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Snippet of Living Homegrown Podcast: Growing More Vegetables in Less Space

Last Played: February 01, 2021
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Are you never able to eat your vegetables as fast as you are growing them? Listen to this episode of The Living Homegrown Podcast, where Theresa Low speaks with Colin McCrate about properly planting and harvesting your vegetables for maximum eating capabilities.
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your timing. The timing is so critical, and I really got that from from your book. And I love that you give the yield charts. So you have so much in there that we don't have to go on the Internet and research every little thing. You have a lot of information that we can just look up in the book and then enter it into the charts and graphs. So let's let's dive into what? Let's say, you know, I'm I'm ready to bump up my yield. What would be the very first place to start? What I'm Ben gardening. I have a garden, but where do I start? I think that, I mean, as a really basic concept, like were a lot of this information. Heads is like Don't let, like space sit, then not be used. So for like in my mind, if you have a pretty small garden space at your home, you should be making sure that you are using every square foot of it all season long as much as possible. So if you harvest a head of cabbage and you know the beginning of July out of the garden, you should pull out that root ball, work the soil, add some organic amendments to it and be ready to plant a new crop into it right away. So one of like the really basic things that people do is there's this mindset of like, it's spring. I'm gonna plant my garden and then my planting season's over. But, you know, once you really get into it, you start looking at like Well, actually, this crop only lives for 40 days, and this crop only lives for 60 days, and this crop lives for 120 days. That means, you know, I'm gonna have spaces available in my garden, you know, halfway through the growing season. And I should be anticipating that so that this cabbage is now almost ready to harvest. That means I should be starting Ah, couple seeds in a tray over here so I can put a new transplant in in two weeks when I pull that cabbage out and really just like getting two or three plantings into a space that in the past, maybe you only put one in That makes really good sense. Okay, so really deciding what you want to grow, and then as you fill in those charts as to when you would be planting them. And how long Tell Harvest will show you where you're gonna have those gaps? Yeah, exactly. I mean, I know like a really simple level that we always break crops into short season, half season and long season andan. There's subtleties in that which with, you know, over time you'll get used thio. But his basic categories, you know, if salad greens were like a really perfect example of a short season crops, you can plant salad greens over and over and over again over the course of the season. And, you know, people will call that succession planting eso that you know you have a consistent harvest of of lettuce. But in order to do that, you have to understand that, you know, if you are direct seeding a lettuce mix really like you're gonna be harvesting that crop and it's going to be done, you know, maybe 40 or 50 days after you seated it. And so you can just keep doing that and moving crops through your garden in that way and and knowing those lifespans makes it really easy, because then you can predict it. And it's the same way with, like, a half season crop like the cabbage. Or maybe a broccoli, something that in the middle of the summer it's gonna come out of the garden. And there's actually a ton of crops that come out of the garden in the middle of summer, you know? And then you just have all this opportunity. And maybe you already harvested all of your garlic and all of your onions and all of your spring brassica crops and half of your garden could be open again and ready for fall planting if you're ready to do that. And the best way to be ready is to at the beginning of the season to sit down and map all that out and say, Well, shoot. I know that in July I can plant carrots and all those beds were gonna pull out the onions, and then I'm gonna have an awesome fall carrot crop. Yeah, you talk in the book, you talk about succession planting, but you also talk about relay planting. Can you explain what that is? Yes, really. Planting is kind of a variation on succession planting, but the idea is that the two crops may be in the bed at the same time, but they you spaced out the planting in such a way that you'll harvest the first crop before the second crop gets too big and overwhelms it. So an example we talk about in the book is really planting with carrots and tomatoes. So in the spring you direct seed, carrots and rose. They start to fill out. A month or six weeks later, it's time to plant tomatoes, so you actually have left space in between the rows. You transplant your tomatoes in, but tomatoes take a while to get established to really fill out. So what happens is the tomatoes air kind of just setting out routes and barely growing. The carats air maturing. And then you start to harvest the carrots and all the carrots were pulled out of the garden. You store them or you're eating them before the tomatoes are so big that they would be shading that space. Yeah, I thought that was so great. It's It's just a really great use of space. And like you said, you're not leaving any blank spots when you do that, that that alone just doing that will get you quite a bit more out of one small little plot. Yeah, without a doubt, I mean, And what's cool, too, is like a lot of these concepts, you know, once you consider them like they're pretty easy to employ. It's not like there's a huge barrier to like, you know, figuring out how to do it. It's just, here's the timing. Here's the spacing of the crops. You just go and plant those crops like you normally would, and account for that. So I think what's awesome is that a lot of the ideas in high yield vegetable gardiner going to be pretty simple. Um, and it's just a matter of like getting them into your garden routine. Yes, exactly. If we have sat down and we've figured out what we want to plant, and we've kind of figured out our timing, you know, looked at frost dates and kind of figured out when we when is the earliest we could plant ones are window of time. How do we figure out how much to grow? Because I saw you had, like, little calculations in there that we could look up on a chart. How many let's say lettuces air in a square foot and we can calculate how much we need to grow. I thought that was really great, because that's what the farmers dio. Totally. Totally. Yeah. I mean, you want to know what your end goal is and then kind of work backwards from there? Yeah, you like, reverse engineer it, Which is? Yeah, which I thought was really good. So we have to kind of have in our head, like, Okay, we wanna have this much lettuce per week, and then we use the charts to figure out how much to plant. Yeah, exactly. And so, you know, there's an example. One of the things we like to do in our books are kind of provide these. You know what we call case studies where we call out, Sort of pretend gardeners like fictionalized gardeners and explain their rationale for how they set up their garden space and how they're managing it, hoping that that kind of just, like, tells a story and explains it in, um, or real world way. So one of the kind of case studies we talk about in the book is just like what you're talking about a gardener who doesn't have a ton of space but likes to eat arugula, you know, and so similar to let us you might like, I think salad greens, air really good goal because they grow in, like, every climate, they grow most of the season and they grow quickly. And so if you know, okay, I love to eat arugula salads, and realistically, I eat them three times a week because I'm not gonna eat him seven days a week because, you know, half the time doing take out or whatever, you know, you can look at and actually say okay. And we have all these charts in the book and say Okay and normal serving because who knows? Nobody's like, typically calculating the ounces of vegetables, air eating. So we have that stuff calculated, and you could say, Okay, like, four ounces is a normal side salad. You know, I need to therefore plant 12 row inches of arugula each week if I wanna be able to harvest 34 ounce salads out of that space. So therefore, I know that each week I'm gonna go out there on Monday or whatever day I have the most time for gardening and plant one row foot, which is a pretty small amount in your garden, you know? And that gives you parameters, because it's really easy for anybody even experienced gardener to go out there and be like, Well, there's all this space I'm gonna just plant like, ah, whole, like, 10 row feet of arugula done stuff like that. Yeah. I mean, everybody does. But if have you know, the the plan in place, you could just be like, I'm gonna do this. And I'm also gonna do it next Monday, and I'm also gonna do with the following Monday I'm gonna fill out this space. I'm gonna have the arugula mature, like, actually, taste good is not all gonna be ready at the same time. And I could just keep cutting it, and I'm gonna be clearing those old patches as I go. Aziz. Well, so I'm gonna keep opening those spaces back up and just kind of have this cycle going, And that's based on you know, my projection of how often I eat it, how big my salads are. And then, you know, there's tons of data in our book about, like, what is your harvest per row, foot or per plant. What can you expect? So you can just use those sheets in the book and make a projection about how much you should?
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