Moving into Summer

My vacation to the Cincinnati area early last month reminded me of a couple of the reasons I don’t want to live there.  The heat and humidity have become harder to endure the older I get.  It was only the second week in May and high 80s with high humidity was too much.  Thankfully it only lasted a couple of days while we were there but once Summer hits, temps any lower than the 80s will be the exception.  Summer here on the other hand, is mild and bright.  Great for growing what would be a Spring only crop all Summer long but not so great for tomatoes in the garden spot, as evidenced by last year’s attempt.   Lush plants with many green tomoatoes but not enough heat to ensure they would ripen.  I suppose I could have attempted some black plastic to heat the soil but I’ll stick with container tomatoes this year.  The single container plant on the balcony performed beautifully for me last year.

Impatience got the better of me.. I purchased a zucchini start. Yeah, I have those three cells in the mango package but they weren’t up yet and as before, I was tired of seeing the empty space. I’ll either find a spot for the three soon to be seedlings or give some or all a way once they are ready to go. I am refusing to do the same thing with the cukes. The variety I planted is a container variety that will take up little space unlike the starts I found at the garden center. Impatience aside, I do have my limits.

Suckers on Overwintered Broccoli
Suckers on Overwintered Broccoli

The two suckers of the overwintered broccoli are getting big. When the baby broccoli harvest starts I’ll cut the mother plant back and allow the suckers to do their thing. I have this fantasy of a perennial broccoli.

I spent some time researching lettuce that should do well here in the Summer. It seems the oak leaf varieties are supposed to do ok. I stopped by the local garden center and picked up some seed to try. A few went onto a moist then rolled paper towel. Once in a Ziplock bag, I placed it onto the cool floor of the garage on Thursday. The temps outside had been too warm to germinate lettuce and I thought this would work. It did and much faster than I anticipated it would. By this morning it had already sprouted to the point of it being nearly impossible to remove from the paper towel without breaking the fragile roots. I managed to salvage enough for three cells and direct seeded three more with another slow to bolt type. I’ll have to get the names of the varieties and edit this post.

The radishes and pole beans I planted together are coming up nicely. Looks like I may actually have to thin the beans. Yeah.

When I harvested a couple of heads of Red Sails lettuce a couple of weeks ago I used a knife to cut the plant off at ground level, leaving the base of the plant in the ground rather than pulling the entire plant and cutting the head off. When I went to water today I noticed that both plants have suckers coming up around the stumps. I gave them some fertilizer before watering. I’ll leave these and see what they do, if anything.

Cleanup, New Additions, Harvest and the Case of the Missing Zucchini

Recycled mango container for starting seeds.
A mango container from Costco mangos makes a great little greenhouse for starting zucchini and cucumber. Complete with drainage and venting holes.

The zucchini I seeded a couple of weeks ago had been peeking through the ground the last time I was at the garden. Now it is gone and empty shells remain. Not sure if it was birds or the raccoon whose footprints I see in my plot on occasion. Grrrr. I’m guessing the former as the remains looked a lot like what was left when I tried starting some cucumbers in a 4″ pot on the back patio. The birds relieved me of the seed, leaving the shell behind.  Needing something to protect the seed from the birds,  I fished a mango container out of the recycle bin after a recent Costco trip. The six celled contraption complete with lid and drainage should be enough to get the zucchini and cukes started out of harms way. I think once they get up and get some serious leaves on them the birds won’t be interested. At least that is my hope.

Container Tomatoes
Container Tomatoes

I potted up the two tomato plants on the balcony. One is Iditerod, a ‘dwarf indeterminate’ whatever that means. The other is….lost the tag and have no clue. :-/ Both look great and are enjoying the new digs.

I tried a cut-and-come-again type harvest on the Palco Spinach. I was able to get 3 cups of cooked frozen spinach and enough fresh to last us for a while. It wasn’t showing any sign of bolting but the leaves were large and tender and it was time. This was my first time growing this variety. Love the flavor and lack of bolting as quickly as the Bloomsdale. I’ll grow it again.

I pulled two of the three overwintering broccoli. I needed the space for the pole beans and we weren’t able to keep up with the harvest. The one I left is located on one end of the bed, tied to the tbar and leaning out of the bed somewhat. There are a couple of shoots coming up at its base. For now all are staying.

I planted Hulda pole beans. I opted for pole beans this year in addition to the bush beans. The idea was that the bush beans would give me a larger initial harvest to allow for some dilly beans while the pole beans come on more slowly, allowing for beans over a longer season. I planted them very thickly as the birds tend to like bean seed about as much as they do seed of the zucchini. I scattered some radish seed along the row of beans, they should be up and out before the beans need the space.

If the fridge wasn’t packed with lettuce, spinach, broccoli and kale I would thin these beets. Holding off till there is more room. No sense in pulling them and not eating them.

Beets in need of thinning.
Time to thin some beets.

I picked up another basil plant at the local garden center. One cannot have too much basil… At the same garden center I found a horse radish plant. I planted it in a clay pot that I sunk into the garden. As I understand it this will help insure no bits of root are left behind to regrow when it comes time to harvest.

Much of the garden time was spent cleaning up. This year I started burying anything that isn’t diseased back into the garden if there is bare space. The garden is a few ounces lighter when it comes to slugs too. In addition to the ones I found lurking about I applied another application of Sluggo. Bwahahahaha!

About that Broccoli-Raab

Once again I did something I tend to do a lot.  Purchase plants or seed for something I’ve never eaten and give it precious space in the garden.  I swear I am not going to do it and year after year I just can’t resist trying something new.  This wasn’t a real problem in KY as space was not an issue.  When trying to garden in a 10’x20′ space however, every square foot is precious.  I did it with several items this year.  The perennial kale has already died so that isn’t an issue.  Currently the broccoli x can’t_remember_what is going strong as is the broccoli-raab.  When I saw the seeds in the catalog I thought, great, another broccoli (which we tend to eat a lot of) and ordered a packet of seed.  They were the first to bolt while still in the container on the porch.  At that point I had to make a decision.  If we were going to have this broccoli-raab I would have to buy transplants.  Fast forward to now and the eight (yes eight) transplants that went in the ground about five weeks ago are ready to harvest.  Oh my, talk about strong.  I know I have gene that tastes some veggies as bitter but this stuff is killer raw.  It does cook into a still bitter but edible veggie when I add vinegar to mask the bitterness.  When the baby broccoli harvest begins the b-raab will be pulled.  Add one to the ‘not growing again’ list.

I finally planted the Nigella in the spinach spot today.  Also, my first radishes, more overwinterd broccoli, lettuce and spinach were harvested.  Thank goodness for a friend who agreed to take some off of my hands.  Still learning about the amount each veggie needed.  The yields of some things are so much greater here.

May’s Lessons Learned:  1. One can only eat so much spinach and lettuce.  For the love of God stagger the lettuce plantings.  2. When trying out a new plant try one or two, not eight. 3. When planting radishes don’t plant them between rows of something that will overshadow them.

Harvest

The broccoli almost as tall as I am.
The broccoli almost as tall as I am.

Returned from vacation yesterday to a garden ready to harvest.  The overwintering broccoli is almost as tall as I am and was full of little purple shoots just prior to the pic.  I’ve been harvesting on these three since last month.  The flavor is a little peppery when raw but not so much when cooked.  The color doesn’t really remain when cooking.

Bloomsdale and Palco spinach
Bloomsdale (left) and Palco (right)

The lettuce is beautiful as is the spinach and overwintered kale.  I harvested all three today.    I had attempted to harvest a couple of heads of Red Sails lettuce, roots attached, before leaving for vacation on the 8th.  These were bagged and left in the fridge.  I returned home to find they had wilted and were a total loss.  I would have been better just to leave them in the ground it seems.  I was concerned the heat we had been having might cause them to bolt but upon returning they were beautiful with no hint of bitterness.  Two plantings of lettuce were ready to harvest.  A couple of more heads of Red Sails and also the lettuce mix.  The latter is a cut-and-come-again type that will keep providing leaves when you give the plants a ‘haircut’.  I scattered the seed in a 1′ x 5′ area and it is thick and lush right now.

Dill
Dill

The Bloomsdale spinach that was planted back in early Feb was harvested and the plants pulled as they were just starting to bolt.  I will Nigella flowers in the empty spot once I get some seed.  I had attempted to plant some with the dill back in March but they have been choked out by some very healthy looking dill.

I seeded the zucchini a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. I couldn’t stand seeing the bare ground any longer.

Pea Trellis & Plans Gone Awry

The garden isn’t called Rock farm for no reason.  The beds are raised and bed rock is about a foot down, less in some spots.  This can make putting up posts for a pea or bean trellis somewhat of a challenge.  I left the posts in place from last year’s early peas but I’m still harvesting last years fall broccoli that is growing between them now.  They will hold the netting for pole beans later on.  The short row of peas needed its own posts.  I picked up a couple of small t-posts for that and hooked a 3/8″ green landscape bar across the top to hold the netting.  Pretty sure I got them in the ground far enough to hold.  The trickiest part was getting the netting on the top bar and attached to the side.  Tricky but I did prevail.

I had to pull all of the cauliflower and the single perennial kale today.  Something had gotten to the roots (root maggots?) so that meant digging out the soil in the area surrounding each plant for disposal.   My guess is that since they were planted so early, before anyone else had anything in the ground, the adults that were out looking for a good place to start a family all ended up there.   I put some Lisbon White Bunching green onion starts I picked up at Bainbridge Gardens .  I also put 8 Aspabroc “Baby Broccoli” in the Pak Choy bed.  This was sold as a ‘natural broccoli/asparagus’ hybrid aka broccolini.  We shall see.

I also found an ‘Egyptian Walking Onion’ at BG.  I used to grow those back in KY so I picked one up and tucked it in a corner of the garden.

I laid a perimeter of sluggo. and will probably go back tonight to plant a couple of short rows bush beans.  The plan calls for zucchini but I am not sure it has warmed up enough for that.  I’m thinking I’ll swap the two on the plan.  I haven’t been adhering to the garden plan 100%.  Still learning and adapting as I go along.

April’s Lessons Learned: Do not start brassica from seed too early. They may bolt.  Being the first to plant means the bugs will be in your bed first.

Bolted!

I don’t know if it was started too early or if it was the days getting longer fast this time of year or both but the Pak Choy has bolted. Anita said the same thing happened to her last year. It was pulled today. Guess I’ll plant some broccoli transplants in that spot this weekend.

2015-04-30 19.10.13Had my first big harvest of the first planting of spinach. The lettuce is ready to harvest some leaves and the second planting is in desperate need of thinning, another weekend project. The perennial kale is on the way out. It looks like a root issue, perhaps some maggots. A couple of cauliflower are showing the same wilting symptoms and will be removed in the net day or so. The carrots, beets and some flowers (can’t remember what they were right now) and peas are up and looking good. The dill is coming along nicely as are the radishes. All in all it looks great.

Catching Up

April 12th saw a planting of a kale/Brussels sprout hybrid thing and  some broccoli-raab I found at the local garden center.  The broccoli-raab I attempted to start from seed never came up.  The 12th also saw the second seeding of spinach (Palco), radishes, carrots, Early Wonder beets and a beginning of the harvest of the purple sprouting broccoli.

2015-04-12 14.19.12

The lettuce transplants are doing wonderfully as is the spinach. The dill is coming up thick but the pak choy isn’t heading.

The peas seeded for the Helpline rows had spotty germination and what did come up was finished off by cutworms. They were reseeded today. Hoping for the best.