video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
Friends, sowing well-adapted varieties makes organic gardening SO much easier.
In any size garden, on any scale farm.
Container gardens, especially.
Two main factors:
How much space does this variety take up? Some varieties are more compact than others, making them more optimal for container gardening.
Will this variety thrive with less than optimal nutrients and less even watering? Both are realities of most container gardens, so starting with resilient seeds makes all the difference.
I grew up in my father's garden here in the Finger Lakes, where we planted all kinds of vegetables, flowers, and herbs in old wine barrels that had been cut in half. Our main gardens were in the soil, but I had a particular fondness for our wine barrels lining our walkway, spilling over with parsley and marigolds, lettuce and peppers. Just like our dogs delight when we returned home, so happy to greet us, our...
Here in the Northeast, finding easy ways to extend our season is essential to eating well as the days grow short.
After years of working on farms and experimenting at Fruition, here are the four keys of season extension:
- sowing the right seeds
- using the right tools
- at just the right time
- and harvesting in just the right way
Let's dive in.
In any season, the right seeds make all the difference. September in Zone 5 is no match for seeds selected to thrive in California, where most seed is grown, which is perhaps why so many gardeners don't grow into the fall. Oh yes, and we've all been working hard all summer, so we're ready to slow down, too! But I know my own childhood-self was deterred by lettuce that wasn't up for the cause.
Now, I am so grateful to know which ones are.
'Winter Green' mesclun mix has been selected by Dan Brisebois, in Montreal, to re-grow quickly in cold temperatures. We are grateful to...
It's almost September and true confessions: I'm exhausted.
I know I'm not alone.
We've been cultivating beauty and abundance for months, with so much on our minds and hearts, amid the bustle of our everyday lives and cultural chaos. Behind each of those gorgeous photos on social media we know there is a weary gardener, often wishing someone would make her dinner from all the glorious food she's surrounded by.
Last year, Dandy saved us: Last September, while we were busy harvesting seed and picking up irrigation, she sowed seeds. Greens and herbs that fed our bodies and souls until snowfall and many that even survived the winter, re-growing the most tender and sweet leaves of the season as spring arrived. Taking that extra moment to sow a few seeds this September may be one of the best decisions you make this season. Certainly, one of the most delicious :)
Interplanting maximizes every inch of your garden space; especially when you plan to put hoops with row cover over your greens...
As I look around the farm this final week of July, I see red tomatoes on the vine, seven-foot pole beans reaching for the sky and thousands of dahlias in full bloom. Abundance and beauty abound!
Amid the extraordinary bounty of summer, I'm sowing the abundance of autumn. This week, we're prepping beds and sowing carrots, beets, watermelon radish, more cilantro, the start of cool-season lettuces and (my favorite) dwarf peas. These are the seeds that will feed us in the cool months to come.
The right tool for every job: The tine-side of a rake picks out rocks while the flat edge levels the soil.
Here is the full list of seeds we're planting now, from the final week of July til the second week in August. They break down nicely into four categories:
Fall peas are the best peas, which you know as soon as you take your first bite. As cold turns starch to sugar, fall peas are the sweetest and easily the most tender. And, because the days are getting...
Our gardens are a lush jungle in the hot, hot sun as baby birds learn to fly across the fields and our dogs find respite under zucchini leaf umbrellas.
As we harvest heads of lettuce, rows of beets, pull out peas and feed bolting cilantro to the chickens, we're sowing seeds so the abundance doesn't stop. Our season is short, so we've got to make the most of it! Succession sowing is the genius, seamless transition of one crop to the next, amplifying your abundance all season long.
In July, following our harvest of peas, carrots, beets, garlic and lettuce, here is what we are succession sowing, between dips in the pond:
You have so many options!
The good news: Greens don't require tons of fertility, so don't hesitate to plant lettuce where you just harvested lettuce.
The bad news: not all greens thrive in the heat, so be sure you're planting those that will. Nonetheless, options abound:
In my father's organic garden, beans were one of the first seeds I sowed on my own. Large and undaunted by imperfect planting depth, beans are also more tolerant than most of the imprecise spacing of tiny, eager fingers, as were mine. I'll always be grateful for my father, his garden, the bold responsibility he gave me and those seeds that grew my love of organic food, cultivation and community.
Haricot vert or French filet-style beans like 'Tavera' are my favorite.
Sow beans in warm soil after frost. Here in Zone 5, that is often late May to early June. Pole beans we sow just once and harvest all season as they blossom and fruit up into the sky; bush beans we sow every 3-4 weeks to harvest sweet, tender beans at their peak til frost comes. Our final succession is generally in mid-July, though sometimes we squeeze an early variety in at the end of July, like Tavera, and hope for the best.
You'll find Tavera and dozens of other organic bean seeds for short seasons ...
Here in the Finger Lakes of New York, Zone 5a, we're filling our greenhouse with the seeds of crops best sown 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Exploring last frost dates is a blog coming soon! In the meantime, we aim for Memorial Day as our frost-free date.
Here is the laundry list, with notes:
Though onions & shallots (like Cuisse du Poulet below) were ideally started 4 to 6 weeks ago, there is no time like the present and last call! Other alliums like Leeks and scallions are not day-length sensitive, so sow them anytime now through mid-July. We'll be planting them out early/mid-May.
Now is the perfect time to start peppers, eggplant and tomatoes (like Brandywise below). Other varieties in the solanid family to start indoors include ground cherries and tomatillos, but hold off on them til mid-April: they are a lot more vigorous and will easily become stressed started this...
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.