Friday, January 26, 2018

The Garden on January 25, 2018

It's been over a month since my last garden tour. Some things have been cleared out, some things have been planted, and some things have been growing since then.

First a couple of shots from the hillside for an overview. It was a beautiful morning. The air was clear and crisp after some overnight showers and the foliage in the garden and surroundings was sparkling clean. The sun peeked out off and on from between big fluffy clouds.

Beds No. 1 and No. 4

Beds No. 2 and No. 3
Bed No. 1 was where I grew tomatoes and peppers in 2017. I cut down most of the tomato and pepper plants a couple of weeks ago. I kept the trellis that the tomato plants were trained upon in place to provide support for the fava beans that I set out in the garden last week. There's a baby fava plant under each of those water bottle cloches. This year I tried something new with the favas, instead of sowing the seed directly into the garden I sowed them into paper pots and not long after they poked their first leaves out of the soil I transplanted them into the garden. That sped up the germination quite a bit, from about 3 weeks in the cold garden soil to about 1 week in the pampered paper pots. The area where the pepper plants had been growing is temporarily covered with cardboard just to protect the soil from being splashed about by the rain. I've got some low growing pea varieties starting in paper pots to plant out in part of the space and I've ordered some garbanzo seeds to fill more of the space.

You can barely make out the fava bean seedlings growing in the protection of the cloches. The protection is more to keep the rodents and birds from munching than to keep inclement weather at bay.

I kept the Aji's and the Jalapenos and the Ethiopian Brown plants in the garden because as you might be able to see there are still some ripe and ripening peppers on them.

Joe's Giant Aji has some particularly nice peppers hanging on.

And I left the Piccolo Dattero tomato plants because I couldn't bear to rip them out when it they are still producing clusters of tomatoes like this.

The most significant growth in the garden at the moment is in Bed #2. This bed is where I'll be growing brassicas and greens and such through the year. The cage is keeping one lone Aji Amarillo Grande plant from 2016 in bounds so that it doesn't overshadow newer inhabitants in the bed. On the right are some baby kohlrabi plants.

Along the back side of the bed are some nice leafy mustard plants, new broccoli, cabbage, napa cabbage, and Tronchuda Beira plants. The plants in the sleeves are the broccoli plants...

The poor things are recent victims of a vicious vole attack. They should be at least three times their current size. And that's why everywhere you look there's hardware cloth. The little effers go for the easy pickings and seem to be disinclined to scale the hardware cloth to get to the goodies on the other side. They will however burrow underneath the cloth so I have to be sure to not leave any gaps and to mound the soil up around the edges.

Further down the bed are new Broccolini plants. I use the sleeves to protect young seedlings from sowbugs which don't seem to be able to crawl up plastic.

And even further down the bed is a large planting of Syrian Medieval Chard. I want to save seeds for this variety because the sole source for my seeds is no longer in business and I rather like this variety. Chard is one of those plants that require a fairly large population of plants to produce good quality seed so I'm growing the minimum number of plants that is recommended. This corner of the bed will be a jungle this spring.

Inside the tunnel are some Violette du Gournay radishes, the only variety out of the 3 that I sowed that didn't all bolt. And there's some seedlings of a couple of varieties of mustard and one row of scallions that I hope won't be blasted by downy mildew before they are large enough to harvest.

Winter carrots are growing slooowly...

Winter peas are picking up the pace and starting to bloom.

Two varieties of peas.

Lettuces are starting to fill out and I've started to harvest some of the extras as babies.

And here you can see why I kept that old Aji Amarillo Grand plant from 2016.

In Bed No. 3 another holdover from 2016 is some Batavia broccoli. It's on the short list for the compost bin. The fine greens growing at the base of the broccoli is Cilician parsley. I sowed that in late January or early February last year. It has become my favorite parsley. It has a fine texture and complex flavor with a hint of nutmeg to my taste and the flavor isn't as "green" as most flat leaf parsley varieties. It's also a workhorse in my garden. I found that if I just keep cutting it it just keeps growing back and it resists bolting. I love the stuff.

The fennel plant that just keeps giving. I sowed seeds for fennel back in April. They got off to such a slow start that I managed to interplant some arugula, mizuna, and Tokyo Bekana napa cabbage for baby salad greens. The few fennel plants that grew finally got going and gave me a few bulbs. Some of the roots that got left behind after cutting the bulbs put out new shoots and gave me another round of bulbs. And one root in particular has produced a number of extra bulbs. So this year I'm going to experiment with devoting a space to cut-and-come-again fennel production. The biggest problem with fennel is that it is a favorite target for both birds and voles.

Orion Fennel
There's also a patch of a dwarf variety of chard still hanging in there.

Some mini daikon radishes are also doing well. The smaller plants were victims of a vole that had dug it's way into the cage but they have recovered nicely.

Most of them are large enough now that they are pushing their shoulders above the top of the soil. It's time to start harvesting.

Bora King Daikon
The last of the overwintering carrots are looking rather sorry. 

The Petite Snap Green peas are producing more than greens now.

The spring sown Batavia broccoli is on the short short list for the compost bin.

I'm trying to force the runty Pink Plume celery to grow upright.

The sorry runty Brussels sprouts just refuse to size up. (Produce or die, I'm running out of patience!)

Not even as big as my thumb...

One plant managed to make somewhat acceptable sprouts.

Same sorry story for the Kalettes, 5 plants with only one producing somewhat acceptable sprouts, the rest look like this.

The Broccolini plants produced a few rounds of really nice shoots but now they are slowing down.

No, that wasn't a vole attack, it's the aftermath of a harvest, whoopee!

The before shot. I hope to get one more harvest but the plants are starting to bolt so they may try to put their energy into flowers rather than foliage.

Spinach plants coming along, so far so good.

A failed experiment with a winter sown round of Fioretto Stick cauliflower is now cleared out, closed in, and sown with arugula, cress, mizuna, and Georgian Flat Leaf parsley.

Further proof of a mild winter so far, the nasturtiums are still alive.

Bed No. 4 is where I'll be growing the tomatoes and peppers this year. For the last few years I've been preparing the tomato and pepper bed by growing a cover crop that I cut down and dig in. I sowed the bed with a mix of Kodiak mustard, peas, favas, and a blend of grasses back on the 17th. I cover the bed with lightweight Agribon fabric to keep the birds from devouring things and to protect the soil from rain. That lump under the cover is the foliage of a winter potato experiment. 

The mustard germinates really quickly.

At the far end of the bed I'm experimenting with a variety of snow peas that are specifically for autumn sowing and are very resistant to frost.

Frieda Worlds Snow Pea

They have really taken off in the past couple of weeks and are already blooming.

And what lovely blossoms they have.

I hope the peas are as tasty as the blossoms are beautiful.

That's the latest from my garden. Winter, California Central Coast style.

I've been busy ordering up seeds so I will soon be writing up a post about the new goodies that I've found. Stay tuned!


  1. I'm so jealous! You got so much on the way. Drool. Drool. I'm just so happy my chard and Portuguese kale came up. A little too cold for the rest I planted. Too soon for my microgreens. You are so inspiring, I'm trying this kale for the time.

    And yes, this weather is just great, cool and crispy, a little too much so with a breeze blowing. I love it anyway.

    1. Well, I'm equally envious of your oranges, an impossibility here because it just doesn't get warm enough to sweeten them. The cool, clean, crisp days have been a treat and we've had enough rain to make everything smell good too. But we've got a warm spell on the way with highs in the mid 70's. Yo Yo weather.

  2. You have a tremendous amount of things growing and peppers and tomatoes outdoors. Is that usual for you? Our plot looks fairly barren. Many sprouts like harsher conditions.

    1. The peppers are not usual but not unheard of and the Aji peppers in particular are very cold tolerant so they are more likely to stick around through the winter. Tomatoes in January are a first for me. The rest of what's growing is what I usually have growing at this time of year. It has been an unusually mild winter.

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  4. What a lovely tour! I have to say your sunny produce-filled pics make me feel better about believing that our appallingly grey and cold English winter might one day end and we too might end up with vegetables rather than mud (everywhere!)

  5. Beautiful and informative tour. Does the fake snake work?


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