest. You need to consider carefully if this is something that you particularly want to grow for the efficient running of your small garden.
When you have chosen the vegetables you wish to grow and are familiar with their needs, you need to do your best not to crowd too many plants in one space. The growth of the best kinds will be of lesser quality or even fail by crowding. Most plants come with information on their height and space they will reach upon full maturity. You need to take that into consideration when planting your inter-cropped garden.
A number of garden plants tend to sprawl with growth, like vine plants and can require more space between plants. You can save space by enclosing these plants in a circle of wire fencing or even staking the plants as they grow. Not only will you gain more space, but you will keep the plants and produce off of the ground for a more even and less contaminated growth. This technique traditionally allows for the plant to produce more.
By considering your options with inter cropping you will inevitably grow more and a better fruit or vegetable within a small space.
James Tebbart is the webmaster of “Big On Gardening” a first class resource for gardening and home gardening information on the Internet. Please visit www.bigongardening.com for more about this article and related topics.