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Derek Freiman

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where in the world has Derek Freiman been?!

A lot of you have been asking me the last few weeks: "Where has Derek Freiman been???"

Well, guess what gang, I've been really super busy working outside and helping people get their gardens in full swing. It is summer time, after all! After a mighty June growth spurt, July has brought very little rain to us here in the Pacific Northwest, so I've been making the rounds and making sure that things stay moist.

Except for tomatoes. I don't do a lot of watering on tomato plants and here is why - I leave a lot of space between plants. Usually, I aim for at least 3 feet between each plant and at least 3' between each row. In years past, I've only planted 1 row of tomatoes in any 3 foot wdie bed. This year, I built a new bed that was about 50" wide and I planted 2 side by side rows the length of the bed. They're a little bit crowded, but I've only water 2x nonetheless and they are doing great.

I did some consulting at a local military base and we followed the same model there. They had a space that was only 4 1/2 feet wide and 30' long and they wanted tomatoes planted in the entire space so what we did is kinda staggered the plants. In another words, plant 1 went in the corner on the left side of the bed and plant 2 went along the right side about 2' down. The next plant went back on the left side about 3 1/2 feet down from the first plant, so at the end of the day, they had plenty of room in a criss cross fashion. I was surprised the military guys let me do it that way, considering their knack for precision :)

July is usually a busy time for me. I've harvested a lot of potatoes from my own beds - what a bounty! - and followed those with more beets, cabbage, rutabaga, and a few herbs like cilantro and basil. So, if you want a great garden tip a la Derek Freiman, here it is:

Try to plan your garden around succession crops. Crops like fava beans, potatoes, and peas can all be planted in March and by late June to mid-July, they can all be harvested. Mid-July to early August is a wonderful time to add a round of beets and several other root vegetables into the same space just vacated. 

You can also wait til about August 1 or mid-August and come in with greens like spinach or Arugula. Those cold weather crops just need to get started before the freeze hits and you'll be eating greens all winter! 

Another thing you guys can do is if you grow a lot of fava beans and can't eat them all while they're fresh, just let them dry on the vine. Dried favas are easy to harvest and you'll have two things (1) you'll have your seeds ready to roll for next Spring's planting and (2) you can store the rest of the favas easily and then reconstitute them like you would any bean. Just soak them over night and cook them (think about black and pinto beans preparation). You can either leave them whole in your soup or you can puree them and make them part of a rich broth.

Either way, I recommend adding lots of fresh garlic as the two go together well. Then add a little olive oil, too, so you get that "mouth feel" and some fat flavor. The down side to letting the favas dry is that you'll be keeping in the ground longer - probably another month. So, if you planted in mid March, instead of harvesting fresh favas July 1, plan on leaving them in til about Aug 1. Then pull everything out and let any seeds that aren't dried out yet - just leave those out in the sun. Once they harden up, you'll know it cos they turn brown. Then store them in a bag or jar for whatever use you have in mind (see above).

Okay, well I think that's it for now, please feel free to email me anytime at But take mercy on me during the busy Summer planting and Fall harvest seasons, it might take a little while for me to respond.

Shout out to my boys at the military base - if you guys see this post, you'll know why I haven't returned your text messages to go fishing!

One of my favorite albums to put on the old headphones while I'm working in the garden!
Sincerely, DF