AS the days are now beginning to
lengthen, I have begun to think ahead to the coming growing season in the
vegetable garden: what to grow and ways to really maximize the area we have set
aside this year for our fresh veg.
Most of us tend to plant in straight
rows with areas of bare soil in between. However, if you think about it these
spaces are totally non-productive. The only thing that tends to grow in them
are weeds, which you either have to remove by hand or with a hoe – a tedious
and back breaking job. So, to avoid most of that pain why not plant some faster
growing crops in between the rows of much slower growing vegetable plants. This
saves loads of cash and doubles your yield.
The advantages of this method are you
will harvest the fast growing crop first, long before the slower crop has
reached maturity. You will also have eliminated most of those nasty unwanted
weeds and kept the soil shaded from the worst of the Sun’s heat. This in turn
will help to maintain the moisture level around the roots.
If you want to try this method you
need to be aware roughly how long your chosen “fast growing crops” will take to
mature. This is hardly an exact science these days due to our ever changing
climate but here are a few ideas and some average cropping times.
to 18 weeks
to 12 weeks
Mixed salad leaves
to 12 weeks
Baby beetroot leaves
to 10 weeks
to 9 weeks
to 8 weeks
to 18 weeks
So for example, you could plant rows
of slow growers such as potatoes, cauliflower, peas, cabbage, silverbeet,
onions and garlic, broad beans, runner or French beans, Italian peppers and
root vegetables and interplant with quickies such as spinach, rocket, carrots,
beetroot, mixed leaves lettuce and radish.
By the time you pick your first
crops, the slowies will have bulked up and their leaves will be beginning to
cover the spaces that remain and will cover the soil in a very short time.
Now, when you finally crop the
slower plants you can plant more quickies and start the cycle all over again.
This gives you an extended and much more productive picking season than you
will have imagined possible.
Instead of planting in rows you can
also plant in blocks or groups. Using this method you can plant each block more
closely together, which, if you have limited space, means you can get more
plants per square metre. As you harvest you can re-sew with quick crop plants,
not forgetting if you only have a small outside space you can still eat well
from pots planted with salads, carrots, potatoes, peas and wonderful herbs.
Once they have cropped, simply replace them with another fast grower.
Bye for now