My 2016 Midwest Edible-Garden Plan

Reader Contribution by Melodie Metje
1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4

My spring garden.

There are veggies and herbs I keep in my garden year after year and then there are the “experiments”. I have my standby’s but I love trying new things each year.  New varieties or just new kinds of edibles.  I try new varieties to find the ones that are most prolific for my garden conditions and new tastes to enjoy.

The perennials in the garden are the back bone of a garden. They come back year after year with no effort on my part. They are the first up in the spring and the last to leave in the winter. If the winters are not harsh, many are harvestable year round.

Edible Herbs and Vegetable Perennials

Herbs: lavender, bay laurel, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, thyme, oregano, salad burnet, common chives, garlic chives, tarragon, horseradish, garlic, Elephant garlic, and leeks. For more on growing herbs, Start a kitchen herb garden!

Vegetables/Fruits: potato onions, Egyptian walking onions, blue potatoes, French sorrel, blood veined sorrel, chard, cultivated dandelions, 9 Star broccoli, strawberries, apples, figs. Corn salad and sprouting broccoli usually comes back from their own seed.

There will also be volunteer lettuce and tomatoes that will pop up here and there that I will transplant to where I want them in the garden. A friend also gave me some Meyer lemon tree seeds that I am trying to start, too.

I have annual herbs, flowers and vegetables that I grow each year. Most I have to either start from seed or purchase bedding plants from the store. There are some that self sow and will come back year after year with no effort on your part. Self-seeding crops, plant once and forget ’em.

Peat pots and aerogarden.

Edible Annuals Started this Week

Herbs: cilantro (Slo Bolt since our springs are short), basil (Cardinal with beautiful maroon flowering head, Blue Spice to add to cleaning supplies, Lettuce Leaf for cooking and pesto), stevia, red onions, and chervil for cooking and adding to body oil. I have to have parsley in the garden.  It is a self-sower and usually comes back each year, which it did this year so no more are needed.

I always keep Cayenne and Jalapeño peppers in the freezer for salsa and cooking. Right now, I don’t think I need to restock so I’ll wait and see on planting this year.

For greens, I always plant and start a variety of lettuces, spinach and Giant Red mustard. Lettuce plants purchased: Red Romaine, Buttercrunch, Red Leaf, Paris Island Cos, Coastal Star, Iceberg.

Started from seed: Red Crisphead, Magenta Crisphead, Cracoviensis loose leaf, New Red Fire, and Grand Rapids loose leaf. The Red Crisped and Cracoviensis are new varieties I am trying this year. Grand Rapids was one my Granny grew in her garden.

If you let your lettuce go to seed, you can save them and never have to buy lettuce seed again. Never ending salad from one packet of seeds

I interplant perennial and annual flowers with my edibles. They look wonderful and attract beneficial insects that help pollinate fruiting vegetables, increasing yields. My current perennial flowers are day-lilies, torch lily, gladiolas, and irises.

Flowers interplanted with herbs and edibles.

Annual Flower Seeds

Cock’s comb from seed my dad gave me years ago, Hummingbird vine from seed a neighbor gave me years ago, Tangerine Gem marigold (great deer and pest deterrent), sunflowers, Love Lies Bleeding amaranth, Lilliput zinnias, and Moonflower vine.

I started the small seeds in the Aerogarden and the large seeds (zucchini, beans, Moonflower, lemon tree, sunflower) I started in peat pots on a heating mat.

I decided against broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower this year because the beetle pests were awful last year. All three of these are in the same family.  Without their preferred food this year, the pests should die off and I’ll plant back in the garden next year.

When my babies sprout and have at least their second set of leaves, I put them in the garden where the conditions are best for them. I plant the crops that like cool weather on the north side and where there is more shade to extend the season. The heat lovers I plant where they get the most sun and won’t be shaded by others as they grow.

I like to interplant flowers and crops. This keeps the pests down by not planting one type of crop all together. The flowers attract pollinators and can even repel pests. Get the most from your space-plant intensively!

Place this year’s crops in a different spot than they were last year. Practicing crop rotation does two things: Each type of plant uses different minerals and nutrients from the soil.  Smart rotation will keep your soil from getting depleted of what your crops need.  Rotation also keeps the pests down. (See “Crop rotation made easy for small gardens“.)

For more on preparing your soil for plant (and crop) nutrition, check out this blog. The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals.

Melodie Metje started her blog, Victory Garden on the Golf Course, to help guide her family’s gardening efforts and to keep track of what was happening in her own garden. She named it after the victory gardens grown to help the WWII effort. Melodie thinks we are in a similar situation today: Our country needs our help in battling the war on ill health. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.