This is the first of many episodes we will share over the next few months on the topic of garden planning. Right now it is the beginning of December and it may seem a bit early to start thinking about planning your garden for next season. No matter how simple or comprehensive your garden plan will be, these episodes will be here for you to revisit as many times as you'd like over the coming months and seasons to help you devise an intricate plan or simply serve as an inspiration for future projects.
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In this episode, we discuss:
Lifespan of annual crops
Days to maturity
Regardless of your prior experience, knowing more about the life span and growth cycle of your crops will help you make decisions about what to plant, when to plant it, and how much of it to plant.
I like to break annual crops into 4 different categories: Short season, half season, long season, and super long season.
Short season crops can be grown from seed or from transplants and are usually ready to harvest in 20-60 days. Since they grow quickly, you can plant these crops several times over the course of the year. Examples include arugula, cilantro, lettuce, radishes and spinach.
Half season crops take roughly half of a typical growing season to reach maturity. They usually reach maturity in 50-80 days. Examples of half season crops are bush beans, carrots, beets and many Brassica crops like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Long season crops take around 70-120 days to reach maturity. In some climates, that's almost the entire growing season. Examples include melons, peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes and winter squash.
Then there are the super long season crops. Super long season crops tend to be planted in the fall and are harvested the following summer. As an example, garlic is typically planted in late fall and then harvested the following June or July, so the crop may be in the garden for up to 9 months.
Plant crops with similar lifespans together.
How a crop is harvested will effect how long it will remain in the garden.
Below: The first shows the empty half of the raised bed after the onions and garlic (see top photo) were harvested. The remaining photos show how the empty portion of the bed was planted with half-season crops after the onions and garlic were pulled.
Heard on the Episode:
“For me, one super helpful concept is to simply plant crops with similar lifespans together. If you plant an entire bed with half season crops like bush beans, cauliflower, carrots and beets, you may be able to harvest all of these crops within a few weeks of each other mid-season. Opening up an entire bed will make it easier to properly prepare the soil for a new planting. ” - Hilary Dahl
“Once you understand crop lifespan and harvesting, [garden planning] actually pretty approachable. I consider myself a garden ninja now, packing as many crops one after another that I can into my small space.” - Kellie Phelan
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