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Enjoy A Micro-Harvest While Slow-Maturing Plants Get Started

Victory gardens are making a comeback. With a little extra planning, you can get a robust yield from even a small amount of garden space.

This week on All Things Gardening, Charlie will share how you can view a free webinar and learn to plant a vegetable victory garden. Plus, he'll teach us a technique to use every square inch of your garden space for growing veggies!

During wartime in America, "victory gardens" were planted to take a bit of the strain off the national food supply and to ensure there was enough food to send to soldiers abroad. Those types of gardens are making a comeback during the COVID-19 pandemic and Charlie has a free webinar to help you set up your own Victory Garden!

As you're planning your garden, consider laying it out in such a way that you're not using as much space but you're sure to get a lot of produce. Here's how you can do that:


Intercropping is a technique that matches compatible plants together by their growth rates, i.e., by pairing plants that grow slower and get bigger alongside smaller ones that mature faster.
For instance, think about where you can plant tomatoes, eggplants, squashes and melons. These are big plants that grow slowly early in the season. And because of their size at maturity, they eventually take up lots of space. These bigger crops like to be spaced two-to-four-feet apart, but that leaves a lot of real estate in your garden left unused!
Fast-growing smaller plants like radishes, baby beets, lettuce, arugula, mesclun mix and more can grow and mature enough for you to harvest them in 30 days. So, plant those in the spaces between your slow-growing, bigger plants and you'll be enjoying them in your salad bowl before those bigger plants growing around them have a chance to block their sunshine!

Q: My sister in NC swears by fertilizing with cottonseed meal. Is this also a good fertilizer for vegetables in Vermont? If so, how much should I use and when? — Barbara, Colchester

Cottonseed meal is a good fertilizer — just as long as you're using organic cottonseed meal. Cotton is a heavily-sprayed crop, so the non-organic kind might still harbor some pesticide residue. 

Being high in nitrogen, this works best for young plants, and blueberry bushes also like it. But if your soil is already rich in nutrients, you may not need to use a fertilizer at all!

Q: Can you please spare a few minutes to talk about soil management, specifically management of community gardens in Chittenden County. Many of them are on loamy sand like the one I manage. — Robert, Essex Junction

If your community garden has sandy soil, the best thing to do is to ask the town or whomever manages the community garden to get on board in your efforts to build up the soil. By adding plenty of healthy organic matter to the garden plot and building up the soil's nutrient value, everyone who plants veggies and flowers there will benefit. You can accomplish this by bringing in a couple of truckloads of compost and other organic matter — consider bringing in bags of leaves in the fall — and adding that to the entire garden plot. 

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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