Learn a variety of sample layouts and rotations for your garden beds, so you can plan multiple crops and regular harvests throughout the year.
1) How to Harvest Fresh Salad Every Week
Here is a simple layout for a salad bed, where you would grow any vegetable that you can harvest in 45-60 days – such as lettuce, spinach, radish, Japanese turnips, etc. Divide your garden bed into four sections (A, B, C, D), and plant each section 2 weeks apart. In this example, you will be able to harvest 3 crops from each section of the bed.
These dates work with a frost-free season from about May 15 – October 15, if you protect your vegetables in the early and late ends of your growing season. You can adjust the schedule to fit your own climate.
By the time you return to the first section (8 weeks after you have planted the first crop there), you should have finished harvesting in that section, and can start planting your second crop there. Keep working your way around the bed.
Be sure to plant cold-tolerant vegetables in early spring and late fall, and heat-tolerant varieties in the summer. Use a cold frame or row cover to protect your early or late crops, and shade cloth to protect your cool-season vegetables in the heat of summer.
With a little bit of planning, it’s not hard to enjoy fresh salads nearly every week of the year from a small square foot garden! The following article provides easy-to-understand directions and layouts on how you can grow multiple crops in two garden beds (including tomatoes, snap peas, and miniature cabbages) in order to harvest fresh salads year-round:
2) Double Your Crops in Most Beds
Succession planting is when you plant one crop after another in the same year. It's pretty easy to grow two crops in one year in most of your garden beds. To see photos of examples, go to Photos of Gardens.
April 15th – Plant onions
August 15th – After harvesting onions, plant kale
Oct. 30th, 1st year – Plant garlic in the fall
July 15th, next year – After harvesting garlic, plant carrots
April 15th – Plant broccoli
July 1st – After harvesting broccoli, plant summer squash
April 1st – Plant spinach
June 1st – After harvesting spinach, plant sweet potatoes
April 15th – Plant early potatoes
July 15th – After harvesting early potatoes, plant cabbage
When you are planning multiple crops, it is very important to make sure that each crop has enough time to mature. Allow extra time (1-2 weeks) for your fall crops to mature in the shorter daylight hours of autumn, and double-check the days to maturity for both crops.
Sometimes selecting an early variety that matures just 2 weeks sooner will allow you to fit in multiple crops that wouldn't work when using a long-season variety.
3) Use Interplanting
While succession planting is growing one crop after another, interplanting involves growing small, fast-growing crops (often lettuce, spinach, baby turnips, etc) in between larger, slower-growing crops (like peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, etc).
4) Use Vertical Gardening / Trellises
Growing plants up vertically is another great way to increase your yields in small garden beds. If you want to grow even more large vining vegetable plants in your small garden, you can use two trellises on the same 4-foot-wide bed – one on the north side, and one on the south side.
In summer, the sun crosses high in the sky and both trellises will get full sunshine. Just don't expect to grow other vegetables in the middle of the bed, between the trellises, after the large vining plants have gotten more than about 3-4 feet high (usually mid-July in my area).
Always use the vining indeterminate tomato plants on trellises, not the bushy determinate varieties. When growing melons or small watermelons on trellises, always support the growing melons with slings – you can use old nylons, mesh onion bags, or other flexible material. Smaller winter squash, like butternut, won’t need any extra support at all.
To learn more about vertical gardening, see:
5) Use a Combination of Techniques to Maximize Your Yields
If you're interested in growing up to 3 crops in one year in your small garden beds, check out the garden plans and layouts in this article:
Though some of the plans/layouts that I describe are fairly simple, most use a combination of the gardening techniques I have listed above. If you are new to this type of intensive gardening, you may not want to try to use all of these techniques in your first year or two.
It will take practice to learn how to use these methods in your particular climate and soil. As you become more experienced, you will be able to combine many of these methods (and more!) to maximize your garden harvest.
If you'd like to learn more about spacing your vegetables, see:
With a bit of practice, you'll be able to harvest abundant fresh organic food 12 months a year from your Abundant Mini Garden – no matter what your climate is!