Wednesday, 5 June 2013
The Last Week of the Big Spring Push. I Hope.
As usual, we hoped to be planting the last main crops in the garden during the first week of June. As usual, we are probably at least a week behind. I'm not feeling too badly about it, though. We've not felt too pressured and have been working at an easy pace compared to last year. Most of our being behind can be attributed to the amount of rain we have had, and holding back on planting some things because the nights have been too cool to make hot-weather crops like melons, tomatoes, etcetera happy. On the other hand much of our not feeling pressured for time can also be attributed to not having to water constantly, as we did last year.
Peas are starting to flower, so we are looking forward to peas within a week or two. That will be nice; this is still the time of year when we have the least from the garden. Last years onions, leeks, parsnips, carrots, etcetera are gone, as is the overwintered spinach. Asparagus has already come and gone for us. The rhubarb is still holding out. *winces a little.*
Lettuce is the main thing available right now, along with arugula and some Chinese greens (Baby Bok Choy and mustard). We put some lime (calcium) on the leaf rotation beds last fall, and the lettuce does seem to be doing a better this spring than we've ever seen it before. Of course, the cool rainy weather helps too.
These are some new experimental crops for us.
The leafier ones are chick peas. I probably put them in too late. I keep thinking of them as beans, which need to go in late (i.e. around right now) but they are much more like actual peas, which need to go in as soon as you can find some soil under the snow. Alright, it's a good idea if the soil is actually thawed out too. Still, they are looking not too bad. We shall see.
The other one is a cow-pea relative from Italy, called Fagiolina del Trasimeno. It's a quite tiny bean, used in its dry form although apparently it can be eaten fresh as well. The advantage to being tiny - not a quality I would have sought out myself - is that it cooks in 45 minutes without soaking. I got these trading with a friend, and I'm quite excited about trying them. I was also impressed that they were pretty much all up within 3 days.
There's the asparagus, quickly turning to a forest of ferns. The asparagus beetles, both striped and spotted are busy gnawing away, and laying eggs. The rhubarb is next to then, then some new beds which will ultimately be other perennial fruit and vegetable beds, but which will hold melons and some items we would like to go to seed, for saving purposes.
The wet bed area is living up to the name this year. It's been very squelchy and hard to get in to do the work. Peas went in early here, but are not looking great. I think it is finally too wet for them, and also a rabbit has been eating them. Mr. Ferdzy put out the live trap, and we took it for a drive in the country. One way. No doubt another will be along shortly but so far so good.
Speaking of pests, I think we have finally solved the riddle of the deer. This is also thanks to the wet spring we have had - we followed the footprints around through the trail of destruction and found one by this gate. Closer inspection showed that the netting between the posts was hanging loose. It looked okay at first glance, which is why we had missed it. Mr. Ferdzy attached it back, and added a few cross posts for good measure. The deer has not been back since. Co-incidence? We sincerely hope not.
We are using a somewhat disturbing quantity of petroleum based products in the garden this year, but I can't say I care much. They are helping so much. Row covers are the latest addition, and I think they will be required to make squash, melon and cucumber growing possible. The squash bugs and cucumber beetles are BAAAAACCCKKK! Not nearly as bad as last year so far, we hope, but enough to concern us. We've planted our cucumbers and zucchini, covered them with row covers, then set an extra plant still in a starter pot out next to them. These are easier for the bugs to get at, so most of them have gone for them, allowing us to check them several times a day and remove then into the famous Jar of Death (water with a drop of dish soap).
The other thing we are starting to do is cover all the paths between beds with landscape cloth, which we will then cover with fine gravel. The hope is that this will save me from spending almost half my time in the garden cutting the grass surrounding the beds.
These are the leaf beds, looking very sparse. We are mostly planting brassicas for the fall in them, and we got a late start on getting them going. Oh well. There is always something that gets lost in the shuffle.
Early planted potatoes are looking very good. The ones at the end were the ones we planted last fall and they do look like they are still at least 2 weeks ahead of the early spring planted potatoes.
Hoops are over the next bed which is going to contain sweet potatoes and peanuts as soon as it warms up enough to plant them. We expect to need to keep them under plastic a lot this year, if the weather keeps on as it has started.
This is where the last of the regular potatoes are planted. They just went in, as these are the Russet Burbanks that we will keep as our main winter storage potato. As such, the later we can take them out, the better. Slowly we are learning how to stagger our crops. A few straggling self-seeded lettuces have been left in place to be pulled as needed.
Tomatoes were planted almost 2 weeks ago, and we have had to keep them covered with the hoop-houses quite a bit, as night temperatures have gone down as low as 3°C. They are looking okay though. Eggplants and peppers on the other hand are seriously pathetic looking. Something went wrong with our potting soil this spring, and things did not grow well at all. Real dirt will cure them, but no doubt our harvest will also be pretty diminished.
Next door, the cucumbers and a few assorted other cucurbits (melons, squash) are hiding under row cover cloth from the bugs. If you look closely, you can see the decoy plant sitting on a piece of paving stone by the tomatoes. Last years irrigation experiment still needs to be cleaned up (pulled out).
And oh! Those weedy onions in the foreground. Yes, there are some in there. I think they are doing okay, but it's hard to tell with all those weeds. I hope I can get to them in the next day or so.
The garlic is looking good. Soon we will have garlic scapes. Holy cow, already?! Oh man, we are so behind... better get back to work. Beds to weed, seeds and seedlings to plant and water, trellises to put up, grass to cut...