Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Garden in Late March 2014

It's amazing how much the veggies in my garden grew in the space of little more than a month. For instance, look how the butter head lettuce grew between February 22 and March 28.

Kagraner and Rhapsody butterhead lettuce

The spinach was equally ambitious.

Monstreux d'Viroflay, Verdil, and Summer Perfection spinach

The view down the tunnel on February 22 shows lots of seedlings getting a start.

The foreground of the photo above should have been the start of a patch of Golden Corn Salad, but I covered the seed with too thick of a layer of compost so most of the seeds didn't germinate. Now the space is sporting a few Claytonia and cilantro volunteers with a corn salad seedling here and there. The lovely patch of green on the right is a second sowing of "Tuscan" arugula that I seeded just before I left.

The next patch of seedlings is "Speedy" arugula, speedy indeed. It's trying to burst out of the tunnel and is about to burst into full bloom. I tasted it before I left and loved it. It's not a hybrid so I need to uncover it to let pollinators can get to it so that I can save some seed (the seed is rather expensive).

"Speedy" arugula

There's some purple mizuna and purple pac choi wedged in between the arugula and the next patch of greens. I'm growing these to add some punch, both color and flavor to my green salads.

Purple Mizuna and Purple Pac Choi

The neighboring "Early" rapini was also trying to burst out of the tunnel. It has since been cut down. I harvest rapini by cutting it down to a couple of leaves at the base of the plants and often times it will produce some new shoots which extends the harvest a bit.

"Early" rapini

The pac choi is ready to harvest. I need to get to it before it decides to bolt.

"Green Fortune" pac choi

The spinach patch is next to the pac choi.

Four varieties of chard (Flamingo, Peppermint Stick, Golden, and Italian Silver Rib) are on the other side of the spinach. This photo was taken before I pulled out the volunteer poppies and other weeds.

And "Romanesco" fennel fills the space at the end of the tunnel. I usually sow fennel in paper pots and then set them out but this time I direct sowed them. The unusually warm weather we had back in January and February prompted me to try more direct sowing than I would usually attempt in winter and it paid off. The fennel germinated well and was ready for thinning  when I got home. I also direct sowed the mizuna and purple pac choi. Most of the rest of the greens I sowed in 4-inch pots and then separated out the seedlings and set them out in their final spacing. The spinach was one exception, it was sown in paper pots.

Perhaps you noticed the strawberry plants growing along the edge of the bed. These are "Seascape", a variety well suited to the local climate. These are very good if picked when perfectly ripe, so so if picked underripe. I spied the first red one the other day!

The lettuce is growing in the tunnel on the other side of the bed. It was started in 4-inch pots, the seedlings separated, and then set out. You can see  how I set the baby butterhead plants in the first photo in this post. Romaine lettuce is shown below. The photo on top is the recently set out seedlings on February 22 and the one below is plants on March 28.

"Sweetie Baby" romaine
The rest of the tunnel is home to beets, yu choi, and pea plants grown for the shoots. You can see the yu choi blooming like crazy and and trying to burst out of the tunnel. Since I took this photo it's been pulled out and put into the compost. The pea plants also grew like crazy but I was able to trim them down and get a nice harvest of tender tops this week (coming to the Harvest Monday post next week).

Here's a look at the entire bed. The snow peas that had been growing under the covered trellis at the far end of the bed were dead when I got home. I had cut the plants down and harvested all the peas I could find and also the tender tops. I was hoping that they would regrow from the base, but no, they just died. I can't complain, the plants were set out late last autumn (November?), survived freezing weather, and then came on in January and February to produce some lovely peas. The patch of green wedged between the old snow pea trellis and the tunnel are the "Spanish Black" carrots that are now blooming like crazy. And in the foreground under the netting is the patch of "Red Fife wheat.

On the other side of the path is what is primarily the allium bed. Onions on the left and garlic on the right. I laid newspaper down between the rows to suppress the volunteer chamomile plants that were popping up throughout the bed. It seems to have worked!

The view from the other end of the bed shows the other patch of wheat that I'm experimenting with, this one is "Sonora. One side of the patch is a bit yellow and short, the other side is more lush. I think that may be a water issue, some of the drip lines are starting to clog up, but I'm not sure.

This bed is going to be the solanum bed this year. In mid February I sowed it with a cover crop blend and then covered the entire bed with lightweight remay. When I got home I found this. The plants had grown enough to push the cover off. Fortunately the hungry birds were not able to do much damage.

This past weekend I cut the greens down and chopped them up.

Here's what it looks like now after I dug it all in. I'm aiming to plant my solanums out by mid to late May so there should be plenty of time for the greens to rot.

This bed is home to the fava beans and was also home to the overwintered veggies, including carrots, celeriac, celery (seen on the left), broccoli, and Romanesco.

Here you can see what the ants did to the carrot patch. They "farm" aphids which you can see on the leaf stems if you look closely and they protect the aphids by piling soil particles on top of them. The aphids only feed on the stems so the roots aren't damaged, but the dying carrot tops can't feed the roots so they don't grow. I would normally leave the carrots in the ground as long as possible and harvest them as I need them, but the infestation was so extensive that I just gave up and pulled them all.

The only remaining planting left in the bed is the Di Ciccio broccoli which has a lot of bolting cilantro growing with it. The new shoots that have managed to grow in my absence are so full of aphids that I'm not going to bother to harvest them. This patch is on the short list for the compost bin.

That's the garden in late March, now I must get started with sowing more spring and summer veggies. But first, ugh, I have to finish the taxes.


  1. Nice to come home to a healthy and lush veggie garden.

  2. What an awesome expanse of green. It has been neat watching your garden take shape for bed construction to this lush growth. I envy you all that space and the bounty of crops. Lou

  3. That lettuce looks just perfect. I can't wait to get lettuce out of my garden.

  4. Amazing Michelle! I'm so envious of your bountiful greens. How on earth do you manage to eat it all.

  5. wow, i cant believe the quantity of veg you grow. Do you have a large plot? Is in on your own property? Its all looks so yummy. Id like to grow more eventually - space is my limit at the moment.

    1. I guess it's pretty big, about 525 square feet (almost 50 square meters) of bed space. It's all on my property, I live in a rural area so there's space, although most of it is vertically challenged. The garden space had to be carved out of the hillside, but you can see that it's plenty of space to grow lots of veggies.

  6. Cindy and I just looked through your 3 most recent posts! I bought some fabric pots on your recommendation and am scheming for the best way to keep them watered. We are so thoroughly impressed with your garden and harvest. What an inspiration!!


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