Friday, May 7, 2010

Spring 2010 Garden Update

As you can see above, I cut my first salad this past Wednesday, May 5th. I use May 1st as a target date; last year it was about April 28th, the year before it was about May 5th. As I have stated before, I like to harvest my first salad at about the same time most people are thinking of breaking ground and buying seed. I'm fairly competitive, even with my gardening. I think they should come out with a full-contact gardening Olympic event.

Here I am cutting my first spinach, lettuce and pulling a green onion for salad

The two rows of green in the pic are two different plantings of spinach. I grew a lot of it and hope to blanch/freeze some of it.

You can't see it in the pic but in the back row is garlic, in between the two green rows are a couple rows of onions. I'm going to plant more onions from sets because I end up eating so many pulled early for green onions for salads.

My taters are popping through the ground too. Yukon Gold was the variety I planted this year. I've had pretty good success with that variety, and can't wait for my first 'new taters.'

Every year I try something new, and this year it is kale and collards. They popped through the surface just in the past couple of days. I just discovered collard greens this year, and really like them. I cook them with a piece of bacon added to the pot, then add vinegar to them when I am ready to eat them. That's how I learned to like spinach when I was a kid, the vinegar really made it good.

I also have Bibb and a Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce that are ready to be cut. You have to plant lettuce and spinach early, they don't do well after things heat up outside. I usually plant these early veggies about mid-March here in central Ohio.

Sugar Snap peas are an edible-pod pea variety and I planted two 10-foot rows of those, each row on other sides of a trellis. I trellis them with a couple of 2x2 posts with wire strung between the posts. What I don't eat fresh I blanch and freeze, then vacuum pack.

I have grown herbs for a number of years now, but increased my planting this year. Usually they are limited to my small herb gardens, but planted a couple of 10 foot rows of basil, and a row each of cilantro and parsley right in my veggie garden. I think I might be able to sell some of them at a local farm market(?) Even if I can't sell them, fresh herbs are a great gift and I will give a lot away to friends and neighbors.

Purple basil is something I discovered last year. It can be used as any other basil, but I infused vinegar with it and it looks beautiful. The vinegar turns a beautiful purple/pinkish color and has the basil taste also. So I am growing it again, but this year I am growing a row that is about 6 feet long.

Most of my perennial herbs are doing well again this year; sage, oregano, lemon thyme and lime thyme, chives (and some garlic chives.) I planted tarragon last year, for making tarragon vinegar, and didn't realize until this spring that it is a perennial also. It came up with a fury and my tarragon plants are already a couple of feet tall!


I planted a LOT of sweet basil this year. I like to use it fresh in cooking, but a good way to use it is to make pesto. I make large batches of it then put it in ice cube trays and freeze it. Then I put the cubes in freezer bags. I can already taste it spread on a piece of homemade Italian bread, or a dollop of it in a pasta dish.

Here is one of my two little herb gardens as it looked the other day. I will plant a few more things in the spaces that are open. The 2 potted plants are my babies, my bay trees. You can't beat fresh bay leaves for cooking and you won't go back to store-bought, dried out bay leaves once you have tried the fresh ones.

The fall is when you are supposed to plant garlic, and I usually do plant it then. However, it just didn't work out this past fall, and I planted the garlic early this spring. If you plant in spring, the bulbs are much smaller compared to autumn-planted garlic. I had some HUGE garlic bulbs the past couple of years, and I am kicking myself for not planting it last fall. Oh well, there's always next year...

Just for kicks and giggles, I planted a line of Mammoth Sunflowers in the back row of the garden. That should look pretty nice, and they produce quite a few seeds for eating, roasting, etc

The temperature is supposed to go down to an overnight low in the high 30's this weekend, so I am going to wait to plant the maters and peppers. I can, however, plant broccoli and cabbage any time now, they tolerate cool temperatures very well.

My grapes (Concord and Catawba) are growing well too, and showing small flowers/bunches already. I need to spray them with Mancozeb soon, this will help prevent what I think is called black rot. The grapes will form normally, then almost overnight a black spot appears on the end of the grape and the whole grape dies, and dies quickly. One day you notice a spot on the grapes and in a couple of days your grapes are gone. It broke my heart when that happened a couple years in a row until I discovered Mancozeb.

I think I am losing my favorite tree, my sour cherry. Last year the leaves formed then a large number of the leaves just wilted, and I didn't get any cherries from the tree. This year it appears that the same thing is happening. I need to get a picture to the extension office or some other experts for their opinion of what is happening.

So the garden is progressing. I'm eating out of the garden already, but still have things to plant as soon as I can, and when the weather permits. Things are getting pretty exciting for this gardener

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