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Volume 16, Issue 10 - March 6 - 12, 2008

Start Planning for Seasons of Garden Bounty

Double cropping brings forth a cornucopia of veggies

Get the most out of your vegetable garden by double cropping, which means growing two or more crops in immediate succession or at the same time. This requires advance planning but little extra effort.

Pea seeds, for instance — regardless if they are shelling peas or edible pod peas — must be sown as early as possible in the spring to obtain a good harvest. As soon as the peas have finished producing, immediately pull them out and replace them with okra or bush beans. If you are growing early crops of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage or cauliflower, consider replacing those plants with bush beans, lima beans, cucumbers, carrots, beets or rutabaga. If you planted potatoes or onions in the spring, consider replacing them with a fall crop of cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale and turnips.

If you grew sweet corn, consider inter-planting pumpkins when the corn is knee high. Another crop to grow after you have harvested sweet corn is lima beans, especially the Ford Hook variety. Allow the bean vines to climb the corn stalks for easy picking.

For fresh garden lettuce, consider growing Bibb and loose-leaf lettuce in the spring and the variety Summer Time during the months of July and August, all in the same location. Since lettuce is a relatively short-term crop, it can replace many early season crops.

By double cropping your vegetable garden, you can harvest fresh vegetables for almost eight months of the year. Double cropping also utilizes unused nutrients left behind by the previous crop. Often you can grow a second crop without adding any fertilizer.

When you plan to double crop, it is not necessary to till the soil. Simply remove the stubbles from the previous crop and, sow the new seeds in a shallow trench. To maximize my okra crop, I usually start seedlings in four-inch pots and transplant them into the garden as soon as the pea plants are removed.

Most vegetable plants tolerate double cropping — except for tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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