Monday, June 22, 2009

Planning For A Rotating Feast

One of my goals is to have something to eat out of the garden all year round. And while I have been able to do this most years it usually consists of some hardy arugula that keeps reseeding itself, or some parsley or the stray overlooked onion. This year I'd to do a much better job of planting a variety of things that will carry us into fall and hopefully overwinter for an early start next spring. Kale, Gai Lan, more Onions, Beets, Carrots, Turnips, etc.

This is Gai Lan, one of my favorite new vegetables, also known as Chinese Broccoli. It's earthy and hearty and pungent. I love it the same way I love Kale and Broccoli Rabe.

While it's counterintuitive to start thinking about what to pull out just as most of the garden really seems to be picking up some serious momentum, now is probably none too early to decide what can be phased out, in favor of the next crop. Indeed if I was a better planner, this would already be in place.

I like to think of the garden as a conveyor belt passing along, offering different food at different times of the year, but always something on offer. Maybe a lazy Susan is a better analogy.

I'm currently reading Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long, by Eliot Coleman, featured in my book recommendations. The author describes foraging in a French garden in winter, and being amazed at what he is able to find and how little value the owner of the garden puts on the winter "produce".

I do love foraging and coming upon surprise patches of plants I wasn't expecting. I also love his vision of the garden and a constant source of fresh produce, even though he lives in Maine. If he can do it in Maine, I should certainly be able to do it in Oregon.

So the things that I will be looking to phase out will be plants I have too much of, like the volunteer Fennel, and maybe some of the Comfrey and Borage, Feverfew. I love these plants because they are some of the first encouraging things to come up in the cold, damp spring. But after they have bloomed and entertained the bees, they start to fade and take up space better utilized in other ways. They can go to amuse the chickens first and then into the compost. Double utility, because the hens will enjoy them and remove some of the seeds.

Other candidates to be displaced include foods that can be preserved, like some of the herbs, beets, and carrots, peas. So in the next few days I will be taking a critical look at some of the plants that have brought me such pleasure. This is no time for sentimentality.

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