The last few days have been sort of a blur to me, as I have spent a lot of time out in the garden playing catch-up. Rainy weather earlier in May made it difficult to get anything done, and as a result I was running behind schedule for sure. This week I managed to get all the cucurbits planted, as well as the main crop of eggplant and tomatoes. Sometimes I mulch as I plant, but this year I am saving the mulching for later. Hopefully it won’t be too much later as the wet conditions will make the weeds pop up quickly. My plan is to come back and mulch ASAP with sheets of newspaper covered with straw.
I start all my squash and cucumbers plants in the greenhouse in 24 cell plug flats. I get better germination than when I direct seed in the garden, plus I get a little head-start on the season. I generally put two seeds in each cell, and if both come up I plant them out and thin to one plant after a few days. The extra plant serves as insurance in case I lose a plant to birds or some other cause. Using the plug flat lets me pop out the plant without disturbing the roots. Conventional wisdom says that cucumbers don’t like to be transplanted, but in my experience as long as you don’t disturb the roots they do just fine. I have been treating all the transplants with Mykos mycorrhizal inoculant, except the brassica family veggies which do not form a relationship with the mycorrhizal fungi.
I planted five different cukes in the greenhouse bed, including one each of Manny, Corinto, and Picolino plus two of Tasty Jade. I sowed those seeds in the plug flat about four weeks ago, and as you can see in the photo they are about six inches tall now. I’ll thin to one plant each of those too, cutting away the extra plant so I don’t disturb the roots. I’ve had trouble with sow bugs in the greenhouse, and the bigger plants seem to do better. I’m using concrete remesh cages to support the cucumber vines, and the cages do double duty to hold some of the flats of plants until I can get them in the ground. I am hoping to get the peppers planted tomorrow, which will make for a bit more room in the greenhouse.
Inside the house I have been doing more fermenting. At one point this week I had a half gallon batch of water kefir going plus one of vanilla/ginger soda, and a quart jar of lacto-fermented Curried Cauliflower Pickles. I used a recipe from Ferment Your Veggies by Amanda Feifer for the cauliflower, which came from the store since I gave up growing cauliflower years ago! My wife and I have really been enjoying the giardiniera I made last month. For that I loosely followed a recipe I found online, adjusting the veggies to suit my tastes and toning the heat level back a bit by using some of my 2015 dried Aji Angelo peppers instead of the Serrano pepper called for in the recipe.
I plan on making kimchi soon with some of my homegrown Napa cabbage once it is ready. I may make a test batch using some of the Bekana loose headed cabbage since it is ready now. I got some Korean daikon radish from Aihua International Market, and I think I have what I need to make it now. It won’t necessarily be ‘authentic’ kimchi, since for one thing I intend to make it considerably less spicy than most I have eaten. I’ve got several recipes to go by, including Dave’s from last fall which served as inspiration for me to grow the cabbage and try to make my own this year. Napa cabbage usually does better for me in fall, so this is really a test run to play with the recipe since I can’t wait to try it. Our local health food store stocks Hidden Pond raw kimchi, and I’ve been enjoying that lately even though it opens up my sinuses when I eat it.
They also stock the Hidden Pond Beet Kvass, and I have been drinking it daily as a tonic. Even though I am not a real fan of beets (roots or leaves), I have to say the kvass is not that bad. It’s basically salty fermented beet juice, and loaded with probiotics. At least my gut likes it, once I get it down the hatch! I had planned on growing a few of the white Avalanche beets this year anyway, and now I have added some red ones to my growing plans. I didn’t get them sown this spring, so they will be a fall crop so I can make my own kvass. And who didn’t see that coming?!? Oh well, at least beets are considerably easier to grow than Napa cabbage. And you can bet I will be making sauerkraut again once I have some homegrown cabbage and kohlrabi.