Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26 update

This year the warm weather is ahead of schedule.   Many days in April have been more like summer than spring, and the trees are leafing out about two weeks earlier than normal.   In my small plot I have been playing catch-up now that the main work of remodeling the kitchen is finished.  In fact I'm a little surprised that things are doing as well as they are.  It helps that I've been doing this for a few years now, and while methods are still evolving much of the work is like 'falling off a log.'

So here's a quick tour.  First there's the big bed, the bed that grows squash, sweet potatoes and potatoes.  The potatoes were planted a week ago, where the bare soil is, and the sprouts should appear any day now.  The remainder of the bed was seeded with a cover crop of oats and inoculated field peas, which have really taken off.  I've pulled up of a few of the pea plants and checked the roots.  They are covered with root nodules, which shelter nitrogen-fixing bacteria. 

The cover crop is growing like crazy.  Every morning and evening I take the snips to it and cut off enough to fill a container for the rabbits.  The doe had a litter of kits a week ago and a big appetite.  Both the buck and doe are completely crazy for this, especially the peas.  The doe jumps at the greens as they are tossed into her pen and nearly bites my hand.  So the cover crop has worked out well, adding nitrogen to the soil and providing a food source for the bunnies.  At the rate it grows I think it could support another doe and her litter.

The front bed in the next picture grew the overwintered spinach.  For some reason the spinach is not so good this year, but once the outer leaves are discarded there is still some good spinach to be had.   This bed will be planted with summer squash, eggplant and okra in few weeks.  There are some really nice dill plants that self-seeded and I'll have to be careful not to harm them when the summer crops are planted.

The second bed has been planted with onions, carrots, beets and parsnip.  There is still room for a few more rows of beets and carrots.  The third bed will get tomatoes and peppers.  Some field peas planted last year survived the winter and I'm happy to let them grow and add nitrogen to the soil.  The bed in the back is a perennial bed, with asparagus, strawberries and herbs.

There are two beds for cole crops.  Cutworms have been a problem, killing two broccoli plants in the same spot and damaging other plants.  I sprayed the stems and surrounding soil with Bt and that seems to have stopped them.

Anise fennel is growing in a homemade SWC. The first time I tried growing fennel in a SWC I tried to grow eight in a single container and the results were disappointing.  This time the container gets four plants.

The mobile cold frame has lettuce growing in an Earthbox.  I'm sold on container-grown lettuce.  It grows really well and stays clean.  Pepper seedlings and brassica seedlings are growing in the trays.  Most of the pepper seedlings were purchased at the local greenhouse and repotted to larger pots. It really looks like there will be no more frosts this spring, but if there is a mild frost the cold frame will hold temperature well enough to stay above freezing.  A hard freeze and the peppers go inside.

Tomato, okra, eggplant and cucumber seedlings are growing inside under the lights.  With one light unit and the cold frame there is just enough space to grow everything. 

Lastly there's the raspberry bed, flanked by the apple trees.  Both the Golden Delicious and the Fuji tree produced a lot more flowers than last year.  Most of the flowers have dropped now.   Looks like there may more than two apples this year.

That's the walkabout folks.  Hope whatever you are growing is doing well.


Eight Gate Farm NH said...

Wow, looks great, Mike. Again, it shows how our zones may be the same, but your garden is so much further along than ours. We had a frost last night, and I had to scramble to cover the artichokes--hope it worked.

Margaret said...

You are so right - each year, the learning curve flattens out a bit more as tasks in/for the garden fall in line and get to be routine. Unlike you, our weather has been decidedly cold this spring - we thought we were done with winter a week or so ago, but then another cold trough came through and we are stuck with cool temps for a while longer.

Mark Willis said...

Our weather is the opposite to yours - Spring is very cold this year and Summer still seems a long way off. At this rate we'll still have frost in June. Wouldn't it be nice if everything grew as enthusiastically as your cover crop?

Phuong said...

It looks like you're getting lots of spring planting done. Your broccoli and pepper plants look huge already.

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