Caroline Lewis is a Portland, Oregon, urban gardener whose company, Verdura Culinary Gardens, is dedicated to helping gardeners be more successful at raising their own organic vegetables. A licensed landscape contractor, Verdura installs raised bed gardens including trellises and drip irrigation systems, creates custom year-round planting plans, and offers vegetable garden coaching and maintenance programs. Caroline welcomes your comments and can be reached at caroline [at] verduragardens.com.
Our friend Todd wrote us: “I only have a certain amount of space available to plant veggies. While certainly I would grow some items just to have them fresh, I would also like to save as much money at the supermarket as possible with my little square of dirt. What are some high-cost, high-yield-per-square-foot veggies? On the flip side, what are some huge space-takers with relatively low yields?”
Here are some thoughts on these questions. Please note this list is by no means complete!
By “expensive,” we’re referring to what you pay at the grocery store for vegetables. Here are some of our favorites that do well here in the Pacific Northwest, cost a lot at the store, and have good yields:
Many clients ask us to focus on growing high-yield vegetables and fruits so they can maximize the productivity of their gardens. A few examples of these are:
Cost and productivity aside, if you’ve never grown the following crops at home, please give them a try because they are SO much better than anything you’ve ever bought at the store: peas, broccoli, leafy greens like chard and kale, green beans, carrots, lettuce, asparagus, peppers, tomatillos, and of course tomatoes.
And finally, remember the number-one way to maximize productivity in a garden of any size is careful planning. You can grow four tomato plants in cages in a four-foot-square garden. Or, in that same space, you can grow a bumper crop of spring peas (64 plants), then tear them out and grow your four tomatoes on a trellis. Oh, plus 64 carrots, four bell-pepper plants, 18 beets, and eight lettuces. And that’s just the summer planting . . .
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