It doesn’t matter what size of garden you’re tending. Whether a few containers on your patio/deck or a 4000 square foot food storage garden, the key to being truly successful is…
Just keep planting.
This year, as you gathered from my last posting has been a struggle. And at times, it’s been hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But let me encourage you with this.
Success will come if you just keep planting.
You will lose crops.
This year I’ve lost 20 Brussels Sprout, 15 Sweet Pepper, 4 Tomato, 3 Okra, 5 Broccoli, and multiple onion, beet, celery, kale and bean plants. I lost an entire 40 foot row of sweet potatoes and almost all of my winter squash. I know, it’s hard to imagine being hopeful about the garden when you hear statistics like that. But here’s the thing. In the places I lost those vegetables, I planted new ones.
There are some things to consider when replanting your garden. So stop pouting, tighten your boot straps, take the bull by the horns, jump back in the saddle (insert any other motivational line here) and start thinking about the following things.
- How much time do I have before my average first fall frost?
- What crops do I wish I had more of?
- Can I inter crop a different vegetable with some of the ones that weren’t destroyed?
- What didn’t I plant this year that I would enjoy a harvest of?
- Do I have to remove the plants that are there or will they regrow?
- Does this crop grow well in cool weather?
01| Cucumbers were planted where my sweet potatoes were dying.
I had two rows of sweets. One was planted near a row of tomatoes with the intentions of it vining out underneath the tomato plants, helping to mulch under them in a sense. In this row, I haven’t replanted in expectation of my tomatoes crowding out the space. However, in my other sweet potato row, I placed a couple cucumber seeds in between the plants. The idea is the cucumbers can grow vertical on a trellis and if the sweet potatoes survived they could vine out underneath. It is a heavily amending garden space being an old horse pasture so I’m not concerned with there being a lack of nutrients to support both crops. If I was, I could amend with some additional Trifecta Plus or liquid fertilizer.
02| I re-sowed seeds where they once were.
In the spaces where beets, beans and kale had disappeared, I simply replanted beets, beans and kale. This time I protected them against the rabbits and sprayed some neem oil to keep the flea beetles at bay until they were big enough to not be as affected by them.
03| The celery, like the sweet potatoes, I left exactly where it was and waited for it to regrow.
Most of it came back, some of it didn’t. Celery grows out from a central point at the base of the plant. Picture the hunk of celery you lob off the end of a bundle when you purchase it from the store. If left in the ground, if that base is still intact, more celery will grow from that point. In the places where it didn’t regrow, I have left bare as of now. I think I’ll just leave the extra space for the plants that made it, to fill out a bit more.
04| Some things may be even better planted and harvested later in the season.
Then, we came to the Brussels Sprouts. This devastated me for a bit as I was looking forward to finally having space in the new pasture garden to grow loads of these babies. Here’s the thing about Brussels Sprouts they taste better if harvested after a few frosts. In fact, here in Minnesota Zone 4, I have left mine in the garden through the fall and into winter and as long as they haven’t frozen and thawed, continued to harvest them until the snow buried them to deep to find.
So, I checked how many days I had until I felt they wouldn’t have much chance of sizing up and I had about 100 days. Remember, this is taking into consideration the fact that they will grow well in cool weather. I took a chance and replanted seed directly into the garden. Time will tell if this experiment will work.
05| Onions. I planted some of my random leftover onion seedlings in so many empty places in the garden.
Here’s the thing. Onions, here in the north, need a certain amount of days before the days get long to grow enough greens to produce a large bulb. Many of the onions I planted late may not have had enough time. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t plant onions. The worst that will happen is I’ll have a bunch of gorgeous small onions or green onions to use fresh or dehydrate and use through the winter. I could also choose to leave them in the ground and let them regrow in the spring for a very early harvest of bulb onion. This year I harvested beautiful bulb onions in May. Very few Minnesota gardeners can saw they had a full onion harvest that early in the spring.
06| I planted an early producing Cauliflower where the peppers once were.
Cutworms ate off almost all of the pepper plants I was growing in the pasture garden. Note to self… when starting a new garden where pasture has been for 100 plus years, protect your plants from pests of all kinds. Take my advice, and thank me later.
I hadn’t allotted space to grow any Cauliflower this year and in hopes that maybe it will start to form heads when the weather begins to cool, I sowed some seeds for a fall harvest of Cauliflower. In the summer heat, yes it actually gets hot in South Central Minnesota, Cauliflower heads will bolt very early on producing a small harvest. So here’s hoping the timing for this will be right.
In addition to all these new plantings, I’ve also seeded more lettuce in the shade of larger plants, Swiss chard, fall carrots, peas and more summer squash. All of these crops filled in some large and small spaces in the garden that either didn’t germinate properly the first time around or fell prey to nature.
So if you are experiencing like many of other gardeners are around the country this year and you’ve found yourself discouraged and longing for a good harvest. Just keep planting. If I can still plant here in the short growing season we in Minnesota experience, you can to. Not sure what will do well in your area planted now? Ask those around you who have successful gardens, or you can always look up who the local Master Gardeners are in your area. They are a fantastic resource for information.
Moral of the story: plant more seeds.
And don’t forget to water them.