Fast-Growing Plants For Impatient Gardeners
By Armani Tavares
For those of us who suffer from a chronic condition known as impatience, here are some plants that I can recommend growing. They’re easy, they’re fast, and they’re what make up a bountiful garden harvest in only a month.
First place has to go to green onions grown from sets. That’s right. They can go into the ground, and that’s most any ground, at almost any time of the year, they are the earliest thing I harvest in regards to both days to maturity, and how early they can be planted. Plant them as soon as you can work the soil in spring, all the way through the year until freeze up. You’ll have a harvest from the sets in as early as two weeks, varying due to the time of year and depth planted. I like mine planted deep, around four inches, as to get longer white stalks (or red when I plant red onion sets). If you have some mechanism for creating furrows, that’s great, but I dig a trench with a hoe or heavy rake and place the sets as close as possible to each other down the length of it. Then push the dirt back over, water, and you’re done.
Second place is taken by radishes. I personally never liked radishes very much, that is, for eating. But they’re great for growing and if you plant all the different colored ones, white, red, purple, and pink, they’re just plain fun, and quite attractive. I grow them because of that. Of course I figure out some place to use them, usually salads. Some varieties can be harvested in as early as 18 days, such as Saxa II, offered by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
Types will produce a harvest in as early as two or three weeks. They are also very easy to grow, not giving much time for problems to show up! There are all sorts of options here: Kale, mustard, lettuce, arugula, spinach, cress, mizuna, tat soi, and pac choi all make great salad greens that pass the one-month to harvest test. You can create the best salads yourself, and wow is it rewarding.
Kale. Surprise! The Territorial Seed Company offers a variety, Wild Garden Kales, which offers a wonderful array of shapes and colors of Siberian kales. It has a days-to-maturity of 30 days—it passes the test. I love growing kale, and the earlier, the better. Super-food nutritious and my favorite green for adding to stews and such dishes. Also great made into kale chips, made by marinating the kale leaves, stripped from the stalks and torn into bite-sized pieces, in a concoction of your choice (something like salt, pepper, vinegar/lemon juice) then baking in the oven at the lowest possible temp until dry and crisp all the way through.
Another crop that barely passes is a variety of bok choi named Shiro. It’s available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Shiro is a “baby,” single serving bok choi. These Asian vegetables deserve greater publicity due to their relative ease of growing and adaptability. It does best in cool weather but tolerates year-round production. They have a mild, mustard greens-like flavor, though much crisper.
Everything listed above will produce satisfactorily in your average garden without special care, yet can provide extra special rewards within a month’s time of sowing. You know, when you’re caring for your garden day in and day out, mopping-wet with sweat under the scorching sun while weeding some plants—plants that by now you’ve almost forgotten are for eating—20 days difference until harvest can make a big difference in boosting you until the rest of things come into production! Well, okay, I admit it, I’m just impatient.
Originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal.