Midsummer Garden Bed Reload
By Joshua Burman Thayer
Your tomatoes are in, your beans are climbing tall, your squash is creeping wider by the day. Time to sit back? Well, maybe it’s a good time to assess spots in your garden where you can plant more food. Check around the edges and margins and you may find good places to plant these right now.
Cucumber: One of my favorite midsummer strategies is to plant cucumber starts on the edges and corners of the beds. They will trail down into the mulch and take up virtually no space in your beds.
Radish: These sprout and grow quickly so you can expect a large harvest within 3 to 6 weeks. If someone in your household shies away from that raw spiciness, just boil, sauté, or roast your radishes as a healthy alternative to potatoes. To plant, scratch a line ½-inch deep and ½-inch wide in your garden soil and sprinkle the radish seeds 3 to 4 inches apart.
Arugula: It’s so easy to grow arugula in the gaps of the other crops mentioned above. Simply broadcast arugula seeds in the empty spots in your garden bed. Once the plants are up, you can cut and re-cut them once a month.
Onion: An old farmer trick is to surround your growing spaces and orchards with onion. Why? Because aromatic plants (like onions) will discourage rodents.
DO YOU HAVE FRUIT TREES?
Try adding these around the edges of your orchard. They will both bolster diversity and provide nectar for bees.
Mint (Mentha spp.) helps dissuade rodents, makes a delicious tea, and provides winter blooms.
Rosemary (Salvia rosemarinus) helps dissuade rodents, makes savory dishes tasty, and provides winter blooms.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Ditto.
Nopal cactus (Opuntia ficus- indica) makes a sculptural and edible perimeter fence. Try the ‘Burbank spineless’ if you’re worried about the stickers.
Joshua Burman Thayer