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Sharing Garden Observations – in a Wet, Cold May

It’s amazing how quickly things are changing in the garden on a daily basis.

Brussels sprouts, Russian kale, chard, endive/escarole lettuce, and cresses are blooming and setting seed. Mache (from the winter) is about done dropping it’s seed. The mache plants that served as a cover crop for the winter are turning brown and the earth is exposed through its now scant foliage. When I get ready to plant in those spots I’ll make a hole and plant without much bother about what’s left of the mache.

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Most things are setting seed.  When that done, I’ll cut them to the ground and the garden will start taking it’s summer form.

Asparagus

Even though the invasive tree roots from the bordering property have just about done in my asparagus beds, (long story — for one-of-these-days) I still harvest enough for a meal each day. Gone are the days when all the spears are large and beautiful, although I still get a few of those.

Started more asparagus from seed this year and put the small seedlings in a grow bag for this year.
I’ll transplant them to a permanent spot on the other side of the property next year.

Tomatoes

My tomatoes were outgrowing my little makeshift cold frame, but most were finally transplanted to the garden today. I’ve also got a few small seedlings that I’ll put in as space opens up. If room opens for even more, rooted suckers off my favorites will quickly produce more plants.

I planted a tomato today at the end of a row where I had piled some “creeping charlie” that was hugging the fence (as usual) last fall. It decayed over the winter and made the most wonderful soil to plant that tomato in. Made me wish I had more of those piles inside the garden.

Onions

Onions established themselves more quickly than any year I remember.

Planted as transplants were the varieties Texas Legend, Texas Early White, Walla Walla, Copra and Yellow Spanish.
In all the years I’ve planted Dixondale transplants I’ve never had more than an acceptable percentage bolt to seed. (Maybe 10%). But the Yellow Spanish that I ordered this year (new for me this year) have almost ALL bolted. I am confident the variable responsible for that is NOT on my end and I can’t get an answer from Dixondale about what happened at their end. They just sent me a “cut and paste” of the same-old, same-old.

I find it interesting that I started some yellow spanish onions from seed back in October and babied them along all winter. They’re doing very well in the garden with absolutely NO bolting.

I planted numerous varieties from seed and all are doing well although still small.

Cukes and Squash

I’ll start cukes and squash this week. And more lettuce of course.

Peas

I lost 2 rows of peas — I would assume because of cold ground. (I’ll miss those peas this coming winter!)

The peas I happen to plant on a whim in grow bags which had warmer conditions are doing great. Also the peas at the warmer upper end are doing ok.

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Cresses – heavy with seed pods.

Russian Kale is still beautiful and eatable. The abundant pods are almost full and I’ll soon be collecting some seed to share. I no longer start Russian Kale from seed. It seeds in the garden and comes up just at the right time in the fall. Then I either let it grow in place or transplant it where I want it.

russian kale

Russian Kale is loaded with seed pods.

Potatoes

Potatoes have grown at a record speed. In the post of May 2 the potatoes were about 6 to 8 inches tall. Now they’re well over 2 feet tall. The early varieties have blossoms already, so it’s time for me to start looking for some of those new potatoes to enjoy.

And by the way, that reminds me: In the book I recently reviewed the author said he doesn’t grow potatoes because you can buy them in the store and they taste the same. I almost fell off the chair when I read that. I can’t speak for every garden in the world, but I can tell you that my potatoes from my garden are like “manna from heaven” and NOTHING like a store bought potato.

No potato beetles yet. In order for them to be in the garden in this cold weather they’d have had to winter over in the garden, since they can’t fly in from afar until temperatures reach 75º F and over. We haven’t had too many days of 75ºF and above this May — although things will change this week.

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What a difference almost 3 weeks made in the potatoes!

Garlic

The stalks on some of the garlic in various parts of the garden drooped over and turned brown. I pulled those and although they were not fully developed they had made small cloves. A few bulbs were the size of a quarter and a few were 50 cent piece size.

If you don’t already know how great raw garlic is for you, I suggest you do a bit of research. It’s just about a miracle plant. Raw – which is THE way to ingest it for the most benefit — can be unpleasant sometimes. But there are ways around that. I chop mine and add it to my other chopped vegetables at lunch time.

Berries

Blueberries are loaded with fruit. I have to find a more simple way to protect them from the birds. I’m not able to put up all the nice protections like Bill did.

I’m eating strawberries everyday.

Blackberries have more blossoms this year than ever.  Harvest should be great.

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Blueberries outside the garden are not as heavy with fruit as those inside the garden.

 

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Blackberry bloom is abundant this year.

Lettuce

I finally managed to plant some lettuce that didn’t disappear overnight, but it still has a ways to go.
I’ve picked the wintered-over lettuce right to the nub. So rather than my usual feast of big leaves of Winter Density in May, my greens each day are a mix of arugula, mache that germinated this spring, spinach, sorrel and maybe a leaf or two of chard here and there.

I haven’t seen those “big” slugs in my garden for many years. I do however see small ones that look “just hatched”. They seem to be every where. In spite of that, I haven’t seen hardly any slug damage in the garden. A few of the older leaves at the bottom of the Kale have holes in them. I saw a couple of pea vines that had a few holes. Even the lettuce looks great in spite of the fact that I see those tiny slugs on a lot of it. I didn’t put any Escargo in the garden because it just “melts away” with rain and we’ve had rain at least every 2 or 3 days.

Since I’m not seeing much damage in a 2400 sq. ft. garden — I’m not sure if those tiny guys ate my lettuce seedlings that disappeared or not.

Final Thought

What’s going on in your garden?

19 comments to Sharing Garden Observations – in a Wet, Cold May

  • Lisa

    Everything looks lovely! I really enjoy these mini tours of the garden. Thank you for sharing.

  • Don Rutherford

    What’s going on in my garden?

    We have had three days of warm days and nights with no rain, so I am planting all of my garden now. I planted my garlic last Fall (late) and it is two feet high, but has not turned brown and fallen over yet. (Where are the scapes?) and my carrots, radishes and Kohlrabi the first of he Month, or end of last month. We are a little later here in Michigan than you are. I never eat garlic raw, but love to cook with it. What am I losing? in nutrition.

    As always, I love to hear from you.

    Don

  • Marsha Scheppler

    I have had cold and wet all May,too. I have to practice patience because if my ground is too cold the poor plant just sits there -or worse, rots in place. Your progress report is encouraging.
    In the past I had trouble with flea beetles on my potato leaves. I followed a suggestion to plant green beans, bush type, around the edge of the potato patch, and that season I noticed I didn’t have any ‘beetle invasions.’
    I love asparagus, too. I started with what were supposed to be all male crowns. Now they all bloom when I let them grow out. I have plants from seed doing better than all that deep trench digging for crowns. My ‘pet’ plant I planted (as a seedling experiment) for frills at the end of my flower garden now has to be staked because I have let its first big asparagus spear grow…and it looks like it will pass last year’s 11 feet. ha!
    I finally had three PawPaw trees mature enough to all flower at once (needs two different ones for cross pollination)…Then the cold, wet, windy days wiped out my emerging fruits. Sooo, I’m already saying the gardener’s lament, “Maybe ‘next year’…the trees will be stronger.”

  • PamO

    How do you know when the kale seed is ready to harvest?

  • Theresa

    Good hearing from you Lisa! It’s been a long time. Hope all is going well.

    Don, only the hard neck varieties of garlic produces scapes. My hardnecks produce scapes in late spring so I have a while before the stalks appear.
    Cooking destroys some of the good stuff in the garlic. Full benefit comes from the raw garlic. Over all the years that I’ve been reading about garlic, I’ve never seen anything that contradicts that.

    Marsha, so sorrow to hear that your pawpaw fruit was wiped out by the cold! That is a big disappointment.
    But as you say — maybe next year. 🙂

    PamO, the pods get dry and break open. You want to get them just before they break open. The pods mature at various times — so if you watch you’ll have plenty of time to collect seed after you get the timing right.

    Theresa

  • Toni Brock

    Hi Theresa,
    What a wonderful tour of your garden!
    My mache has re seeded wonderfully. I love it!
    I can’t wait to hear about your asparagus story.
    How did you root suckers off your favorite tomatoes? Specifically, when did you root them?
    I have purchased Walla Walla seed and the directions said for the sweetest onions to plant in August…? My little experiment with my red wing onions is coming along nicely, i can’t wait to harvest and see if it worked.
    How did you baby YOUR yellow Spanish onions?
    I couldn’t agree more about the garden potatoes! There is NO comparison in my opinion.
    I am looking so forward to hearing what you come up with to keep the birds out of your blueberry’s.
    I am so amazed the baby slugs haven’t cleaned you out! They eat so voraciously here. I will dig up some pictures of the devastation they cause out here in the West.

  • Farming Bear

    Oh…these are my favorite posts. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful picture of your garden! I’ve had wonderful luck with the greens this year – they’ve been absolutely delicious. Our garlic looks very similar to yours. Our onions are looking great in the new bed we made – which was created on top of the old bed 🙂 All herbs are doing well – except cilantro. Cilantro has always given me trouble. I’ll eat a cilantro salad with just cilantro in it so I regret that I’ve not mastered it yet. I expanded the back-door herb garden and planted a cover crop of vetch and rye in the new area. I was very pleased with how it worked out. I cut it about a week ago and it’s made a beautiful and thick mulch. I plan to do much more of that combo in the future. I’m also using landscaping areas to plant food in this year which is new for me too. Blackberry bushes are looking great here as well. Lastly, I need to get the warm plants in asap – only spring plants are in right now. I’m about 45 days later than I hoped in doing that. We want tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, etc. No potatoes this year. I’ll have to see if there is another time in the year that we can plant those.

  • Farming Bear

    By the way, it all looks so beautiful – and those potatoes! I can truly say that there is no comparison of a store-bought potato to a potato from your garden. Manna from heaven is right! If that is what a true potato is then the store-bought potatoes should not carry the name, “potato.” No joke.

  • Dianna Malta

    I saved the poles from an old pop up tent and set them up over my blueberries. I’m able to place a full piece of plastic netting over the top and attach additional netting with clothes pins to the sides. I weigh down the bottoms with rocks.

  • Funny to hear about your potatoes – I was just wondering what was going on – my peppers are a bit slow to take off, but the potatoes are like something from another planet. I swear they are grow a few inches every day!!

    My onions look amazing, the zucchini are producing fruits (about an inch long so far), radishes and turnips are sluggish, oregano and sage are overflowing. My asparagus came up early, got frozen, and has come up again. I only grow enough for me to eat fresh, but I just love the plants. I don’t think I have ever made it out of the garden with any – I like to just stand out there and eat it raw!

  • Dev

    Interesting to hear what’s going on in other parts of the country. Here in southeastern NC, Zone 8a, it’s been a very wet and hot, unbearably humid spring. I’m seeing disease problems that don’t usually surface until August in my garden. The zinnias and tomatoes are showing early blight and powdery mildew abounds. High in the upper eighties today, and we’re anticipating the arrival of a tropical rain system this weekend. I’m doing near daily applications of active aerated compost tea and Serenade Disease Control to try and beat back the bad guys.

    Peas: Grew the Tom Thumb variety. And enjoyed them for about two weeks before a spate of 90 plus days killed them off.
    Lettuce and Spinach: First year I’ve had any luck with getting these of any size, probably because I started them in February and transplanted in March rather than direct seeding. The spinach is going to seed now, but the lettuce is hanging in there.
    Onions: I only had three seeds out of 300 germinate. Those three seem to be growing well, however. Hurray.
    Beets: Third attempt growing them, still no bulb on the root. And the greens only get about four inches tall before stopping in their tracks. Not sure what my soil is missing.
    Tomatoes: Growing like gangbusters. Planted the last week of April. Between three and four feet high and full of maters.
    Tomatillos: Have formed enormous bushes five feet wide by three feet tall, full of flowers, but so far not a single fruit has set.
    Peppers: Started these in milk jugs and forgot about them. Didn’t water or take care of them. Pulled out the only green ones two weeks ago and planted them. The bells and bananas have gone from two inches tall to about a foot. The Aji Cristal are at their same height and have spots on the leaves. More disease?
    Cukes, Melons, and Okra were planted on May 15 and are forming their second sets of true leaves. Butter beans were planted last Thursday and are just starting to emerge.
    Flowers: Spider flowers, zinnias, dahlias, and salvia are blooming. Perennial hibiscuses are setting buds. I’ve had one gladiolus bloom and the others planted last year are sending up spikes. The fifty I planted this year are a week or two behind them in growth. Our Hydrangea bushes are putting on the best show they ever have, but like everything else, are already showing signs of disease.

  • Bonny

    I think we are in the same zone and have had the same awkward Spring weather. It seems my hardneck garlic that I replanted from my previous year’s cloves is gang busters. I planted some tatsoi between those rows with marginal success. The new soft neck varieties I bought look puny and yellow so they may get pulled soon. But I did plant arugula between those rows with good success. Over many years of planting onions all different ways, I have had the best results I terms is size and keeping ability with SESE Yellow Parma started from seed and transplanted into the garden in March.

  • Bonny

    PS since I also am having a mediocre asparagus year, my last asparagus got chopped and sautéed with equal size pieces of garlic and sugar snaps in olive oil. Yummy.

  • I’ve started asparagus on a whim from seed this year for the first time and was wondering what to do with my seedlings when your post came! I don’t plant them in their permanent site until next year? Any help your are willing to offer would be much appreciated. I’m on the mid coast in Maine. Fun to see your beautiful garden and how it is progressing. Things are very slow here this spring, our trees haven’t even fully leafed out yet. My lettuce and kale are very happy.

  • Jim Schmerschneider

    My garden is coming along nicely despite all the spring rains (Zone 5b IL). Most of my raised beds are covered with heavy poly in early spring, and then change over to fabric row covers by first of June generally. These poly row covers provide the ability to heat up the soil and control how wet the soil gets…I get an early start this way.

    Lettuce, kale, broccoli, cabbage,kohlrabi, potatoes, collards, leeks, onions, peas, tomatoes, peppers, garlic…all doing well under (vented) cover.

    My uncovered beds, planted with beets, carrots, turnips, rutabaga…basically washed out from all the rain and have been at the 1-inch seedling height for one month, sitting in the mud.

    Thanks Theresa for sharing your garden pix…love TMG!!!

  • Theresa

    Toni – glad to hear your mache has reseeded wonderfully! It’s great stuff and worth the effort to get it going in the garden.
    You can cut the suckers of tomatoes at their base and root in soil or water any time —- you just want to make sure you have enough time for them to bear fruit before the season closes.
    I “babied” my yellow sweet spanish but bring them iside my enclosed porch when temperatures fell below freezing. They were a bit to small then to take that kind of cold and also I wanted to give them every chance to grow this year without bolting.
    I’m sure baby slugs in my garden are also eating (something) voraciously, but just not my plantings.

    My idea for blueberry protection is similar to Dianna’s. (And thank you for posting that Dianna.)
    Rather than the plastic netting that we’ve used in the past I going to try mosiqtoe netting. I’ll use my taller tomato stakes and place the netting around and over those and try to attach with clothes pins. I’ll secure the bottom with earth hooks.

    Peppers are always slow in my garden Kate. You may want to review this post: http://tendingmygarden.com/peppers-it-aint-necessarily-so/
    Asparagus have wonderful nutrient value when eaten raw — so it’s grand that you enjoy them that way.

    Farming Bear is sure right about potatoes —- store bought potatoes (when compared to my garden grown) should not even carry the name potato!!

    Dev, sorry to hear about your unseasonable spring! You have more than your share of problems because of it.
    If your onion seed was not fresh and for this year — that may be why you did not get good germination.
    Beets are slow in my garden too, so you may still get them to bulb.

    Bonny, congratulations on that great garlic from your previous year’s cloves!
    Glad you’ve had good success with Yellow Parma. That is one appealing onion but I’ve not had much luck with it, but will try again next year.

    Kyra, you can plant the small asparagus seedlings in the permanent site if you want. The reason I don’t, is because they’re easier to keep track of in a bed when they’re bigger. So I figured I’d let them grow in the grow bag this year

    You’re amazing Jim. You’ve found a way to deal with a lot of problems. Thanks for sharing.
    Theresa

  • Betty Dotson

    I love your pictures. I also have cresses heavy with seed. I’m excited about that because I tried the leaves in my vitamin shake & they were yummy! These are volunteers, so they should do well here.

    I have enough strawberries to get a few for munching & a few in my shakes. I will move some babies from my old bed to the larger bed where they will have more room.

    Peas & snow peas are blooming like gangbusters & growing up the small limbs I stuck in the bed after reading your post about doing that and getting more peas.

    Tomatoes- The plants I bought from a friend who is an organic gardener are bigger than my tiny seedlings. Both are planted & I still have about 20 more to get in the ground. The neighbors & a friend have all called dibs on any extra I can share.

    Flower seed are starting to grow. One Borage seed was washed from the bed during a gully-washer (even though it was mulched with straw) & is growing well in unimproved clay at the side of the raised bed! I put some straw around it.

    Alfred’s corn is about a foot tall. I call it his because he DID NOT want it in a raised bed & complained so much that I gave up & laid out 4 rows & planted it his way in the part of the garden that I haven’t gotten around to building raised beds yet. I also purchased a small bag of ORGANIC FERTILIZER when he said he would “HAVE TO” use fertilizer & dared him to even mention 10-10-10! It’s so hard to teach an old farmer new tricks!

    In the raised bed he wouldn’t use I thinned my Hakurei Turnips this morning & had them roasted over their sautéed greens for lunch. Bill was right. I call them candy! SO GOOD!
    Huge mustard greens & spinach in the same bed were awesome in my vitamin shake this morning! I’ll be sure to point out how nice & BIG they are growing WITH NO FERTILIZER, much less 10-10-10! He’ll come around to my way of thinking once I get all of the “THERESA STYLED” raised beds in & have everything mulched nicely & HE will have the experience of going out & moving the mulch aside & planting & it’s DONE! No tilling, no having to hoe & hill up the corn & the best part – NO WEEDING!

    Blackberries growing outside the 8 foot fence came over the fence & rooted in my beds & paths! I dug up at least 10 & gave them to our Pastor’s wife who loves them & about that many more which I gave to our neighbors.

    The Raspberries in the raised bed I planted them in last year are growing through & over the fence around the side garden & rooting. I’ll be digging those up as well as those I need to remove from the bed for the Pastor’s wife. You were right Theresa. You only need 3 & they will take over the world if you let them! I ate a couple of those while adding extra mulch around the fence line day before yesterday.

    Potatoes- I tried your tip of mulching them completely covered & it looked like they grew 2 feet overnight! I used leaves the neighbor saved for me last fall. While I was mulching I covered the plants up again!

    Asparagus- the beds that my 5 year old grandson helped me plant in existing raised beds with wooden sides in the yard last year all came up nicely as well as in the new bed inside the garden.

    Figs- We lost 1 3-year old & 2 new ones we planted last year during the winter. we used protection around the largest & oldest during the early spring freeze as well as a smaller 2-year old. The tips of the limbs still were frozen, but both are leafing out. I bought a new one to plant this year. I just can’t get enough figs!

    Blueberries- I have some that aren’t ripe yet. I think I will make a new bed in a different spot & move the little starts that are coming up a little way from the plants. I think nearby tree roots are keeping them from thriving. That will probably happen next spring. I’m hoping to get the new beds ready this fall when I have more leaves.

    Kiwi- We planted a male & female along the back fence & wove the new growth up the fence.

    Sweet Potato- The slips are just sitting there. No new growth yet.

    Whew! I didn’t mean to write a book, but I’m SO EXICTED!!
    Betty

  • Theresa

    Betty, what a fabulous garden report!
    Enjoyed every word.

    I got a big laugh out of your “Alfred” story.

    We haven’t had a really good year for figs in this area for some years now. But Betty, if you get a year they like, you’ll have ALL the figs you can eat!!!!
    One bush can produce thousands!

    Thanks for taking time to share this great report.
    Theresa

  • Betty Dotson

    Oh my goodness! I would be in fig heaven!!!! I want to freeze some, make fig jam & eat them until I can’t move! I’ll have to find the pictures of my silly son with the cake I made with figs & raspberries.
    He was a teenager & rearranged the fruit on top into a smiley face!
    Just as I snapped the picture of him & the “Smiley Cake” he stuck his tongue out toward the cake like he was trying to steal a lick!
    He was our entertainment!
    Betty

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