Friday, May 6, 2011

Planning the 2011 MKG

With the danger of frost behind us here, it is high time I got to planning the 2011 Mighty Kitchen Garden!  In fact, I could have started planning things out months ago but I was a little busy landscaping the rest of the yard (several posts for another day).  I have three 4' x 12' raised bed that I rotate my main crops in so I already have the main garden plan in mind.  I just need to work out some of the details.  This is (theoretically) what those three beds are going to contain this summer:

Bed 1 - Cucurbits
Last year, this bed held beans and roots in summer and brassicas in winter.  For the 2011 summer season it will play host to the cucurbits, also known as zucchini, squash, cucumber and melon.  The winter squash and cukes will go up a trellis at the north end of the bed, the zucchini and summer squash will fill the center of the bed, and a cantaloupe and watermelon will be grown in a mound at the south end of the bed. 

Sunburst summer squash blossom
I have yet to grow a watermelon that produces fruit... maybe 2011 is my year.  Zucchini and cukes tend to grow like gangbusters and I'd love to fry up some stuffed squash blossoms.  Also, this year I am determined to grow and successfully store some winter squash.  Somehow I'm not curing them right...

Bed 2 - Grass, Morning Glory, Legumes
Last year this bed hosted the tomatoes in summer (and through most of the winter).  For 2011 it is going to be a truly random assortment of corn (grass), beans (legumes) and sweet potatoes (morning glory).  This planting scheme is a little crazy; we'll see how well they all play together.  I ordered bush-type sweet potatoes so I am hoping they don't take over the world. 

Last year I planted an entire bed of beans including a bunch for drying.  I came to the conclusion that you need a really big field to be able to grow a meaningful amount of dry beans and I can buy amazing ones from Rancho Gordo so this year I'll just stick to fresh eating beans.  This will be my first attempt at growing both corn and sweet potatoes- I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Bed 3 - Solanaceae
Last year this bed was home to the cucurbits in summer, and it is currently occupied by alliums.  For 2011, this will be the bed of quintessential summer vegetables- tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  I might throw a tomatillo or two in there as well if I can find the space. 

Black Cherry, Sungold, and Green Grape cherry tomatoes;
Amish Paste, Purple Russian and Ginger's Golden Delicious tomatoes;
Lemon and Cool Breeze cucumbers.

Alas, I wasn't really planning ahead last winter when I planted my garlic and onions because I planted them right where I knew the tomatoes were going.  Ugh.  Oh well, my tomato planting will just have to wait until after the garlic harvest.  Either that or I'll have to move them to the south end of the bed and grow the peppers and eggplants in their shade.  In most climates this would be a bad idea, but it just might work here in the land of perpetual summer sunshine.

So there you have it, the outline of the 2011 MKG!  I'll post my variety selections soon.  In the meantime, let me know what you're planning to grow this season!

5 comments:

  1. we decided not to plan anything this year. we realized that our planting beds get very little sunlight since they are too close to our 40+ foot trees lining our back yard.

    please pass on any advice on veggies/fruit that may thrive in a very shaded environment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's great question, Jean! In general, fruits and veggies all require "full sun" which means 6 hours of sunlight a day. However, some can get by with less, especially in the summer if it's hot.

    For example, summer here is too hot for most lettuces, so I plan to grow them in the shade of other veggies. Cooler season veggies like broccoli or other brassicas could do well in part shade, or you could try some roots like radish or carrots. Also, I've found that herbs are really forgiving. They can handle too much sun, too little sun, minimal water; yet somehow they just keep growing.

    So my general advice would be:
    1. try herbs
    2. try greens - lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard*
    3. try brassicas - broccoli, kale, mustard, cabbage
    4. try roots - carrots, beets, radish
    5. try anything! Who knows, it just might grow :)

    And remember the first rule of veggie gardening- plant things you want to eat!

    Good luck and let me know how it goes!

    *chard is actually a beet but it is grown for the greens rather than the roots

    ReplyDelete
  3. Blogger had some technical issues last week, resulting in the disappearance of a couple comments. As they haven't reappeared yet, I'm reposting them myself.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Originally posted by Jean on 5/11:

    we decided not to plan anything this year. we realized that our planting beds get very little sunlight since they are too close to our 40+ foot trees lining our back yard.

    please pass on any advice on veggies/fruit that may thrive in a very shaded environment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And my reply to Jean on 5/11:

    That's a great question, Jean! In general, fruits and veggies all require "full sun" which means 6 hours of sunlight a day. However, some can get by with less, especially in the summer if it's hot.

    For example, summer here is too hot for most lettuces, so I plan to grow them in the shade of other veggies. Cooler season veggies like broccoli or other brassicas could do well in part shade, or you could try some roots like radish or carrots. Also, I've found that herbs are really forgiving. They can handle too much sun, too little sun, minimal water; yet somehow they just keep growing.

    So my general advice would be:
    1. try herbs
    2. try greens - lettuce, spinach, aruguala, chard*
    3. try brassicas - broccoli, kale, mustard, cabbage
    4. try roots - carrots, beets, radish
    5. try anything! Who knows, it just might grow :)

    And remember the first rule of veggie gardening- plant things you want to eat!

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

    *chard is actually a beet but it is grown for the greens rather than roots

    ReplyDelete

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