There’s nothing better than harvesting the biggest veggies you can possibly grow. Many people find great satisfaction in producing crops that have produced to their maximum potential. Awards are given away for these accomplishments at fairs and other competitions. As a home gardener, what can you do to maximize yields and sizes of your vegetables? There are several general things you can do to help increase the sizes of many common household crops.
• Provide your vegetables with plenty of everything. This means, full sun, plenty of water, well-draining and organic matter-rich soil, and lots of food. Full sun exposure means that vegetables generally need at least 8 hours of full daylight in order to produce their best crops. This goes for all common vegetable crops. Excellent soil is also a must. Soil that is rich with compost, is optimal. Fertilizing vegetables is usually an easy task. A general vegetable fertilizer or a good layer of compost around your vegetables would work. If you are in the market for organic compost we produce our own right in Milford, click here to see our compost. If you are starting a new garden you will want to use our Garden Soil, a 50/50 mix of our organic topsoil and compost.
• Space your vegetables out correctly. Following planting instructions closely when spacing out seeds or thinning out seedlings is extremely important if you want your vegetables to grow to their full potential.
• Don’t allow undue stress on your plants. This includes allowing your vegetables to dry out too much, not providing the right amount of nutrients, not offering enough protection from extreme weather conditions, or any other kind of general stressor that can harm your veggies. As with any kind of plant, when they undergo a stressor, they make physiological changes that usually will detriment their fruiting production, meaning if you stress out your plants you’ll get smaller yields. You can avoid some common stress by setting up a timed automatic irrigation system if you think you won’t be around consistently to water your crop. Rely on an extended release fertilizer to space out the amounts of applications you’ll need to remember. Plant windbreaks or try to locate your vegetable garden in an area that’s protected from prevailing winds or excessive water drainage.
• Keep diseases and insects at bay. There are plenty of chemical measures you can take to prevent and treat problems as they arise. If you prefer going to more natural route, rotate your yearly crops to help avoid repeated insect infestations (for example, never plant cabbage in the same area two years in a row. Cabbage worm incubates in the soil over the winter and will continuously return to eat your cabbage). You can also plant natural insect repelling crops around your vegetables, such as pyrethrum, marigolds, and dill.
• Choose varieties of vegetables that have been bred and proven to produce larger fruit and have superior disease resistance from reputable seed suppliers. You can find this information online or your supplier will recommend what varieties of vegetables would do best in your area based on the diseases that are prevalent and that affect crops around you. For example, most commercially available disease resistant tomatoes are bred to be resistant to several types of fusarium wilt, which is a common disease in tomatoes and will stress your plants resulting in small fruit.
• Practice selective pruning and removal of extra stems and flowers. This is especially true for tomatoes. Removing suckering stems and extra flowers will make the tomato plant concentrate its energy on making fewer but larger tomatoes. Some other vegetables don’t need help, with fruiting bodies that seem to grow indefinitely, such as zucchini.
There are lots of things you can do that will result in bigger vegetables. Most of these involve basic awareness, and attentive care of your crop as it matures. There are plenty of other specific measures you can take depending on the species, but these general tips will give you a good start on growing some of your biggest vegetables ever!