Friday, 4 May 2018

The Garden Season Has Begun

This has been a very late spring (18" of ice pellets in the middle of April; what the hell), but at long last winter is gone and things are moving. Our haskap shrubs are putting out leaf and flower buds, and fruit should be on schedule at the end of May.

The garden generally is still looking pretty sparse. Mr. Ferdzy is taking down the wood that sheltered the spinach over the winter. All the beds look very clean but in fact as I look around I can see the weeds starting to sprout between the warmer weather and the rain we have been having.

You can also just see the cauliflower planted in the bed in front of the spinach. We grew them very early, in their own pots rather than in cells and we have the best looking cauliflower starts we have ever had. We are hoping to coax them to bolt and produce seeds, but this is very much an experiment and more than a bit of a gamble. There are about 9 different types of cauliflower in there so we shall see.

I tried planting Purple Sprouting broccoli and Purple Peacock broccoli-kale in mid August at one end of the spinach bed, hoping for very early spring broccoli. I got exactly one plant performing as hoped. There are a bunch of others but they still look like mere seedlings. I hope they will suddenly spring up and produce but it seems unlikely. I blame the very cool weather of last August and September for this, but who knows.

The spinach and broccoli were not the only things being sheltered under the plastic over winter. The weeds are flourishing and as soon as the wood is taken down I will have to weed.

In spite of the lingering cold, we have three beds of peas planted. A couple of hot days got the ground thawed down deep enough to work it. They still went in 2 weeks later than we had been hoping, but at least they are in. We are planning to follow them with spinach (and maybe broccoli again; I keep trying) and not with dry beans as we did for a good few years (and will no doubt do again, as soon as we eat some more beans) so I am fairly philosophical about it.

Garlic is UP, including the Tibetan at the end of the bed. It is always the latest to come up by a significant period. The other 3 types are pretty much in sync.

There is nothing much in this bed besides some shallots. Hard to see, but there are 4 clumps in there. These are all grown from seed as part of my shallot breeding projects, and were rejects as they did not die down into neat bulbs to store over the winter. However, the one in particular has been so very, very good at splitting into multiple bulbs, AND it turns out that having shallot greens by early May is highly desirable, so now I have 2 shallot projects in mind - one for the ones that die down nicely in the late summer and can be stored, and a strain left to overwinter for spring greens. You always have to keep an open mind when breeding plants. Shallot greens are really delicious too; they taste more like wild leeks (ramps) than like green onions.

Inside is still where most of the action is. Tomatoes and peppers are doing well. Half the eggplants are doing well, but half are missing as the seed did not germinate. Too old, I guess. Leeks, onions, and shallots germinated very poorly; we don't know why although we used some seed starting mix from last year which it turns out the mice had gotten into. It was far from sterile, and turned out to be full of peas and squash seeds, both of which germinated beautifully; much better than the things we planted. However we have enough to totter on.

We needed some more plant lights. Our newest batch are LED and they give the plants a strange magenta glow. That's the celery tray shown in the photo, and the celery is flourishing - much better than it is most years. Who knows the ins and outs; we do the same things every year and yet things vary noticeably in how they do.

In spite of the strange colour, the LED lights seem to work very well. We still drag things outside every nice day as nothing works like real sunlight, and we are looking forward to getting everything into the ground so we can stop mucking about with the trays of plants. They are very time consuming, between the going in and out and the amount of water they get to require as the plants get larger. One way or another, the upcoming month is the busiest of the garden year and we will be working steadily.

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