Early April Greenhouse Tour

Today I want to give a quick tour of the greenhouse to show what’s growing in there in early April. With the weather here moderating a bit, I have started moving a few of the over-wintered herbs outside. That makes it a bit easier to navigate in there. I keep containers of mint, oregano and bay laurel in there to give them protection in winter, plus they give us a bit of fresh herbs. I’ve also potted up the sprouts of lemongrass and they are still inside the greenhouse until it’s warm enough to set them out in the ground. You can see in the below photo it’s a busy place this time of year!

the view inside the greenhouse

I have about twenty kale plants in the beds that have kept us well supplied with leaves all winter, and are now beginning to flower and give us kale rapini. The Groninger Blue Collard-Kale has gotten quite tall, and one plant is touching the shelving which is a good five feet off the ground.

Groninger Blue Collard-Kale

I’m growing Winterbor curly kale, and it is flowering too. It is my favorite of the curly types for growing in the greenhouse since it gets a bit taller than some and gives us a few more leaves. It also make a lot of rapini, which is an added bonus.

Winterbor kale

Western Front and True Siberian are fairly tall varieties that also do quite well in our winter greenhouse.

Western Front and True Siberian kale

The last kale variety I have growing in the greenhouse is White Russian. I also grow this one out in the open garden, and it is one of my favorites for flavor. It appears like it will be the last one to make rapini. That works out well because the other varieties are keeping us well supplied at the moment.

White Russian kale

Kale is a biennial, so it grows leaves the first year and then flowers the second. After living through the winter this kale is doing what comes naturally and trying to flower. The rapini are tender and cook up much like broccoli, and have a mild taste. This is always a seasonal treat for us, and I did a short video to show how they grow. Of course you can harvest it with a knife but that was more than I could manage with one hand, so I just snapped them off with my free hand while holding the camera in the other.

The purple sprouting broccoli plants are about done producing. I set out plants of Rudolph, Santee and Burgundy last fall and they have kept us well supplied the last couple of months. I will pull the plants soon to make room for cucumber that I will grow in the summer greenhouse.

Rudolph broccoli

In order to give us some early zucchini, I have a couple of plants I set out in grow bags. I am growing the Astia variety which is compact and does well in containers. I will thin to one seedling per grow bag here soon, and I will set these bags outdoors once the danger of frost is over. They have taken off in the warm conditions of the greenhouse and should begin fruiting in early to mid May.

zucchini in grow bag

I have lots of lettuce seedlings I recently set out in containers and the salad boxes. I have harvested lettuce for the last couple of months and replanted as I freed up a container., so it’s mostly new plants at the moment. Lettuce and other salad greens do quite well in the shallow salad boxes though they do require frequent watering. I have plans showing how I make the salad boxes in case anyone is interested.

lettuce seedlings in salad box

In other containers I have the Profusion sorrel, green garlic and I’itoi onions growing. I have been harvesting from all three of them lately.

containers with sorrel, garlic and onions

Green garlic does especially well in containers. I usually use cloves that have already begun to sprout, and they take off quickly. Green garlic is usable at all sizes and adds a mild garlic taste to many dishes. It also can be added to pesto and other sauces.

green garlic

I use flower box planters for quite a few different things like the green garlic, lettuce, onions and smaller greens. I’ve got cilantro growing in one right now, and this herb does quite well in containers. The planters last for many seasons, and the one with cilantro is easily 10 years old.

cilantro growing in planter box

I have started to move seedlings out to the greenhouse from my indoor light garden. So far I have moved ones that don’t mind a bit of cold, while I have left warm season vegetables like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes inside. I have the kohlrabi seedlings in a 72 cell plug tray. They should be ready for planting in a week or so once I get a spot in the garden worked up for them.

kohlrabi seedlings

I also have other brassicas as well as parsley seedlings out there enjoying the sunshine. I potted up the petunias into their own 3.5 inch pots, and they have really grown out in the greenhouse.

petunia plants

As you can see I am keeping the new greenhouse quite well utilized and full of growing things. I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the greenhouse here in April. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!



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Harvest Monday March 30, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s a lot of familiar faces here in the harvest basket along with a few new ones. I cut more of the Salanova red and green butter lettuces. I love these little tender leaves, and they have the same texture as the big butterhead varietes which can be challenging for me to grow. We’ve been enjoying them on salads.

Salanova red and green butter lettuce

I cut about a pound of the Winterbor kale that has been giving us our first kale rapini. This is a basic curly kale, and I like Winterbor because it is a touch taller than most which gives more bang for the buck in the limited greenhouse space.

Winterbor kale

We generally roast the kale rapini in the oven. The stems get crunchy-tender, while any attached leaves crisp up and become kale chips. I think it has a mild flavor, and it is definitely a seasonal treat here. This batch got cooked in a cast iron skillet.

roasted kale rapini

I’m still getting the purple sprouting broccoli from the greenhouse along with the kale rapini. Both have been a welcome addition to our meals for the last couple of months.

purple sprouting broccoli

I have a sorrel plant growing in a container in the greenhouse that I harvested last week. This is a selection from Richter’s Herbs called Profusion that makes large and tender leaves. These add a little zip to a salad, and are generally more tender and mild than ones I have grown outside. It’s quite hardy too in our climate, and never even died back this winter in the protection of the greenhouse.

Sorrel Profusion

In other news, I rooted up a few more stalks of lemongrass in a glass of water and they were ready for potting up. I’ll set these out in the garden after danger of frost is past. I use them in cooking and for teas, and the plants get quite large over the summer when planted in the ground. I get the stalks from a local Asian market, which is an inexpensive way to get the plants growing. It also ensures that the plants come from a good culinary selection.

lemongrass rooted

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Harvest Monday March 23, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. My harvests were small this week as we ate a lot from stores. I cut a bit of lettuce for salads, and to free up a planter box so I could plant the new crop of lettuce. Salanova Green Crisp is a small Tango type lettuce that does very well for me in containers. The seed is a bit pricey, but pretty much every one germinates.

Salanova lettuce

I also thinned the brassica seedlings and saved the thinnings as microgreens. I don’t buy them, but they are super expensive if you do. After cleaning up these make a healthy addition to salads, soups or wraps. I don’t buy sprouts either, as they are easy to grow and the store-bought ones are sometimes a source of food borne illnesses. I potted up some of the napa cabbage thinnings to let them grow on for greens.

brassica thinnings

The purple sprouting broccoli continues to keep us supplied. The heads are getting a bit more loose, but the stalks are long and tender. They also are more green than purple, but that doesn’t affect the flavor any. I am very pleased with how it has done in the greenhouse this year, and look forward to growing it again next year.

purple sprouting broccoli

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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March Seed Starting Update

Here’s a quick update on my seed starting activities here in March. The parsley and petunia seeds I started back in February have all been potted up now into individual 3.5″ pots. I moved the parsley out to the greenhouse since it can take cooler temps, but the petunias are still indoors under lights. I grow parsley both in the ground and in containers, and we pretty much have harvests year round. I do have more plants than I will likely need but it’s always nice to have spares.

parsley seedlings

The brassicas I started are still hanging out in their 72 cell plug flats, and they need to be thinned. They will stay in there until planting time, unless that gets delayed. In that case I’ll have to pot them up into larger quarters. Last year I was able to work up the garden and get them planted in early April, and I’m hoping for similar timing this year.  Thankfully our silty soil drains quickly, since we’ve had around six inches of rain the last two months and it is quite wet at the moment. I usually save the thinned plants and crowd them together in small flats or pots for microgreens, since I hate to waste them!

brassica seedlings

Back in early February I also I started seeds for early eggplant that I plan to grow in containers. Fairy Tale and Patio Baby are two AAS Winners that I’ve been growing for quite a few years now and they always do well for me in containers. That lets me get ripe eggplants a full month before the ones planted out in the garden start fruiting.  These now have a couple of true leaves per plant, and I should be able to pot them into the larger containers in a few weeks. I need to start those other eggplants soon.

Fairy Tale eggplant seedling

Fairy Tale eggplant seedling

I started peppers on March 10th, and most have germinated by now. These are in a 128 cell plug flat where they will remain until I pot them on to individual containers. I generally sow two seeds per cell and if they both come up I will thin to one plant.

peppers germinating

And late last week I got the main season tomatoes going. I sowed these seeds in a 128 cell plug flat also, and I will pot them up into individual 3.5″ pots when they start showing one or two true leaves. A few of them started coming up today.

seeding tomatoes

That’s a look at my seed starting status so far. You can visit my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule to see more details about when I start and plant things here in our garden. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday March 16, 2020

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Let me just say there’s nothing like a national emergency and a worldwide pandemic to make me truly appreciate being able to grow so much of our own food! We have a well-stocked pantry and a freezer full of homegrown veggies and fruit, plus staples like dried beans, rice and whole grains. The greenhouse continues to give us a nice supply of fresh herbs and veggies to supplement our stores. I don’t often include our herb harvests here on Harvest Monday, but they are an important part of our diet. Last week I cut parsley, chives and green garlic to go in a yogurt based dressing I made for a tofu and roasted veggie bowl we had for lunch.  I also have mint and oregano in containers in the greenhouse and use them as needed.

herbs from greenhouse

I also cut a bit of arugula to go on a pizza I cooked up last week. I love greens on pizza, and arugula is one of my favorites. This arugula is bolting, but the leaves were still tender and tasty. I have more arugula planted but it will be a few weeks before it is ready to eat.

arugula for pizza

I got another big harvest of purple sprouting broccoli last week, almost a pound total. I continue to be impressed with both Santee and Rudolph, and the plants are keeping us well supplied with tender shoots.

purple sprouting broccoli

And just as the PSB seems to be peaking, the kale rapini have arrived! These are from a few plants of Winterbor I set out in the greenhouse. The o/p varieties I planted aren’t blooming yet, and last year they kept us supplied until late April and it was time to pull the plants.

kale rapini

The o/p Groninger Blue Collard-Kale is one that hasn’t started blooming yet. It’s my first time growing it, so I don’t know exactly when it does bolt but I imagine it will bloom here sometime in the next few weeks as the days lengthen and the weather warms up more.  This batch weighed a pound, and the plants are still loaded with leaves.

Groninger Blue Collard-Kale

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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