This year, I am attempting to grow:
- Broccoli rabe from seed, sowed directly in ground
- Snow peas from seed, sowed directly in ground
- Purple runner beans, sowed directly in ground
- Patty pan squash, sowed directly in ground
- Bok choy, sowed directly in ground
- Swiss chard, sowed directly in ground
- Beets, sowed directly in ground
- Tomatos, purchased seedlings
- Fingerling potatoes (container), mail-ordered certified organic seed potatoes
- Speckled purple sweet potatoes (container), given slip from friend and nurtured indoors
- Leeks, given seedlings by friend
- Hot chili peppers, purchased seedlings
This summary will be a work-in-progress as I remember to take pictures and harvest my bounty! [Update July 28, 2010: Disaster hit my garden in the form of a freakish storm which has left much of the region without power. My tomato and bean stakes collapsed and I'm not sure its salvagable.... it may be time to pull them all up and make way for the veggies that get a second round]
This guy has been the real winner this spring. I didn't a pretty bad job of thinning out sprouts due to an inherent guilt I have in killing off extras, even though I pretended I was eating them as microgreens on salads. It has been pretty forgiving and although a few bolted early, which I pulled and ate in mid-late May, there are others which did not and are flourishing in their new-found space. They certainly don't mind the partial shade and love all the rain we have been getting. When the latecomers are bigger, in early June, I think I will pull all of the broccoli rabe and replace this part of my plot with my squash plants, which are getting overshadowed by my zealous potatos and beans.
I love broccoli rabe and could honestly eat it every day sauteed with garlic for dinner. Its also something that has not shown up in my CSA so I don't have to worry about duplicates of this with my CSA. I will be making sure to plant this one again in the fall for a late harvest and it will be in my rotation for next spring as well. This is a wonderful plant that can be planted very early, withstand a late frost, and is done in time to plant more warmer weather crops, such as tomatos, peppers, or herbs.
Just a couple days into June and my snow peas are growing like crazy. Before, I only saw one tiny snow pea and low and behold, there were a bunch ready to be picked! Extremely excited about this as I didn't have high hopes before.
Purple Runner Beans:
These were planted a bit later and came up fast and are growing like weeds. They love to climb and I didn't have to train them to climb like the snow peas. They don't have a harvest until later in the season so I won't know how the partial shade is treating them. One of the beans managed to hijack part of the tomato stake. Aggresive lil buggers.
Apparantly partial shade isn't stopping these beans. Tons of little purple flowers and bean pods are popping up all over this! I think I'll get a pretty big harvest from just the few I planted.
I kind of forgot about these guys for a while until my stakes almost fell over from the weight of the vines on them. As I was fixing the stakes, I discovered a whole bunch of beans! Some of them had obviously gotten a little too big, but they were still delicious with a more mild flavor than a traditional green bean.
Patty Pan Squash:
The squash plants at least look like the ones you get at the nursery as seedlings, but I'm a little worries these summer babies aren't getting the sun they need to grow due to my overly zealous potatos and beans. I'm going to transplant these to the broccoli rabe plot once they are done in early June. [Update mid-July: squash plants got a late start and have gone absolutely bonkers and are huuuuuge, still no squash blossoms yet though].
Alas, my squash plants are no more. Not sure what happened, but I left for a trip to California for five days and when I returned, the plants were smooshed and dead. Given the number of zucchini I receive in my CSA, though, I'm not too devastated.
Oh evil fluctuating Washington DC spring temperatures, even though only half of my broccoli rabe bolted early from the heat, you managed to get all of my bok choy. I will have to try to do this again in the fall for a late harvest when temperatures aren't so crazy and are on a cooling decline. However, you did provide some space for me to transplant my potbound sage, basil, and oregano outside, and they are perking up already. My last hope for a mature bok choy plant is still in the ground, but I see the evil flowers coming up already as it has been unseasonably warm. Next time I'll start these inside in February and put them out as early as possible.
I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to plant swiss chard, especially when I'm pretty sure I'll get a boatload of it in my CSA. However, it is doing well and I'm not doing anything to really uh, thin these guys out in hopes of actually stunting the harvest of this one. Regardless, they seem to be thriving. I suppose I could blanch and freeze any excess, but well, yea. I won't do this one again. Besides, with the beet greens, which are almost identical in many ways to swiss chard as far as cooking and flavor, its entirely redundant.
Swiss chard harvest! These guys ended up doing a lot better than the beets... hrm... also, once I did the initial harvest, more chard is popping up from the plants I had left in the ground. It looks like I may get 2 or 3 full harvests from the same plants before it gets too hot.
I love beets. Next time, I'll sow twice as many beets and no swiss chard. You know why? Because I can PICKLE beets. I really love anything I can pickle. Lesson learned. I'm doing a huge fall crop of beets wit whatever space I have left. In all honesty, I would be happy to just have beets as my fall/winter crop. I know, I know, looks just like the swiss chard. I know the two plots are different only because I did half section of swiss chard and there are some yellow stemmed chard amongst the red. I do need to figure out how to keep the squirrels from digging as half of my poor beets might not make it from the big potholes left by the squirrels. I tried cayenne pepper, which seemed to work for a little bit but I might have to reapply on a regular basis.
Crop ended in failure from being dug up too much. I also don't think my garden bed was deep enough for them. I had to pull out the beets and transplanted leeks into that part of the plot. It may have been a blessing in disguise... I get beets almost every week from my CSA!
So far I have flowers on one variety that have not turned into baby tomatos yet. Crossing fingers that these guys are getting enough sun! Plants are at least looking robust and healthy.
My potatoes are going absolutely nutso and I'm now worried that I have used containers that were too small! This picture is from a while back, I've alreaded added additional mulch and soil twice as the stems have grown up as my research shows this is the best way to increase yields. I may need to harvest some young potatos to make way for the fall yield. I'm going to feel 'em up in mid-June to see how they are doing! I also need to remember to pinch off flowers and do a full harvest when the leaves start turning yellow.
[August 10, 2010 Update: I got a small harvest from one variety of potato, the other was a big fail (just one little potato), mostly likely because I did not water them enough. Not sure I'd do these again next year since I get enough potatoes in my CSA]
Speckled Purple Sweet Potatoes:
I'm not sure if my sweet potato is doing well or not. There is new growth, but its not very fast nor is it prolific. I guess since I only have one slip, that might be why. However, when I did plant it, it had fantastic root propogation which is a good thing, because those are the tubers.
I already know I have too many leeks and they are all planted too close together. Its because my friend's mother is the most generous person in the world and gave me a ton. I'll thin out the babies as they grow since they are pretty much delicious at all stages. I was worried that they might have died because I put boy in charge of picking them up from said generous donor, and well, he saw the exposed roots and the crowded seedlings, thought it was odd, but then did nothing about it. Good thing he's smart and learns quickly because I guarantee you he'll coddle them next time.
I take it as a good sign that all the babies (I planted them in more than one area) are standing tall and green. While they haven't grown more than an inch or so since I planted them, they look worlds healther.
If I guessed anything wouldn't grow well in partial shade, I was sure it would be the chili peppers. I was sure all the flowers would blossom and then fall off without producing a pepper. I'm glad to be proven wrong, incredibly wrong. I ended up staking both chili pepper plants because they have started to get a bit weighed down by the abundance of peppers growing. Even if these don't turn the vibrant red that they are supposed to, I love all spicy peppers and they all pickle equally in my book. Of particular note is how prolifically the plant is flowering already. Gimme peppers baby!