No-one can forget the flavour of their first organically grown, juicy red strawberry. Likewise the tangy greenness of home-grown spinach or the satiating, sweet first slice of fresh tomato.
Planning can be half the fun, and can make for great family time choosing together the food that will fill baskets in a couple of months. There are a number of considerations when it comes to picking what will be best.
Every garden will be a little different to suit appetites and available care time:
- trailing plants that take up a lot of room like pumpkins or cantaloupe should be grown at the edge of a smaller garden where possible
- it is best financially to choose plants that are expensive to buy at the grocery store or that are difficult to find
- grow favourite vegetables (and fruit like strawberries) that are wonderful when grown organically and best when freshly picked
- pick plants that aren’t too much trouble (ie. iceberg lettuce requires a lot of special care)
Two or more crops can be grown in the same space at the same time. Rambling, leafy trailers from plants like watermelons, pumpkins and cantaloupes can be grown around the base of compatible plants like corn. Their large leaves can act to retain moisture in the soil they are shading. Similarly, marigolds can be grown through potatoes or other compatible vegetables to discourage pests like plant specific worms.
A variation of this technique is sequential cropping, where two or more crops are grown in sequence on the same field in one year. The succeeding crop is planted after the first is harvested. Leaf lettuce can be planted early, for example, and as it is used up or dies off, more lettuce can be planted throughout the season. Peas like cooler weather and can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked. They are finished in early summer, and another crop may be planted at that time in that space that doesn’t take long to mature. Two heat tolerant varieties of lettuce are Romaine and Salad Bowl.
Experimentation is Fun
Don’t be afraid to try non-traditional greens. Kale is actually tastiest after the first frost. Sorrel is a perennial, and one that you can rely on to spread even if initially you can only afford 1 plant. It adds a tart, lemony flavour to salads. Mamenia, or Leaf Turnip handles being cut and harvested very well. Mustard greens spice up any dish. Chard is good as a spinach substitute and will produce all season.