What is Intensive Gardening?
Intensive gardening is a gardening method in which one plants a small garden in such a way that maximizes one’s harvest.
Why use it?
“The purpose of gardening intensively is to harvest the most produce possible from a given space.” This method saves time, money, and space. It is perfect for container, raised bed, and small household gardens, although it can be applied to a much larger scale.
Intensive Gardening Techniques
Plant in Beds, Not Rows
Planting in beds is more space- and water- efficient than row planting. Heap garden soil up into a bed about 6” deep and 4’ wide. You should be able to comfortably reach into the center of the bed. Beds don’t have to have siding, although it increases the longevity of the bed.
Plant tighter than what is recommended on seed packets. This creates a dense canopy that shades out weeds and keeps soil moist. It also increases yield per square foot.
Close planting can be accomplished by planting diagonally instead of horizontally (see illustration).
You can plant spring, summer, and fall gardens in the same space! After you harvest a crop, prepare the soil and start anew with the next season’s varieties.
Trellis your vining plants! Peas, pole beans, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, and peppers should be trellised to save space on the garden floor. Make sure they are planted in the back of your garden so they don’t shade out your shorter plants.
If you don’t have space for a traditional garden, or don’t have enough sun except on porches, patios, etc., try container gardening! Use container or space-saving varieties of plants. Make sure not to use containers treated with dangerous chemicals such as treated wood.
What goes out must come back in. Intensive gardening takes out more nutrients from the soil than normal gardening, to be sure to fertilize more frequently. Rotate your crops every planting so part of the soil doesn’t become more depleted than the rest.
Choose Plants Wisely
Large vining plants such as pumpkins, squash, and melons take up more room than lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes. Plant accordingly.