Originally published in Between the Rows
This year at the MGNV’s demonstration Organic Vegetable Garden (OVG), Cherry Belle radishes have outperformed our other favorite, French Breakfast. Some of the French Breakfasts became woody.
The rain has not kept us from harvesting kale, lettuce, and other cool-weather crops that we overwintered, but we have begun pulling some of these crops as they begin to bolt. Vegetable gardening constantly reminds us of nature’s cycles!
We have started planting the warm weather crops, although the variable weather and fluctuating temperatures have made it difficult to know when it is safe to plant crops such as tomatoes. We usually try to wait until nighttime temperatures are consistently over 50 degrees, but this year we planted some of the cherry tomatoes while we were still in the prolonged cool spell. We’ll report on how they do.
We are also doing more succession planting and interplanting. Succession planting involves planting crops (such as beans) every 2 to 3 weeks to extend the season over several weeks. We are interplanting flowers and herbs as we pull the kale and other cool-weather greens in order to plant greens that can take our hot summers. We hope that the flowers and herbs will attract beneficial insects or confuse the usual pests. There is a newly published book, Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden, that explores the benefits of interplanting.
The OVG is participating in a Cornell University study to track downy mildew on cucurbits. We will also report on downy mildew on basil, particularly the Genovese type, which has been a problem for us later in the season.
Most overheard comment from visitors to the OVG: I didn’t know that asparagus plants look like that!
Visit the Organic Vegetable Garden!
One of the best ways to learn about vegetable gardening is to see long established gardens in action. Make time this year to visit the Organic Vegetable Garden in north Arlington at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, one of the seven demonstration gardens operated by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.