Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Just In Time Gardening

One of the biggest problems with traditional gardening is that it produces too much food all at once. This last year I lamented that I didn't get a full garden in after we moved. I shouldn't have worried, my next door neighbor had so much produce he brought us a bag of veggies about every other week, and he still has tons of food still on the vine.

The idea of a "Just In Time" (JIT) supply chain is that you get what you need without needing to store extra in a back room. In gardening this stored food is usually wasted because it spoils. In an effort to avoid food spoilage, while still harvesting in a "year round garden" is to change the way we plant. This can be solved by asking and answering a simple question:

"So, when should I plant (insert vegetable here)?"

Well, how often do you want to eat it? If you would like lettuce every week, I would plant 2-3 every other week. Then in 8 weeks you will begin your JIT lettuce supply chain. Why the third plant, you ask? Every so often a seed won't germinate, or you may want an additional salad that you weren't planning on. This extra head of lettuce will cover you in these circumstances.

How much room will this take?

According to the Square Foot Garden (SFG) technique, you can plant 4 heads of lettuce in one square foot. So if you choose to plant 2 lettuce plants each week, one square foot will cover you for four weeks. By 8 weeks, you have harvested your first lettuce and can reuse that square! See the following chart (or the image above) for an example of one complete rotation:

Lettuce Rotation Example

Week1: Plant 2 Square 1
Week3: plant 2 Square 1
Week5: plant 2 Square 2
Week7: plant 2 Square 2
Week8: harvest 2 Square 1
Week9: plant 2 Square 1
Week10: harvest 2 Square 1
Week11: etc... etc...

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