What's going on in the garden?

on Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Here's what 2.8 lbs of spinach look like, freshly picked. This is what you guys received today.

It's sort of a weird spring (although I suppose every gardening season is weird) - stuff that I figured would be ready later or longer is getting burned out by the occasional heat waves, but then we get a cool spell again. Since it looks like temperatures are going to be cooler and damp for the next 10 days or more, maybe I won't regret starting more lettuce seedlings a week or so ago! I'll start dotting many of the lettuce plants you see here in the veggie beds with other veggies, with the hopes that other plants will shade the lettuce and give them a chance to grow longer. There's also lots of herbs started here (mostly basil). Now I already have an herb bed going with mostly store-bought plants but, as with the lettuce, I figure I'll stick basil, cilantro, and dill here and there in the garden to ensure plenty of flavor-boosting herbs this summer!

Here's the garlic scapes I mentioned this morning. There's only about 2 dozen here...and the garlic was planted last fall before I knew Mary, Julie and Tina would talk me into co-offering the CSA service with Mary - otherwise I might've planted more softneck garlic like the Chinese Pink. Oh well - consider this a test run - it seems to do well here (although not as well as the hardneck Spanish Roja garlic I planted - but it might be the voles ate some of the Chinese Pink variety). Perhaps this fall I'll dedicate more space to garlic, and ensure CSA customers get garlic scapes next spring! ( BTW - it seems there's some confusion on my part. It seems hardneck varieties form scapes, not softneck. So I'm wondering - did I accidentally swap the labels for the two varieties of garlic last fall? It seems the Spanish Roja - a hardneck variety - should have formed the scapes, not the Chinese Pink. Hm.)

Here's what one of the new raised beds looks like. I've outlined the whole bed AND subdivided it with onions - there's a possible garden trick (or just old wives tale?) that cucumber beetles and squash bugs might not like onions, and will leave squash plants alone. We'll see. So that this new bed didn't go to waste before the warm weather when I could put in the squash, I planted three varieties of spinach - Avon, Bloomsdale Longstanding, and Tyee. You can see the three patches here after they were heavily picked last nite. The plants are left in place to continue producing leaves - I pick each spinach leaf without harming the plant. The variety on the right, Tyee, isn't holding up as well with the heat as the other two - it's starting to bolt sooner, so I'll probably get one more harvest before yanking the plants. I hope the other two last longer.

Just this past weekend I planted the squash plants in this bed...they're crowded in with the onions and spinach. It's possible they'll grow fast enough to shade the spinach to protect it when temps rise again. I tend to overcrowd my plants (officially it's called "intensive gardening"), which is another reason I have to make sure the beds are well-fertilized with composted manure. If you're going to crowd this many plants together, they need lots of food!

Also in this bed are nasturtiums (see the slightly rounded leaves with a light colored dot in the center). I didn't plant the nasturtiums here. And since it's a new bed, it's not like they're volunteering from last year's dropped seeds (that's happening in another bed). So - my guess is these guys are volunteering from seeds left from volunteers in the compost pile last year. That's alright - nasturtiums are beautiful flowers, some people like their leaves and/or flowers in salads (too peppery for me!), and they're rumored to detract cucumber beetles and squash bugs (I'm not holding my breath!). And trust me - squash plants, if they survive the insects, are most definitely tough enough to compete with the nasturtiums!

The next bed over is also new this year. While I'm not holding my breath for great results, I started carrots and beets around the edge of the bed. A week and a half ago I jammed the zig-zag trellis in the bed. Then this past weekend I transplanted cucumbers that I'd started from seed weeds ago. Sometime this week I also need to plant gourd seeds in here. I've a feeling you guys will be getting baby beet leaves in a salad mix next week! (The beets won't be ready for awhile)

Also notice the large-leaved plant in front of the rock. That's a pumpkin. Pumpkins are super viney, and there's never enough room in my garden to plant as many as I'd like, so I dot them here and there around the gardening area. Remind me later this summer, when there are vines all over the place, that I thought this was a good idea. ;-)

I've never ever had lettuce form heads as beautiful as they have this year! Again, you guys will be getting a mix of salad greens as part of the share next week.

I took these pictures shortly after this afternoon's heavy storm/tornado warning. We got .4" of rain in a very short period of time. That's on top of all the rain we had on Memorial Day. And as I type this there's more thunder... While all the rain has been nice for refilling the rain barrels, soaking the beds, etc....it COULD turn out that we'll get too much rain if this keeps going on.

Tomatoes don't like too much rain. I believe all the rain contributed to the spread of the blight that killed off all the tomato plants last year!

But for now - there's hope that this year will be better, and that these plants starting to form blooms like this Chocolate Cherry tomato, will be loaded with fruit in just a few months!

In the meantime - here's something else to look forward to! The latest plantings of radishes are positively popping out of the ground!

These French Breakfast radishes look pretty dirty, but they had a lot of mud splashed back on them from the heavy rains. Count on getting some radishes with your salad fixin's next week!

PS Check back tomorrow morning for another post with a teaser of something else I HOPE will be ready for next week's CSA shares!


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