Dream of living the good life but don’t have room to grow everything you want? Don’t despair, there are ways to make any plot more productive.

Scottish Gardener:

Plants need warmth and light so pick the sunniest spot in the garden for veg and then stretch the growing season by using cloches, cold frames and other forms of protection to warm up the soil early, keep frost off tender plants and continue cropping late into autumn.

Plant pumpkins on the compost heap, where the heat generated by the break-down of waste will help them to ripen, or adopt the Hugelkultur method of growing vegetables. This involves piling up logs and branches, filling the gaps between them with leaves and grass clippings, then finishing off with a layer of soil. The decaying wood will provide heat, nutrients and moisture for growing plants.

Scottish Gardener:

You can pack more produce into a deep-filled raised bed than you can into a conventional veg garden, but you can also increase the planting area on the ground by gently mounding up the soil. You can also transform an area of grass into space for vegetable growing by covering the ground with cardboard and heaping soil on top.

Plant pocket systems are available that will turn vertical surfaces into productive growing space, but you can create your own with a bit of DIY know-how, fixing batons to walls and hanging containers from these.

Squash and pumpkins can be persuaded to grow up sturdy supports, freeing up space at ground level, and there are also climbing varieties of courgette. Just make sure that you plant these where they won’t shade lower-crowing crops.

Scottish Gardener:

Compost in raised beds and containers can dry out quickly and when that happens it can be difficult to rewet, while clay can set like concrete during dry spells and free-draining soil can remain bone-dry even after a downpour. Adding organic material will improve moisture retention but there are other techniques you can use too, including hoeing the top layer of soil to break the capillary action that pulls moisture out of the ground or mulching with grass clippings, home-made compost or even gravel.

Inter-crop slow growing veg with fast foods such as lettuce and radishes, or plant in triangles instead of rows. Raising crops this way has shown to increase yields by 10% or more.

Scottish Gardener:

Turn a raised bed into a powerhouse for produce by converting to the Square Food method. Use thin strips of wood or plastic to create a frame, divided into sections each measuring one square foot, and fit this over the top of the raised bed, then plant different crops in each segment. The idea is to pack as much as possible into the space, replanting afresh every time one of the squares is harvested.

If you are going to take more out of you veg-growing space then you are going to have to put more into the soil. Home-made compost and well-rotted manure are the basis of good growth but you can also feed growing crops by making nutrient-rich liquid feeds from seaweed, nettles and comfrey.