Spring Break like a boss

I decided to work half days during Spring Break; I go to work in the mornings and have off in the afternoons. Yesterday afternoon, we went out to the garden to weed the plot.  We’ve been harvesting carrots all winter long and I figured there were still a few left. We brought a bag to collect the last of the carrots as we weeded. About 2 hours and 10 lbs. of carrots later we were done. TEN POUNDS of carrots.  Once we got the carrots home, I decided that I wanted to juice some of them.  I remembered a bottled juice that I like to get at Whole Foods that is a blend of carrot, orange, and ginger.  Not having a juicer, I went to Goodwill and found a Jack Lalanne Power Juicer for $25! Score! I picked up a 5 lb. bag of oranges and a piece of fresh ginger.  I juiced all of the oranges with half the carrots and small amounts of ginger.  Ten pounds of produce yielded about 1 1/2 quarts of delicious juice. I’m going to have to do this more often!

 

Some of these carrots were bigger around than my wrist.

carrots

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Carrots are up, garlic is planted

Last weekend, we planted 16 feet of hard neck garlic in our northernmost row.  I’m looking forward to garlic scapes come spring.

I would estimate that we have 50% germination on our carrots and 0% on rutabagas and parsnips. The Purple Haze and Merida varieties of carrots have done much better than the Baltimore variety.

Today we uncovered the Chinese cabbage to find that bugs have gotten to it despite the row cover! Time to bring out the insecticidal soap.

Fall garden is sprouting; hope springs eternal

About a week and a half ago, we planted seeds of bok choy, carrots, parsnips, and rutabagas.  The bok choy sprouted almost immediately.  Today I noticed tiny little carrot sprouts! I think we’re going to cover the bok choy today with some row cover because it does appear to have small holes in the leaves.  I sure hope the carrots make it.  I haven’t seen any sign of the rutabagas or parsnips yet.

Tomatosplosion

Finally, in my third (?) year of gardening, I can say that I have successfully grown tomatoes.  I think I brought home about 5 lbs of tomatoes this morning!  Things I did differently this year include:

1. Not caring.  I knew I was going on vacation and things would be neglected but I planted some tomatoes anyway.

2. Went on vacation for 3 weeks.  Tiffany and/or Walter watered for us (THANKS).

3. Pruned tomato branches severely when planting.  I also pinched off any suckers I could identify before we left town.

That’s it! I have a ridiculous abundance of tomatoes.  I don’t even know what varieties they are.  We even have a volunteer cherry tomato plant that is producing.  (Thanks to previous plot holders Trey and Amanda).

5 lbs of tomatoes

A meager carrot harvest

I think that insects are to blame for my low carrot harvest.  The sprouts would disappear shortly after emerging from the soil.  Something was mowing them down.  I basically got the equivalent of one bunch of carrots from the whole spring planting.  I will try again in the fall.  Last fall, I had an excellent carrot crop.  The large, dark carrots are of the Purple Haze variety; they are psychedelic!  I roasted a chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots.  Yummy.

Cut up carrots 

Bunch of carrots

Steve and I spent a couple of hours this morning pulling up weeds and plants no longer producing.  We laid down a thick bed of leaf mulch.  The community harvest folks will continue to harvest kale and chard for as long as it lasts.   We won’t be doing much in the plot again until early September.

Glorious Garlic

Last September, we planted garlic in good old Plot 26.  We used two varieties, a German Hard Neck and a French Soft Neck (hah). I bought the garlic from a mail order catalog, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.   When they shipped the garlic, they included a how-to booklet on cultivating garlic. That worried me and made me think that this would be difficult.   I followed the instructions and planted the garlic in loose soil to which I had added plenty of compost. I fertilized at planting with a fish-emulsion type of fertilizer (high in nitrogen).   I kept the soil watered but not too wet.  And that was all it took for the plants to take off and produce a wonderful couple dozen heads of garlic.

Eight months after planting, we were able to harvest the scapes off of the hard neck variety.  Another month later and we harvested the heads. Hard neck garlic produces small heads with few cloves.  The flowering stalk (the scape) that it sprouts in the spring can be harvested and eaten.  I made a garlic scape pesto with it that was terrific.

The soft neck varieties do not  produce scapes but they do produce heads that are much larger and full of fat cloves of garlic.   We harvested these at 9 months and some of the heads were a good 3 inches across.

We have spread the harvested garlic out on our patio at home where I keep the ceiling fans blowing on them at all times to help dry them out.  My patio reeks of garlic!

 

Strawberries!

A little over one month after planting strawberry plants, we harvested our first two fruits this weekend.  On Friday, Anne and I shared the very first strawberry from our plot.  Steve and I split the second one on Sunday.  Someday soon, I hope to get a whole strawberry to myself!