Thursday, February 28, 2008

Catch-Up Time

Two months and no posts about the garden. Luckily there's not been much happening.

Something has been chewing on the veggies. Don't know if it is a rat or gophers (yes they will feed on the surface) - perhaps both. I ripped out the Decicco broccoli last week. After the initial harvest of the small main heads and two pickings of side shoots I harvested no more because some critter was beating me to it. After all the baby side shoots were gone the feeding progressed to the leaves - only the tough leaf ribs and stems remained. Normally I can count on picking broccoli sprouts through the winter and for up to a year or more. There was no hope of further picking from those plants - so out they came. Before the broccoli plants were stripped bare the critter had moved over to the remaining Portuguese Cabbage plant and started on its leaves. It's in full bloom right now and I hope to save some seeds. I can only hope that the seeds mature before the critter strips it as well. There's a rat trap set nearby with a peanut butter & honey bait but no luck getting any rat yet. The same bait worked in no time to catch the rats that were getting under the house. That's why I suspect that the culprit is a gopher going for easy pickings above ground. I've trapped at least 5 gophers in that part of the garden in the last few months - just got one yesterday that I'm hoping may have been the garden thief.

Rapini is gone now. Spinach was also a victim of the garden thief. Sugar Snap Peas are producing in spite of being blown around by the big storm in January. They have been pushing up new sprouts from their crowns, but you-know-who has been munching. There is a penstemon by the peas that is hosting a number of Chalcedon Checkerspot caterpillars - a few of which are wandering onto the peas and munching a bit - no big deal though.

On to the new stuff! I've just sown seeds into 6-packs for Spigariello Foglia Liscia Broccoli, Golden Chard, Even'Star American Rapa, Piracicaba Broccoli, and Braschetta Cavalo Nero. Next up are tomatoes and chiles. They are going into 4-inch pots under lights and over heat mats. I'm putting multiple seeds into each pot. When the seedlings are large enough they will be separated and potted up into individual 4-inch pots and then they'll spend days outside and nights inside. Hopefully the new site for my vegetable garden will be ready by May which is when I usually put my tomatoes in the ground.

So, what tomatoes will it be this year? Some favorites such as Paul Robeson, Ananas Noir, Hillbilly, and Aunt Ruby's Green. The best paste tomato that I've ever grown is Andine Cornue. Dave's favorite cherry tomato is Isis Candy. Other cherries I like are Black Cherry and Green Grape. I like to grow at least one early tomato and this year I'm going to try Olomovic for the first time. I've got some very old seeds for Carmello - a very good basic red tomato from France. I need a pink tomato and a yellow one to round things out - I've got some old seeds of Large Pink Bulgarian that I'll give a try and some Orange Queen that I've never tried before.