Today I want to do an update on the area we call the kitchen garden. It’s close to the house with easy access to the kitchen, and it’s also where the greenhouse is located. The beds around the greenhouse give us about 200 sq.ft. of growing space, some of which is protected by cold frames. The other space needs to be protected with netting to keep the deer and other critters out. There’s a lot out there growing already, and lately I’ve been busy planting some of the warm season crops in that area.
The first cold frame bed is planted in kale and mustard greens. From left to right in the above photo it’s Pink Lettucey and Vibrant Joy mustard plus Starbor, Darkibor and Prizm kale. All are just about ready to begin cutting. The slugs have really taken to the mustard plants though, so I need to remember to keep Sluggo applied.
Cold frame bed #2 is planted with all lettuce. There’s Simpson Elite, Red Sails, Lava Lamp, Kilauea, Pele, Mayan Jaguar, Red Evolution and 21st Century Fire planted there. The plants are still quite small, and I hope they will size up before really hot weather gets here. It got up to 90°F here today, so maybe it has already arrived!
Cold frame bed #3 is planted with a mix of lettuce and mizuna. The mizuna includes Miz America, Kyoto and Mizspoona Salad Select. The slugs seem to like it too, and they have been bad this year along with the sow bugs. The lettuce is Wonder of Stuttgart, Camo Gem and Island Gems. I have a little bare spot where overwintered lettuce was previously growing and I need to get a few plants in there too.
The last two cold frames are in bad shape and need to be replaced ASAP. I have bought the lumber and hardware, now I just need to find the time (and energy) to get the job done. Meanwhile I am treating them tenderly since in spots there’s not much holding them together. They should have been replaced last year, but it seems there’s always something more pressing to do. That’s my excuse at least!
Cold frame bed #4 is planted in kohlrabi, plus a few volunteer lettuce plants that showed up recently. The kohlrabi is Kolibri, Konan and Kordial. The volunteer lettuce includes a green leaf lettuce and some that are speckled with red, like Pele or Jester. It’s possible I had a few go to seed last year, but I really don’t remember it. I do sometimes put old seed packets on the compost pile, but this bed didn’t get any compost this year. It’s also the only place the volunteers are showing up. I have decided to let the lettuce go, and hopefully it might give us something edible when I start pulling the kohlrabi in a few weeks time. This cold frame is in even worse shape than #3, if that’s possible!
Behind the greenhouse, I have some early tomatoes planted. I started these back in February, and they are enjoying the micro-climate of the south side of the greenhouse. I’ve got 2018 AAS Winner Red Racer tomato growing in a couple of Smart Pots plus one planted in the ground so I can compare the two growing methods. The plants in the Smart Pots are starting to bloom, and they may give us the first ripe tomatoes of the year. I also have Sun Gold, Midnight Snack and Valentine planted there. I have bird netting around this whole area to keep the deer out as they have developed quite a taste for tomato vines and pretty much everything else except for the alliums and a few herbs.
In the bed that runs between the greenhouse and the house, I have been busy planting more tomatoes. It’s a mixed bag of types, colors and sizes there including Mexico Midget, Champagne, Amy’s Apricot, Pink Princess, Captain Lucky, Cherokee Purple and Cosmonaut Volkov. I’ll set out more tomatoes there when the plants are ready, plus basil and perhaps a few peppers if there’s any room left. I’ll cover this area with bird netting too, and I’ll mulch everything with straw over newspaper before I run the netting.
I’m not the only one that’s been busy though. My wife has been working hard to weed and mulch the asparagus bed. She has it looking great! She used shredded paper down the middle of the beds where the asparagus grows up, and straw over cardboard down the walkways between the beds. Non-gardeners who see the beds this time of year often ask “where’s the asparagus?”. The mostly bare looking beds have given us over eight pounds of asparagus so far this year, so looks are truly deceiving. We keep it cut clean to discourage asparagus beetles, and sometime in June we will stop cutting the spears and let the ferns grow to replenish the roots for next year.
She has also been busy digging up all our hostas and giving them away to friends. We are tired of fighting off the deer, who consider hostas to be ‘deer lettuce’ and munch on them even after I spray them with deer repellent. Hopefully they will find a salad bar elsewhere! She has been replanting the bare spots with deer-resistant plants like ferns, hellebores and carex.
I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the kitchen garden are here in May. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!
This tour was wonderful. It’s great to get a fuller picture. This year I am trying those big netted bags over the tomatoes to keep the rats out. We’ll see, although there is very little that is effective against insects and rodents and other animals determined to eat our produce. Interesting that you are growing Simpson lettuce. It is the old standby here in southern California because it withstands the heat so well.
Yes, I love the Simpson lettuce and it usually does quite well here with our hot weather in late spring and early summer.
I very much enjoyed the tour. The greens are looking great in spite of the slugs. I’m so grateful that slugs are only an occasional pest in my garden, it’s just too dry for them. Deer, however, consider the area to be their own personal lounge complete with free snacks. Anything edible outside the fence is an all you can eat buffet. And I just noticed today that we have a new addition to the group (herd?), a brand new fawn. Oy, one more mouth to feed…
90º heat already? It seems like you just had snow not long ago.
We had snow in early April. We went straight from winter to summer this year!
It’s the slugs and snails we have a fight against. All our hostas are in pots as in open ground we have no chance. Then we need to ensure that the leaves are not accessible from nearby plants which the slugs and snails can use as a ladder. The tops of the pots are mulched with Slug Gone wool pellets which they seem to avoid crawling across. It’s like fighting a war that never really ends.
It’s odd but the slugs didn’t seem to bother our hostas that much. They are mostly a problem with the edibles. Perhaps the bark mulch we use around the perennials deters them.
That’s sad about the hostas, I can’t imagine having to fight off deer. The new plantings look good though. And it’s amazing how well your greens are doing despite the heat. The sow bugs and have really fed on the kohlrabi and ground cherry seedlings in our greenhouse, that’ll teach me not to put things on the ground in there. I’ve got a couple days off after working the weekend, so we’re planning to till and plant the garden tomorrow. I’m so excited.
Thank you very much for the publicity for All-America Selections (AAS) in your article “Kitchen Gardens in May”.
We appreciate you spreading the word about our organization and its programs.
You are Welcome Pat! I’ve been a fan of the AAS and its work for many years now.