Cropping in a family garden

Lettuce, radishes and spring onions make for fast crops.

There’s something particularly satisfying about picking your salad, fresh from the garden and using it straight away. You can’t get fresher. But it’s also knowing that you coaxed it along yourself, from seed to salad bowl. We’ve had a good crop so far this year. Plenty of radishes, too much lettuce and a good amount of spring onions. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the most of it, without a working kitchen, though on sunny days we’ve been outside with the barbecue and having them nearby has been great.

Now the kitchen is finally finished, we’re cooking properly again and I’ve been working to finish the oldest crops, as a new batch of seedlings will soon be ready. This approach is called ‘successional sowing’ and works particularly well where you only have a small growing area and fast growing crops like radishes. I struggle to keep up with it sometimes, finding the right window in a busy week and knowing when is the right moment to move on to a new crop with limited space can be tricky, but it’s worth it when it pans out and you can keep reaping the reward. Sowing fast growing crops roughly every fortnight should ensure constant cropping.

Radish seedlings, well on their way.

Other plants I tend to grow in one go and enjoy them while they’re around. Courgettes are one of these. They take up quite a bit of room, but they produce in large amounts over many weeks and easily pay for themselves. This year I’ve also tried sugar snap peas, though I’ve failed to keep the snails off them (despite my best efforts) and the crop hasn’t been nearly as good as I’ve got with green beans in the past.

Baby yellow courgettes.
A sugar snap plant in bloom.

Having said that, they’ve been very handy for easily adding a spot of green to lunchtime meals for my son. Just a handful of them and a couple of spring onions, with some olive oil, lemon and grated parmesan, makes for a tasty bowl of pasta, even with an empty fridge. So this week I’ll be making time to take out some old vege and sow some more again, ready for a few week’s time…

Two ingredients from the garden.
Chop, add to pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, grated Parmesan and ground pepper.
A touch of green when the fridge is empty.

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