By Albert Makendege
Planning to have something to harvest every day of the year may seem like a bold ambition but it is a perfectly realistic one and below is a list of strategies to ensure all year-round harvests.
- Extending the growing season
This basically means letting the crops carry on and grow a little longer and beyond their normal growing period for example summer crops such as cucumber and tomatoes can continue well into the first frosts with adequate protection for additional warmth and shelter. Through this method late starters are also afforded the chance to play catchup and yield a tasty harvest.
- Overwintering vegetables
When the warm weather crops are done, it is the turn of hardy cool-season staples that were sown in the summer. One may be surprised as what will grow throughout the winter (lettuce, spinach, carrots and beets) when given enough space and enough protection such as row covers, cold frames or greenhouses. The trick during this time is to pick a few leaves at a time when harvesting so that the plant is left with enough energy to replace them.
- Closing the “hungry gap”
The springtime hungry gap (when the previous season’s crops are finished but the current season’s crops are not yet ready) can mean scant harvests. But careful planning can insure there is plenty to enjoy during this traditionally lean time. This is best achieved by sowing vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and others in late summer so that they can stand over winter and thus join the last of the winter-stored produce to keep the kitchen supplied.
- Spreading harvests and planting in succession
Staggered crop stands obviously means harvest after harvest at different points in time across the entire year. Product availability is ensured and not any period of the calendar year goes to waste.
Conclusively, any year-round productive garden needs careful planning. Planning is what matters and it will mean that less time is spent working out what you can grow and when it will be harvested. Whilst the agricultural environment may not remain constant, a well laid out plan always comes in handy.