Saturday, August 27, 2016

Farm Report: Seeding for Winter


The summer garden is summering. Beans. Armenian cucumbers. Tomatoes. Pumpkins and corn ripening. All that stuff. We eat stuff. We give stuff away. Yay.

But my focus is now on the fall and winter garden. Yay!

Why is the future garden so often more fascinating than the present? I don't know, but I'm going to write about it anyway.

The overwintering cauliflower and broccoli and sprouting broccoli plants, planted as ittybitty soil blocks, are now nice big seedlings. So far, they're staying well ahead of insect damage; we'll see if that keeps up or if this will be a Lesson Learned about insect netting. I've been wanting to taste overwintering sprouting broccoli since I heard of it; I hope it works this time.

Meanwhile, I presprouted some butterhead lettuce seed and planted it in the space that the broccoli and cauiflower don't yet need, next to lines of quarter-inch soaker hose (programmed to water five minutes every day in addition to the longer less frequent watering) and it grew--in 105 degree highs!  Lots of little inch-high lettuce plants. Yay for presprouting. And for soaker hose.

The mini-soaker scheme also worked for the beets--I planted Merlin beets a little over a week ago right next to soakers, and they came up so well that I had to do a whole lot of thinning just to get them to half an inch apart. I'll go back soon to get them to the recommended interim spacing of three inches apart. (From my reading, the three inch spacing gives you enough space for baby beets, and at some point you remove (and eat) every other baby beet to give you a six inch spacing for bigger beets.)

I just finished prepping the "salad garden"--beds A through D of Row 8, four 4 X 6 beds in a row, so a total space of 4 X 24. (A handy space for a very short low tunnel later.) I'm cutting three slits down each bed, six feet long and eighteen inches apart, and putting a soaker hose along the slit.  This gives me a total of twelve six-foot "rows". A little more tweaking, and they'll be all ready for seeding.

Ooh, seeding.

What to grow? I've got plenty of options in the seed box. Four different kinds of scallions. Two kinds of carrots. Two big packets of green butterhead lettuce (Tom Thumb is presprouting as we speak). Mache. Kale. Peas that I could grow for peas or pea sprouts. Little cabbages. I'm about to send of for golden beets and Fordhook chard and a red lettuce.

Let's make up a plan:

  • 1: Evergreen Hardy White Bunching Onions
  • 2: Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce.
  • 3: Red Kitten spinach, grown for small salad leaves.
  • 4: Russian Hunger Gap kale, grown for small salad leaves. I'm wasting the potential of this kale; its claim to fame is bolting late to produce kale raab. But I've got the seeds, packed for 2015, so I'd better plant them soon or never.
  • 5: Guardsman scallions
  • 6: Oxheart carrots
  • 7: Golden beets
  • 8: Fordhook chard, grown for small salad leaves.
  • 9: Summer Island scallions
  • 10: Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce.
  • 11: Soloist hybrid Chinese cabbage
  • 12: Red Baron scallions
How's that look? A lot of scallions, but I want to taste all four of those scallion types. Only one kind of lettuce, but salad leaves will also be coming from the spinach, kale, chard, and beet greens. And as things come out, I might be able to replace them with lettuce. (I say "might" because when the temperature gets too low I can plant lettuce all I want, but it won't actually grow.)

I like it. We'll see if I actually plant it that way.

That is all. For now.


  1. i'm most excited about Russian Kale. I think what I love most about your garden is that it never is just 'kale', it's something a little more exotically interesting.

  2. Howdy, Cynthia! After some reading, I concluded that it was too hot and too early to plant the kale (and way way way way too early to plant the spinach). I'll be planting it in late September, in the former snap pea bed. I think.