Planting secrets from Sunset associate garden editor Johanna Silver
Design I love the keyhole-shaped bed! It frames the planting so the crops never look out of control as they grow.
Soil I till the bed with a garden fork to remove rocks and break up clumps before raking the soil smooth. Then I cover the soil with a few inches of compost, till that in, and rake again.
Planting I start most of the seeds indoors in September ― except arugula, which I sow directly in the ground ― then transplant seedlings outdoors six to eight weeks later. (In cold climates, plant in spring.) I always sow extra seeds in case some don't germinate, and I keep excess seedlings in case any plants in the ground fail.
Spacing Though I follow the recommendations on the seed packets, I space seedlings on the tighter end of the range so the beds will look lush.
Harvesting When arugula reaches 4 to 6 inches tall, I shear it down to 1 to 2 inches tall so it will regrow. Once chard, kale, and mustard have developed about eight leaves, I pick their outer ones so the plants keep producing.
More: Your guide to cool-season crops