If I start something (and especially if I get really passionate about it) you can expect that I will get quite ambitious with it, regardless of my know-how! Gardening is a perfect example of this. I may be a novice (it's only my second year), but I am determined not to let a single square inch of my garden go unused throughout the entire growing season!
There's nothing special about what I'm doing in the slightest. Most gardening books talk about succession planting, and how to follow up your spring crop with a summer crop, or a summer crop with a hardy fall crop, and then follow up your fall crop with an overwinter cover crop. It makes perfect sense, if you desire to use your garden to feed your family and want to use it to it's greatest potential.
Back in the winter, I noted that "A wise gardener anticipates June in January" (author unknown). Now that summer is in full swing, I am starting to plan ahead for fall planting. I'm beginning to notice that with gardening, if you want to really make full use of your garden, you must constantly be at least one season ahead in your planning.
Here are some photos of the garden drawings that I've been making for each season, filled with my scribblings and scrawlings of what to place where (and then scratched out and changed again). They're a bit messy, but they give you the basic idea.
This is basically what my garden actually looks like now, minus a few very minor changes. I've just recently pulled up the remainder of my radishes and turnips, and my peas and lettuce will come up soon as well, which brings us to...
As you can see, my summer plan has been modified many times, and is in fact still being changed ever so slightly. I will draw up a more final (read: tidy) copy of what I did to put in my gardening notebook, so that I will have a proper record of it. You can see, though, how I am filling the spaces that open up with new veggies that will grow into the fall.
And lastly, this is what I have so far for the fall.
I haven't quite decided yet what I can do when my tomatoes and peppers finish (that's the empty center bed), which probably won't be until sometime in September, so there aren't many options left at that point. Likely it will end up being radishes, lettuce, spinach, etc. as they grow quite quickly and the greens can tolerate the cold when it comes. I've already planned for turnips, beets, snow and shelling peas, carrots, and of course, my squash will be lingering on the vine. I've got garlic and buckwheat planned to go through the winter. Any other ideas?
Perhaps this will encourage those of you who haven't managed to really get a garden going yet and fear that it is too late. Take heart- I will be replanting over half of my garden within the next two months as crops finish, so it is definitely not too late to plant something this year!
I'll have to get a new garden picture up as well. It is starting to take off with more steady heat and sun (well, except for yesterday and today). The tomato plants are so much bigger and flowering now, the zucchini is a mean, green vegetable making machine, the cucumbers are starting to form, the sunflowers are nearing the top of the fence, and the winter squash vines are threatening to overtake the entire yard. It's a beautiful thing.
How are your gardens going? Do you use succession planting? Do you have a particular system for doing it, or do you just fill up spots as they open up? What are your plans for late summer and fall?