The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Filling the spring garden gaps

Cabbage seedling

There are a lot more gaps than usual to fill in the garden this spring.  The cold, wet winter killed two-thirds of our potato onions and softneck garlic (although our hardneck garlic, Music, is plugging right along unhindered).  A dry spell when I didn't think to water made for holey germination in the carrot and Swiss chard beds, and Huckleberry's hard work scratched up some peas and poppies.  Time to fill in the gaps!

For some crops, it's not too late to just replant.  I scattered another round of carrot seeds on the appropriate bed and popped Swiss chard seeds into hoed rows (after teasing apart the one seed cluster that had fully germinated, leading to three seedlings in one spot).  There were enough poppy seedlings clustered too close together that I could just transplant them to fill in the gaps, and then I slipped broccoli starts into the holes between garlic plants.

Spacing out poppies

PeasAfter that, I started getting whimsical.  How about a few carrots in the gaps in the pea beds?  Maybe some Red Russian kale in the spaces between potato onions?

The trick with filling in gaps is to add crops that will mature at about the same time as the vegetables that originally owned the bed.  You also don't want to plant something that's going to get too big, shading out the vegetables you really care about, and you definitely don't want to add anything that will need trellising.  So no cabbages, even though I have plenty more starts on hand, and nothing that will need more than two months to mature.  (The carrots are small hybrids, listed at 54 days to harvest.)

I seeded and transplanted Monday and Tuesday, knowing a rainy spell was due to blow in Tuesday afternoon.  Hopefully water from the sky will sprout my seeds and settle my transplants, filling the garden with life.



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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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