Summer, Juneteenth, Fourth of July and Frost Kissed Carrots

I planted my carrots on Juneteenth and they germinated about ten days later. Last year at Community Charter School of Cambridge a student and I planted our carrots on Juneteenth and in early December after we had frost they were a good size and delicious. I thought this would be a good thing to do every Juneteenth so I planted on Juneteenth again this year in Hull.

Carrots planted on Juneteenth have germinated and are just starting to get their secondary leaves

You can see the seaweed and sticks that give back to soil in this photo of the first leaves (cotyledons) of the carrots and on some of the plants the feathery true leaves of the carrot are just beginning to grow.

In our yard, the smallest in our neighborhood at one tenth of an acre, we grow lots and lots of food.  Where many would put grass we put garden.  In fact we have a front yard garden. 

There are two aspects of the Hull garden that I take great pride in.  One is the soil and the other is the yield per square foot.  I write in this blog regularly about soil and how I try to dig as little as possible and put lots of mulch on top of the soil and let the soil grow in its own interconnected way. Good soil is the first ingredient in high yield but there are a few other things I do to increase yield. Among them are trellising and succession planting, as well as using the edge where mint and flowers grow for plants to spread out of the garden proper.  The biggest invader of flower and mint space is butternut squash.

With succession planting you plant different plants together and harvest the faster growing ones first. Back in late March under a cold frame I planted radishes, lettuce, kale, chard, and beets. The radishes were first to be fully harvested, and now the lettuce too is all gone. Kale has been going strong and will continue to do well as long as it is harvested regularly and given the space it needs to fight off the aphids. The chard will not be bothered by aphids and by fall will be the dominant plant in this bed. In the past two weeks the beets have come in and are now being harvested regularly. Succession harvesting enables high yield and less soil disruption as multiple crops are harvested from a single sowing.

The photographs below are all from the same garden bed, with photos taken off the from April 3 – July 3. The photos show a bit of the succession of plants from this one garden bed.

One of the remarkable things about this little bed is how when one plant is harvested what happens to those around it. Plants that had been dominated and did not thrive begin to get the light they need and flourish. One thing is certain — yield does NOT INCREASE by having more plants. Over the years I have learned that giving each plant the space it needs produces more food. It takes strategy to get the most out of a mixed plant bed. Sometimes I will harvest individual kale leaves, sometimes the whole plant. Last week I pulled up a mature kale plant and in its shadow was a tiny four inch kale plant and a small chard plant. Now five days later the chard plant is taking off and come fall will be producing lots of food and will be shading out its neighbors.

My goal for the garden is maximum production in this and subsequent years. That means that there are times when the garden produces more than we can eat so I try to share with friends and neighbors. But this June we had a secret weapon, lots of people living with us in Hull.

Below are some of the pictures of our harvest and our garden feasts.

May your garden grow lots of food for you, your neighbors and your children and grandchildren.

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