The wetter and colder than normal spring weather has kept me from getting much planting done this year. Things are running at least two weeks behind normal, and the 22 inches of rain we have received so far in 2018 has even made garden cleanup work a challenge. This week I finally managed to get a few things planted, starting with some early tomatoes. I always grow a few on the south side of the greenhouse, which has a micro climate that warms up early in spring. I’m growing three plants of Red Racer cocktail tomato, a 2018 AAS Winner that did quite well when I trialed it last fall. I put two of those plants in 10 gallon Smart Pots, and I set the other one in the ground. I want to compare how the plants do with the two different growing methods. Red Racer is a compact growing variety, otherwise I would use a bigger container.
I also planted three other tomato plants in the ground, including Sun Gold, Valentine, and Midnight Snack. Valentine is an early red grape tomato and another 2018 AAS Winner, while Midnight Snack is an indigo cherry tomato and a 2017 AAS Winner. We loved Midnight Snack so much when I grew it last year that I plan to set out another plant later on. Hopefully these plants will give us an early supply of small-fruited tomatoes for salads and snacking.
I was also able to work up the bed in the main garden where I will grow the spring brassicas. The soil was really too wet, but I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to mud them in any way I could. I had potted up all the plants in 3.5″ pots almost three weeks ago, and they have made good top growth plus the roots filled out the pots nicely. I have to say sometimes I have set out scrawny plants and they survived, but I would much rather set out big husky plants like these. That should go a long way to make up for the late planting. The large plants should also be safe from birds which are occasionally a problem here.
I set out 65 plants total, including 18 broccoli, 20 cabbage and 27 kohlrabi. Much of the cabbage and kohlrabi will get fermented and turned into sauerkraut and kimchi. It is safe to say we love our cole crops here! My wife is also a big fan of the fermented kohlrabi ‘pickles’ I make, and she had some for lunch today while I enjoyed some of last year’s sauerkraut.
After planting I gave all the plants a drink of fish and seaweed fertilizer (Neptune’s Harvest). I’ll come back and mulch with straw over newspaper in a few days. And I have to say that after our local newspaper was swallowed up by the USA Today conglomerate, I think the best use for it now is out in the garden as a mulch! We also use shredded newspaper and cardboard in other areas as mulch, especially in the asparagus beds.
I also worked up a spot in the main garden for some early bush beans. But I tested the soil temperature and it was between 55-60°F, not quite warm enough for beans to germinate. The weather is forecast to warm up a bit in the next few days so I will keep testing the soil temps. Next up in my planting schedule will be getting lettuce planted in one of the cold frame beds. Given the way the weather has been slow to warm up, I doubt I will plant any more tomatoes until mid-May or later.
I hope you have enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!