Friday, January 21, 2011

The Garden on January 20, 2011

It seems like ages since I last did a garden tour but it's only been a little over a month. Not a lot has changed since December 15.

The Portuguese Dairyman's Kale is still hanging in there but it is just starting to develop flower buds so it's time to sow a spring crop.

Hidden under the kale foliage is the remnant of a Malaysian Dark Red eggplant plant, complete with one eggplant.

In place of the rest of the eggplant that was pulled out is a planting of Olive Leaf Rapini.

I'm not sure why I persist in experimenting with winter grown potatoes, but here they are, zinged from spending a night uncovered when we had an unexpected frost. Oh well, the space would have been empty if I hadn't planted them and I can't stand to see an empty space in the garden.

And while I'm showing the ugly bits of the garden, how about this - dead African Blue Basil, nearly dead Kaleidoscope chile plant in the pot (not as hardy as I had hoped), weeds weeds weeds...

Across the main path, the bed that was purged of oak roots a month ago is now sporting emerging fava beans. I planted the fava seeds on December 16 and they sat and sat and sat, I thought they were probably rotting away, and then finally the purpled seeded plants on the left started to emerge about 2 weeks ago and last week the white seeded ones on the right started to emerge. It looks like just a couple of seeds aren't sprouting.

And I've slipped in a row of Ear of the Devil lettuce to see if I could get a few salads before the favas create a jungle in that bed.

The fava plants that were sown back in November (I think) are developing the first flower buds.

The next bed down has a lot more going on. Here's some more Ear of the Devil lettuce. I got the seeds for these plants from Gintoino and then found more seeds at Adaptive Seeds for the second planting in the Fava bed. It will be interesting to see if those come out the same as the plants shown below. I just love the look of that lettuce and I hope it is as tasty as it is pretty.

There's also some Sweetie Baby Romaine lettuce in the same bed. I sowed the seeds for all these lettuces back in October and transplanted them into the garden in December. The short cold wet days kept the plants really small. We've had warm sunny weather with more mild nights for the past week which has really sped up their growth.

I also set out a few butterhead lettuces at the same time. Those were more difficult to photograph today because of the shadows that dappled that part of the bed.

The Golden Chard is doing just fine, no signs of bolting yet, but I'm starting new plants anyway because they will bolt sooner than later now that the days are getting longer.

Next to the chard and encroaching on one of the plants is the Couve Tronchuda (Portuguese Cabbage) that bolted in the warmer than usual fall weather last year. I've just let it bloom its heart out because the bees adore it.

Here's the replacement Couve Tronchuda plants that I'm experimenting with trying to start in the dead of winter.

And another experiment with trying to start something in the dead of winter - Guntmadingen Winter Spinach, winter spinach because it should grow through the winter if you start it early enough, not that you should be able to start it in the winter. Well, I'm not always one to follow the rules and recommendations... There's also a lot of Golden Corn Salad volunteering in this part of the bed. I'll be harvesting that as whole rosettes as they size up.

The Lacinato kale has been reluctant to grow this winter and now it's showing signs of starting to bolt. This is my favorite variety of kale and I'm quite disappointed that I didn't get to harvest much of it this winter. I should get one more small harvest, but you can see that a lot of the leaves are yellowing and the smallest leaves at the top won't get much larger because the plants are putting their energy into producing flowers now. It's time to sow more seeds for a spring crop.

I planted the smallest cloves of my seed garlic in close formation so that I could harvest them green like scallions. They don't need much space since they are harvested before they form bulbs.

And the fourth and last Romanesco broccoli plant is quickly forming a head. This is the best looking one of the bunch and should  be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks, maybe sooner.

Over in the next bed I've planted enough garlic to fend off a whole family of vampires.

But the vampires have been practicing voodoo on the garlic plants, there's rust already, bad bad bad news... I predict a really crappy year for garlic in my garden.

Look closely and you might see the little baby snap pea plants a the base of the trellis just beyond the cilantro (coriander). I started the peas indoors in paper pots and planted them out a few weeks ago. They seem to be doing ok so far, slow to grow like everything else at this time of year, but healthy looking. I've scattered cilantro seeds around a lot of the garden and it seems to thrive in the cold wet winter weather. I will allow a number of the plants to flower since the beneficial insects are drawn to the blossoms in droves.

The Turkish parsley is also unfazed by the winter chill and damp. This one patch has supplied me with all the parsley I could possibly use through the winter. I really like this strain of parsley, it is quite similar to the giant flat leaf Italian parsley that I've grown for years but the leaves are a bit more finely cut and are more tender and just a tad less strongly flavored.

And in this corner of the bed is a patch of Monticello breadseed poppies in need of a drastic thinning.

This bed is where the native Claytonia likes to volunteer each winter/spring although the happiest plants are volunteering in the path.

A few more ugly bits.

In this corner, pepper plants in all stages of suffering from winter chill (please ignore that really messy junk in the background).

Although this one plant (Iberian Long Cayenne) is in pretty good shape. Perhaps it's the protective properties of allowing weeds to share pot space?

I had hoped that this Aji Santa Cruz would come through the winter with enough life left to make a comeback in the spring, but it's not looking very promising. What the frost hasn't zinged some fungal infection seems to be moving in on. It's ok, this variety ripened so late that I didn't get enough to make it worth growing again.

But over in front of the house a couple plants of one of my favorite baccatum chiles (Christmas Bell) are doing a bit better. I know it's hard to tell from the photographs, uh yeah, how do those plants below differ from the one above, they all look dead...  Well, trust me, there's a lot more life left in these plants than that one.

Here's the Picante Christmas Bell, also with a lot of life left in it. Most of the chiles hanging on the plant are actually in pretty good shape. The bad news in this bed is that another of my favorite baccatums (Kaleidoscope) is totally dead. I liked that chile a lot and it was quite productive so I'll start some new plants for this year.

And the corner bunch is still hanging in there.

The Manzano plant is starting to produce nice healthy new growth already.

And the pampered pepper pets that get to sleep indoors at night are looking ok.

The pampered pets are a bit of a pain since the have a perpetual population of pesky aphids. I've been giving them weekly squirts with the hose to wash off the aphids, but the boogers keep reappearing. It will be nice when they can spend all day every day outside where the beneficial insects can lend a hand.

That's it for the latest tour. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. There are so many things growing in the garden. If I showed you the state of my garden it would be the state of the snow. We just had another storm. It wasn't over a foot of snow this time, but 8" is nothing to sneeze at.

  2. Very nice to see green in the lucky gal! The garden here looks like snow with a few frozen green things in it....with the exception of the cold frames..They do have some really small good green stuff!

    The Turkish Parsley sounds very good. Where did you get your seeds?

  3. Daphne, I can't complain too much about my winter garden, things look a bit ratty tatty but it's better than a beautiful blanket of white snow.


    Robin, oh my, another snow bound gardener, thank goodness for your cold frames! The seeds for the Turkish Parsley came from Peace Seeds, try this link to get their current listing:

  4. Michelle,
    Enjoyed the update, the garden is really coming along. I'm a big fan of kale too, hope your favorite gets going.

  5. Looks like some nice progress for this time of year. Strange to see photos with strong sun!

  6. I really envy your growing climate - even though this is the low point in the growing cycle you still have so much going on in the garden. While we are generally mild - we are also damp and cold which combined with the low sun strength just does not produce much of anything at this time of year. I am doing good to just have them hold in place with protection for harvest. Not much new growth. So I thoroughly enjoyed your garden tour because the new greens brought some spring time my way via the internet. :D

  7. Another snow-bound gardener here that enjoyed the tour of your gardens! That Ear of the Devil lettuce is lovely, like a red Deer Tongue. And I did a double-take when I saw the Couve Tronchuda, because it looks much like collards to me. I may have to give it a try this fall. Oh me, so many vegetables and so little time and space to try them all!

  8. It all looks fantastic, and more advanced than here. How do you manage to eat it all?! It's great to see the flowers on your fava beans. Ours were doing well but flopped a bit this morning after a cold night. And I can't believe you've got an aubergine (egg plant) there - I bought some yesterday, something I very rarely do, because I can't get all through the winter without them.

  9. Randy, When I get around to sowing some more kale seeds then I should be set for spring, kalewise.


    Dan, After a long gray December that sun comes as a bit of surprise, a very welcome surprise.


    kitsapFG, I'm happy to send a little virtual spring your way. :)


    villager, It's interesting that you compared the Couve Tronchuda to collards since that is the typical substitute for the hard to find Tronchuda cabbage. Not only is there not enough time or garden space for all the interesting veggies, but one needs to be able to eat the bounty as well...


    chaiselongue, Amazingly enough we do eat most of what the garden produces. It helps that my husband and I don't eat much meat and our meals are very vegetable centric. I'm not sure that that poor little eggplant will be worth eating, but I do have some grilled eggplant left in the freezer, I used some in a sandwich the other day.


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