Archive for August, 2013

Succession Gardening Successes


I know I’ve talked about this concept before, but I felt the need to blog about it again.  Succession gardening is THE best way to maximize the yield of vegetables from you garden each year….especially if you have limited space.

May212013garden 007

Succession gardening is, in essence, the practice of timing your plantings of different varieties throughout the year to take advantage of available empty soil.  You can really get 2 or 3 harvests of different crops from the same space if you time your plantings correctly.

Romaine lettuce, European Mesclun mix, more kohlrabi and more kale fill this bed.

Romaine lettuce, European Mesclun mix, more kohlrabi and more kale fill this bed.

The example that made me want to blog today is my bed of garlic for the year.  I planted the entire 12 x 4 foot bed with cloves of Elephant and Russian Red garlic cloves in early October of 2012.  The cloves grew into small plants in October and November and didn’t grow much more all winter long. By March, they had grown to about 10 inches tall and the tops were peeking out through the snows we had.  We harvested the scapes, the flowering part of the plant, in early May and enjoyed many great dishes with them.  In mid-June, I dug up the whole bed and had a HUGE harvest of garlic to last me all summer long with plenty to spare to plant this fall.

garlic2013 001 garlic2013 002 garlic2013 003

The very next day, I added some Garden Tone fertilizer, worked it into the soil, and planted 4 rows of Early Contender bush beans.  Now it is mid-August and the bed is LOADED with bush beans.  These beans will produce for about 6 weeks and then I’ll pull them out, add a few inches of compost, and plant spinach seedlings in October for harvest next spring.  Doing this succession planting gives me a lot of produce from a single raised bed.

june132013 016

Other examples of succession gardening involve early spring crops such as lettuces, beets, radishes, and brassicas such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi.  I planted all of these in early March this year.  I harvest them in April and May, pulled them out in early June, and then planted Sweet Corn, Summer Squash, and Cucumbers in their places.  Now that I’ve harvested the corn, and the squash and cucumber plants are on their last legs, I am planting fall brassicas, beets, more bush beans, and fall lettuces in their places as soon as those spaces become available.


My tomato beds are still cranking out fruit, but by the end of September, many of them will be spent.  I’ll harvest the remaining green tomatoes for green tomato relish, green tomato pie filling, pickled green tomatoes, and of course fried green tomatoes.  I’ll pull the plants, work in some compost and plant the garlic cloves I saved from this spring’s harvest or I’ll plant more spinach seedlings in the newly empty space.

june12013 002

Getting multiple harvests out of the same beds each year is the best return on your gardening investments.  It takes some planning, some timing, and some extra work, but it is all worth it when you’re swimming in produce for 9 or 10 months a year.


Leave a Comment

Tomato Tasting #5 is in the books and the results are in!


Saturday morning was about the most perfect morning a tomato lover could ask for!  Our new venue at The Local Pig turned out to be absolutely perfect for the crowd of nearly 100 tasters.  We had cloudy skies and a gentle breeze with temps in the low 80’s making for beautiful weather.


At 9:00 a.m. the tasters began to arrive and by 10:00 everyone was feasting on delicious pork from The Local Pig, soft bread from Farm to Market, and lots and lots of tomatoes provided by many Kansas City gardeners and a generous donation from Bear Creek Farms!  We also had Olive Tree bring some of their wonderful oils and vinegar for us to enjoy on our tomatoes and bread.


Many people brought in delicious dishes for us to try as well including peanut butter stuffed jalapenos, tomato/watermelon gazpacho, a BLT cheesecake, breads, cheeses, and many other tasty offerings.  The fine folks from Tomato Town were great help in getting things set-up and keeping the event running smoothly.  I also have to give the most thanks to my awesome wife for running the registration table and keeping me in line! 😉

In a completely un-scientific method, we did a tomato tasting vote.  Each participant was given 5 tickets to write down the names of their favorite varieties.  Some of the tasters didn’t get a chance to taste all of the 60+ varieties we had available as we ran out of a few due to limited availability.  Some of the varieties may not have been at their peak flavor due to the crazy weather we’ve had lately.  Some varieties were sliced after most everyone had finished voting.  Not everyone chose to vote, but those who did seemed to have a great time choosing which ones they really liked!


Variety Votes
Sungold 24
Carbon 18
Snow White 18
Black Cherry 15
Golden Peach 14
Pineapple 14
Kiss the Sky 13
Cherokee Purple 13
Black Krim 12
Matt’s Wild Cherry 11
Goose Creek 9
Black Brandywine 9
Black Cherry x Quartz 9
Black from Tula 9
Lemon Boy 8
Yoder’s German Yellow 7
Bear Creek 7
Chocolate Stripes 7
Solar Flare 6
Kosovo 5
Ananis Noir 5
Turk’s Mutts 5
Goliath 5
Amish Canning 5
Porter 5
Black Giant 4
Jet Star 4
P&J Ellis 3
Black Stripe 3
Red Pear Giant Gran Sasso Strain 3
Costoluto Genovese 3
? 2
Nepal 2
Gregori’s Altai 2
German Johnson 2
Pink Ox 2
Campari 1
San Marzano 1
Green Doctor’s Frosted 1
Better Boy 1
Kimberly 1
Early Girl 1
Nyagous 1
White Tomesol (sp?) 1


As you can see, there were votes for a LOT of different varieties which shows you how varied people’s tastes are.  We were missing most of the Brandywine’s this year due to the late harvest, but Black Brandywine was present and did fairly well.  Sungold reigns supreme even in a tough growing year.  The old school slicers such as Jet Star,  Better Boy and Early Girl did not fare too well when compared to the flavor powerhouses of Carbon, Goose Creek, Pineapple, and Cherokee Purple.

I hope everyone had a great time and we’ll do it again next year!  Mark your calendars for August 2, 2014!




Comments (1)

Fall Gardening…still spots available for Lettuces and Spinach.

aprilfreee2013 013

While the time has passed for Stage 1 plants (Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, beans, beets, turnips, and carrots), there is still time to order sets of plants for Stage 2 (lettuces and radishes) and Stage 3 ( Spinach).

Baker Creek Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, and Pac Choi

Baker Creek Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, and Pac Choi

If you’re interested in ordering sets of either of these stages ($10 per set), please send me an e-mail by the end of this week so that I an be sure to start enough seeds for everyone.  Each set will have enough plants to fill a 4′ x 10′ garden.





Leave a Comment