Double Your Harvests By Filling In the Gaps
Weekly Gardening Tip: How to Keep Your Garden Beds Full All Season
June brings the first full-crop harvests of the season to most northern gardens. Yes, you may have gobbled up baby greens or radish thinnings already, but in June many gardens will see full-fledged crop maturity of vegetables such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, radishes, and turnips—and early herbs such as cilantro and dill. Harvesting these crops leaves bare spots in their wake. With every week, more and more gaps will appear in your garden beds. For a productive and good-looking garden all season, fill those gaps! Find ten good crops for plugging garden holes below.
10 Great Crops to Fill in Your Garden Gaps
- Bush Beans. Now through mid summer. Sow short clusters of bush beans in spots vacated by greens such as lettuce or spinach. Each cluster of 4-5 plants will yield several portions of beans for late summer meals. Recommended varieties: Dragon's Tongue, Provider, Red Swan.
- Basil. Now through late summer. You really can never have too much fresh basil. Basil germinates quickly and easily when direct sown. It can be tucked into any open space after nearly any crop, and just a few plants here or there in your garden beds will delight you in late summer, when your main basil crop has faded or gone to seed. You can harvest even tiny leaves from tiny plants, so keep sowing til late summer for delightful baby basil shoots. Recommended varieties: Basil Bouquet, Genovese Basil, Thai Basil.
- Cucumbers. Now through mid summer. Cucumber plants fizzle out in the heat, so unless you sow again, your cucumber crop will be limited to mid-summer only. Luckily, it takes only a few vines, occupying only a few square feet of bed space, to produce a nice moderately-sized crop later in the summer. A good crop to follow lettuce or radishes. Recommended varieties: Homemade Pickles, Silver Slicer, Lemon.
- Summer Squash. Now through mid summer. As for cukes, same for zukes! To have fresh zucchini on the grill all summer, you'll need to sow again, and it takes only about 6-8 feet of bed space to grow another round of 3-4 plants. Recommended varieties: Cocozelle Zucchini, Black Beauty Zucchini, Benning's Patty Pan Squash.
- Amaranth Greens. Now through mid summer. Amaranth greens are the spinach of the tropical world, thriving in the heat that wipes out true spinach. It makes a wonderful crop for filling holes in your beds, as it is harvested after only 40 days or so, while still compact, allowing you an opportunity for a third crop after it! Recommended variety: Edible Amaranth Mix.
- Radishes. Mid through late summer. Radishes take up little space and are often wanted only in small amounts during the summer for salads. Sow some seeds in open nooks in your beds and harvest young for fresh eating. Later in the summer, sow larger areas of winter radishes such as Watermelon Radish for roasting and for winter storage. Recommended varieties: Cherry Belle, Watermelon, Radiant Radish Blend.
- Lettuce. Now through late summer. The ultimate space filler! Lettuce can be harvested at nearly any stage, and when tucked into free spots shaded by growing tomato or pepper or squash plants, the young leaves will be sweet and fresh even during summer heat. Follow radishes or turnips. Recommended varieties: Tom Thumb, Blushed Butter Oak, Magenta.
- Cilantro. Now through late summer. We once sowed a cilantro crop just after transplanting our tomatoes, right alongside them—just as the first tomatoes were ripening we had loads of cilantro for salsa. But you can tuck cilantro in anywhere, as it is a versatile, easy-to-grow crop that must be sown in bi-weekly successions in order to have it available for steady harvest (its natural harvest period is only about two weeks before it bolts). Tuck in at the base of any vining plant.Recommended variety: Cilantro.
- Dill. Now through late summer. Similar to cilantro in that it can be tucked anywhere—just harvest young before it sends up its towering flower. Another one we've sown down the bed along our tomato transplants with good success.Recommended variety: Bouquet Dill.
- Calendula. Now through mid summer. A compact and beautiful and fresh-smelling flower, calendula blooms beyond frost. If you like looking out at your garden and seeing an effusive blend of cheery blooms among your greenery, be sure to tuck calendula here and there among your crops. Recommended varieties: Calendula (standard), Flashback Calendula.