So lets say that by this time, your tomatoes have succumbed to the early season blight. Or, perhaps you left a portion of your garden un-planted this spring. However it came to be: there's an empty spot--or entire bed-- in your food garden. You want to grow something that will produce but not something that's going to interfere with your fall garden in September/October. Below is a quick 5-step guide on how to chose a few varieties for replanting.
(Just so you know, I'm assuming for the entirety of this post that your garden space gets at least 4-5 to 8 to 12 hours of sun. Some afternoon shade is definitely okay. 4pm to 6:30pm are tough in July and August, even for the heat tolerant crops.)
1)First off, you need to measure your empty spot. Is it 1ft x 5ft, i.e., 5 square feet? Or 4'x10', i.e. 40 square feet? With a sense of your space in mind...
2)You need to get a sense of what grows this time of year and how much space it requires. Tallahassee Food Gardens' What Can You Grow in a Square is your quick reference. On page one, vegetable varieties are arranged by their space requirements (in terms of Square Food Gardening spacing for raised beds). On page two (under the planning grid), all the veggies are organized by the season in which they grow well. (This time of year, look for "hot season.") With this info in the back of your mind...
3)You need to evaluate possible varieties by how long they'll take to reach harvest. Just Fruits and Exotics' Vegetable Planting Guide is your go-to for this. For example, though it may be possible (as my neighbor has recently informed me) to grow a second season of cheery and plum tomatoes, at 90-110 days to harvest, they won't be ready until November which is past our prime fall planting window. For our purposes, we want something that can be planted and will produce by or before mid October. Cucumbers, for instance, or green (bush) beans take approx. 60 days, and thus will be ready by late August/early September.
4)Now you get to select based on your dietary preferences as it fits the season, space, and time-til-harvest. Though both cucumbers and beans will both work (along with at least 5 or 6 other things), perhaps cucumbers make you sick because there was this one time when.... who knows. Your choice! What tastes good?
5)Prep your bed, plant, water, and watch for the harvest. If you want the basics outlined, here's another quick reference: Tallahassee Food Gardens Food Gardening 101.
Grow Your Own Food and Share It.
PS- If you're ever in need of a quick Q&A, feel free to ask your questions on FB-- usually the answers are better than I could offer by email because multiple folks amidst the gardening "cloud of witnesses" will chime in.
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