Thursday, January 23, 2014

Part Two of - What Was and What Might Be

This looks like it's going to be a four part series as I look back at 2013 and cover my 2014 plans for each of the four large beds in my garden.

Bed #2 was a bit of a mash up last year. It started the year with half the bed devoted to favas and the other half to overwintering lettuces, brassicas, celery, and overgrown scallions. By June I had cleared out the bed and set out eggplants (Salangana, Sicilian, and Bonica) and a variety of peppers in the front half of the bed. By July I had set out seedlings of Black Futsu squash, Halona and Alvaro melons, and Tasty Green and Garden Oasis cucumbers.

Bed #2 on February 16, 2013

July 18, 2013

The tunnel is protecting the melons, or rather, hopefully keeping them warm so that they would produce some ripe melons. I was keeping one part of the bed open for amaranth which doesn't like the cool weather, specifically the cold nights, that we have through July.

July 18, 2013

By the end of August the bed was absolutely lush.

August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013

By the end of October everything looked rather tatty but production was still in full swing.

October 24, 2013
Melons had spilled out from under the tunnel and were actually ripening. The tunnel turned out to be a waste of space, this year I'll just let the vines spill out over the sides of the bed and take up space in the path.

October 24, 2013

The amaranth had taken off and provided a patch of bright green growth in contrast to the old browning squash leaves.

October 24, 2013

By mid-November the squash and melons were done and I was ready to prepare the space for garlic and shallots.

November 17, 2013

Early December brought some uncommonly freezing nights and an end to the "summer" vegetables that lingered.

December 8, 2013

December 8, 2013
There were a few lessons that I learned from this bed in 2013. First, that caging favas is the way to go - it keeps them from flopping over when they become weighed down with beans and it makes it easy(ish) to protect the seedlings from the birds (draping bird netting is never a pleasant task). Second, that melons can ripen in my garden if I choose the right variety. Third, that beneficial mycorrhizal and bacterial innoculants work (I've never grown such huge eggplant and pepper plants) and perhaps they gave the curcurbits a good boost as well.

That was 2013, now on to 2014. Bed #2 is starting off as primarily alliums. I set out four varieties of garlic on November 19 of last year. Two varieties came from the garlic that I grew last year - Red Jancie and Lorz Italian. The other two varieties are new this year - Inchelium Red and Spanish Roja. I also set out French Gray shallots at the same time.

January 14, 2014

On December 20 I set out three varieties of day-neutral onions - Candy F1, Red Candy Apple F1, and Superstar F1. Christina had mentioned her success with growing onions from plants that she had purchased from Dixondale Farms and I made a mental note when I read her post to give them a try this year. Fortunately, I remembered at the optimal time and placed an order. I went the safe route with day-neutral onions. My garden is right on the border of short-day and long-day growing regions. Some varieties of either one might grow properly here but not all will, it's necessary to know just how many hours of daylight are required for a particular variety otherwise it's a gamble. Day-neutral varieties take the guess work or the sleuthing out of the equation, but unfortunately it keeps the selection quite limited. Perhaps I'll do a bit more investigating into other varieties next year.

There's two other plantings in the bed right now. The overturned nursery flats are keeping the birds from scratching out the Monticello poppy seedlings (also thanks to Christina). And the bird netting is keeping the birds from eating the new Sonora wheat plants.

The plantings in this bed should be finished by mid-summer at which time it will be the perfect time to transition this bed to fall and overwintering vegetables. The back side (on the left) will be devoted to pole beans - I should be able to bring in a harvest of dry beans if I can get them started by mid-July. Come to think of it, I think I'll be putting my second trellis of green beans in this bed instead of bed #1. I can put my Gigante beans into bed #1 on two trellises. The Petaluma Gold Rush beans can wait until July and go into bed #2 instead of bed #1. This will work better since the runner beans can be started earlier than the common beans and they also bloom better in the cooler weather of our early summer. Weather permitting, I might be able to get some snow peas started after the Petaluma Gold Rush beans are done. The peas won't produce in 2014 but if I can keep them protected from frost then they might produce in early spring 2015, it's worth a try. The rest of the bed will be planted with the fall/winter vegetables including broccoli, romanesco, celeriac, celery, kale, cabbage, spinach and...

Here's the varieties that I have in mind for bed #2: (new varieties in italics)

Pole Beans - Petaluma Gold Rush (2 trellises), Stefani's beans, Runner Cannelini (perhaps), green beans (see bed#1 varieties)
Broccoli - Di Ciccio, S. Giusseppe romanesco
Celery - Dorato D'Asti
Celeriac - Monarch
Napa Cabbage - Little Jade, Tokyo Bekana
Kale - Lacinato, Red Russian
Spinach - Monstruex D'Viroflay, Summer Perfection, Verdil
Peas - Golden Sweet, Oregon Sugar Pod II, Oregon Giant


  1. Hi M, Candy and SuperStar onions did fantastically well here in San Jose last year. Long and short day onions didn't produce well during a trial I did some years ago at Nine Palms. Onion plants from Dixondale were great. Your two new garlic vars did very well here a few years ago as well. We did a shelling bean trial last year but don't have results yet.

  2. Hopefully you will be able to find some long day onions that will work for you. You are about 36 degrees latitude so you get over 14 hours of sun on the solstice. Though not much more. Some of those long day onions ought to work, but not all of them. I think I'm lucky to get over 15 hours at the longest day so I can grow just about any long day onion. And there are some really nice ones.

  3. Oooooh! I'm so excited for your onions! I hope they grow well for you. I have to grow short day in my neck of the woods, and I've got TX Legend, 1015Y, and Red Creole onions in the ground right now. This year, when I prepped my beds for autumn planting, I added mycorrhizal inoculants and crab meal (upon your recommendation), and both seem to be really working in fighting off the nematodes and strengthening my plants to be better able to fend them off. Two beds I left fallow for the fall and just recently seeded with agricultural mustard to help eliminate the nematodes. We'll see how or if this all pays off in the summer. Your garden is always an inspiration!

  4. I like the "time-lapse" style of your posts, which really demonstrate very clearly how things develop. Getting the "hardware" [supports, covers, etc] right is never easy, is it?


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.