Interplanting With Broccoli
By: National Gardening Association Editors
Just because a garden row is occupied, don't think you've used up all its growing potential. By planting a few cool-weather seedlings under and around established cole crops, you can get a jump on your fall gardening. You also save space by planting more than one vegetable in a row, and the new plants benefit from the shade of the older plants. This can be a real help in the heat of midsummer. It's not a good idea to rely on this method for your main crop, but it can give you quite a harvest bonus later in the season.
When your broccoli plants are up and growing in midsummer, try planting loose-leaf lettuce seedlings in the partial shade of the broccoli's broad leaves. Prepare a planting hole four to five inches from the base of each broccoli plant and set in a seedling. If you fertilized or side-dressed the broccoli, the new lettuce seedlings will probably have enough food for growing. If not, you can side-dress them after they're established. The broccoli shade will protect the seedlings from the hot sun. When your broccoli plants have finished bearing, just cut them off; the lettuce will continue growing. You can also try this multiple planting method around Brussels sprouts, but you may have to experiment to see if any extra fertilizer is needed.
You might try planting a few quick-maturing seeds such as radishes, lettuce or spinach in the soil around mature plants. Just plant, weed and water as usual, thinning if the plants appear crowded. After that, enjoy the extra harvest.
Filling in the Gaps
There's another way to maximize your garden space. Whenever you harvest a cabbage or cauliflower, pull the whole plant from the row. In the gap that's left, plant a new seedling. Depending on your climate and the length of your growing season, you can replace these early-season vegetables with lettuce, kale, tomatoes, peppers or even flowers. The tender seedlings will be partially shaded by the foliage of the remaining cabbage or cauliflower plants, and you won't have to look at empty spaces in your garden.