|Aerial-like view. Taken late July, early August.|
We started gardening in our front yard in 2012 with things getting more serious in 2013 to present. I believe tending the soil by practicing all of the following organic methods: composting, rotating vegetable crops, and planting cover crops will guarantee success in any home garden. It will also minimize dependency on outside resources and global corporations.
In 2012 our harvests were limited (or non-existent) and our soil was being worked for the first time. Insects and rabbits feasted better than we did. In 2014 we finally saw impressively larger harvests than ever before. By practicing these same simple organic methods, you too can share these bountiful harvests.
We planted potatoes and carrots at the end of May and harvested them all in October. I was busy working on an organic CSA from June through October and had minimal time in the garden during that 5-month stretch. The garden didn’t need me.
|Preparing carrots for storage.|
Two rows of carrots was enough to fill a 5-gallon bucket for long-term storage, hook up the neighbors, and make a large amount of sliced carrots baked in maple syrup and salt for the home. One of our goals in May was to learn better storage techniques. With limited space in our less-than-average size fridge, we stored our carrots layered in damp sand. So far, so good.
I never did weigh the potatoes but after harvesting potatoes at the CSA in bins topped off between 30 and 35 pounds, my guess is we got 20 to 25 pounds from one, 8-foot long row in our garden. That made the ten dollar purchase for the German Butterball potato seeds well worth it.
With nowhere quite perfect for long-term storage we decided to place the potatoes in a 5-gallon fleece-like bag, originally built to serve as a plant pot. It does a good job keeping light out. We then placed that in a box we keep stored near the front door far away from heaters and next to a wall I believe is poorly insulated. At least it’s useful.
This year’s rutabaga harvest deserved top priority in our small fridge until being chopped, blanched and moved to the freezer. There’s even still one in the ground. Last year our rutabaga went to waste after failing to store them in the fridge. Oops, my bad. The good thing about being prepared this time around is that we have a lot more rutabaga to store than last year.
Not everything works out so great even after composting, rotating, and cover cropping. Even though the rutabaga did so well the romanesco did not. Both crops are in the brassica family and both crops were planted in the same plot, but for the second year in a row the romanesco did not make it. Time for me to move on to smaller, simpler varieties of broccoli.
Our legume plot also thrived. I have cardboard grocery bags filled with dried beans and just now the time to pick through them. It’s almost too much. Good thing I love it.
I was giving an Amish guy a ride working for the CSA and we were talking about the business he’s in – certified-organic vegetable farming. We spoke of compost and cow manure, crop rotation and choosing variety, and then I asked him if he grows cover crops. He turned to me and said matter-of-factly, “Well, I don’t think it would be organic if you didn’t plant cover crops.” Wow, I thought. What a simple, intelligent, and great man. I needed google and a continuing education to figure that out.