I’ve been taking advantage of the recent stretch of warm and dry weather to get a lot of chores done in the garden. First up was weeding the garlic and brassicas in the main garden. After weeding, I mulched with straw. Sometimes I put down paper first, but that’s impossible with the close spacing on the garlic (6 x 8 inches). We will see how the straw alone does in keeping the weeds out of the brassicas. After mulching I fertilized both beds with a mix of fish emulsion and seaweed. I also added a product called Biomin Booster 126 that supplies boron, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc in a bioavailable form. I am adding several nutrients to my usual fertilizing program as a result of the soil tests I did last year.
The garlic is looking good at this point. I only lost three plants over the winter, out of 200 planted and yes, that’s a lot of garlic! The ones that usually make big bulbs have nice, big stalks. That’s Lorz Italian in the below photo, an artichoke type that always does well here. No signs of scapes yet on the hardenck types. Last year they showed up in late May, so it should be a few weeks more before we get a taste of them.
In the area near the house I call the kitchen garden I have been keeping the potatoes and onions weeded, though I haven’t mulched them. After I hill the potatoes for the last time I will probably spread some straw on them. As for the onions, I don’t usually mulch them, but perhaps I should rethink that. The mulch works well for the garlic, helping to conserve moisture as well as keep down weeds. I would welcome any comments on the topic from my fellow onion growers out there – to mulch or not to mulch onions, that is the question!
In the cold frame beds that run along the east side of the greenhouse, I pulled some bolting spinach and the last of the overwintered kale which was also starting to flower. I replanted the area occupied by the spinach with a warm-weather loving green called Miriah Leaf Amaranth. It’s a beautiful plant that could almost double as a coleus at first glance. This is an amaranth grown for its leaves, not the grain. I got the seeds from Adaptive Seeds.
Where I pulled the kale, I filled in with a few more of the White Russian and Scarlet kale that I had already planted in there. I don’t usually plant kale here until fall, and I’ve never grown these two varieties, so this is really an experiment. White Russian is a ‘sister’ variety to Red Russian, while Scarlet is a frilly red o/p kale that is comparable to Redbor. I will probably treat these as spring veggies, and pull them once we get a few harvests from them. I doubt that the plants will do much in our summer heat, plus there should be lots of summer veggies to eat then instead of the greens we have been enjoying all winter.
At the end of the bed that has onions and potatoes in it, I planted a couple of cages of tomatoes. I usually plant a few small fruited types near the house, so we don’t have to walk all the way down to the main garden to have a few tomatoes for salads and such. I planted two of my favorite hybrids, Sungold and Supersweet 100. It will be a couple of weeks before I get any more tomatoes planted in the main garden area. Like I usually do, I set two plants of each variety in my oversized cages, then mulched with newspaper and covered with a little straw.
One of my chores today was to get a couple more beds in the main garden cleared and ready for planting. I got the bed for bush beans cleaned up and fertilized with my ‘recipe’ of nutrients. I’m adjusting the nitrogen content for each bed, depending on the veggies planted there. Since the beans don’t need much nitrogen (and can make their own) I didn’t use the pelleted chicken manure I use on most of the beds. I’ll plant the beans tomorrow morning. The soil has warmed up nicely, and it was 70°F at a 2″ depth this morning when I checked it. With rain forecast for this weekend, it seems like a great time to get the beans in the ground. I’ll also do some more cleanup and bed prep in the main garden tomorrow, at least until it gets too hot or I run out of steam – whichever comes first!
I really need to try amaranth some year. I love greens so much. Chard has always been my mainstay green, but you can only eat so much chard in a week. I like more variety than just one. I am thinking of growing mizuna all summer long. I’ll see how that works out.
I’m also trying senposai this summer, which is a cabbage/komatsuna cross. Fedco says it will stand the whole summer, so we will see how it does here. Neither my wife nor I are big fans of chard, which is too bad because it does quite well here. But we just don’t eat it.
You have been busy! Everything is looking great & you have just reminded me that I should fertilize my garlic. I don’t normally do that, but last year my bulbs were small (although I also think I pulled them too soon) and I’m thinking that would definitely help. This time of year is definitely a juggling act for me, especially as I always seem to be building new beds and doing those type of one-off projects that eat into my routine maintenance time.
I’m still working out how much fertilizer the garlic needs, but it has responded well the last couple of years to the additional feeding I give it in spring. The experts do say to cut off feeding once it starts bulbing up.
The best year I’ve ever had for onions was when I started them from seed, transplanted them in bunches of 3’s to 4inch pots, then kept them in the bunches of 3s in the garden. I then laid straw down all around them (easier with them in bunches). They were fabulous. But not exactly a tried and true method as I’ve struggled every other year whether I followed that process or tried another. Your garlic is looking great as are all your other plants!
I am thinking it can’t hurt to mulch the onions. It might give slugs a hiding spot, but I don’t think they will be a problem on onions anyway.