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Helpful Tips On Growing and Storing A Bumper Crop

May 14th, 2012

Bumper crops normally occur when favorable environmental conditions are present for a good length of time.  Yet, you shouldn’t have to rely on good luck or perform a rain dance to grow a surplus of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Rather, there are some helpful tips to practice that will bolster your chances of yielding a nice sized bumper crop, and some very easy ways to store the fruits of your labor.

Proper Planning:  Form a plan first that maximizes space while continuing to keep your garden healthy, and free of weeds and pests. Calculate how many rows you need, how large your plants are expected to grow, and how much space is needed for efficient growth. Consider growing your plants vertically if your space is limited, or try less traditional approaches like using a community garden to gain more accessible land.

Preparing The Soil: Soil is the real backbone behind creating a garden that has the potential for a bumper crop. It’s important for adding nutrients to edible plants, and essential for strength and vitality. If your soil is lacking fertility and proper drainage, do not despair! Determine what type of soil you are working with.  Is it the consistency of sand or clay?  Then consider adding organic matter to the soil. Adding compost (see composting tips here), mulch, or creating your own organic fertilizer are three great ways to improve the quality very quickly.

Pre-emptive Pest Strikes: Start warding off pests before they become an issue. A variety of herbs like chives, garlic and coriander are natural deterrents for pests like aphids, while sage, rosemary and coriander can keep flies at bay. Do some research and read our post about companion planting to learn more about naturally controlling pests. Or, if you’re facing a situation where pests have already infiltrated your garden, we have a wonderful list of natural methods to treat them.

What To Grow: Choose vegetables and herbs that grow easily and in abundance. Zucchini, green beans, carrots, snap peas, tomatoes, dill, rosemary and cilantro all require an average degree of maintenance, and can produce a real bounty of delicious results!

Bumper Crop, Now What?  There are a variety of methods to store your bumper crop so that it’s fresh for another week, many months, or even years. Canning is the most ideal storage method, as it can preserve your prized fruits and vegetables for the longest length of time. It is also the preferred method when a natural disaster strikes and electricity is limited or unavailable, as cans only need a cool, dark place to maintain their quality.  If you’re interested in the canning process, learn how here.

Another method that will safely store a bumper crop is freezing. Freezing is ideal because it can maintain more nutrients than canning, but keep in mind that food is more susceptible to spoiling in an emergency if electricity is limited or unavailable. Yet, if short-term storage is what you’re looking for, freezing may be well suited for your bumper crop. Be sure to blanch your vegetables first (fruit is unnecessary to blanch), seal and then freeze.

Storing a bumper crop of herbs and peppers can be quite easy, as both can be dried and will stay fresh for months. Washing herbs and/or peppers and drying them on a rack, mesh, an open counter or hanging them all work quite well. Once dry, mince or store whole in a refrigerator for more long-term preservation.

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