It’s time for another update on the area I call our Kitchen Garden. We have about 100 sq.ft. of growing space in the beds around the greenhouse, and another 4 ft. by 30 ft. bed nearby. I did an update back in April when most of the cold frame beds were newly planted. Today those plants are much bigger and some are almost ready to begin harvesting. Cold frame bed #4 was planted with 36 lettuce plants on April 13th, and many of those plants are ready to harvest as well.
Cold frame bed #1 is planted with 35 kohlrabi plants, a mix of Winner, Kolibri and Konan. Those plants are sizing up nicely and all are starting to bulb up, if that is the correct term. Technically the kohlrabi plants form an edible swollen stem, but you know what I mean. Kohlrabi is such a little known and underappreciated vegetable I don’t think we even have the words to describe it accurately. For instance, the plural is “kohlrabies” but to me that reads more like a disease than a vegetable!
We love our kohlrabi here though. I was anxious to give the 2016 AAS winner Konan a trial with two comparable varieties I have grown for several years, Winner and Kolibri. The results aren’t final yet, but Konan is sizing up more quickly than the other two, and that’s a good sign! All the plants have a bit of slug damage on the older leaves, but not enough to hurt anything.
Cold frame bed #2 has a mix of plants, including Prizm kale, Katarina cabbage, Tokyo Bekana, pac choi, tatsoi and lettuce. There is some slug damage in there too, and some weeds including two nice sized bitter dock plants I need to dig out. The lettuce was planted later than the rest of the bed to replace some overwintered Viroflay spinach.
Cold frame bed #3 has the overwintered White Russian kale in it, plus a mix of lettuce plants.
You can see by the above photo how the kale has definitely outgrown the cold frame cover. I am hoping my new design helps give plants a bit more headroom, though I doubt they will accommodate a fully grown kale plant the size of the White Russian.
Cold frame bed #4 is all lettuce, with 12 varieties on trial including 7 I’ve never grown before. Some of these plants are ready to start harvesting, though I’ll wait until the greenhouse lettuce is done for. I expect to cut the first leaves later this week from some of the leaf lettuces.
One of the varieties I am growing for the first time is called Pele. It is a short romaine type with spotted red leaves, and is a cross between the University of Hawaii bred Manoa and Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed’s spotted Leopard. This one was striking as a seedling, and is still a standout in terms of visual appeal. It will be a couple of weeks or more before we get our first taste of it though. I do want to let it form a head before I harvest it.
Cold frame bed #5 has a new cold frame guarding it from critters. I covered it with bird netting, which is enough to keep the contents safe until cold weathers arrives later in the year. The green garlic growing in that bed is growing up through the mesh netting, and there’s more lettuce and Bekana cabbage in there along with more dock that needs to be dug out.
Behind the greenhouse, I have planted a couple of currant tomato varieties. I grew the Mexico Midget last year, and it was a standout performer. I’m also growing the 2016 AAS winner Candyland Red there, and I look forward to seeing how well it does compared to Mexico Midget. I’ll come back and mulch these plants with newspaper and straw soon, before the weeds start coming up.
Next to the tomatoes I plan on planting a few peppers once the soil warms up a bit more. Adjacent to that I planted my overwintered lemongrass and lemon verbena plants. This will be the second year for the lemongrass clump and the third year for the lemon verbena. I dug both of them up last fall and overwintered under lights in the basement. They look a little rough at the moment but they will quickly start putting out new growth. Last year they both grew huge by fall. I also have container tomatoes there, two plants of Spike and one of Maglia Rosa. One of the Spike plants is in a Grow Bag. I’ve tried them in the past and not been a fan, but it was available so I decided to give it another try.
I started the Spike and Maglia Rosa plants a bit earlier than my other tomatoes, and Spike may well give us our first ripe tomatoes this year. At least I am hoping they will! Spike is a small-fruited, rust-colored tomato with green/golden stripes. You can see the stripes showing up already in the above photo.
I’ve also planted several tomatoes in the larger bed that is nearby the cold frame beds. I call this bed the ‘lasagna’ bed since I layered on piles of organic material when I first created it. It still has a lot of organic material, and it contained 7% OM when I had it tested last spring. It should be fertile ground for growing tomatoes this year. I planted my old standby cherry tomatoes Sun Gold and Supersweet 100 there, along with newcomers Ron’s Carbon Copy and Champagne. Carbon Copy is a purple cherry tomato, while Champagne is a yellow currant type. The rest of the bed will be home to some of the unnamed Artisan Seeds varieties I am trialing this year, most of which I won’t be talking about here.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at how the kitchen garden is doing in early May. I hope to do an update on the main garden area soon, when I get a few more areas planted.
I have to say, I get comments asking me how I manage to eat all the veggies that I grow, and I think the same question can be asked of you. We eat a LOT of veggies, but you grow even more than I do!
Spike has tomatoes already! Wow, I hope he (it has to be a he with a name like Spike) does better for you than he did for me, what I got was very tasty, he just didn’t survive whatever disease it was that whacked him.
What is it that you don’t like about grow bags? I’m trying strawberries in them this year.
The grow bags I used seem to dry out fairly fast once the weather gets hot. At least that’s how I remember it. I’m using a bigger one so hopefully that will not be a problem.
We do eat a lot of veggies! I can usually find a home for any extras, at least until everyone else gets their fill.
Your cold frame plants are well advanced and that over-wintered White Russian kale is magnificent. It tickles me that you already have tomatoes forming.
Our soil is so wet and it’s been raining almost everyday. I’ve gone ahead and continued planting because even more rain is forecasted for next week. I’ve killed quite a few slugs this year, too.
I agree with Michelle – you have a LOT of salads! That said, even if you didn’t eat them all, there is something uniquely satisfying in raising a crop of perfect veg (like that in bed #4!). The coldframe beds have certainly performed very well for you.
Thank you for the publicity for All-America Selections and its winners.
Cold frame #4 is pretty much what I wish I had, definitely not what I usually get 🙂
Ha, kohlrabies doesn’t sound good, but they sure taste good. I’ve got two varieties started myself but a long way to go. And your tomatoes … wonderful to already have some fruit on the way. I can almost taste the first one!
Plants in your cold frames are doing wonderful. I wish I had the space (and sunlight) for cold frames, but I don’t. Do you ever get tired of salad? Seems like a lot of lettuce.
I eventually get tired of salads, but when it gets too hot for lettuce in summer then I miss them.
The cold frames look brilliant Dave. Definitely something I’d consider for my allotment.
I’m trying a new lettuce for me this year called freckles which looks a bit like your pele. Hopefully tasty 🙂