Monday, September 19, 2016

Patient Garden: Next Year

I'm planning next year's crops. Really, I'm always planning next year's crops.

Right now, I'm plotting to increase the space devoted to crops that fit two categories:

(1) Crops that are flexible about harvest time, that store for a long time, that I will actually eat. For me, this category is dominated by alliums. Garlic, shallots, potato onions, bulb onions (both overwintering and main-season.) All the oniony things that dry down into nice storable roots. But if the parch corn and the Candystick delicatas are a success this year, they will also be in this category. Potatoes would be in this category if I could solve the problem of weeding. I have a tentative scheme for that that I may post about sometime.

(2) Impatient quick-growing crops that I will eat. This is mainly lettuce and various greens grown for baby leaves, but may also include radishes, baby beets, and...well, probably other things. While there's always a risk that I won't catch these at the right time to eat them, their quick-growing nature limits the loss if a gamble fails.

I'm trying to grow less of:

(3) Long-season crops that are impatient about harvest. Tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini, sweet corn, snap beans, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and any number of others take a good long time to produce, and if you're not there to eat the product, you've wasted that ground for that season. 

We will be growing some crops in category 3, because we love snap beans and Armenian cucumbers and it's hard to imagine growing a big garden and not having any tomatoes. So I'll try to grow the least impatient cultivars. 

Armenian cucumbers are already pretty good--they seem to bounce back nicely after oversized fruits have been removed. Last year's dryfarmed Early Girls held for a very long time on the plant, and another very long time in the house. I've read that Fortex beans have a pretty long edible period, from tiny strings to long long beans.

(I feel as if I've already written most of that last paragraph. But I don't see that I've posted it. Hmm.)

So the category 3 crops will probably consist of:
  • Two fairly conventionally grown beds of tomatoes, each with one Early Girl and one Sungold, in tomato cages that I hope might hold them up a little. The two beds will be as far apart as I can reasonably get them, on the theory that if one of them catches something the other one won't. I'll plant them dryfarm style, but I'll water them unless next year is an extra droughty year.
  • Blue Lake bush beans by the left-hand fence. The fence gets shady earlier than some parts of the garden, but I've found that beans seem to embrace just a little shade. And last year's beans didn't get as much water as they wanted, and I don't want to give them much more, so the shade might close that gap.
  • Fortex beans, also by that fence. I'm going to pound in some rebar near the other side of their bed and string something--strings? Netting? Wire? Chicken wire?--across, to support the beans.
  • Blue Lake pole beans, supported like the Fortex.
  • Two beds of Armenian cucumbers, each with two plants. Even when the plants are in temporary shutdown due to oversized fruits, four plants will likely give me plenty of cucumbers. Of course, when they're not in shutdown, four plants will give me enough cucumbers to feed the town. So. Hm.
Um. That seems to be all.

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