Spreading Around the Risk

Author Photo
By Erin Sheehan

Gardening is a risky proposition. You invest time and money and then cross your fingers and hope for good weather and no pests. This year we’re trying to spread out the risk by cultivating different plots. We have a backyard plot with tomatoes, summer squash, beans, pak choi, cabbage, watermelons, broccoli and cucumbers. We have a container garden on the deck and along the driveway with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs and broccoli.

We also have two plots at the community garden, about a mile from our house. One plot has several varieties of winter squash, pumpkins, peas, pumpkins, a lone tomato, broccoli and peppers. The other plot has a couple of winter squash, beets, carrots, onions, tomatoes, kale and peppers.

We tried to suit plants to the environment. The second community plot has raised beds, which are great for growing root vegetables, so we planted all of those in that area. Tomatoes are our most important crop, so we spread them around, a little in each plot, figuring that even if only one area succeeds we’ll still have at least something. Winter squash requires a lot of space and sun, but we harvest it all at once, so we don’t mind having it away from home, hence planting it at the community garden.

Having four gardens means that there’s always something to do in at least one of them. This week we’re picking peas (enough for dinner each night), and picking squash bug eggs. Last year’s winter squash crop was nearly destroyed by squash bugs. This year I’m trying hard to not let those bugs get the best of me. Every day or two I turn over every leaf on the plants and search for small, brown eggs. Last night I found seven clusters! But I also spied several small golf ball-sized winter squashes forming!

Of course I wish we had one huge, sunny plot with perfectly drained soil and no wind. But we work with what we have and we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket.

This was last night’s dinner. Freshly picked peas from the community plot, fresh-picked lettuce from the deck, and roasted red peppers from last year’s garden that had been frozen. We hope our whole summer features such great food!

Published on Jun 18, 2015