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The Deep South vegetable garden in April

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If I didn’t have vegetables, I wouldn’t know what to eat.

Don’t get me wrong, I am almost omnivorous. I enjoy milk products, dairy, grains, most meats, fish and seafood. But none of them makes a meal without vegetables.

Fresh is best, but since I cook four to five dinners weekly for four adults or more, I am good with dried, frozen, and, occasionally, canned vegetables, too. I grew up picking whatever was ripe from my grandfather’s garden, and nothing pleases me more than doing the same nowadays from my own garden.

Right now, we’re at the junction of the spring and summer gardens in what I call the Deep and Deeper South, Zones 8 and 9. That makes for odd bedmates as head lettuce gets replaced by summer’s pepper plants while the spring mesclun keeps on growing next door to them.

Planning for constant harvest

I try to keep the entire pot or spot in the bed covered as much of the time as possible. It keeps the weeds down and makes me keep picking. I sowed radish seeds around an almost-mature Chinese cabbage plant about three weeks ago.

I really went thick – enough to cover the surface to the edge of the big pot. They sprouted quickly, and were ready to pick for salad sprouts as they got crowded – delicious and perky.

Now there’s enough room for the radishes to mature in a ring around the cabbage to be picked in about two weeks.

If you cannot get them ready to harvest by early May in my part of the country, cabbage and other cole crops will bolt like lettuce or parsley, shooting up flower stalks that portend the end for them.

Cole crops are cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and their kin. I grow all of them, and do best with them as a fall crop that sometimes extends into winter and spring.

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