Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Garden Progress Report

You know you've caught the gardening fever when you are swept away by your fava beans. Favas are an architectural wonder. The leaf structures are fascinating. These plants are six inches tall now and bursting with energy.

Last summer I planted turnips for the fall and had the hardest time getting them to germinate. I planted seeds three times--I think it was the heat. Turnips like cool weather. Well, this has been an unusually cool spring for us here in the District of Columbia and the turnips are loving it.

The potato sets went into the ground the day after St. Patrick's Day and look at them now. I could sit and admire my potato plants all day, they are so rich in color and the deeply etched leaves give them a sculpted look. Different varieties have leaves etched in purple.

This is our first year planting spinach in our kitchen garden one mile from the White House and so far I am pleased with the results. I could have planted these much earlier, or even in the fall. I'd be happy if the cool weather holds.

The last few days have brought steady rains, which splatters soil underneath the leaves. When you plant seeds directly in the garden, there's always a period when the bare soil is exposed. I like to plant thickly: As the plants mature the foliage creates its own mulch, shading the soil to retain moisture and suppress weeds. It seems to work pretty well, and it saves having to move a bunch of mulch around. With bigger plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers I spread a thick layer of straw.

We love spicy greens so I plant lots of them. This is a patchwork quilt of mustards and Chineses greens in a bed 15 feet long and four feet wide. The white line you see running through the bottom of the picture is the string border I put up to keep the dog out. It works.

The onions are happy as clams. I recently planted French Breakfast radishes in between the two rows. We'll see how this interplanting scheme works. I was a little late out of the blocks with radishes this year.

This is year number two for our rhubarb plants, so we won't be harvesting much. It's best to wait until the third year to really start collecting the stems. Waiting gives the roots plenty of time to establish themselves. Rhubarb loves organic matter, so we worked lots of compost into the soil and mulched heavily with compost around the plants. No artificial fertilizers here, and you can see the results.


The Baklava Queen said...

Thanks for sharing the photos, Ed. I have yet to put most seeds in the ground (soon!!!) but seeing your seedlings makes me so happy to know I won't be too far behind. That spinach looks especially tasty!

Robin said...

Your mustard green photos made my heart flutter! Thanks for sharing. I was just harrumphing that there are still no mature greens yet (in NY) but your lush garden gives me hope.

HeatherJ said...

I just have to say that your garden is so cool!! I live on the other side of the street from you, and always admire your garden. It's nice to find your blog and read about your adventures.

Heather @ 2515 13th St