HINTON, Iowa | If you build it, they will come. if you plant it, they will come even faster.
That's why Nathan Howe -- a classically-trained chef who has worked at The Diving Elk, The Blue Cafe and Alton, Iowa's Sfumato -- has turned in his serving fork for a gardening fork.
A graduate of Boulder, Colorado's Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and the mastermind behind Nate's Farm in Hinton, Iowa will be profiled in Wednesday's Sioux City Journal.
Even though Howe has access to more than 50 acres on his family's Century Farm, he uses less than one acre for his crops of veggies. The reason is because he uses a form of SPIN (Small Plot Intensive) gardening for his crops of lettuce, tomatoes and other popular forms of produce.
In other words, you can grow great crops with little land.
Indeed, Common Sense Homesteading offers tips on how you can grow a bumper crop even if your garden is located on then balcony of your apartment building.
Here are their top five tips for small gardens and big yields.
1. Plant an edible yard
Why don't grow food instead of grass. Edible plants that look great as landscape include rhubarb, lettuce, beets and strawberries.
2. Be inviting to pollinators
If you're planting a garden first time, it's crucial to create a habitat that invites pollinators. Mix in a few flowers with your veggies. that will draw in the pollinators and add a punch of color.
3. Create depth with dirt
If your land is flat, create more soil surface by creating dimension with a mound. This will immediately increase your yield.
4. Fertilize and, then, fertilize some more
Plants deplete nutrients at a faster rate in a small garden. Be sure to add organic compost, top-dress soil regularly. Remember: healthy soil promotes healthy plants and healthy plants provide better nutrition and can resist pests and disease more easily.
5. Maximize with high yield veggies
Have one square foot of gardening space? Then, stay away from cabbage, broccoli or any crop that only contribute one harvest. Instead, opt for high-yielding plants like radishes, garlic, onion or any vertically-growing plants.