Let It Go, Let It Grow: Planning and Planting Your Garden

Are you planting too many tomatoes? Or the wrong variety of winter squash? Esteemed garden writer Carol Deppe gives thirty-seven reasons to weed your list of vegetable garden crops so that your cucumbers stop ending up in the compost.

| September 2015

growing chard

How many gardeners grow chard every season only to feed it to the chickens?

Photo by Fotolia/GoodMood Photo

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015), by plant breeder Carol Deppe, is designed for organic gardeners of all levels and gardens of all sizes. Deppe’s work has long been inspired by Taoism, and the book is organized by basic Taoist concepts. Still, it also offers a wide array of practical vegetable garden advice, such as the list below, which itemizes 37 good reasons to not plant certain vegetables.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Tao of Vegetable Gardening.

Thirty-Seven Reasons for Not Planting Various Vegetables

There are hundreds of vegetable crops and thousands of varieties I have never tried. I tend to want to try them all. If I plant too many new things, though, I fail to evaluate them well enough for the planting to be a fair trial. When it comes to my regular tried-and-true crops and varieties, I always want to make sure I have enough, so I tend to plant too much. But there is only so much land and so much time. The more I get carried away in planting the less good a job I do on everything. I know this. I tell it to other people. I even write about it in books. However, over and over, each planting season I plant things I’ve already figured out many times before that I don’t need to plant, and plant too much of some of the rest. These days, I keep two kinds of lists to help me exercise more restraint in planting. One is the ordinary list of all the new things I want to try. The other is a list of reasons not to plant things or to plant less of them. Before planning or planting anything (or ordering seeds), I review both lists.

Having both lists helps me best set priorities and create a garden that gives me the most of what I want for the space and work involved. My list reflects my own personal preferences and idiosyncrasies, but you’ll undoubtedly be able to adapt it to reflect your own. So here is Carol Deppe’s Secret Second List—Thirty-Seven Reasons for Not Planting or Growing Less of Various Vegetables.

1. I don’t like the taste. It doesn’t matter whether you call them beet leaves or chard, or claim the greens of this particular variety of them are especially mild or sweet. They never are. And I don’t care how well it overwinters. Part of the reason it overwinters so well is nothing else likes to eat it either.

2. The kids (husband, wife, others in the household, ducks, chickens, rabbits, cow) won’t eat it. My laying ducks love kale or leafy radish greens, and these are easy to harvest for the flock. The ducks won’t eat the blazing-hot ‘Green Wave’ mustard greens. So I cheerfully err on the side of planting too much kale or leaf radishes, but restrain myself and err on the side of underplanting when planting hot mustards.

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