scaling up...efficiency tricks?
We moved last year and I'm now able to have larger vegetable/fruit plots. I'm by no means "large scale" (~2500 sqft), but it's a bigger toy box than what I had before ~(200 sqft). So to me, I'm "scaling up".
I've gotten decent at growing the stuff, but I'm starting to feel that I should be thinking more "industrial" in my techniques and become more efficient. Rely a little more on the hoe and a little less on hands if you know what I mean.
So, for those who have already made this evolution, what are the most important techniques you've learned to help make you efficient enough to keep up? Some of the things I currently do to save time/work:
- direct seed what I can (to avoid extra potting/care of starts)
- automate whatever I can (e.g., watering)
- plant intensively (to shade/suppress weeds)
- nurture the soil structure (to make weeding easy)
- get the most I can out of a single plant (e.g., lots of harvesting outer leaves of greens)
- lean more towards freezable than need-to-can foods for the surplus crops
I still find myself thinking that I'm doing several things "the hard way". Not that I don't enjoy all the time gardening...I just want to be more efficient (plus the wife keeps throwing more home improvement projects at me...ugh).
So what's on your short list of time savers? What corners are worth cutting? How can I shave time off of the steadily-growing gardening chores?
Who am I kidding? I know full well that increased efficiency will just lead to larger plots, not less time. :)
P.S.: I've already tried mulch as a source of weed control. I live in the soggy Pacific Northwest, though, and that quickly becomes a haven for slugs. I'd rather fight weeds than slugs.