How to develop a vegetable garden

Vegetable cultivation: Big harvest in a small area

A herb garden and vegetable garden on a few square meters - that works if you choose the right plants and know how to make good use of the space. Small beds offer several advantages: They can be designed with little effort and prove to be the perfect solution when you only have little time to grow vegetables, herbs and a few berries. And not only the harvest, but also the work can be divided into easy-to-manage portions.

The idea of ​​growing lettuce, kohlrabi & Co. on areas divided up like a chessboard originated in America. In "square foot gardening", each bed is divided into plots with an edge length of one foot, which corresponds to about 30 centimeters. A grid made of wooden slats defines the spacing between the plants. Herbs like dill and rocket are also easy to incorporate. Perennial herbs such as thyme, oregano and mint, on the other hand, are better grown in the herb bed. They interfere with the regular change of place of the other species.

A hill bed increases the available cultivation area

A hill bed also has advantages: the raised shape increases the cultivation area by a third compared to flat garden beds. In a hill bed, as in a raised bed, the earth warms up faster in spring than in a normal bed. The vegetables grow faster and you can look forward to freshly harvested tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, onions and tuber fennel earlier.

Whichever bed shape you choose, do not leave a single piece of earth unused and always have a few seed bags or seedlings ready so that you can fill in any harvest gaps quickly. And there is another trick: sow beetroot, spinach and lettuce a little more densely than usual and thin out the rows as soon as the first beets and leaves have reached a kitchen-ready size. Enjoy these young turnips and leaves raw as tender baby beds or vitamin-rich baby leaf salad. Another strategy is to grow species like Swiss chard that are sown or planted only once and then harvested over a long period of time.

Plenty of choice for balcony gardeners too

If you have to be stingy with area, you should also rely on vegetables that prefer to aim high instead of growing in width. This includes not only runner beans and peas, but also less vigorous mini-cucumbers and small-fruited pumpkins such as ‘Baby Bear’. The shoots find a secure hold on poles made of wood, bamboo, metal or a decorative climbing aid made of self-woven willow branches.

Growing tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and basil in large pots and tubs on the balcony or terrace is not only recommended if there is a lack of space: Protected from wind and rain, the plants are spared from fungal diseases such as brown rot, gray mold and mildew and thanks to the cheaper microclimates have more fruit than in the bed.

Tip: Experience has shown that vegetables and varieties specially grown for growing in pots cope better with the narrowly limited root space than variants for bed culture. And because the distances are short, the necessary maintenance work, especially the frequent watering, can usually be done casually.

Loosening, ventilating, weeding - with the three-pronged cultivator, you can carry out the most important maintenance measures in one operation. The following applies: Regular loosening is less laborious, because new weeds can only take root on the surface. And the finely crumbly top soil layer prevents moisture stored deeper in the soil from evaporating unused - this also saves you a lot of walking with the watering can.

These tips make it easy to harvest the treasures in your vegetable garden.
Credit: MSG / Alexander Buggisch

Find out how to plant a vegetable garden in our podcast

Many gardeners want their own vegetable garden. What you should consider when preparing and planning and which vegetables our editors Nicole and Folkert grow, they reveal in the following podcast. Listen now.

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