The cover of Plant Grow Harvest Repeat (Timber Pres $24.95) already tells us what we have in store. There is information about succession planting to plant, grow, and harvest vegetables and flowers. Meg McAndrews Cowden teaches us how to “Grow a Bounty of Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers by Mastering the Art of Succession Planting.”
Succession planting is a great way to harvest more plants in a smaller area. One example is looking at pole beans and bush beans. Pole beans, which I grow because of having very little space, mature later than bush beans, but they will produce well into the fall. Bush beans will grow more energetically but for a shorter period. This is the whole idea behind succession gardening.
Cowden explains three types of successions. For instance, there are the plants, like radishes, spinach, arugula and others, that grow quickly, in less than 2 months. The midseason crops include corn, squash, tomatoes for 2-3 months. The latest season crops are Brussel sprouts, potatoes, leeks, and more for about 5 months.
The longest growing crop I have ever grown, in my Heath garden, is garlic. I grew hardneck garlic. I began by adding a some compost to my soil, then pulling apart the garlic bulb and planting each garlic clove an inch deep. This had to be done in the fall, six weeks before hard frost. It was harvested in early summer. But I digress. You’ll be glad of pages 116-117.
Cowden gives us lots of information about the vegetables – and fruits. Fruits grow on shrubs, and I enjoyed being able to pick my own berries. I grew blueberries, and raspberries back in Heath. Unfortunately my new garden is too wet for blueberries, but the raspberries from Nourse Farm are giving me lots of fruit in the summer, and from the freezer.
Plant Grow Harvest Repeat takes us through the food garden, and into the flower gardens. Those flower gardens are useful beyond their color and beauty. Bees and flowers are not only lovely, and fascinating, they work together to make pollen, and use pollen. Most of us understand that the bees are collecting pollen and nectar for their hive, but there are many insects that we do not pay much attention to – ants, wasps, moths, beetles, and other ‘bugs’ that are very important to our plants. It is important to include pollinating plants in our garden.
Cowden also makes a point about the virtue of no-till (no-dig) gardening. Some of us may have noticed that some farmers are no longer digging up their field before they plant. After harvesting these farmers leave straw or some such to help keep away weeds, and washing away the soil. Working no-till in the garden is a little different but it is a way to attend to our soil’s health.
I think this is a great book, with lots of very specific advice from how to design succession gardens, interplanting, sowing, harvesting – everything. This is a useful book, and I can say that it teaches and pleases and makes me want to dash outside right this minute. Not possible today, but I am looking forward to getting out in the garden.