Seasonal vegies are of course one of the great joys in a gardening life – that glut of ripe tomatoes in late summer, or the window of a few weeks’ in spring, when the asparagus spears erupt from the ground! But for serious vegie growers, alongside those delicious moments, are the crops that put food on the table no matter what the season. One staple in Josh’s family garden are the green vegies, and he has developed a few simple systems to ensure there is something to harvest every day of the year!
To harvest anything, you need to plant it. Josh says that the key is preparation and planning and to make a ‘planting plan’ and stick to it! Josh has a glut of beautiful butter lettuce coming on, which may seem to be a few too many, but that is intentional. By overplanting, he can harvest every 2nd plant as a baby lettuce, allowing those remaining to grow to maturity.
And while you could feel satisfied with a bed-full like this, it is important not to rest on your laurels, (or lettuce!) you need a succession plan! Today, Josh will add the next generation, seedlings of ‘oakleaf’, ‘Mignonette’ and ‘Cos’.
All leafy greens need lots of love, but in Perth’s gutless sandy soil they need all the trimmings – a topdressing of compost, pelletised organic poultry manure, and a regular liquid lunch – a fortnightly application of fish emulsion.
Alongside the row of developed seedlings, Josh also plants seed. These will germinate in about a week and can be thinned to appropriate spacings as they fill out. By using both seed and seedlings, Josh can plant months of food in one go!
Seasonal Silverbeet Strategies:
Another crop that Josh always has growing, is silver beet or Swiss chard, incredibly tough and long lived annual, or biennial veg. As opposed to the lettuce which might provide a handful of meals, a few plants of silverbeet can supply literal kilos of leaves over its lifetime. “It really has become such a staple for us, we pick it fresh but also blanch and freeze it so it’s always on hand. So, I’ve had to work out how to grow it all year round!”
Josh has old, coarse silverbeet that is ready to come out after providing months of food. Its successors were planted about 4 weeks ago and are just kicking off. While they grow strongly in the milder months, to keep the plants cool in the hottest summer months Josh has made some simple shade frames over wire. Another simple way to usurp the conditions in the garden, is to plant leafy veg in a container which can be moved into cooler spot in the garden. With regular water and food, you can grow buckets of food this way.
While a continued supply is in the growing, harvesting is what it is all about! And if you plant greens regularly, there is the added benefit of having homegrown veg for your kids!
Josh and his daughter Caitlin make a popular after school snack, a green smoothie. They use a combination of whatever greens are available in the garden.
For the smoothie, they blend together – silver beet, celery, apple, frozen homegrown bananas and ice. The perfect refreshing and healthy drink for a summer day!
LETTUCE ‘BOSTON BUTTERHEAD’ – Lactuca sativa cv.
SILVERBEET ‘FORDHOOK’ – Beta vulgaris cv.
Filmed on Whadjuk Country | Perth, WA
Gardening Australia is an ABC TV program providing gardening know-how and inspiration. Presented by Australia’s leading horticultural experts, Gardening Australia is a valuable resource to all gardeners through the television program, the magazine, books, DVDs and extensive online content.
Watch more: http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/gardening-australia
This is an official Australian Broadcasting Corporation YouTube channel. Contributions may be removed if they violate ABC’s Online Conditions of Use http://www.abc.net.au/conditions.htm (Section 3).