Managing a potager is a constant shell game, plants get planted, mature and decline and you must move things around and replace those declining plants with the next crop. This happens all season long up to the hard frost dates when I will put most of the potager to bed for the season with a layer of compost and mulch (after a few weeks of the garlic being in the ground).
The first shift and change is with 5 squares that declined, were pilfered or failed. I originally planned two square feet for celery, one of the square feet (two plants) are beginning to grow. The other, unfortunately, failed to work at all. Another square held sweet corn which was too delicious for either the squirells or the birds to resist. Next, the declining three squares; the first crop of mesclun lettuce had grown beautifully and provided salads for us for the last three weeks. We both enjoyed salads out of the first couple of cuttings. The third cutting provided salad for a dinner party I had a few nights ago.
Alas, the mesclun has run its course. I went out this morning and cut some of the lettuce to test and the stalks were toughening and the leaves were slightly bitter. Should I let this grow and cut another salad, I believe we would be dissapointed with the results.
The solution was to dig up the lettuce, prep the bed and begin new crops. I loosened the soil and lifted the lettuce plants out of the soil and tapped the roots to ensure all the soil went back into the bed. Then, augmented the soild with additional soil mix I have. What I am left with is five square feet of well prepared soil. In addition, the spent lettuce plants will be well used in the composter!
With the four square feet, I planted four sweet potato plants, another square of mesclun (I think I can get a couple of salads out of it before the weather gets too hot), spinach, swiss chard and a couple of winter squash plants that I will thin to one and allow it to mature.
The last additions were a couple of strawberry plants tucked into a sunny corner near our house in a flag stone planter that had only had ground cover in it till now as well as a couple more pots of items; a dwarf curry bush and a very small (for now) bay tree. The bay will be brought on to the sun porch for the winter along with a couple of herb plants and returned to the garden next summer.
The potager is a busy place this year and I am so glad we decided to take this journey. This practical experience as well as the research I have been doing is entertaining, worthwhile and stress free! I urge everyone to plant a garden, a pot or something that will provide you the same experience, there is nothing like it!