March Harvests

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we were harvesting asparagus, after an unusually mild winter and a warm March that saw record high temperatures above 80°F. This year, winter just won’t seem to quit, and the asparagus is still sleeping below ground, waiting for some sign that spring has arrived. For that matter, I’m still waiting myself, and it looks like we will have to wait at least another week for ‘normal’ spring weather to arrive.

Giant Winter, first spinach of 2013

Giant Winter, first spinach of 2013

So far this year I have harvested some greens like kale, arugula, pac choi and a little bit of lettuce. Plus I have snipped some parsley and cilantro. Last month I got almost a pound of carrots while digging a bed they were in last fall, but those are long gone. This past week saw the first spinach harvest of 2013, before the cold weather returned and the cold frames froze up again. That was a happy event that gave me a teaser of things to come eventually, whenever spring really arrives. I was also able to sow a bit more spinach seed for a spring crop.

March spinach in cold frame

March spinach in cold frame (after harvest)

The winter greenhouse crops got hit by a major infestation of aphids. While I don’t mind washing off a few critters, the aphids did a major number on the greens, sucking the life right out of some of them and making the rest of them too nasty to eat. I have had to be careful to keep them off of my seedlings that are out there on shelves. That has kept me from harvesting any more of the Asian greens, which are now flowering and giving the bees something for forage on the rare days when it is warm enough for them to fly (55°F or higher). It is fun to stand in the greenhouse and hear the buzzing noise of bees that are happy to find some food!

honeybee on flowering Asian greens

honeybee on flowering Asian greens

I do have some greens besides spinach that made it through the winter under the cold frames, including some Red Ursa kale. It is starting to regrow and we might get a taste of it before it starts to flower. Of course then we can enjoy the flower buds too. But most of the lettuce didn’t survive getting buried in snow that slid down off the greenhouse roof during December and January. I have more lettuce seedlings ready to be planted in the cold frame beds, once the nighttime temperatures moderate a bit. But right now they are safer waiting in flats in the greenhouse, as long as I can keep the aphids away from them.

Red Ursa kale in cold frame

Red Ursa kale in cold frame

In the meantime, we are enjoying plenty of food from our stores, from sweet potatoes and butternut squash to frozen items like soup veggies and tomatoes. The ‘usual’ time for harvesting the first asparagus is the first week of April, so it’s still a little early to expect that. Time will tell if that holds true this year, or if it’s later than that. I’m not getting the grill warmed up or melting the butter just yet though!

a small but useful parsley harvest

a small but useful parsley harvest

To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.

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10 Responses to March Harvests

  1. kitsapFG says:

    I have been battling some leaf eaters in my greenhouse greens too. Not aphids thankfully but they are setting back my napa cabbage’s growth. I am going to hit it with some insecticidal soap (organic) this week and see if I can slow them down. Your spinach is looking good despite the continued winter weather.

  2. Norma Chang says:

    Your bright yellow Asian green flowers with the bee brightened and warmed up my cold spring (? more like winter) morning. Thanks. Hope those nasty aphids stay away from your seedlings.

  3. Daphne says:

    Last year I had some nasty aphid infestations that destroyed some crops. I hope that this year will be better, but if not I bought some insecticidal soap. I haven’t used anything even that strong for over a decade, but I don’t want my kale or fava beans to die this year. Not to mention my plum tree that is always covered. I washed those leaves off so many times. They are just killing the poor thing. Though on that one I’m going to use some tangle foot too. I want to keep the ants from farming the aphids. It ought to be much easier to keep the aphids off that way.

    • Dave says:

      I think I have the flying aphids coming in and laying eggs, though they might be crawling in too. I’m using insecticidal soap, but I have to be careful not to burn the tender new leaves of the seedlings. I’ve used the tanglefoot to keep ants off of trees before, as well as out of my bird nesting boxes.

  4. Michelle says:

    Old Man Winter just doesn’t want to let go of your part of the country! We’re enjoying a pretty normal spring here, at least so far. Yuck, aphids, they’ve been quite prolific in my garden as well. I tossed all of my Lark’s Tongue kale in the compost because it seemed like 50% of the weight of the plants was actually aphids. That’s the problem with frilly green leaves, it’s the perfect home for pests. And earlier this year I had to resort to using Pyganic on my celery and celery root because the ants were farming the aphids and insecticidal soap just wasn’t doing the job.

    Your spinach looks great – nary an aphid to be seen! I hope the old man loosens his grip on winter soon.

  5. Andrea says:

    I’m sure your first pick of spinach was enjoyable ! Our unusually hot and dry summer(yes you never can tell) is finally over and we are enjoying the start of Autumn.

  6. Barbie says:

    Your spinach looks great. Glad the aphids weren’t too bad on it!

  7. Liz says:

    And very nice spinach it looks too. Hope a bit of warm hits the asparagus bed soon.

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