The greenhouse is keeping us busy planting, weeding, thinning and the best part of gardening - harvesting. The slower growing early crops like beets and carrots are coming along slow but sure, but we’ve been able to supplement at least two meals a day out of the greenhouse now for about a month. Two ripe strawberries also never made it to the house
It’s been nice to get fresh greens, bok choy and crunchy turnips for a change of pace. Kale and chard for greens over winter and into spring was getting tiresome, I was not sorry to see them go.’
The turnips are tiny yet, but very sweet and tasty, if you haven’t grown these yet, I think you should try. They do need row cover though for good results, but a very fast succession crop for those little fill in spots throughout the entire summer.
The early potatoes are doing well too, things are little crowded for good hilling with soil in here, so grass clippings have been filling in when available.
Part of the beauty of gardening in a space for some time is that you get edible volunteers. In this bed of kohlrabi, cilantro and arugula have self-seeded in a previous growing season. “Weeds” like this definitely keep us on our toes at weeding time.
In the greenhouse slated for over-wintering hardy greens, we have mowed the cover crop rye, tilled it in, and seeded buckwheat for a quick early summer cover crop. It almost feels like we skipped spring and are into summer already.
rizzle, I love you <3 The much awaited rain finally showed up Sunday morning with a gentle drizzle to settle the dust. You couldn’t ask for more perfect timing, we did a lot of direct seeding last week. Mother Nature’s irrigation works the best for germination, that is, if you can get it.
The garlic looked pleased after those rain storms, you could almost see it breathing a sigh of relief.
I won’t bore you with the details of the actual planting and will just post my list pulled from my garden notebook. I gambled and planted at least the first plantings of some of our warm weather crops, figuring that nothing ventured is nothing gained. While it may seem wasteful to be sticking my neck out this early with some crops, frugality comes in with farmstead-saved seed. I always save enough seed for multiple years, and meter the seed out in case of crop failure. (Purchasing larger lots of some seeds saves money too, as many seeds keep for several years.) The value of a handful of winter squash seeds that turns into hundreds of pounds of actual squash that will keep a year is quite a boon to the pantry and the pocketbook. I can “afford” to be a little squirrely and plant a little early. I’m also going to include variety names because I think it’s important that our food has a name also. Besides just having a name, there is a history there too, maybe unwritten yet in the case of a new variety, but just as important. All venerable vegetables started out new at one time.
The List – Round One. *farm saved seed, TP = Transplant
♥ Turga Parsnip *
♥ Uncle John beans (local dry bean heirloom)*
♥ Maxibel filet bean *
♥ Sweet Meat winter squash *
♥ National Pickling cuke
♥ Marketmore 76 Slicing cuke
♥ Lemon Cuke
♥ Cocozelle zuke
♥ Raven zuke
♥ Golden Glory zuke
♥ Spring Treat sweet corn
♥ Kolibri kohlrabi
♥ Merlin beet
♥ Detroit Dark Red beet
♥ Red Cored Chantenay carrot
♥ Napoli carrot
♥ Nelson carrot
♥ Oasis turnip
♥ Summer Cross daikon
♥ Brilliant Celeriac – TP
♥ Veronica romanesco – TP
♥ Cheddar cauliflower – TP
♥ Arcadia broccoli – TP
♥ Marjoram – TP
♥ Mucho miscellaneous plant sale leftovers – kales, cabbages, & chard.
I know this list seems like a lot of vegetables, but remember many of these are small succession plantings that take up only a small part of the garden. One plant of each summer squash and one bed of each cucumber will supply plenty for fresh eating and a first round of pickles and will be replaced later as they wane with a second succession.
The important thing to remember about gardening is to plant what you will eat and enjoy. We aren’t really grain-centric eaters, so a diet rich in vegetables we can grow, compliments the meats that we raise.
In trying to simplify a little this year, I decided to order my chicks at the feed store, rather than buying a large lot and trying to coordinate with others to take the extra. PITA that is not needed. Besides supporting the local feed store is not a bad thing. I’m not much of a shopaholic, but I did buy a few things I didn’t need, but wanted. Namely dahlia tubers. Since giving away all my dahlia tubers about 15 years ago, I have missed them off and on. Not the work of dahlias, mind you, but the look of them. So yesterday on the way to pick up my chicks, I took a side road to drive past a bouquet sellers farm. My reasoning was if you sell dahlias you always have too many tubers – they are the zucchini of the flower world. Sure enough, her sign was out, Dahlia Tubers – $1.00. I need dahlias like I need a hole in the head, but this gal has a garden I always admire when I drive past, and she keeps a few cows too. I pulled in the drive and the little sign on the door said Honk, I’m here. So I honked, I could hear a tractor and a distinctive clacking sound from off in the distance. Here she came, an 80 year-old woman (just guessing her age) driving a tractor pulling a manure spreader. She whipped the tractor around the barn and pulled up, and a young fellow with a pitchfork started loading the manure spreader. She climbed down and came to the house. Talk about the grass ceiling, this gal never knew a woman couldn’t farm. My kind of gal. She quickly showed me the self-serve dahlia tuber area and left me to my own devices, as she had to get back to the barn to haul out the next load of black gold. Bad idea – I came home with a box of dahlia tubers to go along with my box of chicks
And just for fun…
feel a little guilty writing about winter garden planting, when so many of you are not able to get in your garden yet. But note I said a “little” guilty. I can’t change the weather, and many of my winter harvest crops are planted right alongside or maybe a little before summer and fall crops. If I consult my past garden records, I see that many times I am planting the root crops for the milk cow in mid-May. So I’m not too far off in getting those crops in the ground now. In garden reality I have to go more by my soil than a calendar. My soil says plant.
This year I am going to skip the whole mangel cow fodder growing. While mangels sound kind of romantic and old-fashioned to grow, they are just too difficult for me to manage. They freeze, the voles love them, and they give my cow the shits. The last reason is reason enough to leave those for people who like to garden and write magazine articles. Of course, I could dig them all, store them and let them mellow and not have the messy problem of squirty cow caca, but I’m not into the whole root cellar thing anyway. My unfair advantage in root crop storage is that I live where I can leave them in the ground. So this year Jane will only partake of parsnips and carrots, both roots that have no side effects on her digestive tract.
Our staple garden is primarily devoted to many row feet of storage crops, or any crop in large quantity. Most years potatoes, corn, winter squash, naked seed pumpkins, house cow roots, dry beans and a row for seed saving make up the mix. It feels like I am ahead of the game getting several crops in the ground in a timely fashion.
We are going into our third month of dry (for us), so I seeded these carrots on April 26th in the hopes that I could capture the available moisture in the soil for germination. The timing was perfect, as I noticed them peeking out yesterday, as I was preparing to plant the parsnips.
My cheater, early garden row for whatever, is usually my seed saving row, many times there is some space for small plantings of fill-in crops. I had planted my parsnips and mangels in February (detailed in this post.) The deer made short,and continued work of any sprout on my mangels, so no seed this year from them. However, they don’t like parsnip tops, so those look to be doing fine. Since I had a nice, clean row ready to go, I planted some other fast growing crops there that will be done at or before the time the parsnip seeds are ready to harvest. I would have loved to plant some peas there, but the deer pressure has increased enough I didn’t risk it.
So I opted for a second planting of beets. They are doing quite well germinating right along with the carrots. Jane may get some of these, but summer time fodder only, if we don’t eat them all.
I succession plant a lot of kohlrabi, it grows fast, needs no protection from insects and we just like it. A lot.
Hiding under here is daikon and Hakurei turnips. They do need protection from insects, but are well worth growing, they grow fast and they taste great as long as you keep the root maggots out.
Looking at the staple garden near half planted and up is a WOW moment for this first week of May. Big Smile.
aturday while I was at this farm I was asked how many hours each day I spent on growing our food, not including cooking or the dairy aspect. I guessed about 4 hours per day, but the topic begs for its own post really. I have many thoughts on that very subject and the systems that make that work for us. Until then, photos and captions can tell the story.
For dinner, oven-fried homegrown chicken and just picked salad. I like recipes that I can walk away from after the prep time is over, and this is one of them. Once the chicken is in the oven, I have and hour or so to do something outside. Many months of the year this is milking, right now it’s gardening since Jane is dry. Recipe here in this older post.
You can’t beat leafy greens for adding to the meal. Not much of a dinner plan here, just harvesting what is needing harvesting. This time the colander contains spinach, bok choy, mizuna, lettuce, arugula, cilantro, and komatsuna.
While dinner is cooking, I need to gather eggs, on the way I stop to admire the mown cover crop in greenhouse 2.
After dinner, I have some “me’ time in the greenhouse. While I was picking salad for dinner, I was scoping out a few spots to plant new salad starts that were begging to get out of their flats. I saved some spaces in the tomato rows just for that purpose. No plastic mulch but about three feet of good fertile soil. Perfect for a small bed or two of romaine and other greens.
I caught a glimpse of Mount Hood on my way to build fence.
Lula, the official stink-eye giver. If I didn’t know her (or if she was a bull), this broadside would be an aggressive posture. With her it means nothing, except I’m taking too long to get the paddock ready
“The rich man gets his ice in summer; the poor man gets his in winter.” Almanzo Wilder
I might add the rich get irrigation in the summer, and the poor hope for rain. I’ve really been enjoying our July-like garden conditions, but nervously watching the grass. That’s the way it goes, if it’s a rainy spring we lament the lack of gardening as we wait for the soil to dry enough to work, but the grass grows mightily when it rains in the spring. So it’s a gain on one end and a loss on the other. Grass or garden, it’s hard to pick.
Between the last two months being dry and May heading in the same direction, we’ve also had enough frost to blacken the hardy kiwi and some Himalayan blackberry shoots this past week. I could give a whit about the blackberries, but the kiwi had me a little bummed. Those frosty mornings also had us staring at charcoal colored clover
Mother and daughter. Horny and Spot, such unique names… .
Such is the nature of farming. Watching and waiting and hoping for the best.