May Planting and Mulching

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.

Jasper tomato plants

Jasper tomato plants

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.

greenhouse cucumbers

greenhouse cucumbers

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.

garlic bed

garlic bed

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.

Early Portuguese garlic

Early Portuguese garlic

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!

Aspabroc broccoli

Aspabroc broccoli

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.

container eggplant

container eggplant

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.

lettuce growing in salad boxes

lettuce growing in salad boxes

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.

Panisse lettuce

Panisse lettuce

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!

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Harvest Monday April 29, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests are picking up a bit here as warm days have spurred the asparagus to start popping up. We’ve gotten two pounds of it since we started cutting it a couple of weeks ago. We have roasted it and stir-fried it so far, and that in the photo got roasted in a cast iron skillet until charred on the outside but still crisp inside.

daily asparagus

daily asparagus

The kale rapini is coming to an end. I’ve pulled half the overwintered kale plants, with the rest likely coming up this week to make room for planting cucumbers in the greenhouse.

kale rapini

kale rapini

I cut a couple of big heads of lettuce last week. One was Simpson Elite, which is my favorite lettuce for wilting. That’s where this batch wound up, and it was tender and tasty.

Simpson Elite lettuce

Simpson Elite lettuce

Another was the butterhead Mirlo, which I have growing in a window box sized planter. It doesn’t form a real big head like some butterhead types, but it has large green tender leaves that are great for salads. I used some of this for a Mediterranean salad we had for lunch one day. I also plan to use a few of the outer leaves to make Korean-style beef lettuce wraps we’re having for dinner tonight.

Mirlo lettuce

Mirlo lettuce

I also made the first cutting of arugula from a planting I made in another window box planter. This is Esmee, and the leaves are mild flavored and tender. It wound up on a pizza I cooked up on Friday night. I love arugula on pizza, and this one also had some of our slow-roasted tomatoes from last year.

Esmee arugula

Esmee arugula

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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April Garden Tour

Things are starting to bloom and grow around here, and I have managed to get a few things planted in between the rain showers. We have already had 24 inches of rain so far this year, even more that the 22 inches we had by this time last year. That has made working the soil and planting things a challenge to say the least. I have finally gotten the cold frame beds planted, starting with kale I set out in late March. I have Prizm, Starbor, Darkibor and White Russian planted there, and it is time to weed and mulch with straw. Other than White Russian these are all fairly short curly types.

cold frame bed with kale

cold frame bed with kale

A few days later I made a new cold frame bottom and situated it on the south side of the greenhouse where it would warm up quickly. I planted it in kohlrabi, including favorites like Konan and Kolibri plus test varieties like Beas, Korist and Terek. They have made a lot of growth since then but aren’t starting to bulb up just yet. I haven’t made a lid for the frame yet, and covered it with bird netting to keep the deer and other mammals from getting to the plants.

bed with kohlrabi

bed with kohlrabi

I planted another cold frame bed just two weeks ago, and those plants are taking off quickly. It’s a mix of greens including Senposai, Komatsuna, Spigariello, mizuna and mild mustard greens. And I planted the last bed in lettuce just yesterday, but didn’t get a photo.

bed with mixed greens

bed with mixed greens

Red Kingdom is a beautiful red mizuna with broad, mild tasting leaves. It’s a 2016 AAS Winner and is slow to flower in my spring garden when many Asian greens are prone to bolting.

mizuna Red Kingdom

mizuna Red Kingdom

In the main garden, all I have planted so far is one bed of brassicas and the alliums I planted last fall. I have mulched the brassicas with shredded paper and I will cover that with straw soon. I find the paper/straw combination works well in spring when there are a lot of annual weeds popping up. I got the bed worked up and those plants set out on April 9th, just in time before more rain came.

Piracicaba broccoli seedling

Piracicaba broccoli seedling

The greenhouse is starting to fill up with seedlings. I still have one bed planted in kale plants that overwintered and are giving us lots of rapini. And I have lettuce coming along nicely in there in containers that should keep us supplied until that I just planted outside is ready to start cutting.

greenhouse in April

greenhouse in April

And speaking of growing, the baby bluebirds are growing up fast in the PVC nest box! Four of six eggs hatched, and the parents have been busy keeping them fed. I managed to sneak a peek the other day when they were away.

baby bluebirds

baby bluebirds

I’ll close with a pic of our azaleas blooming. This is probably the best show they have put on since we planted them back in 2010. Hopefully the rain won’t beat them back too badly while they are in their prime.

azaleas in bloom

azaleas in bloom

I hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of what’s growing around here in late April. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday April 22, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re still in the ‘between’ garden season here, where the winter veggies are slowing down and the spring crops are starting to come in. We’ve gotten about a pound of asparagus so far, and recent rains should really get it popping up. The kale rapini is winding down, but I got about a half pound of it last week and it has really been a treat. The Western Front and True Siberian kale plants have made a lot of rapini. We’re still eating kale leaves too but I didn’t cut any last week.

kale rapini and asparagus

kale rapini and asparagus

I had a flat of lettuce seedlings that needed thinning last week, and they had gotten large enough to save them and use them in a salad. Had they been smaller they would have wound up on the compost pile, but these were plenty big enough to serve as ‘baby’ lettuce. I got several cups of them, and we enjoyed them one day on a salad we had for lunch. I’m not a fan of wasting food and these were certainly worth the minimal effort to clean them up.

lettuce thinnings

lettuce thinnings

Meanwhile, I cut a bit more of the winter planted lettuce from the greenhouse. This is Salanova Red Butter, along with a bit of Tango that had re-sprouted after I cut the main head a couple of weeks ago.

Salanova Red Butter lettuce

Salanova Red Butter lettuce

Also from the greenhouse I made a big cutting of parsley to make a tabouli salad. The parsley plants in there are getting ready to bolt, so they won’t be around much longer. Until then we have lots of parsley to enjoy. I don’t dry it because I think it loses it’s flavor, plus we pretty much have the fresh version available year round.

parsley for tabouli

parsley for tabouli

And I continue to cut microgreens as needed. This is the Mild Microgreens Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I started more microgreens last week to keep the harvests growing. This time I made my own mix using seeds for collards, Tokyo Bekana and some old lettuce seed I had on hand.

mild microgreen mix

mild microgreen mix

In the future harvests department, the Patio Baby and Fairy Tale eggplants I started early and potted up into containers are doing well. I have three growing in pots and one in a grow bag. These should give us an early taste of eggplant at least a month before the ones planted in the main garden start fruiting. Both of these varieties are AAS Winners and do quite well in containers. I brought them in on Saturday night when a bit of frost was forecast, but hopefully that will be the last frost of the season.

container grown eggplant

container grown eggplant

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

 


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Harvest Monday April 15, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s officially asparagus season here, and that is welcome news! The paparazzi were out early one morning to witness the first harvest of the season. It wasn’t a lot, but it was sure tasty!

first asparagus harvest of 2019

first asparagus harvest of 2019

asparagus

asparagus

More spears are slowly coming up, and once the weather warms up a tad more they should really get going. Lynda got the asparagus beds weeded and mulched before the first spears came up, and she has it looking great. She used cardboard around the edges, shredded paper down the rows, sheets of newspaper for the walkways between the beds, and then covered it all with straw. I can only wish I had the main garden looking like that!

asparagus beds after mulching

asparagus beds after mulching

I’m still cutting the winter lettuce in the greenhouse. There’s not much left, and hopefully the ones I planted a few weeks ago will be ready to join the party soon.

Mirlo and Pele lettuce

Mirlo and Pele lettuce

The kale rapini has been the surprise star here lately. We’ve been roasting it for about 10 minutes in a 400°F oven. I also like to give it a quick saute with a bit of olive oil. The one in the below photo is from Western Front kale, and the flower shoots come with a few leaves attached. They crisp up like kale chips when roasted, so it’s almost like two veggies in one – kale chips and rapini!

kale rapini

kale rapini

I pulled the rest of the curly kale I had growing in a cold frame bed to make room for a new planting of greens. There’s two pounds of leaves in the tubtrug, and it was enough to share with a couple of friends as well as have plenty for ourselves.

curly kale

curly kale

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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