Plant, harvest. Plant, harvest. Harvest, plant.
In a small space, planning and use become the essential parameters. I am interested in how it looks, how the plants interact, growing challenges. But I am mostly interested in eating out of my backyard. I want the freshest, easiest to grow, most interesting and variable produce I can get. I want what I cut out of the yard to scream at me: I AM LUSCIOUS!
There are seasons, like early spring, when it is mostly planting, very little harvest. And seasons like late fall when it is pretty much all harvest, no planting. But all the long stretch through the belly of the season is about finding the right dance. As far as I can tell, the more often you plant, the more evenly distributed the harvest is, and the fresher and more vibrant the loot. Planning a nice tidy bed with anew row of lettuce to be put in each week, so that the planting eventually circles around and fills in the space out which you have recently harvested, seems like a pretty straightforward endeavor. For better or worse, it is one that does not interest me. Even so, I have to plant often, in my own circular, messy, undefined way, and the spaces that are available are the ones out of which I have lately taken food. So it works out.
But when it gets warm, and the growth goes fast and furious, there is suddenly double the work. Each visit to the beds requires the edited bag of seeds, the trowel, the scissors, the gathering basket or salad spinner, and some nearby place to chuck the weeds. If it's before August 15th, I usually have a yogurt container of organic fertilizer trailing around after me as well, unless Zelda has already distributed it to "the so hungy plants". Plus the camera. And, if I'm really lucky, the crumpled, stained, rain-spotted scrap of paper which is known as the garden plan.
If I would just stay home and water regularly, I like to think that everything would fall into place. Certainly, I would still fail to anticipate the week of rain at the beginning of July and have to replant all the beans, and I would still hurry the peas into the ground long before they ever had a chance. But - as I have done for the last two summers - going out of town for a month between July and August can really throw your flow.
Luckily, I have a small garden, and one third of it is full of green tomatoes. So the double time dance that is happening these days will soon be reduced to pulling out a head of lettuce, and planting three lettuce seeds in its place. At which point I will direct all my energies to that other problem: use. All those green tomatoes . . .