Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Garden on February 18, 2017

Well, I really can't get ANYTHING done in the garden right now, it's been raining and raining and raining. The wind blasted early Friday morning bringing down trees all over the place. Power was out for about 14 hours and the internet over 24 hours. Everything is soaking wet and looking whipped. The gopher tunnels have turned into underground streams. Pretty much every drop of rain hits the ground and starts running these days.

Don't know if the video below will work, but it's the exit point for what used to be a gopher run but is now a spring. I'm pretty confidant that there's no gophers in residence at the moment.

So if I can't actually work in the garden then I'll write about it. I am overdue for a garden update tour anyway, but on the other hand there hasn't been much going on out there lately. The rain let up long enough to allow me out in the garden with my camera and waders (just joking), but I did have to cut the photo session short to spare my camera from another shower.

So here's the latest. First Bed #1.

Bed #1
I'm later than usual to get a cover crop sown in the future tomato and pepper bed. The wet weather kept me out of the garden a lot in January so I didn't get the bed cleared out until mid month. The soil was too wet earlier in the month to dig so I covered the entire bed for a couple of weeks with a huge sheet of heavy duty greenhouse plastic. Then when I finally started to turn the soil in preparation for sowing the cover crop I found that oak roots had invaded much of the first third of the bed so I had to spend extra time digging around the perimeter of that end of the bed so that I could put down a more adequate root barrier. Finally, about 10 days ago I managed to turn the soil and raked in some cover crop seeds including  Kodiak mustard, some really old olive leaf rapini seeds (better than simply throwing them in the compost), pea seeds that I had collected and not labelled so I didn't know what they were, and a mix of another type of pea and oats. I sifted a thin layer of compost over it all and then covered the entire bed with lightweight Agribon fabric to provide protection from both birds and pounding rain.

Emerging Cover Crop
I'll cut down and dig in the cover crop at the end April and then wait until the end of May to finish prepping the bed for planting out the tomatoes and peppers around June 1.

Bed #2 is the former tomato and pepper bed.

Scraggly Aji Pepper Plants
I removed the frost cloth from the top of the enclosure that I set up around the Aji Pepper plants for protection from freezing weather in December and January. I harvested the final round of peppers this past week and now that the danger of freezing weather is minimal I removed the frost cloth from the top and then the wind took care of the plastic sheeting that I had under that. The plants look scraggly but otherwise good considering they've spent the winter outside.

Robin Hood Fava Beans
The rest of that side of the bed is planted to Robin Hood fava beans. They've been pushed around quite a bit by the wind, but I think they're ok, I didn't see any snapped or crimped stems. They have been blooming for quite a while and have set some beans.

The other side of the bed is planted to Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto and Aguadulce fava beans. They are just getting started and are nowhere near blooming. I've been cutting the Kodiak mustard greens that are flanking the Robin Hood favas and laying the greens on top of the soil along the row of other favas as a sort of green mulch. Some of it got covered with cardboard and some didn't.

Over in Bed #3 things are still in transition. This bed is going to be where I'll be growing brassicas, greens, and salad greens, and eventually carrots, parsnips, radishes and such later in the year.

I've got the first round of broccoli going in one corner. It's surrounded by a fence of 1/4-inch hardware cloth draped with fabric to keep the birds and bunnies out.

Batavia Broccoli
The first heads of broccoli are starting to form.

Further down the bed I've been putting up the hardware cloth screens that I'm building to make cages rather than making tunnels of fabric draped over hoops. I've covered part of the cage with heavy duty plastic in an attempt to keep the soil dry enough to do some planting.

The newly dug area is where I had corn growing last year and I'm trying to get the root balls of the corn to dry out a bit so I can run them through the chipper/shredder and return them to that spot as mulch.

Spinach and Golden Corn Salad
The rest of the cage is occupied by spinach that I set out back in November and some Golden Corn Salad that I allowed to volunteer around the spinach. The rest of that side of the bed is occupied with a couple of empty trellises where I had hoped to get some early peas started but I've given up on that idea, it's just too wet and windy.

Most of the rest of the bed has got a bunch of onion seedlings growing. This section of the bed got covered with plastic for the first half of January to keep the soil dry enough so that I could plant out the onions. I planted most of them on January 17 and 18 and now I'm hoping for a bit of a dry spell so I can plant more seedlings that I started later. Fat chance, it seems like it's going to continue to rain until at least mid week and from what I've read March will be soggy also.

I'itoi Onions
The poor little I'itoi onions keep getting bashed down by the wind and rain but I think they're ok.

Zebrune Shallots
The only late started allium that I managed to slip into the garden in a relatively dry spell was some Zebrune shallots. They look puny, but they are still very young.

Bed #4 is where most of the action is now. It has a lot of holdovers from last year still and a few quick croppers that should be done by the time I plant the bed primarily with curcurbits this spring.

Blooming Calabrese Broccoli
I've allowed the Calabrese broccoli to bloom. I didn't really need the few shoots that it was providing and the good bugs and bees needed a little something.

Dazzling Blue Kale
Dazzling Blue Kale
My 2 Dazzling Blue kale plants are still providing all the kale that we need. It certainly doesn't mind all the rain.

The Brussels sprouts don't mind the rain either but the wind keeps ripping their leaves off. They look like palm trees now. And there's still plenty of sprouts growing. I can't believe that I've harvest 26.5 pounds of sprouts so far from these plants.

The Chard Cage

I suppose all the greens are loving the rain, the chards included.
Pink Plume Celery
The celery says "me too, me too!". It's growing like crazy and sweeter than ever.

I've got a cage running the length of the other side of the bed.

Tronchuda Beira
The first bolter amongst the overwintered greens is the Tronchuda Beira cabbage/kale. I cut all the large leaves off of the plants and cut the tops off. Next I'll harvest the side shoots as they try to bloom.

Keeping company with the Tronchuda Beira are seedlings of arugula, cress, mizuna, and some transplanted Bucks Horn plantain.

Quick cropping Mizunarubasoi (Mizuna x Maruba x Tatsoi) is already providing sweet greens.

I tried to get some cilantro started inside some cloches which I just traded for sleeves. The experiment is only partly successful.

Carrots and Parsnips
 Almost done now - carrots and parsnips.

Newly sown and protected by fabric are more carrots and some radishes. That shot above gives an idea of my cage design. All the panels are the same size, although I do have to shorter panels for end panels where I want more narrow cage. They are intended to be easily removed and set back in place. The top screen has only two boards which makes them lighter and more flexible than the side panels. It's much easier to get into the cage than it was to get into a fabric covered tunnel. It's also easier to cover the cage with plastic sheeting to keep out the rain or fabric to provide shade. The panels, even though they are made from cheap kiln dried pine, will last a lot longer than the UV resistant fabric that I've been using the last couple of years and I think they block less light than the fabric. I'm happy with them so far.

Palla Rossa Radicchio
Late sown radicchio are growing, but will they form heads before they bolt? We'll see.

Kolibri and Kongo Kohlrabi 
I have more confidence in getting some kohlrabi.

Kongo Kohlrabi
That's the latest from my garden, thanks for stopping by.


  1. Forgive me, but I am laughing. I think it is the tone in which you wrote this awesome post. Like, gee whiz, what could go wrong next? I really really do sympathize with you. Video works.

    Fourteen hour power outage is way way too long. A wind blown tree on the wires?

    Gosh, would you have said "keep out the rain" one year ago?

    Thanks for the tour. It's fun for me to compare what's working out up there compared to down here. It was great to see that you do have many successes even if I can't pronounce them all like Mizunarubasoi.

    Should I talk about the bees and the rats? I had a hive removed and repaired at great cost, but they came back. Why? Because the rats had tunneled inside to get at the old honey and the bees followed them in. I do not love those animals.

    I probably shouldn't mention this, but I will any way. I picked my first Artwork broccoli today and some chard and some snap peas but they have a really short life span as from the vine to my mouth immediately. Tomato vines although they look like crap are progressing; some tomatoes 1 inch in diameter. Snails, slugs, birds whatever mowed down all the brassicas, spinach, radish seedlings. Cucumber drowned long time ago. An artichoke I split up and moved is loving this weather, about two feet of new growth.

    Have you grown flippers yet?

    1. Oh my, I feel so bad about complaining about 14 hours without power after just having dinner with friends who have been without power for 30 hours now and the estimated time to get it back is still 18 hours away. They heated water on the stove (thanks goodness for gas stoves) to wash up to go out!

      I can't believe that I'm publicly claiming to be tired of rain. No, it would have been utterly unthinkable just a few months ago.

      No flippers yet, but I might be developing webbing between my toes... πŸ¦†πŸΈπŸ¦†πŸΈπŸ¦†

  2. I love to see pics of other peoples gardens, and your tours are always interesting! Looking at the video I'd say the gophers better learn to swim. Here we have crawfish digging holes in the wet spots. It sure looks like your cage design makes it easier to get in to harvest and work on things, which is a problem I always have with netting or row covers. Hopefully things will dry out there a bit so you can get out in the garden soon!

  3. I assume you're in California? No one else would apologize for complaining while drowning.

    Me, too. Just took a walk through the wreakage. Had no desire to immortalize the mess on film, but I do have a pic of our solution to the marauding squirrels. Only thing missing is razor wire!

    This too shall pass.

    Mia Myers

  4. all veggies looks so lush. Thanks for sharing me the idea on protecting the veggies from the bugs.

  5. The video worked fine and it is just as well he gophers are out or they would need deep sea diving gear.

    We got a lot done this weekend but we have some way to go to reach your standard.

  6. Cool, it's been lovely to see your garden. The cages are brilliant.
    Sorry to hear about the power outages! Fortunately we haven't had that problem in Norwich so far but other parts of the country have.


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