Planting the Kitchen Garden

First off, and I cannot stress this enough, growing a successful food garden isn’t as easy as it looks in all those how-to videos and articles. That is why I say, start now – and keep experimenting.

It is a little late to plant for Spring. With six-weeks to go, Summer heat is descending amid the fruit blossoms of our permaculture garden. The irrigation system needs attention, last week. Peas, lettuce and any other cool weather crop will bolt before they produce now. My favorite brand of lazy gardening – plant and forget till harvest – is not possible in these “hot as an oven” summers, and mostly fantasy, anyway.

Domestic cats love loose garden soil, all turned nicely and ready for the planting. Their deposits of scat kill anything that survived the clawing dislodge of carefully planted seedlings. The chickens kick out any mulch covered areas, hunting for bugs and tasty seedlings – often my new veggie starts.

But there is room on the deck for a few planting containers for the veggie annuals that grow in Summer, and it may be our new technique to keep cats out of the larger pots will work, too. So the experiment continues.

Each year, planting a food garden is a new experiment. And because the micro-climate in your backyard will change, sometimes wildly, from year to year it will always be an experiment to grow a successful garden. The more experience you have trying to grow food in your garden, the higher your likelihood of success.

So, if you’ve ever thought of growing a food garden… don’t wait. Don’t finish reading this. Find some bit of earth and do this thing. Whatever you do, don’t give up!

If you are unsure what to plant because of the season or weather, there are two things you can do. First, go to your local garden center and look around. Chances are, the selection they have out for the season will do alright in your locale. Ask advice from their friendly staff.

Another option is a lot like the first, relying as it does on the garden center selection – but without the bother of asking… just read the little tags and buy whatever seems appropriate. Then buy twice as much as you think – especially if this is your first time.

Don’t skimp on the soil amendments either. Your topsoil needs about 2″ of organic matter added every six-months. This is called mulching. Good garden soil is alive and needs this organic matter to feed your plants. If you have a big area to mulch, consider calling a horse stables or mushroom farm for “composted” (at least one-year-old) manure w/shavings or, respectively, bull-whooey. Call ahead for details, but most facilities will give this brown garden gold away if you bring an empty pickup truck.

And if you are at a real loss about what to plant in your food garden, start with your favorite fruit tree. As it grows, plant perennial herbs around the tree to create a foundation for your planting beds. Then fill in with edible companions to those herbs.

More on permaculture planting later… as I have to get out in garden today. I know you understand…


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