Getting the most out of small spaces

 

Early maturing snowball turnip paired with late maturing beetroot and spring onions all growing together maximizing the productivity of a small space
Early maturing snowball turnip paired with late maturing beetroot and spring onions all growing together maximizing the productivity of a small space

One of my favorite things about gardening is that I can choose what I want to grow each year. I subscribe to the school of thought that  you should plant what you like to eat, however planting the same vegetables every year does get a bit predictable. Experimenting with unusual varieties gives me a kick and expands my knowledge as well as my pallet.

This year, with a view to expand what I can produce in my 1.5m potted roof garden I chose to give planting of “early” and “late” maturing crops a go.  To do this I looked for an early maturing small turnip to pair with my old faithful beetroot. I found a lovely sounding turnip called “Japanese Snowball” which is described as a fast growing, egg shaped globe with a mild sweet juicy flavour. The globes should be harvest size by the end of this month, leaving sufficient space for the beetroot development. I’d never heard of this variety before I began looking and was surprised to find it’s been around in western world since at least 1885.

I sewed the seeds as directed both for greens (close) and 2.5cm apart in two rows in mid-late March. I’ve already harvested a crop of young greens from one row and eaten them raw in salad along with some chard,  last week used a few of the larger leaves as a cooked spinach substitute. Obviously, because my rows are small, my harvests are only handfuls however, I can’t believe how quick they are – they’re ready again! The spaced counterparts remain untouched and are sheltering the slower growing beetroot beneath their large foliage.

So far I am very pleased with this experiment. I am quite happy with the taste of the greens both raw and cooked and am awaiting the globes with much anticipation. It seems that I’ve doubled the output of my tiny space this year. Looking back, it now seems quite obvious, however I’d not considered this before my work experience on the Organic Lea farm.  I guess it just goes to show what we can learn if we’re open to it.

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