Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden overview Memorial Day 2011

Today I’ll dub this small garden a Victory Garden.  In WW2 people planted victory gardens in their backyards to help out with the war effort.  These gardens provided a substantial amount of food for the folks at home and kept down prices for the war effort.  Back then people were more connected to the natural world around them, and they had more time to grow their own food.  Now we are insulated from the “real” world by cars, supermarkets, shopping malls, and a media barrage urging us all to be good consumers of all that stuff that insulates us.

Harvest for this week:  Broccoli (one head) 9 oz; Kohlrabi 13 oz; Bok choi (one plant) 1 lb 10 oz; Lettuce (mixed) 6 oz.  I’ve been going on about this broccoli –Major - in past posts, and can now say that the flavor is excellent, as good or better than any variety I've tried.  I’ll definitely buy some more seeds from Pinetree.  The so-called “baby” bok choi was a full plant with lots of stems that was starting to bolt.  I went to the farmer's market in Bloomington on Saturday.  The sticker shock reminded me why it's better to grow my own - the vendors are getting $4 for a bag of mixed greens, last year it was $3.
This garden has really come to life in the last few weeks, and this seems like a good time to put up pictures of each bed, a tour so to speak.  The beds are limited to a small area that gets a full day of sun.  A small garden like this takes a waste-no-space mindset. 
The solanacae (tomato, pepper, eggplant) bed.  This is a true summer bed, just getting started.  You might notice there are some cole crops at one end of the bed, planted here because the brassica bed was full at the time.  There is a Pink Brandywine and a German Queen tomato under the cages.  I wanted Cherokee purple but couldn’t make it to the Bloominton farmers market on the 21st, so I ended up buying plants at Lowe’s.  Yes the mainstream purveyors are now selling heirlooms.  In front of each tomato cage is an eggplant, Fairy Tale and Lavendar Touch, which I started a little late.   There are six pepper plants:  Paprika, Hungarian Wax, Red Hot Cherry, Pimento, Giant Marconi, and Cubanelle.  The Marconi is my favorite pepper, large and sweet, good on the grill. 
The trapezoidal bed contains the brassicas.  The cabbage family has been doing the heavy lifting so far this spring.  Some of the earlier plantings have come out.  There are seedlings in what looks like open spaces that are covered with straw to protect them from the heat.   Sugar snap peas are growing up the trellis on the angled side.  They got off to a slow start with the cloudy weather, and now it’s the heat.  There’s one last set of brassicas still in pots that will go into the bed in about a week.

The parsnip bed.  OK I really like parsnips.  Nothing like digging up a batch in November and putting them in a pork roast.  They were just thinned for the final time and should soon cover the bed with foliage.  Parsnips are slow too start but are vigorous once established.  There is a single row of leeks at one end, which shows I’m not completely coo-coo for parsnips. 

The potato/summer squash bed.  Everything in this bed is growing like its on steroids.  The caged potatoes are Red Pontiac, the ones in front (by front I mean south) of the cages are Yukon Gold.  The squash is a Sunburst pattypan, which really put on a growth spurt in the last week.  Soon I’ll have to make plans to deal with the vine borer. 

The winter squash bed.  Two plants from Johnny’s seeds, a Metro Butternut and a Tiptop Acorn, will fill this bed.  The butternut is the plant equivalent of an 800 pound gorilla.  It will not only climb the trellis but cover the beds in front if I let it.  The first year I got 25 nice size butternuts from one plant.  The acorn is a much better behaved bush type.  I planted the trellis with State ½ Runner beans, which are supposed to climb no more than three feet.  I’ve given up on planting pole beans around here.  Any bean plant above five feet high draws Japanese beetles in swarms, like plagues of locusts.  The chickens are not camera shy. 

The greens bed.  This bed grew overwintered spinach and lettuce and was covered with a plastic greenhouse through the winter.  Now it’s sort of a catchall bed.  There’s still some lettuce, although after today there may not be.  There’s one spinach (Space) which will probably bolt, some swiss chard, two half rows of carrots,  parsley, savory, and cilantro.  The spot that opened up in the center has Dragon Langerie bush beans putting out true leaves.  My approach to beans now is to plant them into spots that open up in the beds, meaning there is no plan.  I’ll try to spot plantings in different beds to stay ahead of the bean beetle.  

The onion bed.  It’s a mix of different kinds of onions – some Burpee’s and Ferry Morse yellow storage onions, as well as onions from sets, also Red Long of Tropea planted in groups of 2-3.  There are four celery plants at one end and a single okra is planted at the other end.  I haven’t had much luck with celery in the past, and am trying Golden Pascal this year.  There are two cucumber plants going up the trellis.  One is Diva, which has been very good in past years.  The other is a Burpee’s variety called Pepino.  I found the unopened seed packet in the drawer, dated 2009, and thought that one plant can’t hurt.
That’s it.  Seven beds.  Lots of vertical structure.  I sure hope the sugar snaps make it through this hot spell.   

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chickens and snakes

The chickens look like they are being chickens in their new home, arguing, sleeping, eating and pooping.  So far they have plenty of space.  One thing I would change if I was building it again is the height of the tractor.  The book about chicken tractors suggested building it three feet high.  That’s way more than is necessary – two feet high is enough – and a lower tractor will weigh less, always important when you have to move it once a day.  But it seems to work just fine. 
After the pen was built and moved into place the chicks were put in their new home.  About ten minutes after moving time I spied a snake about 20 feet away laying in a sunny spot.  As kids we called these black racers, very thin and fast non-venomous snakes.  This one was between three and four feet long, and pointing in the direction of the new pen.  Hmmm I thought.  So I got some pictures.

Now normally these snakes are welcome.  Since I began seeing them last year the moles have become much less of a problem.  In fact this spring there have been no subsurface tunnels in the yard, although the moles are putting up popholes around the yard.   I realized that a snake-chicken encounter was not in anyone’s best interests.  The chickens were already stressed by their change in abode and not yet adapted to the outdoors. The snake might be able to kill a chick, but there is no way it could swallow one, and if it tried it wouldn’t be able to get out of the pen and would probably get pecked to death by the chickens.
I guessed that the snake, being cold-blooded, was sunning itself until its body temperature warmed sufficiently for it to make a move.  Sure enough, after awhile in the sun, it moved directly for the pen.  By the time I got off the porch and close enough it was about a foot into the pen, going easily through the chicken wire.  I grabbed it by the tail, pulled it out and flipped it into the yard.  Then I tried to catch it with a rake to take it further away.  That's when I found out that they are very quick indeed.  It escaped under the porch and I haven’t seen it since.   

After several days in the outdoors I'm more confident of the chicken's ability to handle themselves.  Still you never know what nature will throw at you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weird kohlrabi, best broccoli ever, peewees and phoebes

This weeks harvest:  Kohlrabi 11 oz (1 bulb), Boc Choi 13 oz (1 plant), Lettuce 1 lb (mixed varieties).  Lettuce is way better than store-bought.  A second kohlrabi was relegated to the compost bin.  I think the rainy weather and lack of sunshine made it split a few weeks ago, and as it grew it split even more.  It looks like enough cole crops will come out of their bed soon enough to make way for the next set growing indoors.

OK I already posted a picture of this broccoli plant a week ago.  Now that it's about ready to pick I’m going to claim that this is the best Brocolli ever.  I’m not kidding, just look at it.  Not because it’s mammoth, it’s not.  In fact it’s very compact, only a foot tall, but perfectly shaped with a nice size head.  But what really makes this variety, Major, stand out is it’s very EARLY.  In fact there is a kohlrabi next to it and Major will beat it by several days.  Pinetree claims 43 days to maturity, that’s a little optimistic especially in the overcast conditions we’ve had, but most broccolis take at least two weeks longer than this.  So – compact, nice size dense head, very early.  If it tastes as good as it looks, well. . .

Friday I decided the beds couldn’t wait any longer.  I removed three wheelbarrow loads of compost from the bin, even though it was not as finished as I’d like it to be.  Two loads went into the 4x12 winter squash bed (acorn and butternut) and one load went into the 4x8 solanacae bed, which had already benefited from one load a month ago.  The compost was spaded in, the clods broken up with the hoe, and the beds raked out.  It was almost 80 degrees and muggy, and I became very aware that I’m not 20 anymore.  Whew. 
The same day I set up the tomato cages and also the trellis on the north side of the winter squash bed.   These cages are made from 4x8 sheets of remesh.  Three panels are overlapped making a two foot diameter cage.  I hammered six foot fence posts into the bed and hung the cages on the post hooks.   The bottom of the cage is about 18 inches above the ground, giving the tomato plants almost six feet of vertical growth.  The nice thing about this system is the fence post hooks and the remesh are spaced the same, so the cage can be tied to the posts very solidly.   I set the first cage on two posts, and the second cage is set on one post and tied with wire to the adjacent cage.  

The chickens are doing nicely in their new home.  There was a close encounter with a black racer the first day, but that’s for the next post.  These snakes hold down the mole population, and I think the chickens are big enough now to coexist with them.

There’s a pair of Eastern Phoebes that built a nest above the sensor light beneath the eaves.   Quite a handsome little bird in the Flycatcher family.  It took awhile to decide if it was a Wood Peewee or a Phoebe – they are both very similar.  The white cleft under the chin and black bill point to the Phoebe.   I believe this is the female, the male’s head is not as dark.   

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Building the Chicken Tractor part 2 of 2

The last post finished with something like “it’s close to being finished.”  Ha.  After building things for many years I should learn not to say things like that.  It’s never close to being finished until it’s done.  Here’s  the completion of the chicken tractor, complete with chickens:
The rest of the chicken wire was stapled on.  For this I used an air compressor and pneumatic stapler – a real timesaver for a tedious job.  The little chicken door at one end was attached with some small hinges.  Then it was time to take the pen off the sawhorses and put on the metal siding, which is attached with special screws that have a rubber washer.  The siding was left over from the pole barn and some other projects.  That’s why there are three different colors of metal siding on this pen.  Although most of the pictures of chicken tractors I have looked at don’t show any covering on the sides, I wanted to give the birds a place at one end that offers some protection from storms.  

Then it was time to make the roof.  Before starting the roof I concluded that the top of the frame needed a crosspiece to rigidify the structure, so I cut a 2x2 the same length as the end 2x2 and fastened it with screws from the top siderails (Note that much of the design I’m making up as I go). The lid, which was built earlier (pic in previous post) was set on top of the pen and attached with two hinges.  Then the metal siding (I guess it can be called roofing at this point) was put on. 

After putting two pieces of siding on the lid the battery in the cordless screwdriver needed recharging, and of course the spare battery was also dead.  I began thinking about a prop to hold the lid open.  A scrap of cedar 1x3 was notched at one end to seat on the top rail, and the other end was screwed to the lid.  Then I realized that the lid needed some protection from a gust of wind lifting it and flipping it over.  I found two rubber stretch cords gathering dust in a minibarn.  Each cord was hooked to an eyebolt in the frame and the lid so it was under slight tension when the prop was in place.  A hasp was put on and a wood handle fastened to the lid.

With the drill battery recharged the last piece of siding was attached to the lid.  I needed a predator proof lock on the chicken door.  Scrounging around the workshop I found some PVC conduit and also some fasteners for attaching conduit or pipe to framing.  Without getting into too much detail, the conduit slides through the fasteners on either side of the door and prevents it from opening.  I’m hoping that no raccoon is clever enough to figure this device out. 
To move the pen two eyebolts were attached to the bottom rail and a length of rope tied to them so the pen can be lifted up and pulled.   I added a second cross member at the top of the frame, that way the waterer and the feeder can each be hung from the top with some distance between them.   I screwed on a dowel near the bottom so the chickens can roost.  The pen was pulled into the yard and the wheels removed.  With the wheels off it was not difficult to drag it over grass to it’s first spot.  Finally I picked up the brooder box with chickens, set it in the pen and turned it on its side:
I think they like their new home.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Building the Chicken Tractor part 1 of 2

It’s unbelievable the rate at which the meat chickens are growing.  They will have to go out of the brooder in a few more days, and I’ve been busy building a movable pen (chicken tractor) for their new home.
I sketched out a design for the pen that should be lightweight but strong enough to withstand being moved around the yard every day.   The pen can be dismantled to the lid and four sides by removing some screws.  In this post I’ll show the construction of the basic frame.   The first pic shows the pen after I stopped for the day.

Now for the construction.  The two long sides, which are mirror images of each other, were built first.  Most of the pen is made from 2x2’s ripped from 2x4’s, except for the bottom rails and the corner posts which are 2x4’s.  The bottom 2x4 rail is red cedar, since it is rot resistant and will be in contact with the ground.  The remaining wood is made from premium eight foot 2x4, which cost about $2.50 apiece at the local lumberyard.  They look like Douglas Fir, and should be stronger than spruce.  The side panel is about 7’ long.  The bottom rail is extended on one side about 5 inches.  A wheel will go there.

The corner posts of the side walls are notched with a circular saw at the top and bottom to fit the horizontal frame members.  Fastening the horizontals into the notch makes for a very strong attachment.  Mostly the frame members are fastened with screws, although I used a few nails the first day after I ran out of 3” screws.   The pics below show the notched endpost. 

I was planning to square the sides with the metal siding, but since the siding is put on last I thought it best to get the long sides at least close to square before assembling.   This is where using screws instead of nails is really handy.  I cut a short diagonal 2x2 with 45 degree bevels using the miter saw, put a framing square into the corner of the wall,got the wall close to square, and screwed the diagonal into the corner post with a cordless driver.  Then I checked the wall for square again and screwed the other end of the diagonal into the top rail.  Good enough for a chicken coop although a larger structure would require more careful squaring.

Next the ends were built.  For these a 2x2 corner is fine since it will be attached to the 2x4 corner post of the long side.  One of the ends has a second 2x2 a few inches below the top rail.  The purpose of this is to leave an opening at the top of the wall for venting, while the rest of this wall will get siding.   

The walls were laid out on the driveway for assembly.

The sides were then screwed together.  This was the easy part and took about 10 minutes.

I’ll point out here that I made a mistake.  The corner post in the pictures above and below should have been fastened 1 ½ inches in from the end of the bottom and top rails.  That way the bottom rail on the long side could be fastened directly to the bottom short side rail.  At this point I wasn’t about to change it, and I think the attachment will be plenty strong anyway.  I had to check and see if I had designed the inset in the plans, and yes I did.  So the plans were OK, the execution not so much.

The lid, which will be attached with hinges, was built from 2x2’s and set aside.  It will get metal roofing that was left over when the pole barn was built. 

At that point a thunderstorm was moving in fast, so I put away my tools for the day.  Today I finished up the framing for the chicken door, stapled the rest of the chicken wire on, and attached the wheels.  The wheels are below the level of the frame, but I couldn’t justify moving them any higher or there would not be enough wood above the axle to support the weight.  Note that the 2x4’s in the wheel area were angle cut.  I found the pen can still be dragged quite easily with the wheels off because of this taper.  I’ll probably put the wheels on when the pen has to be pulled over rough ground some distance.

Tomorrow I’ll take the pen off the horses and finish it. I’m reposting the picture at the top of the post to help the viewer picture how it got from A to B.  I’m a little concerned about how much it will weigh once the metal siding is on, but at this point the weight is very manageable.  I’ll have to come up with some raccoon proof latches for the chicken door but it’s close to being finished.     

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mid May update

This week I picked:  Spinach 1 lb, Lettuce 4 oz, Bok choi, 11 oz, Kohlrabi 10 oz.  The kohlrabi (Early White Vienna) was seeded Feb 19 and set out into the greenhouse bed March 13, part of the first set of brassicas.  It’s fellow traveler, a Grand Duke kohlrabi, was picked a week ago.  I seeded Dragon Langerie bush beans around the kohlrabi a few days ago, so its removal today is timely.   My strategy for bush beans has evolved to using them as space fillers.  Some plantings will go into the brassica bed later in the summer, but I’ll try to spot them into different beds to keep the bean beetle guessing.

The later sets of brassicas went into the trapezoidal bed.  The second set is close behind the first set.  Spaces are opening up in this bed as plants come out, making room for the next set in a week or so.  The first broccoli (Major) is starting to head up.  This is the first time for this variety, and I like it’s compact growth.  De Cicco, Gypsy, and a variety from Lowe’s were varieties I’ve grown in the past.  They all got about two feet tall and were a space hog for the yield you get.  Major looks to get about a foot tall so it doesn’t have to go on the north side of the bed, and it can be spaced a little closer (20/20 hindsight).  The broccoli seedlings growing under the lights now are Gypsy, a more heat tolerant variety for the summer.   The sugar snap peas on one side of the bed seem to get along well with the cole crops.  

Potatoes are now growing like gangbusters.  There are four Red Pontiacs in each cage, and two Yukon Golds in front of each cage – 18 plants altogether, which cost me $1.87.  That’s a Sunburst pattypan aquash at the end of the bed.  Besides their striking appearance, they are very good when sliced longitudinally, slathered in olive oil and some herbs and grilled.      

The parsnips, six rows of them, are progressing.  They’ll need to be thinned soon to 3-4 inches apart.  That’s a mole hole in the bottom left corner.  Parsnips aren’t much trouble, although last summer they did get an infestation of caterpillars, nothing that Bt can’t take care of – that is if they are inspected regularly.

I still haven’t planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra and winter squash even though there’s about a 10% chance that this area will get another frost this spring.  There’s two reasons.  One is that I haven’t put the compost into their beds because the remaining compost is not ready.  The leaf mold in the compost bin finally became a hot pile a few days ago and it’s settling fast.  In a few more days it should be ready.  Second reason:  This area is going through a cool spell this week, a repeat of last May.  And last May the peppers, tomatoes and eggplant went through a week of 40 degree nights and they didn’t like it much.  Especially the eggplant, which was permanently traumatized.  By the time it was replanted in June it was so far behind that it was an easy target for flea beetles and other pests.  So this year I’ll wait it out.

Friday, May 13, 2011


What’s a place in the country without some chickens?  I planned to get some egg layers and built an A-frame mobile chicken coop last winter to house them, then had second thoughts.  I want to do some traveling this fall and with a flock of hens to take care of that will be impossible.  Besides there’s a farm just down the road that sells nice big eggs for $1.50 a dozen.  Then I hit on what seems the perfect solution – meat birds.  Raise them for 10 weeks, butcher and put in the freezer. 
A week ago I picked up eight Cornish Cross chicks at Tractor Supply, brought them home and put them in a brooder I made from a box.  They were in pretty bad shape when I put them in the brooder, just laid there and trembled, probably stressed from the trip.  I had some doubts that all of them would make it through the night, but the next morning they were all active and chirping.    
The clerk at the store said they were about 10 days old when I bought them, so they should be about 2 ½ weeks old now.  I really don’t know, since I haven’t been around chickens enough to judge their age, but I suspect they are a bit older.  It’s amazing how fast they have grown in one week.  It won’t be long before they go outdoors into the movable pen (chicken tractor). 

The Cornish X chickens are bred for efficient fast conversion of feed to meat in a confined setting.  The downside to this is they don’t forage as well as older breeds or have much chicken sense.  They also develop leg and heart problems because they grow so fast.  One way to slow the growth rate is to give the chicks a feed with a little less protein content.  This may add a week or two for them to reach finished size, but will allow their systems to develop in sync with their meat.   The chickens will also be able to forage.  I’m building them a chicken tractor, essentially a 4’x7’ cage with a metal roof and no floor that can be moved every day.  In a future post I’ll describe how the pen was built.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

A strange start to the day

I got up this morning, always a good thing, and walked out into the sunroom to see what kind of day was in store.  I spied a bluish bird on the picnic table, found the binoculars and confirmed that it was an indigo bunting, a seedeater in the same family as cardinals.  I took a picture from outside the door but the 4x zoom wasn’t enough to get a good shot, so I was trying to get a little closer without spooking it. 

Just then a pair of Canada geese circled overhead and landed in the pond.  They made enough commotion to scare off Mr. Bunting.  Now I have an uneasy relationship with the geese.  They are welcome to visit awhile but I’m not going to offer them a timeshare.  If they set up nesting soon they will be into the garden and eating everything, not to mention that they are not the friendliest large bird around.  But they are a beautiful regal bird, even if it’s brain is the size of a pea.  I got a few pics of them from the deck.  I think the tall grass around the pond is not to their liking, because they paddled around about 15 minutes then left.  They do this about twice a month.

And this is where the story takes a turn for the worse.  After the geese took flight I walked toward the garden and noticed the bunting laying very still next to the sunroom.  Now I get a few birds a year that fly into the windows of the sunroom.  Some of them knock themselves silly, and some hit the windows hard enough to turn their lights out.  So the bunting must have flown into the window and met its demise.  I took a picture of it because it is a fine looking bird and hope that more of them will make themselves at home around here.  And now you know, if you didn’t already, that there are really two small blue birds native to this area, the bluebird and the bunting.

On to happier thoughts.  Harvest for the week:  one Kohlrabi, 11 oz.  Lettuce 4 oz.  The first kohlrabi of the season.
Kohlrabi just doesn’t get any respect, and that’s a shame.  Peeled, it emits a fresh cole smell.  Raw, it has a fresh sweet cabbage taste and a smooth buttery texture.  I cut up this one and sauteed it in a little olive oil with some seasoning.  Cooking brings out a nice mineral flavor, like a good Riesling, with just a little bit of pungent bite at the end.   Kohlrabi is also called German Turnip and was favored by Charlemagne.  The important thing is to make sure it’s growth has no interruptions and don’t wait too long to pick it.  I’m thinking that some wurst and horseradish with sauteed kohlrabi, sugar snap peas and chased with a Leinie’s Bock will have my Teutonic side singing a happy song.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Update May 7, 2011

This week has finally seen some nice weather.  The nearly continuous cloud cover of the last two weeks cleared up on Tuesday and since then sunshine has been abundant.  Thursday I picked up a yard of compost/soil mix and resumed work on the flower beds in front.  The new dirt was added, turned over and tilled.  I’ve got most of the planting complete.  The beds face south, but the porch is flanked by pin oaks and the beds are in shade more than sun.  The predominant plant is the hosta.
Even though some of the vegetable beds are still empty, things will change really fast this month and it’s a good time to do a progress report on the future edibles.

The seeding operation is not much – a shop light and two flats.  Mostly it’s used to start onions, which are already in the beds, lettuce,  brassicas on a 12 day stagger, and about this time to start cucurbits, eggplant and okra.  I buy tomato and pepper plants at the Bloomington farmers market.  Many of the vendors grow heirloom plants and sell the seedlings to generate income early in the season.  Since I have only one grow light and not much space indoors buying the seedlings at the market works out well for everybody.  For peppers, the Chile Woman has a stall at the market.

There are two sets of brassicas in the trays, one set recently germinated and the other set about ready to go into the beds.  The squash – butternut (Metro), acorn (Tiptop), and Sunburst pattypan -  are about ready to go out.  I also seeded kabocha (Green Forest) but the seeds, from 2009, did not germinate.  The eggplant and okra were seeded a few days ago.  I used red beverage cups for the squash because they’re deeper and squash sends roots down very quickly.  I also seed a backup set of squash, cuke, eggplant and okra about 10 days after the first set in case we get a killing frost.  Of the heat-loving vegetables, I’ve found that eggplant is especially intolerant of cool nights and can be stunted if exposed to much cool weather. 
The trapezoidal bed is the brassica bed this year.  Right now this bed has three plantings of cole crops in it, staggered 12 days apart – broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, bok choi, cauliflower, and one brussel sprout at the acute corner of the bed.  I’ve been planting Grand Duke and Early White Vienna kohlrabi side by side, and so far the Grand Duke has outgrown the White Vienna in every planting.  Three more sets of brassicas are planned for this bed, so all of the bed space will see two rotations of plants.   The cloud cover over the past 2-3 weeks has really slowed their growth.  The first set of brassicas in this bed won’t be ready to harvest for at least a week, so I’ll have to find space for the next set in another bed.  Sugar snap peas are growing along the trellis with some bamboo stakes to guide them to the trellis. 

The greens/greenhouse bed is where spinach and lettuce overwintered.  The portable greenhouse was on the bed from November to April 1. The first planting of brassicas, bok choi and kohlrabi went into this bed on March 12.  The bok choi are long gone, the kohlrabi are ready to pick.  There’s still two nice overwintered Double Choice spinach in this bed, lettuce, a few spinach seedlings that were direct sown, carrot seedlings, and cilantro.  Later I’ll probably put some bush beans in open spaces in this bed which should hopefully boost nitrogen levels.

There’s not much else to see at this time.  The parsnips germinated really well.  I guess that’s because the cage kept out the squirrels.  Nearly all the potatoes, Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold, emerged on Friday and I’m anxious to see how growing them in cages works out.  The onions are behind schedule since the initial planting of Copra did not germinate but they have been growing really well this week.  I’m hoping the leaf mold in the bin will be sufficiently composted to go into the solanacae and winter squash beds in a week.  And it would be REALLY nice if the wet spots in the yard would dry out enough to mow. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

No pics today

Two spinach plants bolted (Bloomsdale Longstanding) and were relegated to the compost bin.  Two more (Double Choice hybrid – 18 oz) went into the refrigerator.  So far I’ve grown the two varieties mentioned above as well as Space, which seems to be a popular variety.  The Double Choice variety has much better taste than the other two – a deeper spinach flavor and more sugar content in the leaves, especially the older leaves.  Also picked were a Bok Choi (13 oz) and a small head of Romaine (7 oz). 
Plants are growing very slowly in these parts because the cloud cover has continued without relief. We did not get the hard rains that the Ohio River valley got, it was more like a continuous slow drizzle.  Still, no sun means no photosynthesis and no growth.