Monday, June 10, 2013

Spring Harvest and Summer Plantings

   It has been a very busy spring leaving little time for blogging. The cool weather stayed on well into May, and pushed the main season crop planting about a month later than usual. In some places, like the beds of winter wheat above, I had to wait for the sun's ripening heat to harvest the over wintering cover crops, or, in the case of rye, the grain heads to go into the pollen stage to chop them into mulch. In others, the ground was simply not warm enough for the spring veggies to take off. But this weather has been great for greens. We have been enjoying daily salads and the main bulk of our lettuce has not even been harvested yet. We are going to have to find someone to share it with, because with temps climbing into the 90's this week, it's going to bolt really fast.

After a winter cover of cereal rye and hairy vetch are cut down into mulch and decomposed for a couple weeks, my Three Sisters beds are planted. Here is Cherokee white flour corn, Selma Zesta pole beans and Princess pumpkins, all planted from seeds saved the previous year.
  Managing a continuous garden can have unforeseen challenges. I like to try new things and it is easy to lose focus and get sidetracked. For instance, I had bought some discounted organic potatoes from the grocery store and decided to plant some in my garden when they started to sprout in early spring. They were doing very well, until heavy rains and warm weather brought the first signs of early blight on a couple plants. I fixed a horsetail tea spray, and this seemed to halt the spread temporarily. But as the spring continued, I realized that I was going to have to baby these plants with regular applications if I wanted a mature crop. So I decided to go ahead and harvest them as new potatoes and plant my relatively care free specialty, the Three Sisters, in their place. The potatoes had broken up the soil nicely and the bed still had plenty of compost mulch that the soil had not finished "eating", plus the leaves and stems of the potato plants that were returned to it. And since the focus on my garden is on heirloom grains grown in polyculture, (there is currently no one at my local farmer's market selling this, so it is also a business goal) I decided to assign the potatoes the function of support crop, like a weed suppressing cover with the harvested new potatoes as icing on the cake. And that was some yummy icing! We ate them almost every day and they were gone in a week. Also, I do have a second bed of later planted potatoes growing with rye and vetch that seem to be escaping the blight, and three of the kids have some in their hugelkultur beds that were planted even later along with tansy. So we may end up with a good harvest, all from about $4 worth of discounted spuds. Here's to good eating- past, present and future!
Our anniversary breakfast made from our own hens' eggs and our homegrown new potatoes.


  1. Love that you have grain! Wish we had room for that. Great idea to stick 3 sisters in as a filler when crops fail early. That egg and potato dish looks like the potato omelets I used to eat one summer in Spain.

  2. Thanks, Eliza! If you have any annual beds, grains are a great winter cover, even for small spots. (although you might give your neighbors false hopes that you going to grow grass, lol). Grown as green manure, along with a legume like hairy vetch or crimson clover, they can be chopped down in the pollen stage, which is when they are at maximum biomass, above and below ground.(the extension agent who informed me about cover crops didn't tell me this) Or, you can let them mature to seed and use the straw for mulch and either add compost or grow light feeders next in the bed. Cindy Connor of Homeplace Earth has some very good resources for southern gardeners using John Jeavons' Biointensive methods.
    When I lived with my folks, we had a Spanish exchange student teach us how to make omelets. She fried potatoes and onions together, added egg, then deftly flipped it onto a plate and slid it back into the skillet to cook the other side. Great for a tapa!

  3. Sara, I love all you're doing there at your farm! You've actually taught us a lot! Love you!