As a harvest of beans has been steadily coming in for several weeks now and the heirloom tomatoes are starting to blush, I've been thinking on the idea of a single serve garden. Some days we haul in a grocery bag of beans, squash and cucumbers, and other days it's just a handful here, and a sprig of something there. Several weekends ago I wanted to saute squash for guests and didn't have enough for everyone, so I threw in some beans, cabbage, garlic and onions. We got to sample the garden fare, and the combination of textures and colors was much more exciting than if I'd only used squash.
In the small home garden, if you want a large variety of vegetables, you have to compromise on how much of each thing you grow. This is the first summer I've grown Queen Anne Peas, and now that half the harvest is in, I have one cup of dried peas. The crop was limited to one short row in front of the perennial herbs, and a small cluster mixed in with carrots and strawberries. There's a patch of October beans next to the butterfly garden, a strip of calypso beans at the base of the bean tunnel, and burgundy beans mixed in with the Adirondack Blue potatoes and corn. When fall soup time comes around, there will be a nice blend of beans and peas to work with.
The single serve garden serves as an artist's paint pallet where dabs of different colors of paint are blended. It makes the landscape and the dinner plate quite lovely, ensuring a tasty treat for each person in the family, no matter what their preference. It is a place of biodiversity, varying habitat, and as a result - higher resistance to pest and disease. It provides exploration and experimentation and is a perfect garden for the habitual seed-swapper and attender of locavore potlucks.
So, I'm starting a tag titled "Single Serve Garden" where I post exciting edible cultivars, interesting home vegetable garden designs, and space saving ideas. Be sure to follow along!