Under deep mulch in the design of the winter vegetable garden, the turnips will still be sweet in February and March.
Broccoli can be interspersed with spinach in the design of the spring vegetable garden.
ILLUSTRATION: SHERRIE LEE
This is how my wife Sherrie and I harvest fresh vegetables all year round. We plant eight organic raised beds – ours are 3 ′ X 24 ′ each – in early spring. . . and use the succession planting for the fall garden. We seed eight more beds for the summer garden in May and replant them later in the season to become the winter garden. This vegetable garden design is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6, but can be adapted for zones 4 and 7.
Green onions, radishes, garlic, marigolds, dill, basil and others are planted between them to deter pests. When it’s time to plant a bed, we can remove an old crop and add it to the compost heap before its growing season ends.
Some beds can also be intercalated before the previous crop is fully used. There are many more possibilities than what we have shown here.
Most important for winter crops – after selecting the hardiest vegetables and varieties available – is the application of a deep mulch. We put 12 inches or more of dry hay on the beds before the freezing temperatures start in the fall (a plastic tarp on top keeps water out). This way we are still eating winter crops when the spring garden begins to produce its first greens. And that’s a gardener’s thrill!
We dry the herbs and onions, can the tomatoes and store the winter squash. Everything else comes straight from the garden. . . a harvest all year round.
Spring and autumn garden
Plant these crops in February and harvest in June. Replant the garden in July and harvest in November.
Peas: An early variety like Little Marvel or Maestro works well. Soak overnight before planting to speed up germination. Replanted for cabbage: A mid-season variety such as Copenhagen Market serves us well. (You can also grow cabbage in the winter garden.)
Spinach: Winter Bloomsdale is our choice. Tear open as needed to make room for the broccoli. Replanted for Broccoli: Johnny’s Waltham 29 is our pick here, which can also be interspersed with spinach in the spring garden.
Green beets: The perfect spring greens for salads and for cooking. Detroit Dark Red is just a good strain. Replanted for Bok Choy: This provides some stunning greens which are rightly gaining popularity. (He is also called Pak Choi.)
Lettuce: Black-Seed Simpson is our favorite. The oak leaf planted in the previous November will come very early in the spring. Give it a try! Replanted for carrots: Keep them watered. We love the Red Core Chantenay. Save space for some Burpee Chinese “winter” white radishes.
Cauliflower: Abuntia or Stoke’s Early Abundance by Thompson & Morgan are good and early. We also love Snow Crown and Snow King. Replanted for kohlrabi: Excellent raw or cooked, it deserves more popularity. Early White Vienna is the best.
Green onions: We transplant the Ebenezer globes started in February outdoors in April. On September 1, we put some in the borders of the autumn garden. Replanted for Tyfon Holland Greens: This delicious cross between a turnip and a Chinese cabbage is from Nichols.
Chinese cabbage: try Burpee Two Seasons Hybrid or Johnny’s Nagoda. Harvest when they are young and tender, before they go to seed. Replanted for: Peas: Maestro will do this in the fall, but we love the sweetness and high yield of Sugar Snap. We pre-soak our seed.
Turnip: Tokyo Cross Hybrid may be your best choice. Among the first, the old Purple-Top has never failed us. Lettuce: Buttercrunch is a good choice, rustic and tasty. By putting a little hay in it, it can be harvested until Christmas.
Summer and winter garden
Plant these crops in May and harvest in September. Replant the garden in August and harvest in January.
Tomatoes: The large daughters, widely spaced and well staked, give way to the new harvest in August. Prune for rapid maturation. Replanted for Chinese cabbage: At the beginning of June, we plant Michihli seeds in apartments. The seedlings are transplanted among the tomatoes at the beginning of August.
Green Beans: We love (and inoculate) Tendercrop and Blue Lake. Pull up the plants without hesitation to make room for the new harvest. Replanted for the corn salad and lettuce: sow half a bed of each. Nichols Maches Corn Salad is flavorful and productive. The oak leaf is the hardiest lettuce.
Lettuce: Salad Bowl and Black-Seed Simpson are our summer favorites. Shade maturing plants with a snow fence to preserve the softness. Replanted with carrots: Hybrid Danvers was the best for our winter garden (it can last until April!). Water the plants often for the first three to four weeks.
Summer squash: Harvest zucchini or zucchini when they are young and tasty, as the huge ones consume a lot of energy for the plants. Replanted for turnips: the best bet is the white globe with a purple top. They are still soft, under thick mulch, in February and March.
Swiss chard: A big green! Cut it to make room to intersperse the Brussels sprouts. Fordhook is our choice. Replanted for Brussels sprouts: Jade Cross Hybrid always produces well for us. It takes a lot of hay to cover it with mulch!
Sweet Peppers: We transplant a hybrid variety when all the frost is gone. Its fuzzy nature requires intensive care. Replanted for kale: start the seeds in June and transplant among the peppers in August. Use young leaves for salads, cooked blackberries.
Cantaloupe: We love ambrosia. Gently tie the vines onto trellises. As the harvest approaches, prune the vines to make room for the beets. Replanted for beets: Lutz are very good for the winter. Beet roots tend to become woody after the January thaw, but then produce new greens.
Cucumbers: Here again, use several short trellises and prune the lower leaves so that the sun can shine on the next harvest at the right time. Replanted for spinach: We’re going with Winter Bloomdsle. Germinate the seeds on paper towels and keep them well watered for the first few weeks in the soil.
Other garden sections
Winter squash and corn patch
Beds all year round
Posted on January 1, 1984
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