Playing in the dirt.

Archive for the ‘Crops’ Category

A Quick Update

It’s been very busy outdoors, building new beds.  The salad bed is coming along nicely, and it is officially productive as of Sunday evening, when I pulled the first bunch of radishes to go with dinner.  Corn and beans are between three and four inches high, and the tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons that I planted out are finally starting to recover from what proved to be repeatedly terrible timing.

Salad garden.

Even the parsley and lovage and parsnips have sprouted, and the arugula and radishes are going gangbusters.

There’s still work to do, of course, and when isn’t there?  Still, it has been immensely satisfying, and I may have gotten my money’s worth out of the corn and beans purely on the weight of how much the tiny plants lift my spirits every time I’m out there.

Assorted garden beds with a view of the horizon.

Family photo.


We Are Go!

It’s official, there are seeds in the ground.  Repeat, there are seeds in the ground.

Yesterday, I pulled all the staples holding down the chicken wire, watered the soil, then raked in two bags of compost to make up for what I took out in produce last year and what settling there was over the winter.  Then I ran out of steam.

Tonight, I re-strung my square foot markers, and planted one square each of:

  • Onions for greens and sets for next year
  • Shallots for the same reason, though some of these might actually get large enough to eat
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Radicchio
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Carrots (Paris Market)
  • Carrots (Dragon)
  • Daikon radishes
  • Radishes (Early Scarlet Globe)
  • Radishes (French Breakfast)
  • Spinach
  • Lolla Rossa lettuce
  • Bunte Forellenschluss lettuce
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Red Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Mizuna
  • Kohlrabi

All of those should be okay even if we get another freeze, and some are supposed to be planted before the last frost, anyway.  We’re technically a month away from our average last frost, but the forecast for the next week at least is 70s during the day, and above 40 at night (Fahrenheit, for my non-USian readers).  I have plastic milk jugs to cut down for cloches, and I can throw sheets over the bed cover if the weather turns on us again, so I’m pretty confident.  This is a little earlier than last year’s first planting, which happened on May 27.  I’ll be planting additional squares of most of these after I get the new beds built.

Teaspoon’s Garden 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hello, world!

I’m starting the second year of my garden.  (I’ll get some more photos of last year’s harvests posted eventually.)  The plans for this year include adding more space in a 4×16 foot bed and some assorted “hills” for some plants that will need more room to spread out.  This year, I’m ordering all heirloom varieties, so I can try to save seed from the plants that do the best in my climate.  Some plants are biennials, so I’ll need to over-winter some and see if they survive to produce seed in their second year.  I ordered my first round of seeds on March 2, so I could get some plants started indoors, and I ordered the rest of my seeds on March 14, after making some final decisions. This year, I’m trying the Jiffy “greenhouses” with the peat pellets, and if they do well, I’ll make my own starter pots next year with more sustainable coir.

From Seed Savers Exchange, I ordered:

  • Blacktail Mountain Watermelon (developed in northern Idaho, where the overnight temperatures are similar to our cool nights)
  • Cheyenne Bush Pumpkin (developed in SE Wyoming)
  • Italian Heirloom Tomato (a red slicing tomato)
  • Opalka Tomato (a red paste tomato)
  • Mexico Midget Tomato (red cherry tomato)
  • Beam’s Yellow Pear Tomato (cherry-sized)
  • Zebrune Shallot
  • Blue Jade Corn (a dwarf sweet corn – I ordered two packets, since this only comes with 25 seeds per packet)
  • Dragon Carrot (bright red skin, I couldn’t resist)
  • Paris Market Carrot (a really thick carrot that I’m thinking will be an excellent roaster)
  • Bountiful Snap Bean (long straight green beans)
  • Sultan’s Golden Crescent Bean (a rare yellow curved bean)
  • Titan Sunflowers (these have a short growing season but grow to enormous size, up to two feet across in ideal climate)
  • Lemon Mint (to feed the bees)
  • Triple Curled Parsley
  • Prize Choy (a dwarf bok choy)
  • Bunte Forellenschluss (a butterhead version of the Forellenschluss I selected last year by virtue of it having freckles)

From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I ordered:

  • Dwarf Siberian Kale
  • Yellow of Parma Onion
  • Charentais Melon (a true cantaloupe)
  • Anaheim Chile Pepper
  • Pasilla Bajio Chile Pepper
  • Miyashage Daikon (a Japanese radish that Mr. Teaspoon requested)
  • Henderson’s Bush Lima Bean
  • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
  • Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Lolla Rossa Lettuce (red leaf)
  • Genovese Basil (traditional Italian basil)
  • Lime Basil (basil with a citrus note)
  • Common Chives
  • Bouquet Dill
  • Dwarf Jewel Mix Nasturtiums (smaller than the aggressively vining varieties, these edible flowers will also feed bees)
  • Half Long Guernsey Parnsip (my true long shot for the season, as parsnips usually require a long season)
  • Early Scarlet Globe Radish
  • French Breakfast Radish
  • Arugula (or “rocket” for my British pals, a mildly bitter green that is excellent in salads when young and can be used like spinach in cooking when older)
  • Mizuna (a Japanese green similar to mustard greens)
  • Cilantro
  • Lovage (somewhat like celery, if it just grew leaves instead of long stalks, used similarly)
  • Early White Vienna Kohlrabi (a cabbage relative grown for its bulbous stem)
  • Rossa di Treviso Radicchio (also by Mr. Teaspoon’s specific request)
  • Purple Top White Globe Turnips (they did so well last year)
  • Iceberg Lettuce (for crunch in the salads)

I planted my onion seeds indoors on March 12, and today, I had sprouts!

Onion sprouts in peat pellet starter medium.

These eager onions sprouted in only three and a half days.

Second Harvest – 2012 July 21

Today’s harvest was more radishes and lettuces.  One bunch each of the French Breakfast and German Giant radishes, and about four loosely packed cups of assorted clippings of the largest leaves out of all the lettuce and spinach sections.  So, about twice as much of everything as last week, and it hardly looks like I made a dent in the lettuce.  That’s about $2 each of lettuce and radishes, based off farmer’s market prices, so my total return on the garden so far is $6.  We shouldn’t have to buy lettuce the rest of the summer!

A bowl of mixed lettuce greens and two bunches of radishes.

Hey! Turns out I’m a gardener!

I decided to make muffaletta sandwiches for dinner tonight after encountering some lovely garlic-rosemary-asiago foccacia bread at the farmer’s market on Thursday evening.  I began by slicing the bread horizontally.  Dressing was extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh-cracked four-pepper blend, and just a tiny bit of fresh ground sea salt.  The meats and cheeses are pretty salty already, and I didn’t want to over-salt the sandwiches, but I also wanted to season the dressing and the vegetables.

Focaccia bread drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

It’s very tempting to just eat it at this stage.


Traditionally, muffaletta uses an olive salad made with giardiniera, but as I do not care for olives and giardiniera does not care for me, I chopped up some canned roasted red peppers instead.

Focaccia bread drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, topped with chopped roasted red peppers.

Roasted red peppers are a good substitute for olive salad.

Then I layered roast turkey, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, Black Forest ham, hard salami, and provolone cheese, all sliced very thinly.  A second sandwich for someone with a ham aversion used roast beef, turkey, and hard salami with the two kinds of cheese.

On top of that, I spread today’s lettuce harvest, thinly sliced onions and thinly sliced roma tomatoes.  Romas are not traditionally sandwich tomatoes, but I find they are less likely to trigger my tomato sensitivity.  I suspect that’s because Romas have so few seeds compared to their larger sandwich-typical cousins.

Most of a muffaletta sandwich, composed of focaccia bread, roasted red peppers, a variety of cold cuts and cheeses, mixed leaf lettuce, onion and tomato.

What do you mean I have to wait until dinner?

Then I wrapped the sandwich in waxed paper (plastic wrap is a popular alternative, but I appear to be out).  I placed a clean cutting board on top of the sandwich, assembled and wrapped the second sandwich, put that sandwich on top of the cutting board, put a large cast-iron skillet on the whole stack, and put it in the refrigerator with a package of bottled drinks on top of it to press it down.  Pressing is optional, but I find it helps marry the flavors, plus then I don’t have to unhinge my jaw to eat it.

Dinner is now over.  I think I should have picked up some fresh basil at the farmer’s market and put that on with the roasted red peppers.  I also think it needed more cheese, and maybe some banana peppers.  The nice thing about muffaletta, is you can make it somewhat differently every time!

Starting to Look Like a Party

Today brought a few more sprouts!  Two more radishes (one of the German Giant variety, to go with all the French Breakfast sprouts), a second spinach, three more beets, and I’m pretty sure a cucumber all arrived since last night.  I wasn’t able to get a great picture of the cuke, so hopefully it will be unfolded tomorrow, and I can confirm it was actually a sprout, and not some random bit of detritus posing as a sprout.

Beet sprouts in garden soil, marked with yellow stars.



Four French Breakfast radish sprouts in garden soil, each marked with a yellow star.

Radish. Radish. Radish. Radish.  (French Breakfast)


A German Giant radish sprout in garden soil.

Radish. (German Giant)


Spinach sprouts in garden soil, each marked with a yellow star.

Spinach. Spinach.

And the poor bedraggled $300 turnip is still there, still bedraggled, and I still don’t know if it will recover from being snacked on.

A bedraggled turnip sprout in garden soil. Pink twine is visible in the top left.

Turnip? Or my first contribution to compost?


New Arrivals

It seems that the radishes weren’t the only ones to get a little competitive once the newcomers were in the ground. After watering tonight, I noticed a brand new beet seedling and a shy spinach seedling peeking out.

A beet sprout in garden soil.

I’m a beet!

A spinach sprout in garden soil.

I’m a spinach!

Sadly, it appears that someone munched the $300 turnip.  I don’t know whether the poor wee thing will recover or not, but there are plenty more turnip seeds to be had.  I think I was a bit too close when I snapped this:

A ragged turnip sprout in garden soil.

Sad turnip is sad.

Lazy Radishes

Readers, the radishes were supposed to sprout in 4-6 days.  I gave them 14, then planted new sections yesterday.  Guess what I found this evening, when I went to water.  Three French Breakfast radish sprouts in the first section!  Two are barely breaking through the soil, so I have marked each with a yellow star to make them easier to find.

Three brand-new French breakfast radish sprouts in garden soil.

Fashionably late.

The $300 turnip is still doing well, too.

A 5 day old turnip sprout in garden soil.

Five days old.