Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Big Clean Starts

The mournful sounds of desiccated, decidedly dead, recently frozen foliage whispered to me in the vegetable garden this week. It generally doesn't happen quite so suddenly around here, it's usually a slower decline, first the tops of the plants get zapped by a bit of frost or a brief freeze and then I start a generally leisurely cleanup of the dying plants. But consecutive nightly freezes with a lowest low of 21.8ºF (-5.6C) meant a quick crisping for all the tender plants this year and I just can't bear the sound of rattle of the dead leaves, it's too eerie, such a deathly sad sound. Friday I finally had some time to start the cleanup and started with the remains of the tomato patch. Here's the bed before I pulled out the last plants.   

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the tomatoes that got hit, the napa cabbage also suffered but was not completely ruined. This is the worst hit head. I was able to salvage about half the head and we had it for dinner last night.

The other heads weren't quite so bad looking and I was able to trim them down and salvage about 3/4's of them.

They will keep in the fridge in their trimmed state for a while so I'll be able to use them at my leisure over the next week or so.

Ta da! A cleaned out tomato patch. The cages that are in the foreground are from the tomato plants that I removed a few weeks ago. I'm using the system that I tried last year with good results. After clearing out the tomato plants I turn some amendments into the soil, replace the cages, and sow a few fava seeds inside of each cage. As the favas grow the stay mostly inside the cages which prevents them from flopping over when they get heavy with beans. It also makes it somewhat easy for me to protect the young plants from the voracious birds with some bird netting (which is why there are still sections of the bed covered with row cover). The bird netting over the cages also help to keep the favas from poking out through the openings of the cages.

To my absolute delight and relief the fava seeds that I sowed a couple of weeks ago are emerging! I've already prepared the rest of the bed so all I have to do today is replace the cages, sow the seeds, and scatter some coarse siftings from the compost as a light mulch.

Next up, I have to clean out the pepper patch. I was truly over enthusiastic about peppers for 2013 and there's a lot to clean up. The good thing about that is that it leaves me a big space to try something totally new as an overwintering crop - wheat. More on that later.


  1. I'm so jealous that you're able to sow fava beans this time of year. I can see how you get such amazing harvests from your plants. Our spring sown plants aren't nearly as productive.

  2. Good on you for picking yourself up quickly after such a setback. Glad to see the new shoots are there to encourage you :)

  3. It will be fun to watch your wheat patch. I grew a tiny wheat patch decades ago. I don't remember anything about it though.

    Favas for me seem to be a hit or miss crop depending on the weather. The earlier they go out in the spring the better, but our ground is frozen at this point so I have to wait for the thaw in March. Sometimes I wish I lived in a milder climate where I could grow things over the winter. But then again I like my gardening break too.

  4. Wow, you can winter sown fava beans, wonder I could do the same in my area.

  5. WHEAT!?!? I'm so curious and can't wait to hear about your experiments.


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