Fully Planted

Today, I planted the remaining seedlings. I meant to do it last weekend (Memorial Day Weekend), but it was so rainy and cold (in the 40s at night) that it seemed wise to wait. In order to make space, I had to take out most of the walking onions and six humongous leeks. I planted 2 eggplants (Fairy Tale and Ping Tung), 1 pepper (the mystery one), 1 more tomato (Striped Roman), 3 kale seedlings, 3 Swiss chard plugs, 3 cucumbers (pickling, Dekah and Tokiwa), 3 winter squash (Butternut, Delicata and Lakota), 1 zucchini and 1 watermelon. I also interplanted the tomatoes with marigold, planted camomile and sowed glass gem corn among the squash and Zinnias with the Swiss chard. I don’t think I can fit anything else in my plot.

Seedlings before they went into the ground

The only thing not in the ground yet are green beans. I will plant some with the corn and squash once the corn has a good height and will plant a lot of beans after I harvest the garlic. Last year, I planted beans late in July and it was very successful.

Peas (and weeds), lettuce (and mint), tomatoes and Lakota squash
Cucumbers, lettuce, and squash (and a giant borage)
Parsley, baby lettuce mix, eggplant, camomile, tomatoes, kale, bok choi

May Harvest

Today’s harvest: head lettuce and asparagus

I went to the garden today to “velcro” the tomatoes. One of the plants (Striped Roman) looked very sad. It was already a bit droopy when I planted it yesterday. Hopefully it will recover. If not, I have one extra seedling (Poll Robson Angolan).

I also sowed Zinnias and sunflowers. Looking forward to a ton of flowers this year. Fingers crossed.

Planting Tomatoes and Dahlias

I spent a good three hours in the garden today, weeding, spreading compost and planting tomatoes, basil, parsley and dahlias. I planted a total of ten tomatoes: one each Striped Roman, Paul Robson, Black Krim, Valencia, Break O’ Day, Poll Robson Angolan and two each Green Zebra and Baker Family Heirloom. That’s a lot of tomatoes. I was going to go for eight, but alas ended up planting ten … I used the central stake method this time, which will be a first for me. I am just so tired of these flimsy cages. They will serve me well for growing cucumbers though.

I also planted dahlias in the back of the plot near the fence, where I usually put my flowers. No edibles there because dogs like to raise their legs on the other side of the fence. I planted two dahlias each of: Arabian Night, Lakeland Autumn, Park Princess (Cactus) and Star Elite (Cactus). I ordered three each from Holland Bulb Farms and all except one are looking healthy and have new growth. Very excited about the flowers. The remaining four (or three) dahlias will be planted in my front or side yard. Need to find a full-sun spot.

Tomorrow, I will go back to the garden and tie the tomato stems with garden velcro. I also will sow Zinnias and sunflowers (and harvest some leeks and lettuce).

Porch Herbs

Whole Foods had an herbs sale ($2 each), so I got English lavender “Vera”, creeping rosemary, common thyme “Faustinoi” and sage to put on my porch. I also got two parsley plants to put into the big planter with the flowers.

Parsley and grape hyacinth. I pulled the tulips today as only one of them flowered this spring. I will plant more in the fall

I will add more herbs to this container plus a plant in the center, probably an eggplant or pepper or perhaps a dwarf tomato. I love having herbs on my porch. I still have my old, woody rosemary from two years ago (I overwintered it in the kitchen), and my chives from last year (they overwintered on the porch). And I will plant cilantro and basil, and mint of course (which I will dig up from my garden plot. I can’t seem to get rid of it.)

Porch Happenings

Tulips March 10, 2021

It has been a nice warm week with day temperatures in the fifties. Today, I sowed radishes and lettuce (Kagran Summer) together in one of the big containers on the back porch, I also sowed arugula in two grow bags. I am usually too late with porch arugula and it bolts before I can harvest; this is the earliest I have ever sowed it. Fingers crossed.

Freshly sown arugula, radishes and lettuce

Seeds

I took inventory of my seeds today and placed an order with Sand Hill Preservation Center. There is a country-wide COVID-related seed shortage this season. Johnny’s for example is only selling to farmers at this moment and not to home gardeners like me. I should have enough seeds saved from previous years and should be fine with this order, fingers crossed. And I am counting on the Neighborhood Farm to provide me with seedlings this spring should I need them.

2020 in Review

Plot September 8

Time for another gardening year review and for laying out the plans for the next year. This year was like no other, as COVID-19 changed life as we know it for everyone. Thankfully, our family made it through the year healthy, though my high school senior/now college freshmen daughter and my now high school sophomore son had a hard time with remote learning and with missed milestones and cancelled school sport seasons. For our community garden, the pandemic meant that for a long time we did not know whether the gardens would open at all. Finally, at the end of May, we got the green light and our water was turned on, so I got a very late start in the garden. As the garden coordinator, I put rules and measures in place to keep our gardeners safe. Everyone had to wear a mask inside the garden as long as other people were around and wear gloves at all times. Also, everyone had to disinfect the garden gate before entering and the shed lock and the water spigot and nozzle before use. I put a bunch of cloth rags (that I took home to wash after use) and disinfectant in the shed so gardeners could disinfect tools and supplies. All gardeners adhered to the rules and our season went smoothly. The plots looked the best they ever have, with tons of veggies and very few weeds, in part thanks to the pandemic, because almost everyone worked from home and had to socially distance and therefore had extra time on their hands.

We had a very cold and wet spring, so the growing season was delayed in general. The spring rains were a blessing for our gardeners who had planted spring crops. Again, I had been cautious and apart from sowing radishes, carrots and peas, I did not plant anything in the spring.

Eggplant, August 25

Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Cucumbers. It was a good year for tomatoes, but unfortunately I did not keep a good record of the varieties I grew. I started with four different types from seed (Break O’Day, Dr. Wychee Yellow, Green Zebra, Eva Purple Ball) and bought a couple more plants from the Neighborhood Farm in June (Green Zebra and two other varieties). I lost a couple of plants, not sure which ones. Dr. Wychee and Green Zebra plus some other “red ones” did well in the plot. For peppers, I only grew Thai hot peppers, and they did well, both in the plot and on my back porch. Eggplants did well in my plot, for the first time. I grew both Ping Tung and also a regular variety (gifted by another gardener) and while they had a late start they did well. The eggplant on the porch (Ping Tung) remained very small-fruited, so I am not sure I will repeat this next year. The two cucumber plants (one pickling, the other one a slicer) had a stellar start but then quickly wilted, I am not sure what happened.

Carrots and radishes, November 6

Root vegetables. The porch radishes were amazing; the radishes grown in the plot had some “damage”. They clearly were eaten by something. The carrots were delicious, but it took a few rounds of sowing before they came up successfully. As usual, the fall crop did much better than the spring crop. Beets did well, in particular the Chiogga beets – I planted two rounds of seedlings (one gifted, one bought). The ones I grew from seed (golden beets) did not do very well. They were small when I transplanted them and most of them were eaten by something. I did not plant potatoes this year.

Baby butternut framed by kale and Swiss chard, August 16

Summer and Winter squash. First time planting zucchini. Because I grew them from seed (late) and planted them late, I had a late harvest (August through October) but it was a great one. I really enjoyed harvesting zucchini this late in the season. The butternut squash did alright, I harvested three pretty big ones, the Delicata squash sadly died along the way. Somehow the stem was cut/chewed. Anyway, I love them and will definitely plant both summer and winter squash next year.

Pole beans”, August 13

Legumes. A disaster. Both peas (I sowed three rounds) and pole beans (also three rounds) never made it past the tiny seedling stage before the resident rabbit got the better of them. The porch peas did well, but it wasn’t a big amount, just a small bowl for snacking.

Lettuces, June 23

Greens. The lettuces did amazing this year. I planted a lot of lettuce in the spring (grown from seed and transplanted) and then fall greens (direct-sowed in August), which I harvested well into December as baby greens. The Swiss chard had a stellar year as well. I could hardly keep up with harvesting. They did have some leaf miner damage, but it was manageable.

Garlic harvest, July 18

Alliums. Great year for garlic (51 heads)! Some of those heads were humongous. The leeks did well too, I left an entire row for overwintering. And I have those Egyptian walking onions that show up all over my plot. They always do well and are delicious, shallot-type onions.

Kale, December 6

Brassicas. The only brassica I grew this year was kale. I started with three varieties: curly, Tuscan and Red Russian. I pulled the Red Russian because it was infested with flea beetles but the other ones did well. I only had one plant each in my plot, which was enough for my family’s needs as with my daughter now in college I am the only kale eater. There were some aphids, but very manageable. The Tuscan kale on my back porch stayed very small, I guess it need a bigger pot.

Porch herbs, May 24

Herbs. I had basil and parsley (and borage) in my plot. The parsley turned yellow after a while and died. This is the second year in a row this happened and I really want to know why. Another community gardener had the same experience. The porch herbs did great as usual, I had a ton of parsley and all the other common herbs. In late fall, I moved the two rosemary plants and the thyme inside to my kitchen and I still use them in my cooking.

Rhubarb, April 12

Perennials. There are only two: asparagus and rhubarb. I have only a tiny asparagus patch but it did well. The rhubarb was very anemic and I did not dare to harvest any. I am not sure what is happening.

Baby Ping Tung eggplant, July 25

Porch. This year, as in previous years, I grew a lot of herbs on my porch. It is so nice to have your culinary herbs just a few steps away when you make dinner. I grew parsley (underplanted in two big pots growing tomatoes and peppers), sage, thyme oregano, rosemary, nasturtium (did not use them in cooking though), mint, chives. I also had radishes (which were amazing), lettuces (good), kale (not so great), hot peppers (great), eggplant (meh), Swiss chard (meh), tomatoes (meh). Next year, I will focus on herbs, greens, hot peppers and flowers.

(Mutant?) dahlia and asparagus greens, September 6

Flowers. Dahlias, cosmos, nasturtiums, marigolds in the garden; some dianthus and nasturtium on the porch. The dahlias were really late this year, so I was not able to enjoy them as long as in previous years. I will definitely plant more flowers next year.

October 30

Plans for 2021. I had a total of 8 tomato plants and that was a great number. I picked the varieties so they were fruiting at different times and that seemed to have worked well. I do need to amend the soil as some of the plants only had a few fruit. I will definitely plant more hot peppers next year, maybe some shishitos as well. Definitely Thai and jalapeno and perhaps some other varieties. I love eggplant, and I will have another two to four plants in the garden next year, maybe two Asian and two Mediterranean varieties. Definitely will be planting cucumber again, one slicing variety and one or two pickling (those pickles were delicious!). Definitely carrots and radishes next year. The porch radishes were great, so I will do those again, maybe more and in a bigger container. For carrots, definitely rainbow. One zucchini plant was enough, so that is what will happen next year, plus two or three winter squash. I love sugar snap peas and pole beans, so I will try them again next year. Fingers crossed the resident rabbit has moved on. Lettuces from seed and transplanting them worked well, I should try to stagger them better so I have a constant supply. One row of Swiss chard is plenty. The garlic is in the ground, the Egyptian walking onions are doing their thing. So, I will plant one or two rows of leeks in the spring, from purchased seedlings. Two or three kale plants are enough. I will likely not grow any other brassicas because of the aphid problem, but maybe I will change my mind. I will have the usual assortment of herbs on the porch, but would really love to have more parsley in the garden. I will research the yellowing issue and hopefully find a solution. Also, as always, tons of basil in the plot, and this year I will make pesto again. I am hoping, the rhubarb will recover but I think it has to do with my pill bug infestation. They just are having a feast eating all the roots. I am not mulching with straw this year and over the winter and hopefully that will make them go away. The asparagus will just give me a few handful of spears as every year and that will be fine. On the porch, I will have culinary herbs, hot peppers, flowers and lettuces. That just seems to be the best use of the space and my pot sizes. As for flowers, there will be more dahlias in the plot, I will try sunflowers again and cosmos (maybe zinnias?), and of course nasturtium and marigold.

Fall Cleanup and Planting Garlic

I took advantage of the nearly 70 degree weather today (mind you it was snowing just a week ago) to clean out my plot. I harvested the last carrots and radishes, weeded and cleared all the plant debris. I also dug up the dahlia tubers. Currently, there are only leeks, kale and baby greens growing, plus some shallots. I planted garlic today, about 60 cloves – half of them hardneck garlic the other half softneck from my biggest heads saved from this summer’s harvest. I decided not to add hay or straw this winter (except to cover the garlic) because I am having a big pill bug problem and I am trying to get rid of them. I suspect they might feed on all the decaying mulch and hay.