End of May: Harvesting and Freshening Up Your Soil

Summer is in the air. June's around the corner and the vegetables are growing like crazy. The first square patches are getting emptier, so it's time to refresh your soil and add nutrients to your garden. 

MM-Plantfood sprinkled on empty garden mini plots

A Planty Garden at the end of May: overflowing beds, big heads of lettuce crowding each other, sometimes more than you can eat.

Fortunately, we have lots of recipes. Because of course, you don’t only grow for fun, you grow for the harvest 😀

Here are some tips for caring for your garden at the end of May.  

Empty squares

Harvesting means some of your little vegetable patches get emptier and emptier. When you harvest all your radishes, just the soil remains.

Maybe last year’s parsley has gone to flower, or the pansies have lost theirs, or the arugola is too big and tastes more bitter.

Arugola getting too big and about to go to flower

The trick is not to dwell on it. Just harvest what you still want and get down to business: empty that patch.

For bitter arugola, you can find a tasty recipe here.

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 the MM-Plantfood here. I also explain why we choose this way and don’t use (artificial) fertilizers.

Sowing again immediately

A freshly sown mini vegetable garden patch

If you've refreshed your square plot, you can sow again right away.

Use the Planty Gardening app to see which plant is the best choice.

If you don't use the app, choose a plant from a different plant family than the one that was just there. So from a bag with a different color. If that proves tricky, don’t worry. See it as a guideline, it’s not required ;-).

Taking care of your plants

Taking care of your plants in a Planty Garden raised bed is a breeze and takes almost no time. It boils down to this:

Watering

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 your patch also won’t get too soggy. This means fewer snails and slugs.

Keeping a bucket by your raised bed is super handy. Also, the sun warms up the water a little.

Plants are like Goldilocks: the water can’t be ice cold or too hot. 

So, take care when watering with a garden hose in sunny weather. The water in the hose can quickly get above 30 degrees Celsius. So check the temperature before spraying it on your plants.

You can read more about watering here.

Watering with a hose in the sun can get too hot

Room to grow

Give your plants enough space and stick to the distances indicated by the app and on the seed bags. For many vegetables, you’ll only leave only 1 seedling once they’ve sprouted from their holes. The rest you have to thin out. 

No matter how difficult you find cutting away: 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, that will look a bit bare at first:

Plants at a healthy distance

And when you see a weed, get rid of it right away. I usually grab them with my thumb and forefinger. Sometimes I loose up the soil mix around 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 the chard.

And how about winter purslane:

Winter purslane out-growing is patch

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 neighbors happy :-).

When you're tired of it, just empty your square plot partially or completely:

Harvesting all the winter purslane in one go

I immediately remove the rest of the plant as well. If I leave it, it’ll grow again just as fast. But I want to sow something else in its place:

Three empty patches ready for sowing

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 you see immediately. Remove busted, 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.

Attach your snow peas to the trellis for extra support

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.

Plants that lie flat on the ground are extra prone to issues. With a mini-trellis, you immediately keep them neatly within their square patch.

A mini-trellis for the winter peas

Tomatoes and climbing zucchini

For the tomato and climbing zucchini, attach the main stem to the trellis. These guys do not climb by themselves ;-).

Our climbing zucchini gets 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. 

Attaching the climbing zucchini to the trellis

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:

Asian Salad Mix: definitely ready to harvest

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 wonderful 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.

Good luck!

Just for fun: a video from 2017 about the May garden.

BTW: in this video we don't have MM-Plantfood yet. Back then we freshened up the empty plots with compost.