There are two main reasons I like harvesting crops from the Free-Ride garden. First, it means we’ll have yummy, super-fresh fruits and vegetables to eat. And second, it often means we’re freeing up space to plant another crop.
Even in Northern California, where it is said we have “climate” rather than “weather,” there are crops that are seasonal. We are definitely past the “spring” planting season, and some of the spring crops are really looking happy.
For example, our peas.
As I mentioned yesterday, I planted two varieties, sugar-snap peas (whose pods are meant to be eaten) and shelling peas. The problem is, I forgot which variety I planted in which space. In the course of trying to work it out from the pea pods each plant was producing, I discovered that the pods of our shelling peas are also sweet enough to eat.
Peas are nice to plant because they tend to enrich the soil (so they’re good in a crop rotation after a light- or heavy-feeder). Also, they make good use of vertical space, leaving more garden bed surface area for other plantings.
My better half suggested that a cucumber plant could be coaxed to grow vertically, too. So far, so good.
And while I was thinking vertically:
Although I usually grow bush beans, I decided to try growing pole beans this season. Like peas, beans tend to enrich the soil. I’ve put the pole beans in areas that used to be growing carrots and lettuces.
There are actually some spring-sown leaf lettuces growing in the shade of the pea vines. Even though they’re still small, I think we’ll need to harvest them soon. When it gets hot, our lettuces “bolt” — that is, they start acting like plants rather than leaves, and they fill up with a bitter-tasting white liquid reminiscent of the alien blood from the Alien movies.
We planted a seedling that is likely to be a sure thing:
I think you need to actively salt the earth not to end up with an excess of zucchini. That’s fine with me. Between grilling them, roasting them with garlic and olive oil, putting them into zucchini bread, or risotto, or frittata, I’ve got a lot I can do with a tasty summer squash.
Speaking of squash, I built up some squash hills where our garlic patch used to be and planted seeds for butternut squash, delicata squash, and sugar-pie pumpkins. I’ve never grown a winter squash to completion, so I’m not sure if these will work, but each of the squash hills now has sprouts.
I also have some tomato seedlings chugging along. Some have even set fruit, though none of it shows signs of ripening yet. Indoors, I have more tomato seedlings I started from seed. I’m a bit worried that I may have started them too late — maybe they won’t be big enough to transplant outside before the end of the tomato growing season. I’m in a similar situation with the pepper seedlings I started indoors. The okra seedlings, however, look like they’ll be big enough to handle the outdoors in a week or two.
Finally, we have an eggplant seedling. I’ve been told to expect that the eggplant seedling will get munched by the garden pests that would otherwise be munching on my tomato plants. I guess improving the odds for the tomatoes is a good thing … but I’d really like to grow some eggplant, too!
Tomorrow: a status report on the fruit trees.