Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Tips for Producing More Vegetables In Your Garden - by Lehua

Lettuce growing at Hali'imaile Community Garden.

 There are many reasons to have a garden - beauty, health, community, nature, play, etc.  But if your intention is to grow as many vegetables as possible, here are some tips:

1.  Choose 2 or 3 veggies to grow that you really like to eat often.  Choose veggies that are each in a different plant family.  For example carrots (Umbelliferacea), beets (Chenopodiacea) and lettuce (Asteracea).  By focusing on a few favorite crops, you can get to know their habits well and have a higher chance of success. You can get to know good varieties, and what challenges they are susceptible to. Stick with the same veggies for the whole season (on Maui that usually means dry Summer or wet Winter).

Carrots growing at Hali'imaile Community Garden.

2.  Plant your crops consistently.  For example, plant seeds once a month on the new moon.  Plant small, quantities of each crop, for example 2 square feet of each crop every month.

3.  Rotate them in order (carrots, then beets, then lettuce, then carrots, etc.) in the bed.  That way you are never planting the same thing twice in a row in the same bed.  Crop rotation helps with pest and disease prevention, and nutrient needs.

One productive garden plot at Hali'imaile Community Garden.

4.  Go to the garden at least once per week (if it's away from home).  If it's at your home, go to your garden every day! Create a rhythm with your garden by going on a regular schedule, like Thursday afternoons for example.  If you go there every week and spend a focused hour working on your plot, you won't get overwhelmed by weeds or pests that may build up over time.  

An overgrown garden - and notice the asparagus (next tip).

5.  Keep your experimental, decorative, or low producing plants to a minimum, such as 25% of your garden or less.  These include flowers, asparagus, etc.

Notice all the flowers and overgrown windbreak
(Photo contributed by Courtney of her garden plot).

6.  Harvest consistently (at least once per week) so that your veggies are young and in their prime and taste great, which will motivate you to grow more.


7.  If something is not doing well, coddle it for a week or two, then pull it out if it doesn't look healthy.

8.  Always add some type of fertility to the soil between every planting- a little compost, some worm castings, or some pelleted fertilizer.

9.  Plant crops in rows or blocks, with defined pathways.  This is the most efficient use of space and insures that you are not accidentally stepping on your beds.

Well-defined garden paths between rows.

Another style of garden beds.

10. Choose crops that you can direct seed in the ground, and make sure your irrigation system is working well so you will have good germination.

Notice the irrigation to the left of the lettuce.

Lehua Vander Velde

Courtney's notes: Lehua is an amazing gardener who has gardened for many years on Maui. I'm always impressed with her wealth of information and willingness to share.  Lehua wrote the text and I added the photos.


  1. This is a great post and I'm so glad to have it up now. I am testing some seeds in a pot on my window sill. I had trouble growing them this year, so I want to figure out why. I know that I do have some old seeds, but the ones I planted were not old seeds. So, I just need to determine if it's the moisture content of the soil (I have a drip system that I know is not perfect) or if it is something else. It is such a bummer to have had such a lame year in my garden. I've never had a green thumb, so I'm trying to figure out how to have one.

  2. The moisture is pretty important. Also, Lehua says how the seeds are stored is important. If they were in the fridge and then taken out and then put back again, that's not good. Or they may be packaged for 2011, but sat too long before they were even packaged and shipped. Good luck! I have done all the "wrong things."


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