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Winter On My Mind

May 7, 2013

Ifeel 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.

Turga parsnip seed

Turga parsnip seed

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.

staple garden

staple garden

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.

Red-cored Chantenay

Red-cored Chantenay

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.

Parsnip seed row

Parsnip seed row

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.

Detroit Dark Red beets

Detroit Dark Red beets

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.

KolibriF1 kohlrabi

KolibriF1 kohlrabi

I succession plant a lot of kohlrabi, it grows fast, needs no protection from insects and we just like it.  A lot.

Discovery F1 Daikon

Discovery F1 Daikon

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.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2013 8:44 pm

    We are catching up with you, now the ground is dry. We haven’t had any rain for a week and the snow has well and truly gone now. The garden is getting rotavated or ploughed today and with any luck the potatoes go in this afternoon and other seeds get planted like sweetcorn, fodder beet tomorrow and goodness knows what else. Our season maybe a lot shorter, but what we do have is lots of light to compensate.

  2. May 8, 2013 1:59 am

    Oh to be young! You are to me,(late 70’s) and such a great variety and plan for your garden. Here in the northeast, we can start seeds but it is not safe to plant tender things until Memorial Day. I lost 2 dozen tomato plants from my mother back in the 60’s when I first moved here. A hard lesson. I still have a small hotbed garden and pots for other things plus herbs in the flowers!

  3. May 8, 2013 3:34 am

    I agree – anything that would give my goats “indigestion” has no place here! And it’s still too early to plant a lot of things here, but I do enjoy my vicarious gardening through your blog, regardless of the season.

  4. Theresa Katuski permalink
    May 8, 2013 7:08 am

    Matron, what things do you find work best for fighting root maggots?

    • May 8, 2013 7:25 am

      Theresa, row cover, hands down. Or planting crops they don’t care for… I also can live with a little damage, in the Joi Choi, out of 15 plants in the salad bed, only one has shown any sign of root maggots, so I can deal with that, and once they get to a certain size I pull the plant for chickens. You can also time plantings too to avoid the heaviest hatch, although I haven’t had much luck with that method :(

      • May 9, 2013 11:08 pm

        For root maggots, I plant a few sacrificial radishes in between major brassica plants. They draw the root maggots away.

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