Gardening & Time: Food on your Time (Part 5 of 5)

Typical gardens revolve around annual food crops that are seasonally planted and then harvested. Rather than have long gaps between each harvest, consider a food garden that contains crops that can be harvested or consumed when you are ready.
There are several vegetable crops that have a long harvest window to fit any gardener’s needs. Perhaps the most common options are leafy greens that include arugula, bok choy, collards, kale, lettuce and Swiss chard. They are grown primarily in the cool season, and the leaves can be harvested throughout the life of the plants. If a gardener desires a salad, it’s waiting for them out in the garden. Many greens can be harvest over a period of several months. Carrots are another great option for gardeners who want food available readily either out in the garden or with a long shelf life. They can remain bagged in a refrigerator for several weeks after harvest. Onions and edible pumpkins also have extended harvest windows as well as long shelf life.
Tuber crops are the best option for food on demand with a long harvest window and an exceptionally long shelf life. Tuber crops are nutrient-dense and a good choice for any garden. After harvest, it is best to store them in a cool, dry, dark location to prevent new vine growth and maintain tuber quality. There are several tubers that grow well in the North Central Florida region: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, true yams and cassava. Sweet potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow in a garden. They can be planted in spring and harvested about five months later — or far longer if preferred. They can be propagated easily from “slips,” which are vine segments that produce roots. White potatoes, which have no relation to the sweet potato, are a cool-season crop that is best planted in mid- or late winter using “seed potatoes.” Seed potatoes are essentially small potatoes that were sorted out from the prior harvest.  A seed potato will need at least one eye from which a new plant will emerge.
Cassava is another tropical tuber-bearing plant that can be readily propagated and easily grown in the region. These tropical plants are planted in early spring from cuttings and harvested in the fall.
There are two kinds of fruit trees that produce fruit that will persist on the tree for weeks or months in a ripened state: citrus and persimmons. Citrus fruit can remain on the plants for weeks after ripening, allowing the grower to pick fresh citrus whenever they prefer. Persimmons, particularly Asian persimmons, are a well-adapted deciduous fruit tree. They produce orange-colored, flavorful fruit that ripen in the fall and can remain ripe on the tree throughout the fall and early winter. After harvest, the fruit can remain edible for weeks or months once dried.
When planning a future garden, consider the benefits of planting crops that provide food that waits on you.


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Posted: November 24, 2022

Category: Agriculture, Crops, Fruits & Vegetables, Horticulture, Pests & Disease
Tags: Agriculture, Cassava, Crops, Food, Fruit, Gardening, Organic, Potatoes, Sustainable, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetables

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