Self sufficiency: Growing a lot of vegetables
I love growing a lot of vegetables! My garden beds are filled to the brim and we actually manage to munch it all down, all year round.
When I started gardening, I soon realized I wanted to be more or less self-sufficient in vegetables. But I was still a bit on the fence about going all in. I didn't really understand the large scale production that some people seemed to be doing. I thought a few plants of every vegetable and some rows of leafy greens would be enough. The gardens here in Sweden seem to reflect the Swedish mentality of not too big, not too small. "Just right" is a motto we live by here after all. The only vegetable I saw that people were growing quite a lot of were potatoes.
After a year of working in my garden (this was in 2011), I got a reality check. My family and I eat so many vegetables, it's just unbelievable! I started growing a lot of vegetables. And the more I grow, the more we seem to eat. But I sometimes still look at the large, flourishing garden beds and wonder what on earth we're going to do with all of it.
I started to get used to the thought of growing a lot of vegetables in my garden. Mostly because I had the available space to start experimenting. I figured out which vegetables would be best to grow large quantities of. I wanted vegetables that were easy to grow and store. The biggest push in the direction of larger scale production was getting the polytunnel. This meant that I could really go all in with my wintersowings and get more of the vegetables that we eat a lot of. I always assumed that greenhouses and polytunnels were mostly for vegetables that needed a lot of heat, for example tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. I see it differently now though! My polytunnels produce large harvests of the vegetables we eat on a daily basis, both early and late in the year. But I also grow vegetables that need some extra heat in here too of course!
Growing a lot of vegetables early in the year
- Pick leafy greens that you often eat.
- Grow in tight rows and do broadcast sowing to get a lot of vegetables in the same spot.
- Water - the leafy greens will grow slowly if you don't water them enough. More water equals a larger harvest.
My gardening actually became a lot more fun when I allowed myself to start growing more than I first had planned. My garden beds are filled to the brim and look amazing most of the year. It makes me so happy to see! I never have to worry about not having enough vegetables or feel the need to save some for later. Somehow, there's always enough. And we eat really good food every single day!
Just realizing that we actually manage to eat everything I grow has made my gardening a lot easier. I used to sow seeds in the small polytunnel like you can see in the pictures and I didn't really need to reflect on my choice to sow only spinach in the large middle bed. I know now that it's the right thing to do, because we always manage to eat it all. If I was growing in a smaller space, I'd probably need to put the spinach with other vegetables and wouldn't have had the same large amount of food to think about.
We always get plenty of food when I grow my vegetables. And when we eat more of our own vegetables, we don't need to need to go to the store. We save a lot of money this way!
I put a garden cloth on my leafy greens in the beginning, but it's so warm in my polytunnel now so it's time to remove it.
I've already been able to harvest many pounds worth of little green leaves even though it's still quite early in the season. We eat leafy greens all day every day. We eat plenty of spinach, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, beet greens and a lot of overwintered leafy greens from last years' sowings in late summer and early fall.
Learn more about growing a lot of vegetables in the polytunnel:
I'm really enjoying all the beautiful colors and plants in my garden right now. We had a long winter where we ate a lot of root vegetables and veggies from the freezer. Now, it's finally time to start enjoying the fresh vegetables I sowed in winter and early spring. I'm mostly harvesting the vegetables from the polytunnel right now with a few exceptions for chives and Chinese chives from the open field. And of course, it's time for the asparagus now too. I love living the green life and growing a lot of vegetables!