Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why Not Thin and Eat?

As I mentioned, we tried something new this year when planting our greens.  Actually we tried two new things.  We tried starting them indoors with the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc., but they are a bit spindly and small compared to the ones planted directly into the ground.  I think any headstart the indoor greens had over outdoors is quickly negated by the vigor of the outdoor greens.  But that wasn't really what this post was supposed to be about. 
Before - A bed of thick greens with little dirt exposed between plants.   (Left to Right we have:  arugula, spinach, chard, spinach, kale.)
We planted the greens so that they were just two to three inches apart in a square-foot grid and let them grow until the leaves touched.  Then we pulled a few plants until the leaves didn't touch any more.  Then they grew and we waited until they started bumping into each other again and we again thinned them out.  So far we've gotten nearly two pounds of spinach, chard, kale, and arugula.  It is delightful! 
After - thinned greens with room between plants for growth.   (Bottom to Top:  kale, spinach, chard, spinach)
And we still have hearty, robust plants growing out there right now for harvesting later!  I think we will have one more thinning at least before they are spaced to what we have planted them in years past.  This way of planting and thinning is one of those "Why didn't I think of this before!?"  Previously we just had empty space between the plants as we waited for them to grow up.  Now we are using that formerly empty space to produce even more food.  We are pretty stoked about it.
After  (Bottom to Top:  kale, spinach, chard, spinach)
We also seem to have successfully beat out the leafminers who appeared three weeks ago with nearly no loss of crop.  We went out to the garden every morning and evening and checked the leaves of the spinach and chard, crushing the eggs we found.  And now we aren't finding them any more.  It is awesome.   Perseverance pays off, like usual.  Here is hoping the new trend continues, especially now that we have some (normal spring) cooler weather which the greens really prefer.  Thrive little greens!  Thrive!

Matt cleaning and sorting greens on the patio.
And to think that just five years ago I thought I didn't like ANY greens!

10 comments:

  1. I must admit I don't bother thinning, but can see the benefits of doing so. I also tend to let lots of flowers self-seed everywhere, so we have a lot of bees and butterflies in the garden and not a lot of space for the weeds to grow (other than the path!). Your garden is looking really great, so productive too.

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    1. One of this things I love and find amazing is the infinite variety of way that it can be done and still work out superbly well. Its pretty incredible, really. We want to add more flowers to the garden. We've never had space before, but now we do. We bought a few packets of seeds, but so far none have made it to the soil due to the rain.

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  2. I have heard of the planting and thinning/eating method. Not having all the bare dirt to look at must be nice. Plus, the greens probably shade the shade the soil and keep it moist.

    It's good you beat the pests!

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    1. I think those are all good benefits. I think it keeps the weeds down, too as they are shaded by the nice large spinach leaves. It certainly is more attractive all lush and green!

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  3. Brilliant post, Beth - so helpful! I much prefer plants started outdoors, because they adapt to the conditions of the garden. We live on a hilltop a mile in from the sea - so, very windy. Our garden has some shelter from large trees, but even so the wind is very drying and punishing for young plants. If we start them indoors, the wind usually kills them when it's time for them to go out, but the ones that start where they'll end up do okay. xx

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    1. It seems like growing vigorously in the soil was what they were made to do, no matter what my human intentions might be!

      It is rather windy in much of Montana, but Billings isn't so bad as we are in a nice valley some distance from the mountains. It is the "banana belt" of Montana....i.e. it is nice here when all around us it is not. What is your weather like there? Do you have a long growing season? I confess I know rather little about your climate conditions there. I imagine it to be moist, but a few things you said might make me question that assumption.

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  4. Hopping by from Ngo Family Farm. I tried thinning my spinach and lettuce this year as well - your greens look much healthier than mine! For some reason, my lettuce and spinach is rather limp and spindly.

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    1. We grew both direct sown greens and transplants from indoors. They transplants were pretty darn spindly by comparison. But, all in all, we are very happy with how they are coming along this year.

      Thanks for dropping by! Have a great day!

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  5. No surprise here that you guys have improved upon your techniques in the garden, as clever and productive as you both are. Here's to green!

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    1. Like usual, this was all your brother's idea. I just plant where he tells me! (I am only slightly kidding.)

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!