"Waste is wrong!" said a friend. "Besides, it's fun to 'run a tight ship.'" I couldn't agree more -- and the garden is one of the best places to tighten up and practice using all our resources. I've noticed that I usually have a corner here and a row there in which I never seem to get anything growing.
Almost every gardener I know will sometimes be too busy, or will go away, letting the seeds and plants on which he has worked so hard be overcome by weeds , bugs, and drought.
"Waste!" my friend would say. Keeping the garden space in continuous use can be achieved only by careful watching and planning as you go along. In doing this it's necessary to look ahead and have extra seeds on hand, to be able to put them into the ground just as soon as space is ready.
This is especially true with the midseason garden. when time is of the essence.
Many experienced and imaginative gardeners are finding that not everything has to be planted in orderly rows. Sometimes, they say, it's actually better not to plant in that fashion. With plants mixed around and growing helter-skelter, so to speak, bugs find it hard to move easily from one plant to another.
Plants, like people, also seem to relate favorably to one another. Some will grow out of bounds, however, taking up precious space. Among the worst are the wanderers, such as the melons, squashes, cucumberS, and the gourd family, which runs, crawls, and spreads over anything that happens to be in the way
Don't, by any means, give up the fun of growing these gregarious plants, but use forethought and plant them on the edge of the garden, or train them to climb up and bear fruit aboveground. It will mean building something for them to clamber on, and perhaps having to rig up a sling to hold the heavy fruits as they mature. Use the space below them for low-growing vegetables.
Other plants that do a fast spread are Jerusalem arti- chokes and the mints. Raspberries and blackberries are famous for trespassing.
Protect the rest of the garden by sinking wooden barriers (be sure to paint them with a wood preservative) or metal ones around the perimeters of the bed where you wish these wanderers to stay put.
Not being able to use or preserve what is grown is a common cause of waste. An incredible amount of food, it is safe to state, is either neglected in the garden until it's past its prime or left sitting in the house waiting for processing after harvest.
The best use of the garden produce is made by a fast journey from garden to table or to the freezer or canning kettle. This keeps it at its best, both in flavor and nutrition.
In the spring, when enthusiasm for gardening runs high, one is tempted to buy "one of each" of the pretty seed packages in the catalogs, greenhouse, or nursery. There is also the temptation to carry home too many flats of exciting bedding plants -- cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes -- without much thought as to whether there will be room for them in the garden.
We may give even less thought as to the kind of care these specialized plants demand if they are to do their best, forgetting that from seedling to bearing stage plants should be kept growing steadily, happily, and fast.
Coddling and caring for weak seedlings that are not going to make it; planting more than the family will reasonably use or things they do not care for and won't eat; and allowing leeks, radishes, mustard, kale, or rhubarb to bolt and make seeds are as wasteful as leaving the onions in a soggy garden until it is too late to keep them from rotting.
Although I had never given this view of the garden much more than a quick thought, I now can see that my friend is right.