Today we’re going to talk about our beloved orchards, I know spring is already gone 🙁 but, I’ going to give you some tips for an organized crop and harvest.
I have to be honest, I don’t have an orchard myself, we’ve been traveling a lot during the past years so even if I had the space to grow something, I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on my beloved veggies and there are no “plant-sitters” around yet (sigh).
So to gather all this info, I talked to an experienced Italian grandpa, he has been growing his own food for years, and he has become the “Veggie Guru” of the area, so people ask his opinion about their own plantings everytime they see them around.
His name is Virginio and he became my “to go” person to talk about veggies and fruits, you know, casual conversations.
I asked Virginio to let me visit his orchard and learn more about plants, care and, how he organized his crops.
First, let’s talk about what he usually grows and recommends:
HOW MANY PLANTS?
About 6 sprouts from each aromatic, but if you buy them already grown, you can totally buy less.
From 15 to 20 tomato, peas, lettuce and rocket salad plants, 4 zucchini and spinach sprouts, 4 to 5 peppers and so on.
You can totally plant whatever you like, this will depend on your taste.
He explained that if you want at least half a year worth in vegetables, a family of three will need more than 1 sqm like you normally read online.
Don’t get me wrong, planting in containers or small terraces will *always* be worth the try and, it’ll give you something to eat, however, what you can harvest from 1 container of peppers is not going to be enough for the rest of the month, nor the year.
According to Virginio, if you want to take home a good supply of veggies, you will need more space, about 15 to 20 sqm is OK to grow vegetables from the list above for 3 people.
Planting in containers
If you have a terrace, you can always grow your own aromatic herbs, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, arugula, zucchinis, wild berries (like strawberries) and even small trees (like citrus trees), everything is possible, so don’t worry, any space is a good space for a plant!
Once you’ve selected the planting area, the next thing is to clean it from weeds, move the soil and add hummus and mix it together, that’s the base to start a project.
Now, you have to select the space for every vegetable, for example, putting the tomatoes on the back of other small vegetables so every plant will have the same amount of sun. This layout will change around August when you’ll start again the seeding season. It is very important to change it so you will avoid plant diseases and other anomalies in the soil.
Another great advice from Mr. Virginio (to an amateur like me) is to plant lettuce, peas, cabbage, etc., at different times (dates) and groups;
For example: if you buy the little six-pack sprouts, plant them around March; after 30 to 40 days, plant another group of sprouts and repeat it again once or twice, that way you’ll have early and continuous harvests.
If you can cover your plants forming a greenhouse, you can totally anticipate 1 month of planting, even more, if you live in warmer areas.
ABOUT THE SOIL
Once a week, carefully move the soil around the plants with a hoe, it will help oxygenate the roots and the soil.
If you need/want to fertilize your plants (with granulated or liquid organic fertilizer), do it around the total diameter of the plant, not directly to the stem, this way you’ll help the roots absorb the nutrients better.
In late August / early September, you can start rotating the crops and changing the planting position. It will help maintain the soil fertility, control weeds, minimize diseases spread and pest growth.
That’s it, for now, I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did, I had a lot of fun at the orchard and learned a lot with Virginio.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! You know where to find me 🙂