Article by Bruce Campbell from Fertile Groundworks.
After a year hiatus for squash production and reduced plantings in 2015 to conserve water, Fertile GroundWorks’ Garden of Grace is gearing up for a record year of producing delicious and nutritious produce for those in need. We planted 336 tomato plants this Spring which is about the same number that we planted in 2015 when we harvested a record yield of 4,761 pounds of tomatoes. We also planted about the same number of eggplants this year as last (185) when we harvested 637 lbs. of fruits. We have planted 954 pepper plants; over 350 more than we planted last year! If we harvest the same weight of fruit per plant as we did last year when we harvested 1,666 pounds of peppers, we will expect to produce about 2,600 pounds of peppers this year. Bell peppers are very nutritious, really liven up the entrées and are of great value since they are relatively expensive for Open Heart Kitchen to obtain.
This year we will be producing a substantial amount of Summer and Winter squash. We already have 95 feet of 4-foot beds planted and zucchini. If our yield is reflective of past years, and we don’t suffer a great deal of loss to squash bugs, we should produce about 1,400 lbs. of tender zucchini. We are hoping to produce about 2,000 lbs. of Winter squash (mainly Cucurbita moschata: including, Butternut, Trombone, Tahitian melon, Pennsylvania Dutch, Cinderella pumpkin, and Upperground Sweet Potato). We will also be harvesting a few Cucurbita maxima varieties including Sibley, Giant Pink Banana and Hubbard.
We have planted six varieties of cucumbers in 135 ft of 4 ft wide beds and plan to plant an additional 20 ft of 4 ft wide beds in two other varieties. Harvesting the same quantity per lineal foot of 4 ft bed as in 2014 would yield about 1,500 lbs. of cucumbers this year. This year we also planted four varieties of sweet corn.
This past Spring we harvested 2.5 times more cool-season green vegetables than we had in our best previous year. We will continue to harvest a fair amount of cool season crops throughout the summer. These include collards, kale, cabbage, chard and some lettuce. We are able to coax (extend) the cool season crops into the summer by keeping them covered with spun polyester row cover. The cover reflects 15 to 20% of the light including most of the UV radiation thus providing shade and of equal importance keeping insect pests and drying hot wind from damaging the plants.
We are planting about 10% of the beds in Summer cover crops (predominantly black-eyed peas (a legume) and/or buckwheat). These beds will in turn be used principally for our cool-season crops during the Fall and Winter.
About 8,000 onions planted last November are bring harvested between May and August depending on variety. Onion beds cleared in the early Summer are planted in black eyed peas and buckwheat and beds cleared in August and September will be planted in Crimson Clover and peas (notably Oregon Giant Snow Peas).
In mid-July we will begin growing seedlings for the Fall. These will include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, Asian greens, chard, spinach and lettuces and will be transplanted in succession between August and Early October. We also transplant a fair number of beets. In late August and early September we will direct seed succession-plantings of carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, rutabagas and parsnips.
As the Summer fruiting plants slow down in October and November we will remove them and direct seed cover crops for the Winter. We sow legume-grain mixes, grains and favas/bell beans depending on when we’re planting and what food crop we plan to plant afterwards.
Lots of great food going to where it’s needed and hundreds of volunteers learning how to grow their own food organically; building a more resilient community and helping people grow and eat healthier and more delectable food; That’s Fertile GroundWorks and the Garden of Grace!