Monday, July 11, 2011

Thinning and staggering

Mike and I were talking about how there are many people, who after years of gardening, just plant a garden in the spring and eat from it in the summer. If that is how gardening was for me, it would be really boring. Our basic approach is to keep learning as much as we can and then experiment with what we grow and how we  grow it each year. This year I am really feeling the benefits of two things I have been learning about in past years, thinning and staggering.

My parents used to thin their garden as necessary (usually peas over planted by children), but not as a mater of course. That was how Mike and I started. Now I deliberately over-plant things like beets, peas, and greens and then thin when the shoots are delicious, keeping the best plants with ideal spacing. That means my crop is better, but it also means I have a lot to eat this time of year.  My favorite at the moment is beet greens - the baby beet plants.I use them in all types of salads for more color and flavor, and use them like spinach in any dish that has cooked greens. Last night for supper beet greens were cooked into our panini and were the greens base for a bean salad.

I have also really benefited from learning to stagger crops. We are currently picking and eating beans, for example, and because of staggering, I will have yellow and purple beans all summer long, even before my climbing broad beans are ripe in August. The same will be true with new beet greens, chard etc.

Currently eating:
  • rhubarb
  • strawberries
  • saskatoons
  • all herbs (oregano, basil, sage, chives, rosemary, mint)
  • romaine, spinach, chard, beet greens
  • beans
  • green onions
  • cucumbers
Currently blooming
  • bleeding hearts
  • day lily (orange)
  • yellow asian lily
  • nasturtium
  • sun flower
  • roses
  • bell flower (purple, white, tall white)
  • yellow and white daisy
  • ground covers (8 types)
  • peppers
  • pumpkins
  • cucumbers
  • squashes
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • purple sage
  • yarrow

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