Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good Things to Come in the Garden

This is always a nerve wracking time of year for me. It's seed starting time and I always wonder how I'm going to mess it up this time around. I'm off to a pretty good start so far. Here's the first round of starts that are ready to go into the garden and I've actually got a space in one of the new beds that is mostly ready (I just need to lay out the drip lines. This flat is full of paper pots of Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas and Rolande French Filet snap beans. The snow pea plants are supposed to be dwarf plants that grow to about 30 inches and are highly disease resistant which is very important in my powdery mildew haven of a garden. The green beans are a bush variety and produce the tiny little haricot vert beans that I've been paying a small fortune for at the farmer's market. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rats won't devastate my crop this year.

Next up is a flat of miscellaneous herbs, vegetables, and flowers. The top row, from left to right, has three containers of my favorite variety of basil, Profuma di Genova from Renee's seeds. I sowed all the seeds from the three old packets of seeds that I had in my stash. The germination was better than I expected from the 2006 packet, remarkable from the 2004 packet, and non-existent from the 2002 packet (no surprise). There's one container in that row of Zatar Oregano from oldish seeds which I didn't really expect to germinate, but there are sprouts! Now the challenge will be to get them to survive to transplantable size. The next row has one pot of Italian oregano, even older seeds which haven't germinated but I'll give them some more time. The next pot has garlic chives from an old packet and I'm happy to see that some sprouts are starting to pop up. The Primor leek seeds from last year or the year before are popping up also. And the Parade Scallions from last year are growing like crazy. The third row is all lettuces, the Rhapsody Butterhead and Garden Ferns have great germination, the second pot on the left is Ice Queen from a new seed packet and not one seed has germinated yet (huge disappointment), and the fourth pot has my old favorite Sweetie Baby Romaine which is just starting to show some sprouts. Row four has two new for me brassicas, Lark's Tongue kale and Apollo sprouting broccoli. And the other two pots are sweet alyssum Summer Peaches and Summer Romance, one variety peach colored and the other a mix of lavender, violet, rose-pink, and white. I like to grow a lot of alyssum in the vegetable garden for both their compact beauty and their attractiveness to beneficial insects.

The Lark's Tongue (Larketunge) kale is an heirloom German variety that I read about in William Woys Weaver's book 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From. It's name comes from the shape of the leaves which supposedly resemble Lark's tongues, long and narrow, although they are also frilly which doesn't seem very much like a bird's tongue to me. I've seen the leaves described elsewhere as being like a frilly Lacinato kale leaf. Lark's Tongue kale, unlike Lacinato kale, is extremely winter hardy and will easily tolerate subzero temperatures. In warmer climates like mine it will be reluctant to bloom and may grow for years eventually getting to be 5 feet tall or more. Most importantly, it is supposed to be tasty! And, I know that I'm actually getting the very same Lark's Tongue kale that Mr. Weaver describes in his book since the seeds came directly from him - he's offering them to Seed Savers Exchange members through the 2012 yearbook. The biggest challenge will be if I decide to try to save seeds, how long will I have to wait for the plants to bloom and how will I be able to dedicate the garden space for all the plants that are necessary!

As I said in my post about peppers, I'm getting over my disdain of F1 hybrid vegetables, and the Apollo broccoli is another example of my exploration of that realm. Apollo is supposed to be like the fancy and expensive broccoli+kai-lan cross "Broccolini" that my husband loves. Seeds for true "Broccolini" are not available to home gardeners and I have no idea if Apollo is actually a broccoli+kai-lan cross or just a sprouting broccoli that is very like "Broccolini", but I'm willing to give it a try. The seeds are definitely pricey, but if the plants produce something that can pass as "Broccolini" then they will have paid for themselves.

So, no major seed starting screwups yet, cross your fingers that we'll get to see most of these starts mature enough to see them in a future Harvest Monday post.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Tomato Lineup for 2012

Fiaschetto Tomatoes, September 2011

As I embark on my 6th year of gardening in this locale I find that I'm still making adjustments to my planting plans for the climate here. It has taken me a while to truly accept the fact that "summer" here is later and shorter and cooler than in the Santa Clara valley where I first honed my gardening skills. We have cold and/or foggy nights until well into July (or August in the coolest years). The nighttime temperatures don't stay above 50º F until late June or early July and can still dip down into the low 40º's or high 30º's in June. The cold nights mean that the tomato blossoms do not pollinate well or at all. So, I cannot ensure a July tomato harvest by simply getting my plants into the garden by the end of April such as I did in Santa Clara. A July tomato harvest around here requires more care on my part.

I got an early crop back in 2010 when I enclosed the row of tomatoes in plastic sheeting. That kept things warm enough that one of the plants set early enough to produce the first ripe tomato in  mid-July, but the bulk of the tomatoes came in from mid-August through mid-October. I'm not sure that it's worth taking up a lot of garden space with all those tomato plants for a few early tomatoes. Although... looking back at the 2011 harvest data I can see that I didn't get my first few tomatoes that year until mid-August, with the bulk of the harvests starting in mid September and extending through October (coinciding with a two week vacation, grrr). I did not provide any protection for the tomato plants that year. So it seems that the protection accelerated the tomato harvests by a full month in 2010!

Okay, there's a few lessons to be learned. First, it does help to give the plants some protection early on. I never got a ripe tomato in July from this garden until 2010 when I covered the tomato plants for the first time.

Second lesson, I don't think it is necessary to plant out the tomatoes extra early (mid-April in 2010), even with protection they won't produce the first ripe tomato until mid-July. An extra early start just means that the plants get huge and fill their cages before they start setting fruit. This year I'm going to cover the cages again, but I'm aiming to get my plants in the ground by the first of June or earlier if the seedlings size up quickly enough. I hope that some of them will start to set fruit before the plants get huge and turn into caged jungles in which it is nearly impossible to find the tomatoes. That's seems to be the usual scenario, the plants grow quite happily in spite of the cool nights (with or without protection) but they get huge before they start setting tomatoes. I would have liked to aimed for about a mid-May start but everything is set back this year by the project to build real raised beds, it's been a slower than anticipated process. I'm going to have to experiment with this planting out date. Perhaps I'll try planting out one plant in mid-May this year if I have the tomato bed built and filled in time, it will have to be a purchased plant though, my seed grown plants probably won't be ready then.

Third lesson, it is best to grow primarily early or cool climate adapted varieties, the "standard" or late varieties don't set fruit until late, even with protection - talk about space hogs. Ah, that's a tough realization for me, some of my all-time favorite tomatoes just won't do well here. And even if they do produce they don't seem to be as flavorful when grown in a cool climate, a Brandywine tomato just doesn't taste as good when grown in a cool climate, it just doesn't get enough heat to develop the good flavors.

Fourth lesson, or really more of an experiment, a few of my tomato plants always seem to get some sort of disease which cuts the harvest short. I'm hoping that by getting the plants off to a later start that the diseases will also get a later foothold. Or if the diseases do show up at the usual time that they will be easier to detect and treat if the plants aren't quite so overgrown. We'll see.

Barely ripe tomatoes snatched from the jaws of the rats, October 2011.

So, here's the tomato lineup for 2012:

There's only two varieties that are repeat performers.

Amish Paste I'm using my last few seeds that Thomas shared with me last year. Even though these are not technically a "cool climate" adapted tomato and Tomatofest actually considers them to be a late season tomato they performed quite well for me last year and they produced more per plant (40 pounds from 3 plants) than any of the other tomatoes that I grew. (Well, all of the plants would have produced more if the rats had left them alone). They made very good tomato sauce. Here's a description from Slow Foods: This heirloom tomato was discovered in Wisconsin although its origins are in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is the heart of the Amish Country. The tomatoes are teardrop or heart-shaped with a brilliant red orange color. The Amish Paste tomato has a balance of acid and sweetness. When it is sliced fresh the juicy flesh sparkles and has a solid texture. The Amish Paste is eaten fresh or in sauces. I should add that many of the tomatoes were quite large, much larger than the average paste tomato. And even though I had to harvest most of them when they were barely starting to turn red (because of the rats), they ripened beautifully indoors and didn't lack any flavor. I hope that I'll be able to harvest more of them ripe off the vine this year.

Fiaschetto This is an Italian heirloom tomato that seems to have originated in Puglia but is grown in other parts of Italy as well, one strain being Napoli a Fiaschetto. My seed packet from L'Orto di Larosa simply names it Fiaschetto. This is a determinate variety that produces clusters of plum shaped tomatoes similar to Principe Borghese or Grappoli D'Inverno but IMO is tastier than either of those. It is juicier than a roma but still very good for making sauce or drying. I enjoyed these last year but my plant succumbed to some sort of fungal disease before all the tomatoes were able to ripen. I hope for better luck this year.

New in the lineup are varieties that are supposed to be either early producers or cool climate producers. I've included the source and catalog descriptions.

Jaune Flamme (Seed Savers Exchange) (aka Flamme) Beautiful heirloom that originated with Norbert Perreira of Helliner, France. Commercialized by Tomato Growers Supply Company in 1997. Early crops of apricot-colored 4 ounce fruits borne on elongated trusses. Excellent fruity flavor with a perfect blend of sweet and tart. Great for drying or roasting, retains deep orange color. Indeterminate.

Martian Giant (Adaptive Seeds) 75-80 days. Bushy Indet. A great market tomato that rivals the hybrids. Bright scarlet red, big and juicy. This is our current choice for a main season market tomato. Its flavor is balanced and excellent. The yield is a little late but very high. A sister variety to ORLST, Dr. Alan Kapuler's selection of Martian Giant, which was collaboratively developed by Peace Seeds, Bill Reynolds of Eel River Produce, and Seeds of Change.

Nyagous (Seed Savers Exchange) Introduced in the 1997 SSE Yearbook by Glenn Drowns. Great black tomato that is virtually blemish-free. Baseball-sized fruits are borne in clusters of up to six fruits, very productive. Excellent full flavor, great for markets. Indeterminate. My note: the SSE description doesn't say that this is an early or cool adapted tomato, but if this is the same Nyagous that Tomatofest describes then this is a cool climate adapted variety which is not surprising considering its Russian heritage.

Rosabec  (Adaptive Seeds) 60-70 days. Det. Tall bushes. Awesome pink tomato from Quebec and perfect for the Pacific Northwest. 6-8 oz pink globe fruit, excellent flavor and yields. Blemish free and good firmness make it great for market. Bred by Roger Doucet in 1975 at the Station Provinciale de Recherches Agricole in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada.

Sunshine Cherry  (Adaptive Seeds) Indet. Small yellow cherry, high yields, good flavor. Great for market farmers. This tomato, along with Galina, is all a farm could ever need in a yellow cherry. Sunshine does it right. Routinely planted on our farm, Open Oak Farm, for cherry tomato production.  Originally from Peters Seed and Research in Riddle, Oregon. My note: I've been growing Galina cherry tomato for years and it is a great yellow cherry, but it's time to try something new!

Wheatly's Frost Resistant  (Adaptive Seeds) 60 days. Indet. Tart, sweet, pink grape shaped fruit. Huge yields on big plants. We have found them to be very cool weather tolerant but not actually frost resistant. We received our original seed from seed collector Gerhard Bohl in Germany. This seems to be the same strain available from seed savers in the US since the 1980's and from Sandhill Preservation Center. A variety was listed as "Wheatley" in Gleckler's Seed Catalog in the 1950's as an early red globe from South Africa reportedly resisting as high as 6 degrees frost, whatever that means, that strain sound distinctly different.

That's it for 2012. I managed to find a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes to keep things interesting. I hope to learn more valuable lessons this year and perhaps in a few years I'll have my tomato growing techniques a little more refined. It would be nice to know an optimal time frame for planting out my tomatoes here, it would make it so much easier to plan the rest of the garden since the tomatoes take up such a big chunk of it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pepper Madness Starts Again

I love peppers. All sorts of peppers. But don't call me a Chilehead, I don't think I qualify, true Chileheads seem to be on a quest for the hottest peppers around and I'm just not a fan of super hot peppers. You won't ever find the world's hottest pepper in my garden, not even close. You might find a pepper that looks like a Habanero or Scotch Bonnet out there, but it will be a wimpy sweetie look-a-like. I've experimented with growing mild Capsicum chinense varieties for years and have found a few that I like, including Rocotillo, Aji Dulce, Datil Sweet and others. But I'm ready to move on from the challenge of finding the best tasting mild chinense pepper to a different chile quest, so this year I'm only starting 2 chinense varieties - Rocotillo and Pimenta Biquinho. You'll find their descriptions in my list of peppers at the end of this post.

After 5 years of gardening in this locale I'm finally accepting the fact that I just cannot grow the big sweet pepper varieties that used to produce so beautifully for me in the Santa Clara valley. Summer weather comes late here and I'm finding that it just doesn't pay to get my solanum crops off to an early start. In general, the plants grow just fine, but because the nighttime temperatures don't stay above 50º F until late June or even early July the flowers do not pollinate properly or at all. I'm starting to accept the idea that the best use of my garden space is to maximize my spring crops and plant the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants late and aim for late August as the start of the solanum harvests. So this year I'm starting a search for a flavorful sweet pepper that will produce a decent sized crop in my cool coastal climate. I've searched the catalogs for varieties that are adapted to short seasons and/or cool climates. This has involved another attitude adjustment on my part, I'm working on getting over my bias towards heirloom and open pollinated varieties and I'm including more some F1 hybrid varieties in the mix this year.

Now, just because I live in a climate that is not optimal for growing big thick fleshed sweet peppers, it doesn't mean that other peppers don't do well here. Thin fleshed frying peppers, whether they are meant to be harvested green or ripe tend to produce quite well as do small fruited sweet and hot peppers. And I can generally get a decent harvest of roasting peppers that can be harvested green, such as New Mexico type peppers. You'll find some of my favorites of these types listed below along with some new varieties that I'm trying. Capsicum baccatum plants are generally more cold tolerant than other pepper species and will often survive for more than one season with some protection in my garden. The only problem with the baccatum peppers is that many of them are late ripening and I've found that the peppers may not ripen before the first frost so I've been experimenting with the earliest ripening varieties. I'm starting some new plants of a few of my favorite varieties plus I'm trying some new varieties.

So, here's the list of peppers that I'm trying this year. We'll see just how many of these I can get to germinate and actually grow to a size to set out in the garden. Last year I started my plants early and we ended up having an extra cool, wet, and long spring and a number of the plants didn't survive or thrive. This year I've thrown in the trowel and I'm starting late, I sowed my seeds on March 30th and even now I'm still waiting for a number of them to germinate. I've included my seed source and the descriptions from the catalogs when I have one.

Capsicum chinense:

Rocotillo (listed simply as Aji in the 2009 SSE yearbook) - intense flavor, 1" peppers, slightly hot (sometimes), from Mexican food store, SSE PEPPER 123. I grew this pepper a couple of years ago and it was truly intensely flavored but not hot. It was absolutely delicious fresh or dried and I want more!

Pimenta Biquinho. I got these seeds in a trade with another pepper aficionado. A sweet small fruited nipple shaped pepper from Brazil. My first attempt at growing these a couple of years ago was a failure. I tried sowing them very late and then overwintered them indoors but they didn't like it, so I'm going to try one more time.

Capsicum annuum sweet peppers for short seasons and/or cool climates, new in the lineup this year:

Flamingo Hybrid (Territorial) - In our pepper trials, Flamingo outshined similar varieties with its unparalleled productivity. Exceptionally prolific, the gorgeous 3 1/2 inch long and wide peppers pack sturdy, healthy plants. The 3-4 lobed, slightly tapered fruit start ivory-yellow, then ripen to a glowing orange-red with a shiny, polished finish. Its flavor is sweet and succulent, delicious in salads, adding a glowing color against leafy greens. Resistant to tobacco mosaic virus.

King of the North (Seed Savers Exchange) -The best red bell pepper we know for northern gardeners where the seasons are cool and short. Blocky, uniform fruits are excellent for stuffing or fresh eating. Great sweet flavor. Our stock is from Fedco Seeds in Waterville, Maine.

Lady Bell Hybrid (Territorial) -Reliably bountiful, this robust bell has a delicious, sweet flavor and crisp, crunchy texture. The 3-4 lobed fruit have moderately thick, juicy walls and turn from a glossy green to a bright red at maturity. They flourished and ripened during an unusually chilly summer at our trial farm. We love the beefy, elongated bells for everything from salads to stuffing or frying.

Liebesapfel (Adaptive Seeds) -We love this “love apple.” Red pepper with sweet thick flesh. Very early and productive. Deeply lobed, flattened sheepnose type pimento. Developed by a small seed company in Germany. Matures outside without any plastic in Denmark. From Søren Holt of Frøsamlerne, the Danish seed saving organization.

Odessa Market (Baker Creek) - This pepper comes from the Black Sea city of Odessa in Ukraine. A great tasting, top-shaped pepper that starts out bright green, turning orange and then red. Short plants produce fruit all summer, and this variety is dependable even in the north. A good variety for growing in pots.

Shepard's Ramshorn (Adaptive Seeds) - Large, elongated and blocky, sweet red Italian frying type pepper. Seed sourced originally from Spain and reselected in Italy. Reputed to be one of the sweetest peppers. A little bit later than Corono di Toro, but more productive, even outside in cool Oregon summers.

Sunnybrook Pimento (Adaptive Seeds) - This is the best sweet pepper we have found for short season areas. It is a thick- walled, early, sweet sheepnose type. In addition, its productivity sets it apart from other super early sweet peppers. Our original seed came from Ben Gable of Real Seeds in Wales, as well as the Irish Seed Savers Association, with high recommendations from both.

Sweet Chocolate (Seed Savers Exchange) - (aka Choco) Early bell pepper bred by Elwyn Meader and introduced by the University of New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station in 1965. Ripens from green to chocolate on the outside and brick red inside. Thick sweet flesh. Great for gardeners in short-season areas. Not actually new for me this year but new in this garden. Very old seeds, it will be a miracle if any of the germinate.

Wisconsin Lakes (Seed Savers Exchange) - Developed in the 1960s at the University of Wisconsin at Madison by Professor O. B. Combs. Great choice for an early maturing bell pepper. Reliable yields of thick-walled, 4-6 oz. fruits that ripen from green to red.

Capsicum annuum thin fleshed frying peppers to be harvested red and/or green:

Jimmy Nardello's (Seed Savers Exchange) - Given to SSE by Jimmy Nardello whose mother brought the seeds to the U.S. when she immigrated with her husband Guiseppe from the Basilicata region of Italy in 1887. One of the very best for frying, delicious roasted apple flavor. Productive plants are loaded with glossy red 10" long peppers. I grew this pepper years ago in Santa Clara and loved it, time to try it again!

Melrose (Baker Creek) - This is a superb heirloom frying pepper brought from Italy years ago. The 4-inch fruit turn brilliant red and start producing very early with flavor that is rich, flavorful, and very sweet. Great fried or fresh, a true Italian variety that seems to have been widely grown in the Chicago area. I've been intending to try these for years.

Pimento de Padron (Franchi and Renee's Garden Seeds) - These are a long time favorite of mine and my garden wouldn't be complete without at least a half-dozen plants. The peppers should be harvested quite immature and are delicious pan fried in olive oil and served hot with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Sigaretta Dolce (Gourmet Seed International) - Tall, vigorous plant with slim, long, sweet 'cigar' fruits, starting green and maturing red. Ideal for 'sottoaceto' pickling. One of the finest frying Italian pepperoncini peppers. Very mild selection from Bergamo, Italy. Another new pepper for me this year - great germination so far!

Capsicum annuum green roasting peppers or red peppers (weather and rats permitting):

Big Jim (swap) - A delicious New Mexico pepper that is not too hot.

New Mexico 6 (swap) - This pepper is nice and mild, perfect for roasting and stuffing.

Capsicum annuum small fruited sweet and spicy peppers:

Peter Pepper (swap) - a novelty hot pepper that should be fun to try.

PI 593480 (Morocco) (SSE Heritage Farm) - I acquired the seeds for this pepper from SSE through the annual yearbook, there was no description given. It turned out to be a 1-inch wide by 1.5-inch long pointed pepper that is borne upright on the plants, sweet and flavorful. All my pepper plants suffered the year that first grew these and I didn't get a very good crop. I want to try it again.

Pima Rodrigues (swap) - A spicy pepper from the island of Rodrigues (via Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean. I managed to get only one plant to survive last year but not long enough to produce a crop. Time to try again.

Capsicum annuum? C. baccatum? the flier:

Large Sweet Antigua (Baker Creek) - We collected this pepper several years ago in the beautiful, historic mountain town of Antigua, Guatemala, at the city market. The fruit are shaped like a long, tapering bell pepper and are rather refined looking. They are green and turn a bright red, at which stage they are very sweet and highly flavored. The tall plants are very productive. This variety is perfect for farmers markets. I don't know how to classify this pepper, it's a total flier since I don't think it is a short season pepper, I don't know if it is large or small fruited, thick or thin fleshed, early or late. I don't even know what species it is, but the fact that it was collected in a mountain town and is a tall plant gives me hope that it may actually be a baccatum species which might be ok in my garden. Plant it and see what happens!

Capsicum baccatum:

Aji Angelo (Peppermania and saved seeds) - A lovely and productive Aji, very sweet with medium heat. Pods to 4" ripeing to bright red. Plants grow large and branching and one of the earliest producers of the C. baccatum var pendelum species. A very pleasing Aji, super for fresh consumption. I also love these quick dried in a 200ºF oven, they come out sweet and crisp, perfect for crumbling.

Aji Pineapple (saved seeds, origin the chilewoman.com) - This sweet citrusy yellow South American chile grows on a more compact bush and ripens slightly earlier. I miss this one and want some again.

Christmas Bell - (saved seeds, origin cross country nursery) 2 to 2.5 inches long by 2 to 2.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from pale green to orange to red; pendant leaves; 30 to 36 inches tall; Late Season; Uses: Unusually Shaped Fruit. The catalog description does not do these peppers justice, they are prolific and flavorful. I love them fresh or quick dried in the oven, and they make great refrigerator pickles too.

Guampinha de Veado (Peppermania) - A semi-wild variety from the cattle country of Campanha region of Brazil. Pods grow to 1-1/2 - 2" X 3/8" and ripen to a vibrant red. Given the opportunity, this variety can grow to a large bush. A nice biting heat and the sweetness of the C baccatum in addition to drying very well makes this a versitile representative of the species. It is resilient and forgiving to most conditions and for those in the shorter grow seasons, the shorter "time to ripe" makes this an excellent option to grow the lovely... One of the peppers that I tried to grow last year and didn't thrive in the cold long spring.

Pimenta Barro do Robiero (Peppermania) - WOW is what we have to say about this beauty. Multitude of pods ripening from cream to coral to red, all with shades of purple grow erect on this shrub like plant. Medium heat and sweet aroma and flavor. An early and prolific producer, very content in a container. These colorful pods are super for fresh picking, unique garnish and make a beautiful jar of pickled peppers. Origin - Brazil. One of the peppers that I tried to grow last year and didn't thrive in the cold long spring.

If you've been counting, yes that is 26 different varieties of peppers, hmm, just one more variety than last year, a couple less than in 2009, and 5 off of my peak of 31 varieties in 2008. I do like my peppers and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather and the rodents will be more cooperative this year. But lets not count the peppers until they germinate...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garden Update - April 4, 2012

One new raised bed is done and will be ready to plant once I get some drip lines installed. I added compost and other amendments as I filled the box so all the hard work is done here. The fun work will start soon, I've got a flat of Oregon Sugar Pod II snap peas and Rolande French Filet beans sown to go into this bed. Today I'm going to sow seeds for lettuce and herbs that will also go here. And I'm finally going to be able to grow carrots without them being pushed around by moles or munched on by gophers!

The space for the second bed is ready to go and the box will be built next week. Then it will probably take another week or so for me to move the soil from the bed in the foreground into the new bed. The project is taking longer than I anticipated, mostly because I need plenty of rest between rounds with the shovel (I'm just not as young as I used to be). The space for the second bed had some roots that were starting to invade from the oak tree outside the garden. I was able to dig those out and I'll be able to keep an eye on the area that they were invading from in the future. That is one advantage to doing the digging myself, the guys building the beds would have just left the roots in place and I would have been fighting them as they grew up into the soil from Day One, at least I know where to keep an eye on them now and can try to sever them from the outside of the bed.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the garden, there are a few hangers-on. This is the radicchio patch. And there's a nice clump of chives that I'm going to move to one of the new beds.

This is Rossa Treviso 4 Precoce radicchio. This is the best looking plant of this variety, it may actually be forming a halfway decent head.

Perhaps this Variegata di Castelfranco will form a head before I have to dig it out in a couple of weeks.

But this Variegata di Chioggia won't, it's already bolting.

It looks a bit like it is wearing a dunce cap.

The Guntmadingen spinach just keeps coming on. It is showing the first signs of bolting but the leaves that I snacked on yesterday were still sweet and tender.

Here's what a clump looked like on March 20 just after I cut it to the ground in anticipation of pulling the plants out (which I didn't get around to). It's amazing how quickly they grow back at this time of year.

The Flamingo Chard is producing well and not showing signs of bolting so I may try to transplant these to one of the new beds. If you look closely you can see that many of the leaves  have white spots. The plants don't have some funky disease, that's damage from the hail that dumped on us a few weeks ago. The white spots would make the leaves unmarketable but they don't make it inedible. I used a bunch just a couple of nights ago to make a Dungeness Crab and Swiss Chard Gratin that was absolutely delicious.

Next up, I've gone crazy with the peppers again this year...