Sunday, May 18, 2008
The Cool Weather Veggies
The veggies I planted in early April have all sprouted and are coming along lustily!
We have already begun harvesting radishes ... so radishes take as little as six weeks
from seed to a harvestable size. We pluck them out as we need them. As they are planted very close together, this leaves room for the ones coming up to fill out. Radishes are so cute!
We have also trimmed the first three inches of salad greens on the 12th of May (just over five weeks)and eaten them. After harvesting I watered the plants with a weak compost tea so the plants would have the necessary nutrients to continue growing. They will be ready for another trim very shortly. Yesterday another pot became available and I planted a second round of mesulun - West Coast Market Mix. This is called "Succession Planting". When one planting has burnt out another crop is coming on line so there is a continuous harvest.
I thinned the Thumbelina carrots to give the roots room to develop. I sprinkled the surface of the medium with coffee grounds in an effort to fool the carrot rust fly. They lay their eggs and the larvae tunnel through the carrots. I have read that they pick up the scent of their favourite host, carrots, when the seedlings are thinned. Coffee grounds are an attempt to disguise the smell.
The lettuce mix is in a larger pot and planted quite densely. I removed a clump of seedlings and planted them out individually in the back yard flower bed. This should be a good place for lettuce as it is quite cool with filtered light, which lettuce prefer. These lettuces, planted in the flower bed, will grow to their full size. The densely planted lettuces in the large clay pot can either be mowed down with a sissors and added to the musclun salad mix or I can harvest individual outer leaves from as many lettuces so as to satify the amount of lettuce I need for the meal. A method now refered to as "Cut and Come Again".. In that way the plant continues growing. I make sure to water the lettuces regularly as they become bitter if the weather becomes too hot and they are stressed by a lack of water.
The strawberry plants are being harrassed unmercifully by aphids and thrips. I have sprayed with water and a few added drops of non-toxic, biodegradable dishwashing liquid on two occasions so far and it appears I will have to continue to do so. I see lots of flowers, which is hopeful! I make sure to water the strawberries regularly as they are in quite tight quarters. I also added a teaspoon of epsom salts.
Epsom Salt, magnesium and sulphate, are important trace nutrients in the production of fruit and flowers. I will up the quantity to 1 tablespoon per liter in the future. Visit www.epsogrow.com for more information.
Mix 1/2 cup per gallon of water; then water with mixture at your normal rate every four weeks. For added benefit, lightly spray leaves with a mist of this solution every time you fertilize with Epsom Salts.
Warm Weather Veggies
We had two glorious days of sunshine so far this weekend. On Saturday the thermometer placed against my living room window topped 42 degrees C without a breath of air to boot! The Nasturtiums seedling in the hanging baskets at our entrance literally seem to have stretched in that one hot day!
On the 15th of May I made the rounds of various greenhouses and bought a few warm season veggies: three varieties of hot peppers, soy beans for edamame, walla walla onions and a few cabbage which need a long growing period. Buying seedlings gives plants a jumpstart so they can have enough time to come to fruition before the sun disappears over the horizion. I have successfully grown a wide range of seedlings from seed on a south facing window in the past. However there is no south facing window in this townhouse so I won't waste my time to try and start seedlings indoors under these conditions.
I will be planting the warm weather veggies in my community garden plot where the southern orientation is favourable to taking full advantage of growing summer veg.
I will also be direct seeding in the community bed so I will have succession plantings.
I started a few warm weather veggies on the 4th May: broccoli now 3" tall, a beautiful white pumpkin with gorgeous thick orange flesh. I saved the seeds from a pumpkin I ate last year and a 2' cucumber called Salad Bush recommended as good for container growing. I water the seedlings with compost tea as they are in small cells and I don't want them to run out of nutrients before I can get them in the ground.
Something New for the Entrance to the Townhouse
Every year I seem to get a new inspiration for the front staircase. This year in honour of the thrust in growing veggies, I have planted a combination of purple skinned kholrabi (which I find visually interesting - little smooth skinned globes on skinny pedestals and a shock of leaves) with "Siam Queen basil" purple tinged leaves and green leaved bush basil and orange calendula flowers (the petals can be added to salads as can the nasturtium flowers and leaves - peppery!. That is one pot. The other pot has "Red Sail" lettuce - red tints on crinkled green leaves with deep green, bold Collard Greens and orange nasturium flowers. I will be interested to see the result!