Today I thought I would do an update on the area I call the kitchen garden. I call it that because it’s close to the house and with easy access to the kitchen, unlike the main garden area that is at the back of our property and downhill. Walking up and down the hill several times a day is good exercise, but it’s nice to have a few things closer to the house. In that area we have one bed that is about 4 ft by 30 ft, and also the beds around the greenhouse that have about 100 sq.ft of growing space.
The free standing bed has mostly onions and potatoes planted this year, but I found room to plant two cages of tomatoes (Sungold and Supersweet 100) down at the far end. This bed is not protected in any way so I have to grow things that the local deer, rabbits and groundhogs won’t eat. Last year the deer did eat some of the potato foliage, so I will have to cover them with netting soon. Right now I have sprayed some deer repellent around the edge of the bed and that has kept them away, but I don’t trust them to stay away forever. I call this bed the lasagna bed, because I made the bed originally using a no-till no-dig layering method. Since then it has been dug and tilled, but the name stuck.
I’ve already hilled some soil up around the potatoes, which are planted in a double row down the length of the bed. I’ll hill them at least one more time, then mulch with the straw. I like to hill them twice because it seems to help keep the weeds down. Of course the straw will help with that too. This year I planted Yukon Gold, German Butterball, Purple Majesty and French Fingerling. All have done well for me in the past. I really like the yellow fleshed potatoes, though the blue ones are nice to add to the mix.
I planted the onions in four rows down the length of the bed, with the plants 4 inches apart and each row about a foot apart. The varieties there are Candy, Superstar, Red of Tropea and Red Candy Apple. I also have some Red Marble cipollini onions planted in another bed, along with a mix of leftover plants set close together to be harvested as scallions. I got all these plants from Dixondale Farms, and though I lost a few after planting they generally seem to be doing quite well.
I call the beds around the greenhouse the cold frame beds, because most of them are protected year round by cold frames. In the winter they provide protection from the cold, and the rest of the year they keep the critters out. For my notes they are numbered and abbreviated CF#1, CF#2, etc. I don’t have a set rotation pattern but I do rotate things so I’m not growing the same veggie in the same bed year after year. Bed #1 currently has a mix of some overwintered Viroflay spinach and spring planted Giant Winter. That’s Viroflay on the left in the above photo. It has so far resisted bolting longer than the other overwintered plants, and I will keep that in mind for future plantings. The leaves are nice and big too.
Bed #2 has lettuce and Miriah Leaf amaranth planted. The amaranth was planted where overwintered spinach was previously growing, so it is still fairly small. The lettuce plants are sizing up and some are almost ready to harvest. The amaranth is growing fast though and we could harvest a few leaves for salads even now, just a week after setting out the plants. I planted Baby Oakleaf, Simpson Elite and Red Sails lettuce in there.
This is my first time growing Baby Oakleaf, which is a more compact version of the Green Oakleaf variety. I’ve already harvested plants I grew in a salad box in the greenhouse, and it is a tender, tasty green lettuce for salads. I’m letting these size up a bit more before I start cutting them, since I truly don’t know how big they will get.
Bed #3 was where I had overwintered kale planted. All that kale has been pulled up now, and I replanted the bed with both White Russian and Scarlet kale, plus three plants each of Tokyo Bekana and Maruba Santoh. Tokyo Bekana is a non-heading Chinese cabbage that is easier to grow in spring than the heading types, and is similar to the Fun Jen variety. Maruba Santoh is another similar non-heading green that has larger, more rounded leaves than the Tokyo Bekana. I think both kinds are better eaten raw than they are cooked, and they have mild tasting crunchy leaves that are good in salads. The White Russian kale was planted earlier than the Scarlet, and it is big enough to cut at this point, though we’re still eating on the overwintered kale that I pulled.
Bed #4 has kohlrabi and Cima di Rapa (aka rapini, broccoli raab) planted. This is my first time growing cima di rapa in several years, and timing this crop is always challenging for me. Our spring weather heats up fast, and this cool season veggie suffers in the heat. I’ve already harvested the Quarantina variety of the cima di rapa. The non-flowering Maceretese is ready for cutting and we plan on getting our first taste of it tomorrow.
I’ve got the green Winner kohlrabi and the purple Kolibri planted, and they are sizing up nicely. I usually let these two varieties get about 3″ across before harvesting, though I know they are perhaps more tender when a bit smaller. I am guessing they will be ready in another week or two. I have two more beds planted in carrots, radishes, onions and green garlic. I’ll be back later to talk about those. Until then, Happy Growing!