Monday, May 22, 2017

Harvest Monday - May 22, 2017

There wasn't much variety in the harvest basket last week. I had to cut a few clumps of baby lettuces because they were starting to compete with their brassica neighbors. My interplanting scheme seems to have worked well this time, the baby lettuces are sizing up just as the brassicas are spreading their leaves into their space.

Joker Crisphead and Three Heart Butterhead Lettuces
Joker Crisphead is a fast grower so it took up much of the space in the basket.

Three Heart Butterhead Lettuce
Three Heart Butterhead is a more petite sized lettuce. That's one baby head above that I've opened up a bit to show the heart, and a single leaf below.

Three Heart Butterhead Lettuce
I suppose the shape of the leaf, with its three lobes, is where this lettuce got its name.

Extra Precoce Violetto Favas
The fava bean harvests are hitting their peak now. I only had time to harvest one variety over the weekend and it was the largest single harvest yet, weighing in at over 11.5 pounds. We've been popping and peeling most of the favas for long term storage in the freezer but I selected some of the best specimens from that basketful to put on the BBQ yesterday. Grilling the whole beans is the easiest way to eat them and results in the least amount of waste because the entire bean, other than the strings that run down the sides, are edible and delicious. You just have to be sure to choose beans that aren't too mature with beans starting to bulge tightly in the pods.

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
I cleared out one section of a bed last week and collected a bunch of Italian Flat Leaf parsley. The primary variety of parsley that I've got going this spring is Cilician which has lately become my favorite. I cut a bunch of that also to try to show the difference. Both are flat leaf types but the Cilician is more delicate, the leaves are more finely textured, somewhat ferny looking and lighter in weight. It has the same parsley flavor but with added hints of nutmeg and citrus. I think I need to write up a spotlight post one of these days.

Cilician Parsley
The only other harvest last week was a very small cutting of Batavia broccoli shoots that didn't get in front of the camera.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Harvest Monday - May 15, 2017

Radishes are adding a lovely bit of color to the harvests. I love growing more than just the red ones. The latest harvest included Red Planet and Pink Punch from a April 5 sowing and one more Mini Purple Daikon from a February 15 sowing.

I took some photos of the most recently cut open Mini Purple Daikons, they are quite pretty. I'm looking forward to growing these again in the fall.

Mini Purple Daikon

Mini Purple Daikon

Peppermint Stick Chard
That's one of the final harvests of chard. I cleared out the Golden Chard and Syrian Medieval chard as well but those didn't get photographed.

Extra Precoce Violetto Favas and Batavia Broccoli
The fava bean harvests are the big thing going on right now. I harvested about 12 pounds of Extra Precoce Violetto, 5 pounds of Robin Hood, and the first pound of Aquadulce beans last week. That has kept my Dave busy peeling! There were a couple of pickings of Batavia broccoli shoots as well but those are going to slow down, the plants don't have very many new shoots developing.

Joker Crisphead Lettuce
I also harvested a few more clumps of baby lettuces. Joker made it in front of the camera but I was in too much of a rush to photograph the latest bunches of Red Butter Romaine.

Scleroporus Occidentalis
I'll end with a shot of one of my garden buddies. There's at least a half dozen Western Fence lizards that call my veggie garden home and another dozen or so that hang out elsewhere around the property. I almost always see a few of them skittering around or posing. They often show off to one another by doing pushups and puffing themselves up. They are so much fun to watch and have around. They aren't very shy either, they'll let me get quite close before they run off so I have lots of photos.

Head on over to Dave's blog Our Happy Acres where you will find links to more Harvest Monday posts.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Summer Planting Starting At Last

That's one end of Bed #4 this morning. It's newly planted out with one zucchini plant, basil plants, and cucumber seeds, and there's a new trellis to support the Tromba D'Albenga squash which isn't quite large enough to plant out yet.

This is what it looked like just the other day...

The celery that I sowed over a year ago is gone, just a memory now because there wasn't anything to salvage, it had all turned quite bitter. The chard that was sowed last summer is almost a memory, I harvested a few pounds to blanch and freeze. Every other lingering vegetable and weed was eliminated, except for some Buck's Horn plantain that I transplanted.

The cloches that you see in the first photo are protecting the newly sown cucumber seeds.

Pre-germinated Cucumber Seeds
This year I'm experimenting with pre-germinating the cucumber seeds. I placed these seeds onto damp paper towels enclosed in a plastic bag and placed the bag on my heat mat. Would you believe I did that yesterday morning? It only took 24 hours for the roots to emerge! I started 4 seeds each of 3 varieties. 2 seeds of each went into the garden and the other 2 into pots as backups.

Three of the 5 basil varieties that I'm growing this year were ready to set out.

Corsican Basil
Corsican basil is returning for the 4th year, it has become one of my favorites. I wrote a variety spotlight post about it last year.

Persian Basil
Persian basil is new this year.

Italian Mountain Basil
Italian Mountain Basil is returning again. I don't think I grew it last year, but I did the year before and I remember that it produce some very large leaves. It's also supposed to be more cold tolerant than most basil varieties.

Romanesco Zucchini
I've been growing Romanesco zucchini, a hybrid variety from Renee's, for a number of years. It has always been extremely vigorous and productive. It produces really tasty, firm, and large zucchinis. That little tiny plant looks rather lost in all the space (do you see it in the first photo?), but I've learned to give it a lot of room.

Look how big it got back in 2014...

And it ended up even bigger! That's just one plant!

One lesson that has taken me years to learn is to give those little seedlings plenty of space to grow. It's hard to resist the urge to fill up a space when the plants are so small. I know from experience that the tendency is to crowd too many plants into a space. One strategy that I use now is to do a bit of interplanting, like I did recently with lettuce planted between broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. I'll cut the lettuces as babies before they start to compete with the brassicas. So I'm doing something like that around the baby zucchini plant, I sowed the space with a cover crop of buckwheat and mustard that I can cut down as the zucchini grows. I also sowed a bunch of pea seeds amongst the cover crop, a variety for which I had saved a lot of seeds and which was bred for harvesting as shoots. So I hope to get a cutting or 2 of pea shoots before the zucchini takes over.

So now that I've finally got some summer veggies into the garden the weather is going to turn colder than usual and there's even a chance of rain next week.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Garden on May 8, 2017

A hopefully fairly quick tour of the garden as it grows at the moment.

Bed #1 has looked like this since the end of April (that photo was taken on April 23) and will stay that way until the end of May or start of June when I'll dig in some amendments, set up a trellis for the tomatoes and set out the tomatoes and peppers.

Bed #2 is mostly full of favas (broad beans).

One side of the bed is mostly dedicated to Robin Hood favas. Those are growing unsupported and are falling over toward the main pathway. I sowed those back in October after clearing out most of the pepper plants earlier than usual because of rodent problems.

The other side of the bed is planted with Extra Precoce Violetto and Aquadulce favas. Those weren't sown until December 28, with replacements for non-performers sown a few weeks later.

The weather seems to have agreed with the Extra Precoce Violetto beans this year, they've set a lot of beans.

That's one of the shorter beans shown above.

One corner of the bed has a few overwintered pepper plants - Aji Amarillo, Aji Amarillo Grande, and Mareko Fana. The patch of Golden Corn Salad that I plan to save seed from has taken over a bit. There's some life left in the Aji Amarillo Grande plants and the Mareko Fana plant is putting out new growth. One of these days I need to try to move them...

It's a mixed bag over in Bed #3.

Batavia Broccoli
The winter sown Batavia Broccoli, actually now that I look at my records I see that I sowed the seeds on November 10 and set the plants out on December 7, so I should say winter grown I suppose. Anyway, the plants are still putting out side shoots. I'm hoping that they will continue to produce until the new broccoli plants start to produce.

New plantings in this bed are getting off to a good start, mostly.

I tried to get some fennel going, but had poor germination so I sowed some salad greens amongst the few plants that showed up. The rows of seedlings on the right include Speedy Arugula, Ruby Streaks Mizuna, and Tokyo Bekana Napa Cabbage. To the left are a couple of clumps of Red Butter Romaine lettuce.

Little Jade Napa Cabbage
Next down the line are a few napa cabbages which are growing quickly, as is usual for them.

One of the cabbages was attacked by something, I suspect earwigs but couldn't actually find the culprit(s). It seems to be recovering after I gave it and the rest of the brassicas in this bed a dose of Spinosad. I though it was strange that only one plant got hit, and hit hard.

Next down the line are 4 Fioretto Stick Cauliflower plants. This cauliflower variety is supposed to produce shoots rather than a big head. It will be interesting to see what it does. I've interplanted clumps of lettuce to be harvested as baby lettuce. Those are extra plants from what I started to grow as heading lettuces. Those are mostly Joker Crisphead.

These are Aspabroc (aka Broccolini) seedlings interplanted with Rosencrantz Crisphead lettuce.

And the last of the spring brassicas are the new Batavia Broccoli plants interplanted with Three Heart Butterhead lettuces.

And finally, the lettuces planted out to grow into full heads, the same varieties interplanted with the brassicas.

Not easy to see because they are so small are newly emerging seedlings of Coriander of Morocco.

Now for the icky stuff.

In the foreground are the sickly Zebrune shallots which are struggling to recover from repeated bouts of downy mildew. I should probably just pull them out. Beyond them is what was at one time a beautiful patch of I'itoi onions, decimated by downy mildew.

That's what is left of the I'itoi onions. Boo hoo...

And the struggling remains of the downy mildew blasted onion patch with a border of Cilician parsley. I pulled out one entire row onions so that I could expand the cage on the right, it seemed to be a better use of the space. Perhaps I'll get a few runty onions, that's Copra shown below making an attempt to bulb up.

Bed #4 is in transition from overwintered and a few quick spring veggies to what will be mostly curcurbits.

I'm experimenting with a quick cover crop where the Brussels sprouts used to grow. It's a mix of buckwheat, peas, and favas. I'll dig it in in a few weeks and plant cucumbers and squash.

The cage on the other side of the bed has mostly quick croppers. When those are finished I'm going to try growing some melons.

That's the last few Palla Rossa radicchio plants, a few Mini Purple Daikons that resisted bolting, and a small planting of Ho-Mi Z Dragon Tongue and Pink Lettucy mustards.

A jungle of carrots including Atomic Red, Purple Sun, Rotild, Short Stuff, and Starica. I had also sown Black Nebula carrots but they all bolted. These were sown back in February.

More recently sown is a patch of radishes and turnips including Helios, Malaga, Pink Punch, and Red Planet radishes, and Jaune Boule d’Or, Mikado, and Round Red turnips. All were sown on April 4. There's a number of radishes that need to be harvested, the turnips are slower.

More goodies direct sown on April 4 and shown after the first cutting are Apollo arugula and Ruby Streaks mizuna. On the right are a few Mizunarubasoi plants that I started on March 26 and set out on the 4th of April.

This corner of the bed is where the Tronchuda Beira cabbage was growing, you can see the stumps. And there's a blooming patch of Mizunarubasoi that's feeding the bees and other good bugs. One project for this week is to get this end of the bed cleared out so I can plant the Romanesco zucchini that I've got started in a pot.

And the bolting Pink Plume celery is also on the way out to make room for some basil plants that are on the verge of outgrowing their pots.

And the bolting chards are also slated for removal to make room for some Tromba D'Albenga squash that are growing in pots.

So enough of blogging for now, I've got some work to get done in the garden.

Oh, I almost forgot because they aren't actually growing in the garden - potatoes! I'm making another attempt at growing them in pots.

Yellow Finn Potatoes

I don't have room to grow them in the garden proper so I've got the pots up near the house. My experiments with growing potatoes in pots have been pretty unsuccessful so far. In the past I've tried using 10-gallon black plastic pots. I think those get too hot. This time they are growing in fabric pots. I bought mini tubers and put one tuber each into 5 gallon pots and 2 or 3 tubers into 10-gallon pots. They are planted in bagged organic potting soil with nothing else added. The area where they are growing only gets afternoon sun. I planted the potatoes into the half filled pots at the end of February. When I got home from vacation at the end of March there were shoots just starting to pop up through the soil. Over the course of a few weeks I kept adding soil to the pots until I couldn't add any more. Looking good so far!

Ok, now I really do have to get to work in the garden.