AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Garden Updates - Mid Summer DATE: 8/18/2008 06:46:00 AM ----- BODY:
My summer crops have just come into full swing and I’m thinking about the fall plantings. I’ve made the same mistakes in years past – planting the lettuces and cooking greens after Labor Day. I’ve barely made a salad before the first snow comes and ends my growing season. This year will be different!

Gardeners and farmers must think about the next season in the middle of the current. Most plants have at least a 60 day cycle from seed to harvest. While farmers have the luxury of acres of land (and therefore, can appropriately rotate crops through different fields), urban gardeners must carefully plan for the entire year, not just each season, in order to maximize the space. Before the spring crops bolt, the summer crops have gone in the ground. And when the summer crops are in full force, fall seeds are planted.

So my first challenge is to determine where to plant. The spring crops were very tidy. I planted a row of lettuce, and they pretty much confined themselves within a few inches on either side of the row – leaving ample room for the coveted summer vegetables. And let’s be honest, when it comes time to plant the summer tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and squashes, I get a bit zealous, planting as much as my yard can manage. I’m always surprised by how much they grow, and the boscage leaves little room for the fall crops.

Suffice it to say, I need to clear away something to make room for the lettuces. First out: the zucchini. I sowed about 20 seeds, hoping to get a few zucchini. So far, I’ve had nothing… though plenty of squash blossoms. And I’ve had my fill out squash blossoms. Next out: kohlrabi. I had planted 20 of those, too. As hard as I tried, spraying organic pesticide once a week, the aphids decimated at least half the plants. Of the remaining, only two plants showed promise of reaching maturity. The “mid-season” peas came out, too… the first batch were stringy, so it seems silly to take up precious space for a vegetable that will likely end up in the compost bin.

What's been spared: The tomatoes and eggplant continue to proliferate. And the Brussels sprouts, happily growing in the back corner, won’t be ready until Thanksgiving. The cucumber sprawl produced its first 3 this week, and I expect many more in the coming weeks. I will likely have enough to make pickles - an exciting prospect! And the chilies inconspicuously grow in the front.

On the docket for fall: arugula, mizuna, tatsoi and broccoli raab.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:8/18/2008 03:54:00 PM Whew -- at least your tomatoes have been spared! I love broccoli rabe and will wait to see what interesting recipes you develop for using it. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:8/19/2008 08:47:00 AM Lydia, No Kidding! The tomatoes are the main reason for a garden... everything else is just filler :) ----- --------