Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Overview

Growing one’s food is part of not only becoming more self-sufficient but also less dependent on a top-down business model to supply ones needs.  I believe that the greatest problem in our society is the obscene excess of corporate power.  The “people” who really control things in our society have last names of Inc. and most of our elected “representatives” of either party are simply owned outright by the Inc’s.  The best way to mitigate the power of corporations is to reduce one’s dependence on them.  One reason I grow food.

Apologies in advance for the different fonts but Blogger is changing things on a whim.
It’s been a productive week:  Spinach 10 oz, lettuce 12 oz, kohlrabi 9 oz, and tatsoi 18 oz.  I’ve never grown Tatsoi before.  In the soil it looks a lot like spinach, but once picked I see it resembles Bok Choi more, not surprising as they are closely related.  I tried stir-frying some and it’s very good, mild and flavorful.  It should be good in soup – time to hunt some preps on the internet.  I pulled up the kohlrabi on Sat morning since the high was predicted in the 90’s.  It could have gotten bigger in a few days but the heat wave may ruin it.  Better to pick it now.
The past two years the month of May was cloudy and cool, then after Memorial Day a switch was flipped and the highs went into the 90’s in June.  Not so this year.  May has been very sunny and dry, but mostly seasonal in temperature.  Regular watering has been a necessity and the plants have grown quickly.  Most are about three weeks ahead of last year.  This weekend we are getting a heat wave, high’s in the 90’s, then temps return to seasonal averages.  It’s going to be tough on some plants.  Here’s a pic of all the beds. 

The greens bed has produced nearly all the green vegetables so far this season.  There’s a cage over the bed because I don’t want to share with the rabbits.  The spinach is out now.  Too much sunscald and insect damage.  I salvaged what I could a few days ago and threw the rest in the compost bin.  I planted a row of carrot at one end and mulched with shredded paper.  There’s some brassicas and lettuce left.  If the lettuce makes it through this heat wave without bolting it should produce for a few more weeks.  The open spot will get a patch of beans. 

The brassica bed is just starting to produce some food.  They don’t handle this kind of heat very well, especially since the days are cloudless, and by midday are wilted badly - that’s when they get a shot of water.  There’s two brussell’s sprouts in front.  The rest is a mix of broccoli, kohlrabi, bok choi, cauliflower and cabbage.  There’s also Super Sugar Snaps on the trellis and two cucumbers – a Diva and a Picolino – looking for space on the trellis. 

The snap peas are very vigorous this year.  I just hope they get through this heat wave and keep producing.  Some will be ready to pick today or tomorrow.   I think they are best when the peas fill out a little, since the peas have the most sugar. 

The solanacae bed is way ahead of last year.  All the plants except the eggplant went into the bed on May 1.  There’s one Rosa Bianca eggplant in front that is growing well, in spite of some pressure from flea beetles.  In the tomato cages there’s a Black Krim on the left and Supersonic (F1) on the right.  I expect about 40 pounds from the Supersonic.  The Black Krim, an heirloom, is a new variety for me and I don’t know what to expect, but the vendor that I bought it from says the flavor is excellent.  The cages are suspended on fence posts so the bottom is two feet off the ground.  I’m trying to get them as tall as possible, again for better yields.  Both plants are already up to the cage bottom.  I’ll set bamboo stakes crossways to help support the stems, and will remove some of the suckers this week.  

This is what last year's solanacae bed looked like on Memorial Day (the plants on the right side are brocolli: 

The peppers are also doing well.  I got lucky in that the tallest peppers are on the north side of the bed.  All the varieties are new this year.  There should be the makings of salsa in there.

The onions are looking good.  They are flanked by carrots at both ends.  The tall plant is cilantro.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with it but will scatter some of the seeds around for sure.  I’ll need some fresh leaves when it’s time to make hot sauce.  Other herbs are parsley, garlic chive, greek oregano, sage and thyme.

That’s a Cocozelle summer squash in front and a Honeybear acorn in the middle.  The Cocozelle is supposed to be suitable for container planting which I hope means it won't take over the entire bed and part of the yard.  The butternut at the back is from direct seeding and is a few weeks behind the other squash.  They have a way of catching up very quickly so I’m not too worried.  It’s the one squash that never gets the borer.   It’s more of a viner and will climb the trellis.

The potatoes went into the trapezoidal bed this year.  The bed has an odd shape since it follows the ground contours.  The two leftmost cages contain Red Pontiacs, which do really well here.  The right front cage contains a blue potato, not sure of the varietal name, it’s a new variety for me.  The right back cage has Yukon Golds, which should be the earliest of the group.  Provider beans planted May 1 are growing between the two front cages. 

A little aside here.  I mainly plant bush beans as a filler.  I set aside one or two patches for the first plantings.  The remaining patches go wherever space opens up as things come out.  I know that spaces will open up when cole crops come out, and also in the greens bed.  Other spaces will open up when potatoes and onions come out.  

This bed has six rows of parsnip, a row of scallions, and two Red Burgundy okra at the far end.  The okra were set in on May 10 and have been slow getting started.  Maybe this hot weather will get them motivated to grow.  The open space in front was recently seeded with Roma beans, which are just starting to come up.

That’s the overview.  Most everything is in at this point.  I try to maximize yields from a limited space with a lot of vertical structure.  From this point on the biggest challenge is dealing with things that also want to eat the plants. 


kitsapFG said...

I really like your critter cage cover. I should make something like that to move around and cover beds where needed.

Your garden is so tidy and set in such a beautiful location.

Love the last year May pic of tomatoes compared to the current May pic of tomatoes - really highlights the difference in the two growing years. We are having a much more normal season here and the plants are way ahead of where they were last year (a dismal weather year for us in the PNW).

Mary Hysong said...

your garden is looking lovely. Yes things are quite a bit ahead of schedule this year! I have a bed of Red Pontiacs for the first time, so we'll see how they do here

Ali said...

I couldn't agree more with this statement: "The best way to mitigate the power of corporations is to reduce one’s dependence on them." Amen, brother!

The garden looks great. Would mulching the brassicas help with heat management?

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