In the past we have grown food in very small spaces. The Farm at Walker Jones is large, at ¾ of an acre, in comparison. We have applied some of our small space techniques to this larger piece of land with encouraging results.
One example of this is the Collard Green Bed. Nearly two months ago we very thickly planted Collard Green seeds in a 1600 sq foot bed. The greens germinated quickly and before long we had rows jam-packed with baby collard greens. We knew that there was not enough room for the greens to mature so we dramatically thinned the baby greens on August 22. At that nascent stage they were tender and could be eaten raw or very lightly cooked. We gave away 15 pounds to the Senior Home across the street from the farm and in the process forged many new friendships! On September 4th we again thinned the now medium sized plants which yielded somewhere between 250 and 300 pounds of collard greens. Some were given to neighbors and volunteers and the majority to DC Central Kitchen to be utilized in the 4500 meals they provide daily. The amazing thing was that after this huge harvest the bed was still full and vibrant looking! On September 17th we harvested the large outside leaves of the plants (nearly 200#) and they will be cooked and served as part of the Back to School Night Dinner.
The plants are still healthy and producing. Collard greens like most members of the brassica family actually thrive in the cooler weather so we know that they will provide more food even as the weather gets cooler. In fact they will actually get a bit sweeter after the first frost or two.
Lesson learned is that with this intensive planting method we are able to grow large amounts of food (over a thousand pounds in less than 2 months)! Today we planted turnip greens and salad mache very thickly hoping for similar results.