Sunday, February 5, 2017

Raised Growing Beds & Permaculture Gardens

Below is a repost of a summer 2012 note on Urban Permaculture and raised beds.  It is never too early to start thinking about the upcoming planting seasons in the community gardens!

Summer is half over and that means we are thinking about raised bed fall and winter plantings.  Ordering seeds for the next season's crop is so much fun!  We love going through the catalogues, admiring the photos, thinking about the upcoming seed starting and transplanting efforts.

Here are some of our tried and true, favorite cooler weather plants we like to have started by mid September.  The links will take you to either a description or catalogue page. 


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Florida Permaculture Raised Bed Chives & Lettuces
Also known as rocket, arugula with her bitter, earthy flavors is one of my favorite winter plants.  Excellent on sandwiches, in salads or by herself, arugula is easy to grow, hardy and a must for every Urban Farm garden.
Florida Permaculture Raised Bed Arugula
Famous heirloom varieties, both Mary and Martha Washington varieties were developed around at the beginning of the twentieth century for greater disease resistance. The 1930 Ferry catalog states that Mary Washington asparagus is  "A vigorous growing and productive asparagus bred to resist the disease known as asparagus rust". Mary is a Martha cultivar with oval tipped stalks and comes highly recommended by most asparagus growers.
Another well-known heirloom variety, use dating to just after the Civil War in the Americas but earlier in Europe, Calabrese broccoli is a dark green plant, twenty to thirty inches in height, producing fist-sized central heads, and many side shoots until frost. Noted for her texture and flavor.
Use a variety of Broccolis, cultivars including Belstar, Premium Crop, Packman, Gypsy, Major, Nutribud and Waltham all produce large amounts of food.
An 1820’s heirloom variety, the three inch, round, golden beet bulbs are known for their desirable sweetness. Golden beet’s unusual color adds to her versatility.  Very sweet beet.
The early 1900’s heirloom Early Wonder Beet produces well before the other full-sized beets, has medium to tall size tops that can be harvested and served as delicious greens. Early Wonder possesses a deep red color and rich, hearty flavor.
Deep crimson, dark red, vigorous growing beet producing ample greens. Red cloud beet is know for her resistance to bolting.  She can be harvested throughout most of the growing season.
St. Valery Carrot is an 1885 heirloom carrot and, according to James Vicks’ 1924 catalog, is the "best and most handsome main crop carrot. Enormously productive, very desirable for private gardens as well as for markets." St. Valery has ten inch roots and a strong sugar content (sweet).
The New Kuroda carrot is a strong preforming hybrid, exhibiting a deep reddish orange color. Kuroda may be used as the main carrot crop as it produces well on most small homesteads and growing operations.
Adelaide is a Dutch hybrid know by its more popular common name, Baby Carrot.  Easy to grow and a solid producer, Adelaide keeps its texture and fresh, sweet flavor longer than most carrots.  Very sweet carrot and great for salads.
Long Island Brussel Sprouts is an 1890 heirloom dwarf brussel sprout variety growing on average to approximately two to three feet depending upon climate. The Long Island Brussel variety can set up to one hundred sprouts per plant and was considered the primary commercial variety for years.
Early Jersey Wakefield has been considered one of the best varieties of early producing cabbages for several hundred years of homestead agriculture.  Early Jersey is a 1840 heirloom variety growing to approximately three pound.  She exhibits a pale green leaf color and can be planted close together. According to DM Ferry in 1930, "this most excellent variety is the earliest and surest heading" and one that resists yellowing.
Another cabbage variety highly resilient to yellowing and splitting, Quick Start hybrid is a strong grower, one that can be planted close together in raised beds and relied upon for steady production of three pound cabbage heads.
Danish Ballhead is an 1887 heirloom late fall, blue-green producer. Danish Ballhead was originally introduced by Burpee Seed and has been a popular variety for years.  This cabbage keeps well in storage.
Mills says that Mammoth Red Rock 1880 heirloom cabbage is the “largest of the red cabbages and the most sure heading, also the best for pickling". Mammoth Red had reddish purple leaves and produces a five pound plus cabbage head.  Strong producer and stores well.
This 1890 heirloom cabbage heirloom variety was introduced in the mid-1800's by P. Henderson, president of Henderson Seed Company.  Early snowball cabbage is a reliable early producer of firm texture.  Very popular variety among urban farmers.
Bright Lights Swiss Chard is a stunning plant, certainly desirable for garden appearance but most appreciably important because of her delicious taste and reliable food production.  Leaves are bright deep green, moderately savoyed with veins of stunning bright warm and hot colors, most commonly red, orange, or yellow.  Developed by Johnny's Selected Seeds, this variety is perfect for the smaller garden or those gardens looking to capitalize on visual effect.  Bright Lights is highly recommended by both judy and myself.
Fordhook, while not as visually stunning as Bright Lights, is a reliable performer producing strong and plump white stalks with savory, bright green leaves.
As with Bright Lights Chard, Pink Lipstick offers amazing bright pink-red color. Use Pink Lipstick Chard in salad mixes for color and taste.
This 1890 heirloom cauliflower heirloom variety was introduced in the mid-1800's by P. Henderson, president of Henderson Seed Company.  Early snowball cabbage is a reliable early producer of firm texture.  Another variety popular variety among urban farmers.
Another great cooler weather plant, Starbor Kale is perfect for raised beds because of her beautiful blueish-green hue, firm leaves, great texture and compact growing characteristics. Greens can be eaten cooked or raw in salads.
An 1885 heirloom variety previously referred to as Tuscan Black Palm.  Dinosaur Kale offers large, rounded, succulent greens. Plants are hardy, exhibit vigorous growth habit and are popular among urban farmers as a crop that will feed the family.  We have grown Dinosaur Kale reliably for years.  Greens are good either as a salad component or cooked.
One of my favorite urban farm Kales, the Ethiopian variety will produce like none other.  Very tender and tasty and very drought tolerant.  Grows well in raised beds and seems to be root-knot nematode resistant.
Kohlrabi is also known as a ‘cabbage-turnip’ and the Grand Duke Variety produces a larger, non-woody edible part.  Very interesting plant for the garden and reliable producer.

Excellent pre-Civil War heirloom Kohlrabi variety.  According to DM Ferry Early Purple Vienna Kohlrabi can be considered "early with small top, the leaf stems being tinged with purple. Bulbs of medium size, purple; flesh white. Desirable for forcing and early outdoor planting."  Another excellent vegetable for the urban farm homestead, preforming will in raised beds.
Leeks are an important part of all urban farm gardens.  Lincoln leek is a long , succulent variety that can last for much of the year.  Used in salads, stir fry and other dishes.  Here in the south, established leeks offer good winter color and texture to the urban farm garden.
One of my favorites, this variety is evergreen, drought tolerant and produces well year around.  Offers brilliant white flower spikes.  This is probably one of the most hardiest of the urban farm plants, almost always reliable to out-preform any other crop.
Beautiful red-green, crisp standard lettuce, this variety is a cornerstone of any winter garden in the urban core.  Asian red thrives when picked, producing more and more throughout the season. 
Another popular lettuce variety, especially in Europe, year-round lettuce is as what her name states, a reliable producer except in the hottest of climates where she does best grown in the shade.
Florida Permaculture Raised Bed Lettuces
Ours favorite mix includes; Green Ice, Midnight Ruffles, Black Seeded Simpson, Simpson Elite, Matina Sweet, Buttercrunch, Red Velvet, and May Queen varieties.  Perfect for adding color and a variety of textures to salads.  The urban core farm animals love lettuces too.
A 1949 heirloom, mild radish, Cherry Belle is a standard for urban core farming.  She will produce up to one inch in diameter radishes, perfect for salads and snacks.  Another reliable producer, Cherry Belle is a standard for urban core farms and gardens.
A mid-1800’s heirloom, this white radish has her history in reliable production and ease of growth traits.  Wonderful, narrow, finger-like radishes they are perfect for salads.  Serve crisp and cold.
A 1920’s heirloom and described by James Vick as a spinach that, "grows about ten inches high. Large deep green leaves, thick and tender, with rounded tips."  Giant noble spinach needs cooler weather but will faithfully give the urban farmer plenty of tasty greens for both salad and cooked dishes.  
Tyee spinanch is a slow to bolt spinach growing well in raised beds and intense urban core farm settings.  Tyee spinach leaves are smaller than Giant Noble but heavy producers.  Good companion spinach plant to grow alongside with Giant Noble.
Florida Permaculture Raised Bed Lettuces
Herbs/Spices
Borago officinalis grows to approxiately two to three feet in height and loves the cooler weather.  I’ve grown this plant successfully on urban core green roofs and in urban farm homestead raised beds.  The bright blue and purple flowers are visually an eye-opener and are often used as garnish for vegetable and fruit salads.  Good urban farm plant selection.
Standard pickling plant and herb, dill is an extremely drought tolerant urban farm plant with many culinary uses.  Our rabbits love the fresh picked leaves and the tall but tiny yellow flowers serve as an excellent attractant for pollinators.  Grows well in dry, neglected areas across the urban homestead.
An All America Winner in 1992 and introduced by W. Atlee Burpee Company, Fernleaf Dill exhibits a more compact growth habit than most of the other, sprawlingly large dill varieties.  Fernleaf dill is perfect for container growing or planting in heavily used raised beds.  As with the standard dill varieties, Fernleaf Dill provides good drought tolerant production as well as tasty culinary uses.
Fennel is popular for her licorice or anise-flavored seeds and bulbous base, both used in cooking.  Fennel is also a choice pollinator plant and brings a spray of light airy green to the urban core farmstead.  
An awesome landscape perennial, Bronze Fennel brings visual and culinary benefits to any urban farm garden.  Highly sought after by several Lepidoptera species, this hardy fennel can be used in cooking or as a tea.  Bronze fennel will grow about three to four feet high depending on climate and soil conditions and adds beauty and flavor to the herb patch.
A relative of oregano, marjoram is slightly sweeter and enjoys the cold weather.  She is very drought tolerant and her smaller leaves can be used to flavor meat dishes.  Marjoram is also used ethnobotanically in the Caribbean as a tea plant for both stomach and respiratory issues as she possesses an strong aromatic quality.
Standard flat-leafed parsley is a mainstay of urban core farms.  Used in Italian and Mediterrian cooking and for a variety of other uses (including keeping garlic fumes repressed in healthy diet breath), flat-leafed parsley is also sought after by many butterflies as larval food.
Curly parsley is a very hardy cultivar of the parsleys, reliable and useful as garnish, in soups, salads or to flavor meat dishes.  As with flat-leaf parsley, curly parsley is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes such as tabouli, hummus and other dishes.

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