Although taking care of a garden is certainly a fun hobby in and of itself, having to settle for less-than-optimal harvests can be discouraging and disappointing, so yield is typically a primary concern for gardeners, especially those growing edible crops. There are plenty of specialized books and guides that cover detailed methods for increasing the yield of each plant variety during different seasons. As a gardener, you’ve probably already examined such resources and have found yourself spending some of your free time reading and researching to sharpen your agricultural skills and sourcing for hydroponic nutrient samples. However, aside from plant-specific regimens and seasonal tips, there are certain steps that can be taken to ensure you’re maximizing yield within a defined garden space.
Start with the following measures and you’ll be headed towards more bountiful harvests than you’ve ever experienced:
1. Use Greenhouse Light Deprivation
As you probably know, most plants alter their growth patterns and cycles depending on the amount of light they’re receiving each day. Artificially shortening the day by covering your greenhouse in blackout material before the natural sunset is a good way to force plants into their production stages, rather than waiting for the conventional time or season. A blackout greenhouse offers an early start and full control over when the plants start producing, so you’ll be able to harvest any crop during any time of the year, as long you can also manage temperature, humidity, and ventilation, which we’ll cover later in this guide.
2. Incorporate Vertical Farming Techniques
To make the most out of your gardening space, you’ll also want to optimize light angles and space utilization. Installing vertical planters in strategic spots within your greenhouse will allow you to shine a light on maximum vegetation by multiplying the number of plants you’re able to reasonably fit within the greenhouse. You can either construct some cheap DIY vertical planters or choose from one of the many pre-made options available on the market. Vertical farming is one of the most reliable ways to increase yield exponentially, as you’re practically guaranteed to have a larger harvest if you have more plants.
3. Install an Aquaponics System
With light exposure and space taken care of, the next step is to ensure the plants always have access to optimal nutrition throughout each phase of their life cycle. Every gardener and farmer should aim to automate and streamline their processes as much as possible without sacrificing the quality of their crops. Aquaponics systems use reservoirs, pumps, and hoses to connect an external fish tank or pond to your planters for naturally nutritious irrigation. Fish tank water contains all the essential nutrients and trace minerals that a plant needs to flourish under any conditions, and is, therefore, considered an excellent sustainable, renewable, and effective DIY fertilizer. Additionally, to help plants grow in a tank, a growing light could also be installed. There are so many different styles that could be chosen, depending on what is being grown, source: Love Fish Tank. Creating the best environment for plants to flourish will make the most of the plants in the tank, maximizing their beauty.
4. Add Supplemental Heating, Lighting, and Ventilation
Now that you have a handle on the garden’s spatial layout, length of day, and nutrition, it’s time to keep the area comfortable and temperate year-round using various climate control measures. Heating and cooling will be the most important factors to consider. Although using space heaters is an option, doing so can use a lot of electricity and may, therefore, be an impractically expensive option for many gardeners. One way to bring heat to a greenhouse more economically is to install a rocket mass heater, which is essentially a highly efficient and environmentally friendly version of a wood stove. Adding extra lights above and beside the plants can help increase photosynthesis on cloudy days and during the darker evening hours before sunset. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure you have an efficient way to keep air circulating during the hotter periods to keep the greenhouse temperatures down.
5. Have a Separate Greenhouse for Seedlings and Younger Plants
Finally, a great way to make sure you’re always yielding as much produce as possible is to only fill it up with mature and robust plants. Have a separate containment or area for germinating seeds, sprouting cuttings, and establishing smaller plants. This step will ensure that your main garden space achieves maximum yield while also helping you weed out problematic plants before initiating their production cycles.
Fine-Tuning Techniques Based on Research and Plant Feedback
In closing, while all of the above methods will work to improve yields right out of the box, you may have to make some adjustments as you go along to continually increase yields. With that said, closely monitoring your plants and becoming more knowledgeable on an ongoing basis is the best approach for any gardener.