video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
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...
We've cultivated garlic as a species for six thousand years...
...so when you find yourself wondering when is the perfect moment to harvest your garlic, know you are not the first person to wonder this.
In truth, the 'perfect moment' is up to a week and sometimes more, depending on the weather.
Here in the Northeast, mid-July, that 'moment' is just about...now :)
Here is the one consideration to look for, demystifying the predicament:
Wait for at least two or three bottom leaves to turn brown before you harvest your garlic.
Each of the leaves above ground have a corresponding 'wrapper' around each bulb, becoming papery when cured. Once one third to one half of the leaves are brown and brittle, you have strong bulb wrappers awaiting you and your garlic is truly ready to harvest.
Nutrient deficiency or nearing maturity? If your leaves are fully brown, from tip to stalk and it's July, your garlic is almost ready to harvest.
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 ...
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.