BACKYARD VEGGIE GARDEN - PART 4
The fourth in a series of posts about creating your own organic backyard vegetable garden.
SPRING SOWING + HARVESTING
We are now in the month of September and it has been a wild season for growing food! It all started with sowing seeds in the spring. Having purchased certified organic and mainly open-pollinated or heirlooms varieties from Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Territorial Seeds we set out to make our edible garden for the year. We planted seeds directly into the soil towards the end of March and we got smacked in the face pretty hard with a week of freezing weather in April. So much for the last frost date being the 2nd week of March in Port Orchard, WA. Needless to say we lost many of our newly sprouted seeds and some of them rotted in the ground. These things happen when it comes to growing your own food and we simply replanted new seeds and waited impatiently for new sprouts. We also attempted transplanting some small starts from indoors we had grown under lights in our garage. The red cabbage transplanted well but we lost almost all of our tomatoes.
Intercropping is a method of growing multiple types of vegetables near to each other for the benefit of a better harvest. For the most part we free flowed this part of our food production plan. We tried to plant certain plants like tomatoes and peppers in areas that they would get tons of summer sun and other plants like lettuce and spinach that like cooler spots we planted elsewhere. In each vegetable bed we ended up planted 2-3 different types of plants together. We also threw in some flowering plants for beneficial insects such as lavender and marigolds.
Spring and Summer Harvests
During the spring we were flush with the most deliciously sweet snap peas called Austrian Snow Peas. We were able to eat these multiple days per week and would pick them almost every other day. We also had a good crop of lettuce from the middle of spring up until today. Lettuce and spinach are a great food that you can pinch and twist the tops off and after a week or so they will have fully grown back. You can repeat this process for months. Our beloved spinach never did well this year and our thinking is that it is due to how hot it has been. They like cooler weather. Last night we harvested red and purple potatoes, red cabbage, spaghetti squash, and jalapeno peppers. Our cucumbers are finally growing and as soon as they are ready they will be eaten on the spot! We also ate as quickly as they grew our delicious raspberries and blueberries. We look forward to trying out the watermelons that are underway as well as the hundreds of tomatoes that are ripening as we speak!
One of the keys to success we have found is that it is very important to sow seeds every few weeks for crops that you will eat regularly such as spinach, lettuce, greens of all sorts, cucumbers, etc. In this manner you will have steady crops that ripen a few weeks apart providing you the most days possible for harvesting and filling those bodies with healthy, organic, and tasty home grown produce!