Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Garden on March 18, 2015

Winter made a rather brief appearance this year (sorry to torment you snow weary north easterners). Mild to unseasonably warm days since the start of the year, no frost since December, and a bit of rain here and there (though not enough to end the drought) has put the garden into full-on spring grow-like-crazy mode. This was really obvious when I got back after a 10 day vacation.

Bed #1 is on the left as we enter the garden. This bed is devoted mostly to alliums, but one end is planted with spring brassicas.

I had this area covered with tulle to protect the seedlings from birds until just the other day. The plants went from tender little seedlings to trying to bust out of the fabric in no time. The birds don't seem to be quite as ravenous anymore, I guess there's a bit more to eat out in the natural landscape, but I'm not taking any chances - thus the flash tape and clanking water bottles. I've got Red Express and Pixie cabbages in the foreground and Atlantis brokali, Purple Peacock broccoli, and Spigariello Foglia Liscia broccoli on the other side of the bed. There's also some pea shoots growing in the gaps.

The brokali is already starting to form heads. They are quick! I sowed the seeds on January 4 and set the plants out on February 12. It's not obvious in the photo above, but the Pixie cabbage is already heading up as well.

Almost all bulbing onions here, including sweet onions from Dixondale - Candy, Red Candy Apple, and Superstar. I also started a couple of varieties from seed - Tonda Musona Bianca and Rossa Lunga di Firenza. There's also a couple rows of tightly spaced leeks - I'll dig those up and replant them deeper and more widely spaced later on.

The garlic and shallot patch. The French Gray shallots that were started from sets are puny and disappointing, but the seed started Zebrune shallots are thriving. Unfortunately the garlic is coming down with a bad case of rust, they'll be runts this year and I won't be harvesting any green garlic since the leaves are spoiled.

Bed #2 is transitioning from overwintered veggies to mostly saladings and cutting greens. There's celeriac in the foreground, celery beyond that, and the last of the bolting Lacinato kale beyond that. To the left is an experimental late autumn started planting of chard. I sowed the chard on October 10, set the plants out on November 17. They grew really slowly through the winter and in the last couple of months have just taken off. I'm pretty sure that they will bolt this spring, but so far they seem to be resisting. They're covered to protect them from the birds.

The celeriac has been really slow to form decent sized roots, but now they seem to be finally putting on a bit of girth. The sowbugs love to tunnel into the leaf stalks, but it doesn't seem to harm the plants and perhaps it helps to divert growth to the roots rather than the leaves. I'll have to harvest the remaining plants soon, I'm sure they are on the verge of bolting. Same for the celery.

I've set up a couple of tunnels in this bed which is where I'll be growing lettuces, small root vegetables, and various cutting greens through the rest of the year. This tunnel was sown with radishes, baby leaf Tuscan kale, and baby turnips on February 16. I set out a few lettuce seedlings just before I left for vacation a couple of weeks ago, one of them died but I've got a replacement waiting on the sidelines.

Radishes, Baby Leaf Kale, and Baby Turnips
There was already some overwintered radicchios growing when I set up the tunnel, so they're filling one end along with some volunteer fennel. The radicchios were an experimental late autumn sowing and it seems that I might get something for my efforts. I just harvested some the other day and there's at least one more nice head ready to harvest now.

The new strawberry patch is taking up one end of the bed. I'm growing two varieties this year - Seascape and Albion. the patch is covered with some tulle to protect what I hope will be a quick crop of Golden Cornsalad. The cornsalad has started to size up, so the race is on, will it get to harvestable size before the strawberries engulf it?

The escarole was looking like it was just starting to fill out when I left for vacation and ten days later it was reaching for the sky. Now I know where the term "bolting" comes from!

The second tunnel is filled with salad goodies.

This end is sowed with cut-and-come-again greens including Spadona chicory, Speedy arugula, Dutch Broadleaf cress, and Ruby Streaks mustard. There's one row of radishes that are almost ready to harvest. I harvested the first round from here just after the photo shoot.

The rest of the tunnel is filled with lettuces that I started in pots on January 18 and then set out on February 14. I like to harvest the Ruby Gem romaine as a cutting lettuce but the rest of them I'll harvest as head lettuces.

Sweetie Baby and Ruby Gem romaine

Reine des Glaces

Red Iceberg
 Here's one of the radicchios that I harvested, it was being dwarfed by the escarole.

Bed #3 was where I grew mostly saladings and cutting greens last year. The two tunnels are still protecting a few stragglers, but those are on the fast track for removal. I've been putting off cleaning out this bed, it's a nasty project. But I finally got around to starting it yesterday. I didn't have this bed lined with a root barrier when it was filled and the roots from the oak trees have invaded so now I need to dig it out and line it. The veggies that I grew last year were able to compete with the oaks but the tomatoes and peppers that are destined for the bed this year won't compete as well. I've started to empty one end of the bed, then I'll line it with the fabric, then I'll shift the soil from the next part of the bed into the lined section, and the same on down the line. A little bit of work every day and the job will get done.

There really isn't much left in the tunnels. This one has a patch of Cilician parsley at one end and some fading spinach at the other along with a few volunteer Spanish Black carrots.

Cilician Parsley

Guntmadingen spinach

The other tunnel has some beets, there's one head of lettuce that might have a salvageable heart, and there's lots of volunteer cornsalad and fennel. There's also strawberry plants from last year that need to go because they are diseased and not producing good berries.

Bed #4 has one side planted with fava beans and the other side was sown with a mustard cover crop that I cut down and dug in last month. I'll be sowing bush beans soon to fill the empty section and perhaps some zucchini. I know I said I wasn't going to grow any Romanesco zucchini, but now I'm thinking that I should put in one plant, at least for the short term until space opens up where I can erect a trellis to grow the Tromba squash. Once the Tromba squash starts to produce I'll pull out the Romanesco - really, I will...

The favas are in full bloom and setting beans!

That's the garden in mid-March. Now I gotta go and dig some dirt.


  1. lol Well we will see if you pull out that zucchini. I so envy your mass of greenery. I see the tops of half of my kale plants now so it is slowly melting even with the really cold temperatures. Until then I'll drool over your greens.

  2. Wow ..... keeps you busy, but you can't beat 'home grown' vegetables.

    All the best Jan

  3. Ditto Daphne's comment on the Romanesco! I'm loving all of the lettuce photos - it's probably going to be one of my first harvests and I'm so looking forward to it.

    I grew French Grey shallots for a couple of years but generally found them to be much smaller than the other shallots I grew & generally a total pain to use in the kitchen - I guess my palette isn't up to snuff ;)

  4. It's nice to see what the color green looks like, thanks for sharing. I know all about tree roots. The climax Eastern white pines I live among are the reason I abandoned the raised beds in my yard for the community garden. An air gap is the solution, raising the beds off the ground. With the size of your beds, that would be an engineering marvel. And by the way, how do just two people eat all the veggies that garden cranks out?

  5. It's always interesting to see what you have growing. And informative, as I just learned a new word: brokali. Now I see it is a broccoli cross much like Happy Rich or Apollo that I have grown. I love both of those but I'm saving them for fall as they seem to do better here then. I love the flash tape and water bottles too. Visitors to my garden are greeted with string of old DVD's and clanking aluminum pie plates since our birds are pesky too.


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