Friday, March 11, 2011

The Garden on March 11, 2011

Not a cloud in the sky early this morning, it sure feels like spring today! Let's take a gander at the garden and see what's springing up there.

Outside the garden fence the lemongrass has survived the winter chill. The plant sits under the south facing edge of the canopy of a large evergreen oak tree which provides some protection from the occasional frost (and snow this year!).

I'm trying another experiment with an edible that might resist the appetites of the local deer, some Monticello poppies. All too often the deer seem disinterested in the plants that I experiment with until they bloom, so we'll see about this latest effort. So far the biggest problem has been with the deer trampling the plants.

Purple leaf sage, also out in the path of trampling deer, I've been protecting it with a cage. So far, so good...

I'm really happy with the rosemary, it's filling in nicely and blooming like crazy right now.

Tuscan Blue rosemary

Arp (foreground) and Santa Barbara Blue rosemarys

Inside the garden, the favas are really starting to take off and will soon be shading that row of lettuce that I slipped into the middle of the bed. The favas that I sowed earliest are already sporting small beans!

Across the way I'm growing water bottles, or so it seems...

The water bottles are protecting the little pea plants that I'm growing for their young tender shoots. Apparently, small rodents also have a taste for young tender pea shoots and I almost lost all the seedlings. The water bottle cloches also worked well to protect the regrowing seedlings from the snow and freeze that we had about 2 weeks ago. I harvested the first shoots just a couple of days ago which is why this plant is looking so truncated. The first harvest was so tiny that I simply munched the sprouts raw and unadorned, they were incredibly delicious. The plants should produce side shoots now that the central leader has been snipped out so the harvests should get larger. Still, I realized that I didn't start enough plants so I've got more of them starting in a flat of paper pots now.

At the other end of this bed is a patch of Olive Leaf Rapini. I think that it has become a bit stunted by that cold snap that we had recently so I've got another batch sown in paper pots already.

And some Yu Choy seedlings coming along under their protective water bottle cloches. Yu Choy is also called Edible Rape and is closely related to Rape Seed (aka Canola). I didn't plant very many of these since I wasn't sure that they would do well this early in the season. From what I've read they are more heat tolerant than cold tolerant, at least this variety. This is the first time that I've tried growing this vegetable so I'm not sure what the optimal time is for planting them, nor how many plants I should start at one time. I think that this bunch will produce enough to serve 2 people. I've already got another larger sowing coming along in paper pots.

This mess over here is my garlic bed. It's looking to be a bad year for garlic *sigh*. Garlic rust is hitting the plants extra early and very hard. Normally I would be keeping the garlic bed free of competing plants but I just don't give a fig this year, it's going to be that bad. At least the cilantro is being an over-acheiver this year...

Cilantro, cilanto, cilantro, with a few sugar snap peas, parsley, and that blasted garlic peeking out. Chicken with Cilantro is on the menu tonight, it calls for 2 bunches of cilantro. Anyone have another recipe that uses LOTS of cilantro?

We've been eating salad almost every night...

Butterhead lettuce

Sweetie Baby Romaine lettuce

Ear of the Devil lettuce
I think the Ear of the Devil lettuce is the most beautiful lettuce I've ever grown. These plants come from a few seeds that Gintoino shared with me. I want to let these go to seed so that I can grow lots more.

The Golden Chard is still hanging in there. I keep expecting it to send up flower stalks so I've already got the replacement plants started. You can see the leaning Lacinato kale plants to the right and left. Those are in full bloom so I've been cutting the plants down one by one and giving them to the chickens. I'll need to have half of this bed cleared out in 8 or 10 weeks so that I can plant the tomatoes.

Another salad green, the Golden Corn Salad is quite happy and some of the most mature plants are starting to push out flower stalks. I've found that the easiest way to grow this plant is to let it sow itself around the garden.

My experiement with late sown winter grown Portuguese Cabbage (Couve Tronchuda) has been a mixed success. It has grown enough to produce a few harvests of leaves but is already starting to form flower heads. I need to tinker with my summer/fall sowing times to get it to grow through the fall and into the winter without bolting. I seemed to have started them too early last year and they bolted early  in the fall, although that could have been because we had an unusually cool summer and then a really warm fall and the plants got confused.

Not your typical spinach, Guntmadingen Winter Spinach is a Swiss heirloom that sports oak-leaf shaped leaves and has very spiny seeds. I harvested the first crop from my patch of plants this week. Wow, was it delicious, sweeter and with less of the "fuzziness" that I find typical of most spinach. I hope my plants don't bolt too soon, I want lots more of this green.

Claytonia perfoliata (Miner's Lettuce) is a native edible that I like to let volunteer around the garden.

The fog did one of it's typical dances in and out of the valley at dawn this morning and in its wake the spider webs were revealed.


  1. Your garden certainly seems to be responding to the spring weather! I like coriander leaves (cilantro) in salads and I wish I could grow some like yours, but it always seems to go to seed.

  2. It's a real pleasure to see the first flowering plants and shrubs of spring. We have been getting hard rains and heavy winds for a week now and I know somewhere behind that stuff is a spring day just aching to show up!

    Nice crop of bottles! ;D

    Everything looks abundant and carefree in your garden. What fun it must be to just stroll through it on a beautiful early spring day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Those lettuce plants are just gorgeous. They belong in the flower bed. Do they taste as good as they look?

  4. chaiselongue, I've never had cilantro grow like it has this winter. I've always grown it in warmer weather and have always had it bolt quite quickly. The long season for winter grown cilantro has been a real surprise.


    kitsapFG, we've been getting a little dribble of rain here and there, barely enough to keep me from turning on the irrigation again. It is a pleasure to stroll the garden on a beautiful, other than making me feel guilty for getting far behind on getting it cleaned up and ready for spring planting!


    Daphne, I've not tasted that lettuce yet, it's so beautiful that I've not had the heart to snip some leaves. I did get some seeds for the same lettuce (hopefully) from another source and harvested the first very young head yesterday - it was very good, tender and mild. I'll have to sample a few leaves from the big plants before they go to seed to make sure that I like it.

  5. You always have such interesting edibles in your garden! Do you grow a special variety for the pea shoots? I tried some last spring and they were tough. Perhaps I let them get too big. It's about time to plant peas here.

    I was glad to see a photo of that Ear of the Devil lettuce. I got some seed this year, and it looks beautiful. I'm anxious to get some started!

  6. Beautiful greens and interesting varieties.
    I started the Sugar Magnolia peas and Crimson fava beans you sent me, the peas are in a container, I have some fava sowed in situ and some seedlings started indoor, they are hardening up now, looks like I may be able to get the favas transplant the next few days.

  7. villager, I did get seeds for a variety of snow pea that is grown especially for the shoots, you can find them at Evergreen Seeds, there's a link on my Favorite Resources page. Kitazawa Seed carries a pea shoot variety also.


    mac, I had forgotten that I sent you those seeds, I hope they do well for you!

  8. Always so jealous of what you are able to accomplish in your climate. Absolutely adore your giant rosemary plants. Our single plant is sitting in a window waiting for May to be set outside. We just put our peas in the ground today (

  9. Michelle! your garden is so beautiful!
    I agree with u that the "devils ear" letuche is the most cute one.
    Here in Uruguay autoum is near and it seems like Im gonna be able to plant some lettuche and eat them without the flowers. This summer it was so hot that they come uot with flowers everytime.
    Congratulation again for your amazin garden!


  10. So many types of veggies that I wouldn't even dream of trying to grow, and they all look so good. Is that a blue/green bird in the background of the first web photo?

  11. You're garden look beautiful, Michelle!!!! I have to admit that out of all of my blogging buddies, I wish my garden looked like yours the most. I love have you've placed all of your plants together.

    BTW, I sowed the crimson fava bean seeds you sent me today. Thanks again!

  12. Can you tell me what size lines you are using for your drip irrigation and what type drip piece? I am going to attempt to install drip irrigation in my garden. I know those drip pieces all drip at a different amount per hour? Or per something. Yep I am pretty green on this project. But I am determined to get it installed. Thanks

  13. Texan, I use 1/4-inch tubing with imbedded emitters spaced every 12 inches (inline emitter tubing). This tubing is connected to 3/4-inch mainline tubing that runs the length of each bed. The mainline tubing and fittings are easy to find at most garden centers and hardware stores. The inline emitter tubing is harder to find, I buy it online from DripWorks in 500-foot rolls. The 1/4-inch connectors and tubing to attach it to the mainline are easy to find also. Although, I like to use vinyl 1/4-inch tubing because it is more flexible but it is hard to find so I buy that in 500-foot rolls from Dripworks as well. The vinyl tubing has one drawback, if the pressure in your system is too high it has a tendency to blow the vinyl tubing off the connectors so you have to be sure to use a pressure regulator or have valves that have a flow regulator built in.


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