Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vegetable Garden Update, April

It's the time of year in the vegetable garden when there is a whole lot going on but not much to harvest. So, what am I harvesting?

Not this stuff...

Vit Mache (aka cornsalad) going to seed.

And not this stuff...

Crimson Flowering Favas, which are growing and blooming like crazy, but not setting one damn bean. Beautiful plant, but what's the point if it doesn't produce? I've been threatening it daily...

Not this stuff either...

The brassica bed. Spigariello Broccoli, Portuguese Cabbage, and Cavolo Nero in full bloom. I'm keeping it around because I don't need this bed until May and the bees and beneficial insects LOVE these flowers. I've got to yank them and prepare this bed for tomatoes in about 2 weeks.

Ah, here's something...

There's green garlic in back that I've been pulling. The other night I made whole wheat spaghetti with a generous amount of sauteed green garlic and pancetta, pine nuts and shredded Senposai. The carrots in the foreground won't be ready for a while. There are just a few carrots left from the fall planting. I used some of them in Carrot Top Soup the other night from Deborah Madison's book Local Flavors. Yes, carrot tops, the feathery green carrot leaves as well as the roots go into the soup. Very unusual and very tasty. My husband, who usually notices anything unusual that I put in front of him, slurped it up without questioning and said it was really good.

That's the Senposai above, after I harvested a number of leaves which accounts for it's ragged appearance. It's something that I've never grown before so I only tried a few plants to begin with. I really like it in the pasta that I made. It grows to harvestable size quickly (40 days according to the catalog) and is supposed to resist bolting. A spring planting shouldn't bolt until fall but mine is already bolting. That's probably because I stressed it by keeping it in cell packs too long and then planted it too close together (should be 12" to 18"apart), or perhaps I started it too early. It's the only F-1 hybrid that I'm growing at the moment, being a cross between Komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach) and regular cabbage. Fedco is offering a stabilized open pollinated selection, but I thought I would try the F-1 version first so that I could get to know the vegetable before trying a potentially variable open pollinated version. I'm going to start a few more plants to see if they will make it through the summer.

This Golden Chard plant is massive right now, it's on the verge of bolting. I'm not harvesting from this plant anymore, but there are two other smaller plants that I am still picking from.

And here's something that's just getting big enough to pick...

Pine Tree Lettuce Mix. I'll start picking this on a cut-and-come-again basis any day now.

And, pictured above is a new Arugula that I'm trying. It looks like I can start picking baby arugula now! I got the seeds for Tuscan Arugula from the Seed Ambassadors Project through the Seed Savers Exchange. The project is also offering many of its seeds to the general public on its website

This has a long way to go...

Royal Burgundy and Landreth Stringless bush snap beans. I started these in paper pots and planted them out as soon as the cotyledons started poking up out of the soil.

Further along but still a way to go...

Snap and Snow Peas, still under protective bird netting. The birds don't seem to as interested in the vegetable garden as they were a few weeks ago, but I'm not taking any chances yet.

And below...

Aleppo pepper from last year making a comeback. Behind, at the base of the black metal tower, are the painted serpent cucumbers emerging. Harvest time is still a long way away.

And yet another comeback being made below...

A Santa Lucia pepper that died to the ground but is resprouting from the base of the plant. I just can't bear to throw out a plant that has signs of life.

So, what else is going on in the vegetable garden? There are three flats of tomato plants sitting on my living room floor at the moment (thank goodness for tile floors). We've had cold wet weather the last couple of days, otherwise they would be outside. There is also one flat of pepper plants. There used to be more, but because of neglect and stupidity on my part about two thirds of my pepper seedlings bit the dust. Oh well, there's more pots under the grow lights again. I can also than goodness for a long growing season.

Other things being started in paper and 4-inch pots are :
  • Celeriac
  • Fennel
  • Beets
  • Cavolo Nero Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cocozelle zucchini
  • Golden Chard
  • Early Champagne Rhubarb
  • Basil
  • Tomatillos
  • Wonderberry
  • Eggplant


  1. Thanks for the update. It looks as though you'll soon be harvesting a lot! I didn't know you could eat carrot tops - turnip tops, yes, but I've never tried carrot leaves. Pity about the crimson flowered favas. They look so pretty. Keep threatening them, it may work! Our very ordinary white flowered ones are setting beans, but they're still very small. We've had wet cold weather too, so my study is full of pepper plants waiting to go outside!

  2. I really really ought to plant some arugula in a pot. I love to eat it, but I truly am a potted plant killer. What kind of light/water do you provide it?

  3. Wow, you have a lot going on in your garden. That is a most beautiful golden Swiss chard plant, I never have luck with the golden ones for some reason. I am also trying to over winter some of my mini bell peppers but can't tell if they made it or not.

    I looked up a recipe for carrot top soup and it does sound good, I may have to try it this summer. We sometimes use the tops fresh in salads as well. There is definitely more to a carrot than the root alone.

    Really nice garden,


  4. Woah.... that swiss chard is out of control! How old is that??

  5. Whoa, Michelle! So many healthy veggies. I envy you so! :P

  6. Astonishing, really, all of your successes. I am in awe, as usual. So curious about that real Italian arugula, I'd love to know how it tastes, if it's significantly different from what we usually get here. I just ate a few small leaves from my poking-along fall-sown crop, they are finally growing now that the sun has arrived. When you leave your broccoli to flower, do the aphids not attack it? I always get horrible black aphids on mine, I had to stop planting it. The mache flowers are lovely, so delicate! Nice that you leave the bolts for the bees to enjoy. I'm sure they'll repay you with many a happy pollination task!

  7. I couldn't resist the Butterfly Award, which I'm forwarding to you. As I don't usually join in these blog games, I'm not sure what to do with it, but it's on my blog!

  8. Chaiselongue, I've got an ordinary white flowered fava that is setting beans, although none are large enough to harvest yet.

    Nikki, the arugula pot is sitting out in the vegetable garden in full sun. So far it's been watered mostly by the rain and occasional hand watering by me. During the drier months I coil an inline drip emitter line in my pots and they get watered automatically with the rest of the vegetable garden.

    Mike, thanks! The carrot tops have less of a bite to them when they are cooked. I have to imagine that they are chock full of things that are good for you too.

    Becky, I started the chard from seed last summer, don't know why that one is so crazy big, the other plants are normal size.

    Chandramouli, I envy you for the flowers that you have that I can't grow here!

    Karen, I'm not counting my veggies until I pick them. And you haven't seen the flats of pots with dead pepper seedlings either :( The Tuscan arugula is fairly peppery, not as mild as the Olive Leaf variety that I posted about a while back. So far, the Olive Leaf is still my all time favorite arugula. I get plenty of aphids in my brassicas too, but once they bolt I don't really care about the aphids. Actually, I think that the flowers attract the beneficial bugs that help to keep the aphid population in check. I've been seeing lots of syrphid flies and lady bug larvae lately.

  9. I really shouldn't read your posts right after breakfast, now I'm hungry for dinner! ;->

  10. By now, maybe you have fava beans. I have some but I'm going to have to pull them and plant cucumbers soon. I'm not sure what to do with fava beans anyway. Next year tho', I'm planting those crimson-flowering guys whether they make something to harvest or not! I can't wait.


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