End of May/Early June: Harvesting and Freshening Up Your Soil
Summer is in the air and the garden is growing like crazy. The first plots are getting empty. So it's time to refresh your soil and add nutrients to your garden.
The end of May and early June bring overflowing beds, big heads of lettuce crowding each other, sometimes more than you can eat.
Lucky for you, we have lots of recipes. Because of course, you don’t just grow for fun, you grow for the harvest 😀
Here are some tips for caring for your garden when summer's around the corner.
Harvesting means some of your square patches get emptier and emptier. When you harvest all your radishes, you're left with a bald spot.
Maybe last year’s parsley has gone to flower or the arugola is too big and is starting to taste bitter.
The trick is not to dwell on goodbyes. Just harvest what you still want and get down to business: empty that patch.
Remove the plants - roots and all - and loosen up the soil mix all the way to the bottom of the bed.
Then add a scoop of MM-Plantfood so your new plants get enough nutrients.
You can read more about MM-Plantfood here
and why we use that instead of other composts.
Second round: Sowing right away
If you've pepped up your square plot, it's on to round two: you can sow again right away.
Use the Planty Gardening app to see which seeds make the best choice.
If you don't use the app, choose a plant from a different plant family than the one you just removed. So, from a bag with a different color. If that proves tricky, don’t worry. It's just a guideline, not required ;-).
Taking care of your plants
Taking care of your plants in our raised beds is a breeze and takes almost no time. It boils down to this:
Water once a day if needed.
Ideally, you water the base of the plants to get right to the roots. You not only save a lot of water, but the rest of the patch won’t get too soggy. That means fewer snails and slugs.
Keeping a bucket by your raised bed is super handy. And, the sun warms up the water a little. The plants like lukewarm water best.
The plants are like Goldilocks when it comes to temperature: the water can’t be too cold or too hot. Just right :-).
So, take care if you use a garden hose on a hot day. The stagnant water inside can quickly get above 30 degrees Celsius. Check the temperature before dousing your plants
Room to grow
Give your plants enough space and stick to the distances recommended in the app and on the seed packets. You sow a few seeds per hole usually. A few seedlings will come up, but for many vegetables, you’ll only need one per hole. The rest you have to thin out.
I know, it's tough. But if you don’t do it, the plants will start competing with each other for light, nutrients, and water. They won’t do as well if they’re crowded together. They literally need room to grow.
And yes, it will look a bit bare at first:
And when you see a weed, get rid of it right away. I usually grab them with my thumb and pointer finger. Sometimes I loosen up the soil mix with a fork afterward.
Plants that don't understand boundaries
Some vegetables grow so well that they push their neighbors aside. Parsley, chives, and lettuce for example, and later in the year, chard.
And what about that winter purslane:
The solution is: harvest a lot, even if you don’t think you can eat it all. You can use almost anything in green smoothies, soups, and summer stews. Or give them away and make your own neighbors happy :-).
And if you're over it, just empty your square plot partly or completely:
I immediately remove the rest of the plant. If I leave it, it’ll grow again just as fast. But I want to sow something else in its spot:
If the lettuce gets too big, I harvest the heads one by one.
I'll harvest the remaining heads in the next couple days:
Keep things tidy
As your plants grow, remove any weeds right away. Remove busted-looking, yellow, or dry leaves too: they're food for fungi. They also can attract slugs and other pests.
Support your tall plants and climbers
Help climbers like snow peas and pole beans find their way up the trellis.
Legumes hold themselves up with their tentacles, but in high winds, they appreciate some extra support. All you need is some string or rope.
Beans, winter peas, and sugar snaps: they could use some support from a mini-trellis.
With a mini-trellis, you immediately keep them neatly within their square patch.
Tomatoes and climbing zucchini
For tomatoes and climbing zucchini, attach the main stem to the trellis. These guys don't climb on their own ;-).
Our climbing zucchini grows a longer stem that you attach to the trellis and guide upward. Do this at the start: once the stem is strong, you won't be able to bend it.
I use clips, string or tie wraps to attach the stem to the net.
Don't wait to harvest: sooner is better
It sounds weird, but I know how it goes: your head of lettuce looks so beautiful that it seems like a shame to pick it.
Your radishes still could grow more and the leaves of the Asian Salad Mix are still small.
Here I am, already kinda late:
Vegetables harvested early are tastiest. Don’t wait too long. They grow quickly and before you know it, they’re past their prime: bitter, too tangy, or gnarly, or whatever.
Beautiful plants are fun to look at, but put those in your ornamental garden. Fresh vegetables on your plate: that's what you do it for, right?
And, harvesting frees up space for the next round: prepping, sowing and, before you know it, harvesting again.
MM-Plantfood and our mix can be found in the shop, as well as tasty summer vegetable seeds.