What does it mean to concentrate? By definition it means to focus in on something and ignore the surroundings. In home vegetable gardening the definition is fairly similar, except we do not ignore anything.
Think for a moment the last time you packed for that long vacation to the Caribbean to lay out on the sunny beaches to work on that tan. With all the travel restrictions these days, waiting in long lines at the airport, extra fees for that large red hard suitcase that you have, you make the most of every inch of space in your luggage so you can get through the airport “experience” rather quickly and without extra cost.
You stuff the sandals in pockets in your piece of luggage that you never knew existed, and then of course your favorite blue flowered Hawaiian shirt gets rolled up and stuffed into the sandals. In other words you make use of every inch space that you have.
Getting back to home vegetable gardening, concentration gardening is similar to packing that suitcase and that is to utilize every inch of space that you have available. Lets’ face it. For most of us that grow home vegetable gardens we do not have the land of Farmer Bob, although some people I know have the blue jean overalls and yellow straw hat, but we’ll save that for another conversation.
Because our space is limited and we want to grow lots of vegetables to feed our families, or help out friends, we have to make use of the space we were given. That is why we use concentrated planting in our vegetable gardens. This allows us to use all of the space without sacrificing the amount of vegetables and fruits produced by all of the plants.
To utilize the concentrated planting technique you have to plant vegetables that are deep rooted next to ones that are shallow rooted. For example, you can plant tomatoes next to radishes. When you do this you eliminate the space where weeds can grow and that is always a good thing. The soil retains more of its moisture and of course you get more produce.
Just make sure that when you do concentrate your plantings that you choose plants that will not compete for space and nutrients. Also, concentrated planting makes it difficult to use tools and machinery to pull out any weeds the garden may have, so those that do grow will need to be pulled by hand. If you have a small area that shouldn’t be a problem, and if your plantings are in a raised bed, it makes the efforts quite easy.
Concentration gardening gives us another tool and technique in our repertoire to make the most out of our growing seasons. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country, our growing season starts around mid May and runs through mid October. Albeit a pretty good length of time for a growing season that has varying seasonal temperatures we still need to make the greatest effort to produce an abundant harvest.
If you are not using concentration methods in your garden then there is no better time then the present to start. When done correctly you will get more vegetables and fruit and pick fewer weeds and both equal a happy home vegetable gardener.
About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A guide to vegetable gardening for the rest of us. He can be reached at his wesbite: AveragePersonGardening.com where you can sign up for his free newsletter and he will send you a pack of vegetable seeds to get your home vegetable garden started.