Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Garden on March 14, 2013

It is most definitely spring in the garden, regardless of what the calendar says. Many of the overwintered vegetables are throwing their energy into trying to reproduce but others are holding off for a while. But even while the old vegetables are nearing the end of their useful lives in the garden others are just getting started.

The Golden and Flamingo chards are still producing plenty of beautiful leaves. Chard is generally one of the last of the overwintered vegetables to bolt in my garden.

The nice succulent tender new leaves have become quite attractive to aphids. There are signs of help from beneficial insects. Can you see the little brown puffed up aphids? Those have been parasitized by tiny wasps, the wasp larvae are inside munching away. I've seen a couple of lady beetles in the garden, but not enough yet to really help out.

The Diamante celeriac (celery root) is just starting to throw its flower stalks skyward. I'll have to harvest it all. Fortunately, if it's properly trimmed it will keep quite a while in the refrigerator. I can see some celery root soup in the near future.

The lacinato kale is definitely throwing all its energy into producing flowers now. I've already harvested the main flower heads from both plants and a number of side shoots.

Unfortunately, the flowers are very attractive to aphids. Yuck. I'll have to see if there's anything in there that's not too infested that I can harvest.

And one of the nearby scallions is also bursting into bloom.

This bed will be home to the legume crops that I'm planning for the coming year. I've already started the various types of peas. These are snow pea plants that I'm growing for the young shoots. I've had to cover the entire patch with bird netting to keep them from being pecked down to nothing.

Right next to the pea shoot planting are a couple of trellises that I've set up for sugar snap peas (in the foreground) and snow peas beyond. I've only planted enough snow peas to cover half of that trellis, I'll be starting more next week to fill out the rest of the trellis. Last year I found that the snow peas produced a lot of pods over a very short time and I couldn't eat them fast enough and then all of a sudden they were gone. So this year I'm trying to extend the harvest a bit by splitting what I would normally grow into two plantings a few weeks apart. These seedlings also have to be protected from munching critters so I've erected a barrier of lightweight row cover. The birds don't bother the seedlings even though the top is open, I guess they don't like the confined space.

Here's the view of the entire bed from the hillside above. I'll be pulling the kale and celery root out quite soon and I'll be putting in another trellis at that end of the bed to plant out a couple of varieties of runner beans. Then the chard will have to go so that I can put a couple more trellises in for some pole snap beans.

Oh my, the Golden Corn Salad has far exceeded what I thought it would do, I really didn't expect this kind of germination rate! I've already harvested over 5.5 pounds from between the rows of garlic and it just keeps filling in. I must clear it out soon so that it doesn't outcompete the garlic. (No signs of rust on the garlic yet - knock wood).

In another corner of this bed I'm trying to get some oldish carrot seeds going. I scattered the seeds over the soil and then spread a thin layer of fine compost over them. Then I covered the area with some very lightweight row cover to keep the seeds from drying out. The cover is water permeable so I can just sprinkle it and the water soaks through.

All the varieties are germinating! I've got a small corner sown with Rouge Sange Violette, and the rest of the area is divided into three rows for three other varieties - Deep Purple hybrid, Circus Circus (actually a mix of white, orange, and purple skinned carrots), and Spanish Black. These were all sown on March 25 and I just noticed the first sprouts about 3 days ago.

The water bottle cloches on the other side of the bed are protecting newly planted out beets, three varieties - Golden, Chioggia, and Baby Ball.

So far, so good. These were all sown into paper pots about three weeks ago.

There's another spot ready to be sown with Sugarsnax carrots and next to that is a patch of cilantro that I'll let bloom and then there's a patch of Golden Corn Salad that I'm going to allow to go to seed so that I can replenish my seed stock.

Do you see the corner of the trellis in the top of the photo above. That is where I grew Greek Gigante beans last year. They are a huge white bean that is harvested dry. It's a runner bean and often times runner beans can survive the mild winters here, so at the end of the season I just left the vines on the trellis. The vines died back this winter but the crowns and roots of the plants survived and look below -

this one is pushing up new shoots! One other plant is showing signs of producing shoots also. I hope that the rest of the plants do the same.

Here's the view from the hillside above of the two beds at this end of the garden. The bed in the foreground is home to the autumn sown fava beans and the rest of the overwintered brassicas, and

the overwintered Dorato di Asti celery. There are four plants here and they all seem to be resisting the urge to bolt so far.

I harvest the stalks on a cut and come again basis. You can almost see the slight golden hue that gives this variety its name.

The Lark's Tongue kale has turned into small trees, but it is not living up to its reputation to be reluctant to bolt in mild climates.

It's just about to shoot its flower stalks up beyond the canopy of leaves.

Here's the decapitated Tronchuda Beira cabbage. There's four plants here and they are all trying to bloom and I just keep cutting the shoots off. The leaves are still quite tasty also.

This plant has a few more shoots ready to harvest. I have been blanching the whole stalks complete with leaves. Some of them went into a frittata and the rest have been served up lightly sauteed in olive oil and seasonings. They have a very mild cabbage flavor.

Here's what is left of the Apollo broccoli, I've cut it down to the nubs and it will be pulled out soon. There's lettuce seedlings coming along in pots that will soon be ready to fill a good portion of this bed. So it will be "so long" to the brassicas here and "hello" to the lettuce.

The other side of this bed, the entire length, is devoted to Extra Precocde Violetto fava beans. This will be my third, no second year (I didn't grow favas last year) growing this variety. I like it because it is a very early and prolific producer and most important, the beans are delicious. This year I'm experimenting with growing them in the tomato cages to keep them from flopping all over the place. The cages are covered with netting for now because the birds were pecking at them and uprooting them when they were seedlings. I left the netting on as insurance.

And finally, on the hillside outside the vegetable garden, the Blue Dicks are putting on a good show this year. The rest of the wildflowers aren't putting on much of a show this year, the weather turned quite dry at the start of the year and has remained that way ever since so most of the flowers have been shut down.


  1. Wow! I'm so jealous! We have a few more months here before I can plant anything in the ground. Such a great garden you have started already.


  2. It would be so wonderful to have peas, kale, and well just about anything. I'm really to the point where I wants something fresh. I can't wait for spring.


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