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Keeping up with your garden

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Keeping up with your garden

Post by Sonshine on Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:43 pm

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/Plant-Care-Summer-Garden.aspx

Providing an outdoor work station right in the garden can cut down on messes in your kitchen and time spent readying your harvest for eating. Install an old sink in a sturdy work table and attach a drain home to drain wash water and dirt onto your compost pile. Keep a few knives handy for harvesting tough-stemmed crops.

Like many gardeners, I’m more of a planter than a picker. I’d rather poke bean seeds into the ground than gather my 10th basket of squash, which leads to trouble when time gets tight in midsummer. Sound familiar? You can use the guidelines below to keep your garden working efficiently on days when time is short but your task list is long.

Harvest What’s Ready
Harvesting what’s ready should always be your top priority. But we’ve all slipped at least once: We get so busy planting, and then taking care of new plantings, that we miss harvesting the world’s finest lettuce at its peak. Make harvesting what’s ready your top priority.

To streamline the harvesting process, think in terms of strategic staging. Pick in the morning, and stash your goodies in a shady spot to keep them cool. When you have a lot to gather, make ice pancakes by freezing water in flat sandwich bags, then layer them among your harvested veggies in a portable insulated cooler. This trick can save a lot of trips back and forth to the refrigerator.

Speaking of efficiency, every veggie gardener needs a place within pitching distance of the compost pile — and within easy reach of water — for grooming and cleaning the day’s pickings. An ideal veggie-cleaning station stands about waist high, and is sturdy enough to serve as a cutting surface. You can build such a table from scrap lumber, find a cheap or free one through thrift stores or sharing databases, such as Freecycle or Craigslist, or erect a temporary table using boards and sawhorses.

The most deluxe garden work stations include a secondhand sink, or you can fill a big bucket, tub or wheelbarrow with several inches of water before you start picking. Use this water to dunk or swish freshly harvested salad greens or other vegetables before giving them a second cleaning in a colander. You can leave the dirty water out all day, and use it to rinse hands, feet, pots and tools until evening. Dip out water as needed for thirsty plants, and dump the muddy slurry on your compost pile.

Thrift stores are great places to find other items that make harvesting go fast, such as old steak knives and a large cutting board. Keeping up with the whereabouts of a single knife creates work, but keeping several stashed around the garden (out of reach of young children) saves time and frustration. When you have a cutting board, knives, a work surface, water and a disposal site staged in the garden, you will be less likely to bring mud-caked radishes or gritty greens through the kitchen door.

This time of year, when the kitchen is needed for regular cooking and food preservation projects, do everything you can to keep dirt in the garden (and out of the kitchen). For example, bringing a small bunch of pulled carrots indoors to clean makes a trail of dirt, muddies your sink and fills up your compost bucket. Compare and contrast: Swish pulled carrots in a bucket of water, wash a bit more with the hose, lop off the tops directly into your compost pile, and then head to the kitchen — if you don’t eat the carrots first.

To read the rest of the article, please click on the URL.

_________________
Sonshine
He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]
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