I’ve been taking advantage of a recent spell of warm and dry weather to get things done in the garden. I did some weeding and mulching in the cold frame beds, starting with the kohlrabi I planted late last month. The plants have been in the ground almost a month now, and are growing along nicely. I have Winner, Kolibri and the 2016 AAS winner Konan planted in there, for a total of 35 plants. I did spread some more Sluggo Plus before mulching with straw to keep the slugs at bay. That’s Konan in the below photo.
Another cold frame bed was in need of more Sluggo, since I was beginning to see holes in the leaves of the Tokyo Bekana and Mei Qing pac choi plants. I actually found a small slug on one of the plants, so I positively ID’d the culprit! I still need to mulch in that bed, but the weeds are not bad in there yet. The Tokyo Bekana is a loose headed Napa cabbage that can be used either raw or cooked. It’s more reliable for me in spring than the heading types, though I do have a couple of those planted in the main garden. Time will tell if they head up or bolt first. For that matter, the Tokyo Bekana sometimes bolts in spring too, with cold weather usually being the culprit as it tricks the plant into thinking it has overwintered and it’s time to flower.
A more pressing chore was weeding and mulching the garlic bed in the main garden. I always put down straw after planting in fall, but by spring there are always weeds growing anyway. It’s mostly chickweed and dead nettle, but the garlic does not like competition and it was time to clear it all out. I also added fertilizer, in this case Happy Frog All-Purpose 5-5-5. Then I came back with an application of a liquid fish emulsion and seaweed mix to give the garlic a little foliar feeding until the other fertilizer kicks in.
Some of the garlic is getting quite big already. I have found that plants with big stalks tend to make big bulbs. If that’s so, then the Red Toch (an artichoke type) should be a whopper this year! Red Toch is a favorite of author, teacher, and garlic grower Chester Aaron, and is named after the small village of Tochliavri in the Republic of Georgia. My garlic is generally ready to start digging sometime in July, beginning with early varieties like Red Janice and Maiskij and continuing through the artichokes and rocamboles and finishing with the long-keeping silverskins like Nootka Rose and Silver White.
My wife has been busy weeding and mulching in the asparagus patch. She uses shredded paper along where the asparagus spears emerge, and newspaper and cardboard covered with straw down between the rows. She’s the Asparagus Queen, and I think she has it looking great! I also spread some All-Purpose fertilizer down the rows last week to give the plants a boost.
Visitors this time of year are usually underwhelmed by the asparagus beds, giving us some sort of “but where’s the asparagus?” kind of comments. In the below photo you can see what all the fuss is about, with spears ready to be cut. Once the harvest season is in full swing, it requires daily harvesting, sometimes twice daily. Another common thing is that people are surprised that it comes in all sizes, unlike the graded and packaged ones you find in the grocery!
I still need to finish mulching around the plants in the brassica bed in the main garden. Last year I used only straw, and that was a mistake as it didn’t do a good job of keeping down the weeds. This year I am putted down newspaper first, a mix of shredded and whole sheets, with the straw on top of it. That is what I do for cucurbits, tomatoes and other crops and it does a better job of smothering weeds. I’m still waiting on the potatoes to emerge, and when they do I’ll do some weeding on them as well.
Sluggo: definitely looking into that since I noticed it on your blog a few weeks ago.
Garlic: thanks for the advice on the fertilizer – I tend to leave it to itself but happy to apply some fish emulsion if it helps!
Asparagus: it does indeed look wonderful! For years I had a patch that had basically grown over and grassed over but successfully produced. Now that I am in a new location, I have kind of left it to nature and wish I was as diligent as your wife! I guess I will see in the next year or two if I made a terrible mistake – it certainly has not grassed over (yet) but I have not looked after it as well as I wish I had.
At my old place I tended to let it go, and I still got lots of asparagus. I used the tiller between the rows to keep the weeds and grasses down. But we had a Bermuda grass problem here, and have worked hard to keep the beds clean and grass-free.
That Red Toch garlic really is impressive! The stalks are as thick as Sweet Corn. I had to chuckle at what you wrote about people’s comments concerning the Asparagus. People who don’t grow their own veg often have no idea how it grows or what it looks like before packaging.
Our season is not that far along yet so I’m just now preparing and planting up some beds. No weed issues yet – well, not compared to the ornamental borders that is!
Wow – that Red Toch garlic looks massive for this early in the season! Thanks for the reminder on feeding the garlic – I’ll be following your lead and applying an organic fertilizer and fish emulsion in a few weeks. I have a question for you about the foliar spray – what is the benefit of doing that vs. watering the fish emulsion in?
I used a watering can and watered and foliar fed at the same time. I tried to get it on the leaves as much as I could. I’m not sure if it is necessary, but it doesn’t hurt. I’m just trying to cover all my bases!