VIG stands for Very Intensive Growing. It is our method of getting the maximum yield for the maximum time from every square foot of space in our garden/farm. We accomplish this by:
Season extension. Through the use of “high tunnel” greenhouse structures, we can extend the growing season many weeks early in the spring and many weeks late in the fall. Crops that most consider “summer” vegetables, such as tomatoes, we routinely grow thru Thanksgiving. By utilizing deep mulch and shade cloth, we often have “cool crops” such as spinach or cauliflower well into the summer.
Intensive planting. By interplanting crops, we often have two or even three vegetables growing in the same space at the same time. In between our tomatoes you will find basil; under our broccoli you can often find carrots or radishes. The traditional “Three Sisters” is a perfect example: beans planted at the base of sweet corn use the corn stalks as trellis, while squash planted around the corn surround it with leaves, crowding out weeds and conserving moisture.
Variety selection. How is it that Midwest states, with very hot summers and very short growing seasons, can grow “cool weather” crops? The answer lies in variety selection. Even though they should have been killed by late frosts (often into June!) and then baked by the July sun, broccoli, cauliflower, and many other “cool” crops are successfully grown when the proper varieties are chosen. These are perfectly adapted to our Tennessee climate!
Irrigation. We have invested thousands of dollars in irrigation, which, combined with our deep mulch, assures all of our fruits and vegetables have sufficient moisture even during drought conditions. When other farmers marvel at our summer success, I always ask “How much do you irrigate?” The answer is always the same-“None.” Water is the poor man’s fertilizer. If your plants don’t have adequate water, they won’t produce. It’s that simple.