Thursday, November 5, 2015

Early November Update

This is the most productive fall garden that I have had going into the winter months. It will be interesting to see how long we are able to harvest greens going forward. The key will be to adequately protect the greens from frost. So far I have gotten away with some plastic that doesn't quite reach from side to side, but soon, I will need not just one but two suspended layers.

We are currently in what might be called an Indian Summer with lots of sun and temperatures into the 70's. No sign of frost in the extended forecast either. Perhaps the most recent planting of lettuce will get to harvestable size before December?

Monday, October 19, 2015

First frost

We had our first frost last night and a couple blasts of snow yesterday, but today the temperatures are back in the high 50's and the low tonight is expect to be 50 deg F. I covered all of the frames except the tomatoes with one layer of plastic.

I was able to fill the sixth frame with soil and transplant lettuce, chard and parsley that have been growing in overcrowded conditions. I picked choi and some beets and carrots that were planted way back in May. A couple of beets were almost baseball size, but most were only slightly larger than golf balls. I will try giving them more space to grow next year since I have not been good about thinning them as they grow. Similarly with the carrots, one very wide but short, while most were small, and one "frankencarrot" with 8 tapers.

EDIT: I did a little research on how long you can leave beets in the ground and found that they are most tender when allowed to grow 40-50 days (that would have been late July), and that they are best when picked small (1-1/2" to 2"). So I guess I was wrong to disparage the size of my beets. I am just accustomed to purchasing larger beets at the grocery store.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Autumn update

Two weeks ago, we harvested the rest of the basil. This amounted to about 9 cups of leaves and several more pints of pesto. We have been enjoying choi in stir fry and salads, making tabouli with the parsley, and continue to harvest kale from the spring planting. The second to last tomato harvest occurred yesterday... about 7 small tomatoes.

The lettuce that was planted in mid-August is now ready for selective harvesting. One more frame will be setup before the winter for a total of six frames. We will transplant more lettuce and parsley into that frame.

Temperatures are forecast to get into the low 30's for the first time. It is time to cover all of the frames with ag-cloth to encourage the last bit of growth before it gets really cold.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Early Pre-Autumn Update

The average first frost date range here is October 20-30, less than 8 weeks away! I was able to get another garden frame filled and planted with parsley and lettuce this weekend. The lettuce and parsley were started mid-August after the early August batch was lost while I was on vacation. They have been slowly developing under a canopy of kale that has been going strong all summer.

Based on our current lettuce gap (mid-July to mid-September), let's figure out when I should have started more lettuce:

  • The first batch was planted about March 23 and the first harvest was May 16 (~60 days).
  • That lettuce continued to produce until mid-July when it began to go to seed (~60 days)
  • I have been without garden lettuce for six weeks and don't expect to be able to pick from the current planting until the end of September (~60 days)

If I had started a batch of lettuce at the same time each month through July, I would have had a more steady supply of lettuce, and since there is overlap, would be able to reduce the amount that is planted after the first planting.

Next year, let's try starting with 32 plants (8 square feet) and then 16 additional (4 square feet) each month until July when we replace the original 8 squares with new lettuce which will provide into the heart of winter (now scheduled on my Gmail Calendar). Alternatively, I could start another planting every other month. Note: The trick to having lettuce all summer is to provide mid-day shade in July and August when the sun and heat are most intense and to keep it watered well, otherwise it will quickly go to seed.

The last tomato was picked yesterday from the container tomatoes that first began showing signs of blight about 8 weeks ago. The tomatoes in the 4x4 frame just started providing ripe fruit and should continue up until first frost. We have been adding volunteer purslane to our salads and green juicing. It is a "rich source of omega-3's", among other things.

We also picked about 2.5 gallons of apples from our Gala and Braeburn apple trees. There will be many more to come as most of the apples were not yet ripe. The pears, plums, peach, grapes and blueberries did not produce this year, but we have been picking a cup or two of raspberries almost everyday. I am planning to put a fence around most of the fruit next year to keep the deer away.

In the kitchen, we grew some sunflower and wheatgrass sprouts. One tray of either fills a 2 quart container.

As a final note, I finally fixed all of the garden frames that were damaged by the heavy snows last winter. This winter, they will be protected by hoops.