As most of you know who follow this blog regularly we eat from our gardens from about April to the end of October. For the other 5 to 6 months of the year we eat predominately what we can in jars, freeze or dehydrate from those same gardens. We have found that plantings made at timed intervals, to mature at staggered dates, establish a continuous harvest over a long period. This makes it possible to eat fresh vegetables most of the spring and summer and even early into fall. In the picture above we have broccoli being harvested as well as younger broccoli plants for the next harvest. Once the older plants quit bearing they will be pulled up making way for a different crop and the younger plants will be ready to harvest. In mid July we will again plant a new crop of broccoli for picking in Early October.
Another trick..notice in the picture above how I have planted corn on the left side of this broccoli and there is a pea fence on the right side. By mid June the corn will be tall enough to help shade the broccoli which tends to prefer it a little cooler. The pea fence once harvest is complete will be planted with cucumbers again helping to shade the cooler loving plants once it covers the fence.
Having a thick mulch will also help to conserve moisture and shade the roots of the plants also helping them to withstand the hotter temperatures of summer. The mulch above is nothing more than grass clippings from the lawns.
The same practice applies to peas. It is the last day of May and the peas are being picked from our first planting of peas. These were planted just before St. Patrick's Day.
But on the other side of the garden are 2 more rows of young peas in a more shaded portion of the garden waiting to take their place producing not only meals with fresh peas but also peas to put in the freezer for later in the year. Between the rows of corn and the peas a row of mustard and lettuce has just come out and this row will be planted with horticulture beans. Once the peas are done they will be replaced with cucumbers to climb on the fencing.
And still yet a third planting of peas. A row of hybrid bush peas that are supposed to be more heat tolerant and also not require fencing. These are somewhat of a gamble and depend greatly on the weather. If it stays cooler for another month or so we will have peas. If not they will simply not make and be tilled into the soil to enrich it. Some years that gamble pays off and some years it doesn't. Welcome to gardening!
Like with so many crops corn is planted successively also. We like planting earlier because the later corn tends to be more bothered by worms. Again we have corn about 4 foot high in the smaller garden shading the broccoli and cool weather crops that are still in the ground.
Then in the summer garden we again have 3 rows of corn only a few inches high as a second crop. And for all of you who always comment about how weed free my gardens always are. SEE I HAVE WEEDS TOO!! But hopefully not for long I just don't hoe as fast as I used to..
With just a little forethought and ingenuity your harvest can be extended from last frost date to first frost of fall and beyond. Over the years we have learned that these areas of fertile land are indeed prime real estate. By keeping the crops rotating in and out we can keep our family and to an extent our animals fed most of the year. We try to take advantage of every square inch. When a crop is not being grown a cover crop is.
What do you plant successively?
Blessings from The Holler