Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day update

Well it's 3 years in a row that I've done an overview of the vegetable garden on Memorial Day.  Usually at this point just about all spring plantings are in the beds - not quite this year - but still a good time to step back and have a look because mostly the plan has gone from paper to soil now.  From now on most plantings will replace a crop that has finished and is pulled out - carrots, scallions, bush beans - things that have a short growing season.

Looking at last years pics I can see that the potatoes, tomatoes and squash are at least two weeks behind where they were last spring.  But last spring had some bizarre weather, 80 degrees in March and 90 degrees in May, and the hot weather crops went in much earlier.  And last year the cole crops were a disaster.  Not this year, they are behind but looking really good.

But first the pickin's for the week.  I picked the first broccoli.  Not much of a broccoli, a mighty 4 oz floret, but it's something.  The first planting of cole crops got a bad shiver this spring and they are all dwarfs.  It was a nice snack.
The kohlrabi is from the second planting of cole crops.  I planted Kolibri and Grand Duke this year.  It looks like they mature at about the same time. I let this one get big to see how big they can get and still be good.  It's not hard to tell when broccoli is ready, but kohlrabi?  My theory is that as long as the bulb is growing fast it should be OK.  And why not let it get big?  It takes the plant almost two months from seed to when it starts to bulb, when the plant is adding leaves so it can make sugars.  So once the plant has invested all that time to make itself into a productive sugar making machine it makes sense to use that capacity to it's fullest.  If I wait a 4 or 5 more days and the bulb doubles in size from a half pound to a pound then it's worth giving the plant the extra time.  That's a more efficient utilization of space.  This bulb was 17 oz and it was not at all woody.

This is the greens bed, which gets a bit of everything.  The last of the overwintered spinach bolted and were pulled out.  There's some spring planted spinach but there's probably not much chance it will produce edible leaves before the coming hot weather causes it to bolt.  The first batch of cole crops are in this bed and they are all small.  When more space opens up I'll put some carrots in this bed.   

Here's the main brassica bed.  There's kohlrabi (Kolibri and Grand Duke), broccoli (Major and Gypsy), cauliflower (Summer Harvest), cabbage (Gonzalez), and brussels sprouts (can't remember the variety).  It's all looking really good this year.

These two beds are mostly planted in onions.  The front bed has two rows of parsnip at one end and garlic at the other.  The back bed has carrots at one end and bush beans at the other.  Cucumbers are planted along the back side.  I've set in the posts but still have to put up the trellis, and those cukes are growing really fast!  I really scaled back the parsnip this year after they sustained a lot of mole or vole damage last year.  I used last years seed.  They say you should get new parsnip seed every year but I just seeded heavier and the germination was good enough.

The solanacae are growing well.  The eggplant was set in this morning in the open space between the tomatoes and peppers.  At the upper end is the last batch of cole crops.

Potatoes are looking good.  So far I have added a layer of half finished compost, then pulled the center ridge of soil over them, then added another layer of compost.  Soon I'll set in some posts at the corners and string wire between them to help support the plants.  I gave up on putting them in cages this year.

Also the potato box is about ready for another row of siding.  Some shoots were directed through holes in the sides so they can make foliage.  The shoots that have leaves are called shaws if you're a stickler about the terminology.  When the next shoots are long enough I'll attach another row of siding and direct some of those out through the new holes.  I've been adding half finished compost to the inside and will continue adding shredded leaf mold as the plants grow upward.

Then there's squash.  With the recent cool spell the different varieties of summer and winter squash have all germinated but haven't opened up their true leaves.  So I'm going to pull all of them out and reseed.  I'm convinced that it's critical to get squash off to a good start and when the early growth is interrupted it's an invitation to disease, and they get plenty of diseases around here.  So I'll start over.  It's not a big deal.  I've found that the later planted squash will quickly catch up and overtake the squash that went through a cold spell.

There's some squash and okra in this bed as well as some extra potted plants that were set into the ground in case the first transplants had some bad luck.  That's a bean tower made from three six foot fence posts.  Some pieces of wood are screwed to the posts and string is tied from the top to the bottom pieces.  It's planted with Kentucky Wonder beans.

That's it.  With the new beds and SWC's I'm hoping to get at least 300 pounds from the beds this year.  If the squash aren't leveled by disease like they were last year that should be doable.  Last year was probably the worst year since I started doing this, a measly 180 pounds.  But then most summers don't have a week of 100+ degree days like 2012.   

1 comment:

kitsapFG said...

I love getting a garden "walk about" tour. It puts things into perspective on how much space you have devoted to each item and I always see useful things that provide some inspiration for my own garden. The potato tower is one of the better ones that I have seen, in that you have openings for some side vegetation to develop as the plant tower goes up and up. I bet that makes a big difference in the production of a tower planting of potatoes. Will be interesting to see your results at the end of the season.

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