1. Always sow small batches of direct sown seeds bi-weekly, tri-weekly or monthly to insure a continuous harvest.
2. Or, plant two different varieties that mature at different times on the same day.
3. With many plants, as they approach maturity, plant other plants between them that won’t interfere until they are bigger, by which time the original plants will be gone
4. The same day you remove a plant from your garden, put another one in its place.
Allow me to illustrate-starting with the first concept in this column. (I’ll discuss the others in future columns.)
Let’s start now with the plants we already have in the ground- your root crops; carrots, radishes, beets and parsnips. Plant a short row of carrots this week. Next week, plant a short row of beets. In the third week, plant a row of parsnips. If you like radishes (I don’t), do a short row of them in week four. Now is the time to plant another row of carrots. By doing this, about the time you have eaten all your carrots from the first planting, the second planting will be getting ready to eat. Now in the sixth week, another row of beets. To add some variety, sow a row of lettuces or other salad greens.
Here is. one other option – if you love carrots you might want to do a row of them every week throughout the winter. If you don’t like radishes, skip them and grow more of the others.
If you don’t want to plant every week, plant two varieties of carrots – one that matures in 55 days (Lunar White is one), another that matures in 65 days (say, Cosmic Purple) and Danvers Half-Long (75 days). And do that every fourth week, for as long as you will be getting cool weather for two months. In my part of town, that means I can sow carrots up through March-April.
The same thing can be done with all the root crops.
If you want to pickle carrots, you’ll have to sow a large amount to be harvested at the same time in addition to the weekly sowing you will eat (or juice) fresh. Sow a whole block of carrots (you can do beets too – I have a great pickled beet recipe!) at one time for pickling. Another tip to get a good carrot harvest is to use vermiculite to cover the seeds. Carrot seeds are very small and most of our soils crust over as they dry out entombing the carrot seeds. Vermiculite does not crust and holds moisture next to the seeds to boot, which is another good thing. Vermiculite itself is not harmful, however, it is invariably found near asbestos and often a bag of vermiculite contains asbestos residue so please cover your mouth and nose with a decent mask that filters asbestos when you use vermiculite.
The remaining keys will be divulged in future DIRT columns.
Wishing you and yours a joyous and celebratory season and the best New Year ever!
Grandson of a Great Plains farmer, David King is the Garden Master at the Learning Garden, on the campus of Venice High School He shares his love of the land and music through teaching, writing and playing in a folk/country band Contact: greenteach@roadrunnercom