Apr 07 2009

Garden Update

Some carrots broke through the surface yesterday, so now every variety we planted has at least a few seedlings showing.  I took some pictures today. As usual, click on them for a close-up.

Peas

Peas

These are really about an inch tall; the angle makes them look bigger than that.  These are the Little Marvels, and it appears that every single one came up.  That’s great; I don’t always have very good luck with germination of peas.  These should be nice and thick when they get bigger, which peas like, because they climb on each other and help each other stand up.

Radishes and Carrots

Radishes and Carrots

The big things in the middle (maybe an inch tall) are a clump of radishes.  I like to plant a few radishes in the row with plants that take longer to come up.  The radishes come up very quickly, so you can see where the rows are, and they’re gone in a month or so before the other plants need space.

The grassy looking things to the lower left and upper right of the radishes are carrots.  Our carrots were dismal last year, probably because our soil is too rich, being mostly compost.  Carrots prefer a sandier, less-rich soil, but I’m trying a couple short rows again anyway.  They’re too high in carbs to eat a lot, but a pan of steamed carrots covered with butter taste awfully good once or twice in the spring.

Radishes and Lettuce

Radishes and Lettuce

Sorry about the chicken wire; that’s there to keep dogs and other varmints from digging in our nice loose soil.  I forgot to move it out of the way for some of the pictures.  Anyway, the bigger things here are more radishes, and the smaller greenery between them is lettuce.  This is another case where the radishes will be pulled 2-3 weeks from now, in time to give the lettuce more room.

Cabbage

Cabbage

If you can see these at all through the chicken wire (click on the picture to see the chicken wire up close!), they’re cabbage plants.  They came up very well; there are a lot more there than we’ll need.  These will be transplanted when they get a few inches tall, to give each one about a square foot of space to grow.  In the fall, they’ll become sauerkraut.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Some people may not know what Swiss chard is, because it starts to wilt and turn brown soon after it’s picked, which makes it hard to store and ship across continents or seas, so you don’t see it in stores very often.  It’s a great vegetable for the home garden, though.  The big green leaves can be used like spinach in any cooking.  They’re great just steamed or boiled enough to wilt them and then topped with butter and salt.  The stems are also good in cheese sauce.  (What isn’t, really?)

Swiss chard never bolts in our climate, unlike spinach and most other greens I’ve tried.  It just grows more slowly during the hottest part of summer and then speeds up again in the fall.  It’ll also survive a light freeze, but a hard freeze will kill it until you protect it.  With a little trouble, you could probably keep it growing all winter, but we haven’t tried that yet.  So it handles a wider range of temperatures than almost anything else, and can produce an enormous amount over a year if you keep picking it.  One summer, I ate Swiss chard at least 2-3 times a week for months, all from half-a-dozen plants.

Garlic and Herbs

Garlic and Herbs

This is the other garden bed, which is mostly empty, waiting for the final frost date to pass so we can start planting warm weather crops.  At the lower right are some herb plants: from left to right, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.  (The thyme is hard to see beyond the sage, and almost completely dead.)  Those wintered over under plastic, and I wasn’t sure how well that would work, but it looks like at least three of them made it.

In the upper part of the picture is the garlic we planted last fall, which looks great.  I think every clove came up, and they’re growing fast.  I’ve never grown garlic before, but I think we’ll be harvesting it in the fall.  Twenty big garlic bulbs should last us quite a while!  We might have to pickle or otherwise preserve some of it, so it doesn’t dry out before we use it.

Later this week, I might plant a couple more short rows of lettuce and radishes, so we’ll have a second crop of them coming on when the first ones are done.  Space is limited, though.  After April 15, the rest of the space will fill up fast with lots of green beans, a bush summer squash plant or two, and maybe a few other things.  A third raised bed is starting to look like a good idea already!

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