I like to go out in the garden every morning and see what’s ready to harvest. I was out of town for a few days, so this morning’s harvest was a little larger than normal. But, it gives a good idea where I am in my summer crop cycle. Before I forget, I should add that the photo doesn’t include a handful of red raspberries and blueberries that made it into my belly instead of the photo. (As always, click on the picture to see a larger version.) So, what’s here? Roughly, from left to right:

  • Purslane: My first for the summer. I usually get a little of this each year from volunteer starts.
  • Dry beans. Other than some favas several years ago, I’ve never grown dry beans. This looks like it will be most of my harvest for the year, but there are still a few green pods I left on the bushes.
  • Strawberries: I don’t get a lot at any one picking, maybe half a dozen at best.  But, most mornings for the last month I’ve gone out and had a few strawberries and a few blueberries. They make a great pre-breakfast snack.
  • Cucumbers: There are one pickling cuc and two English-style cucs here (a Lungo verde ortolani, which seems to be an Italian variety). I’m really impressed with the English-style cuc. It was the first to produce of the four varieties I have in, and it’s been a steady producer of about two or three cucs a week for the past month. I’ve never had such good luck with a cuc, so it’s a keeper.
  • Apples: My apples are just starting to ripen, with early Gravenstein’s (the top three) being very good right now. I won’t have many of those, as they are from a small branch grafted onto the main tree. The two Fujis shown are just beginning to ripen, and I should get six to eight weeks supply from them.
  • String beans: I’ve been getting a nice supply of string beans for about the last month, beginning with a purple variety (just one showing in the photo, if you look closely) and lots of green ones now coming off my pole bean plants. I’ll probably freeze a few, to see how that works out.
  • Tomatoes: There are three small varieties here, the red Sweet 100’s, the yellow pear and the orange Sungolds. My tomato harvest is just beginning. I’ll have way more than I can use, since I have over a dozen plants in and 11 different varieties. I kind of overdid it, but I couldn’t resist.
  • Summer squash: The zucchini has been a steady producer for about a month, yielding 2-3 per week. The surprising big producer is the yellow crookneck, which has been producing about 4-6 per week.

I’m particularly intrigued by the dry beans. This is an especially pretty variety (Calypso), with black and white coloration.

Today’s harvest illustrates very well my gardening philosophy. I didn’t actually plan this to be how I would garden, but it has evolved this way. I don’t grow rows upon rows of the same thing. This would be great to do if I knew how to preserve the excess for later consumption and if I had the room to grow that much food. But, I have limited space and I don’t need large amounts of any one food. In part, that is because I’m growing just for one person and in part because I can grow year round and don’t need to preserve much for winter. So, what has evolved is this: I grow small amounts of a large variety of food. This means I don’t get bored, because I don’t have too much of any one thing.

This gardening approach is probably a good one for many home gardeners, who have limited space. But, more importantly, this illustrates a point. When deciding what and how much to grow, consider several factors: your consumption needs, your need and desire for preserved food, and the resources you have available. Everyone will reach a different set of decisions based on their particular circumstances. This is one key to agroecology. It is not an industrial monoculture, but a human-centered approach focused on available local resources.