I’ve managed to get in some time this week working in the garden, between rain showers. Yesterday morning I got one bed of tomatoes planted. These are small fruited ones like Jasper and Midnight Snack plus slicing tomatoes like long time favorite Better Boy and newcomer Damsel. I’m really looking forward to trying Chef’s Choice Black this year, the latest addition to the Chef’s Choice series and a 2019 AAS Winner. I sometimes mulch these with newspaper at planting time but it was too windy for that yesterday so I’ll come back later with the paper and cover with straw around the base of the plants. I also need to plant processing/paste tomatoes in another bed, along with a few ‘trial’ varieties I hope to squeeze in somewhere.
On Tuesday I planted several cucumber plants on one side of the greenhouse beds. I was waiting for soil temperatures in there to warm up over 60°F, which finally happened. I have more cucumbers to plant on the other side when I finish removing the overwintered kale plants. I have had great success with growing cucumbers in the summer greenhouse the last few years. I plant parthenocarpic varieties that don’t need pollination, and they are usually free of cucumber beetle and other insect damage. I’m using concrete remesh cages to give them support, and after the plants get a bit more size I will mulch around them. I have found that mulching early cools the soil temp down too much and it also encourages sow bugs which can munch on the small seedlings.
I weeded the garlic in the main garden, and it is generally looking good. I lost a few plants over the winter, which is not unusual. I mulched with straw last fall after planting but I need to add a bit more to the bed this spring. I have already given them a shot of fertilizer last month to give them a boost of nitrogen. The leaves have greened up nicely since then. I’ll water with liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer once or twice more before they start drying down later in June.
Some of the early cultivars are starting to size up already. The one in the photo is Early Portuguese. I will probably pull a few of those early ones soon, though our stores of garlic from last year are still holding up well. There’s nothing quite like fresh, juicy garlic though, and I look forward to it every year.
The brassicas in the main garden are also getting some size to them. I planted quite a few of the sprouting/broccolini types this spring since I seem to have better luck with them than I do with the larger heading types. The one in the photo is Aspabroc, which I’m growing for the first time. I’m using shredded paper and cardboard around the plants in this bed, which I will cover with straw soon. The ‘rabbit ears’ from a nearby maple tree are also providing some unwanted mulch, and a few of them will likely sprout and need to be pulled out before they turn into a forest!
My early planted container eggplants are also coming along, though some of the older leaves have a bit of wind damage. I have Patio Baby and Fairy Tale planted, and I can always rely on them to fruit early and give us our first taste of eggplant. There’s no sign of the flea beetles yet but they will be here eventually. If you plant it, they will come! I get good control spraying with a pyrethrin/neem oil mix.
Inside the greenhouse, the salad boxes I planted with leaf lettuce back in late March are almost ready to begin cutting. I planted Tango, Brentwood and Garrison in these two. The salad boxes are a great way to grow shallow rooted greens, and the ones I made several years ago are holding up quite well. I have something planted in them almost year round. I did a tutorial on how I made them back in 2011, so most of them are 8 years old now. that’s pretty amazing since I used inexpensive, untreated dimensional lumber to make them.
I also planted a window box planter with Panisse lettuce. It’s my first time growing this one, and it has made lush growth of light green rounded leaves. Based on these results, I think I need to sow more seed of this one in the future. Inexpensive flower planters are another of my favorite ways to grow salad greens. I think I set about five of the Panisse seedlings in this one, and they have grown together to make a solid mass of leaves. With selective cutting I can thin a couple of them out and leave the others to grow for another week or so to maximize the harvests.
I hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of what’s growing around here in early May. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!