A hand holding a bunch of carrots
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If your garden is a productive one, and not just a landscaping effort for curb appeal, you want it to be as efficient and productive as possible. It can be much harder than it looks to increase yield and get a better harvest, but we've got a few tips to help you work smarter and to get more out of your garden. Below are 7 smart ways to increase your harvest:

1. Extend your growing season. To produce more, you need a longer growing season. Of course, you're limited by your climate, but only to a certain extent. Even if you can't afford a greenhouse, you can start earlier with indoor seedlings or by using cloches and cold frames. Go further in the fall with cold frames and row covers as well as by doing second plantings of cold-weather plants, like lettuce.

2. Compost, compost, compost. Make your own compost from kitchen and yard waste and you will be sure to grow more and harvest more. The nutrients added to the soil from compost will definitely increase your yields.

3. Practice succession planting. Use the same space for more than one plant. When an early season crop is done, put in a warm-weather vegetable. Then, plant more cold-weather plants in the fall. You can also plant the same thing in succession, re-seeding after one set of plants has expired.

4. Grow vertically. Whenever possible, start growing plants up to get more out of your garden's space. Any plant that has a vining nature can be trained upward with a trellis or other structure. Not only does this get you more for your space, it helps prevent fungal infections.

5. Choose high-yield plants. When you choose plants that naturally produce a lot, you get more harvest with less work. Think tomatoes, squash, lettuce and greens, peas, and beans.

6. Prune thoughtfully. Don't let your plants run rampant. Pruning and pinching in a strategic way will keep them healthy and lead to a greater yield. When you pinch off extra foliage, your plant puts more energy into making fruits.

7. Encourage bees to do their thing. The more active bees in your garden, the better it is for yield thanks to pollination. Include native, flowering plants in your flower beds and minimize pesticide use and the bees will help make your garden more productive.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.