Unplanned harvests

As I experiment with polycultures of perennial veggies I try to make use of every bit of garden as much of the time as possible and of every plant, whether planned or unplanned.

A couple of years ago I grew some new potatoes but unintentionally left some behind when I harvested them.  This was probably because I don’t dig and try to make as little disturbance as possible to the soil even when harvesting.  As a result a few plants reappeared last year; and even though I tried to get them all out and thought I had, they reappeared once again this year.  They must be pretty tough as they were in the ground through very cold winter conditions, maybe they were saved by the layers of mulch heaped on in the autumn.

The unplanned potatoes were in the area designated for perennial kales and cabbages on my plan; but as these were being raised from seed and nowhere near ready to plant out when the potatoes appeared so I let them stay.  Today, having planted the space all around the potatoes with young kales and cabbages I started gently digging the potatoes out.  I didn’t expect that they would amount to much, but in fact got 625 grams from the one plant taken up so far.

In the autumn two years ago I planted masses of garlic.  I used cloves purchased at the supermarket, rather than from a nursery or seed merchant and popped them in anywhere I could find space.  Last summer my haphazard planting style meant that I did not find them all when it was time to harvest.  By the time I looked they had keeled over and gone brown and amidst the polyculture I couldn’t spot them all.  In fact there was a lot I didn’t spot and garlic has been coming up everywhere again this year.  It is once again beginning to keel over, so I am making sure to harvest it as I come upon it.  This has so far yielded 775 grams, including stems / leaves.

I have been experimenting with planting broad beans in the perennial polycultures; in part because they are an early crop and I had space that I wanted to fill at the end of the winter.  They are now quite large plants and the pods have been swelling nicely.  I have removed a few bean plants from a piece of garden adjacent to the conservatory that we are refashioning and the beans from these plants plus some picked from other plants have today given me 225 g before podding,  which turned out to be only 50 g of actual beans.

Still a harvest is a harvest, of whatever size; and we will enjoy homegrown veggies tonight with an omelette.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the potatoes and beans plus some of the garlic.


About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Forest Gardening, Perennial Vegetables, Permaculture, Polycultures, roots and tubers, Telford Garden and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Unplanned harvests

  1. Nicola Partridge says:

    I had the same experience with garlic – thought I’d lost it the first year, and had a monster harvest the next. I have followed the same precept since. Keep the big cloves and bung the small ones straight back in the ground again.
    Thanks for posting details about your blog on Transition Town Andover’s website.


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