Mary's Veggie Garden

March 24, 2014

March 24: Invincible Snowdrops!

Filed under: Sweet Potatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:15 am
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I’ve long known that snowdrops bloom early: they are first to bloom in my yard. But I was surprised to see this plant that pushed through the icy snow bank. This is a ‘Giant Snowdrop’, Galanthus elwesii.

Giant Snowdrop

Giant Snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii

These snowdrops are in a tiny garden between the driveway pavement, the steps, and the patio. The picture shows the remains of the 4′ deep snow bank that’s covered the area since early February.

The snowdrop garden.

The snowdrop garden. It’s difficult to see the snowdrops against the ice.

In the vegetable garden, most of the fall planted spinach survived but the kale looks doubtful. Some of the spinach was direct sown Tyee, the rest was purchased transplants; both look OK. Neither the kale nor the spinach received any protection from the weather except the 30″ of snow that covered them for the coldest 6 weeks of Feb. and March.

3/24  fall planted Tyee spinach. It's so nice to see a bit of new green.

3/24 fall planted Tyee spinach. It’s so nice to see a bit of fresh green.

Gardening proceeds indoors. The onion, lettuce, and celeriac starts are in the basement, under lights. I rooted up the first batch of sweet potatoes in water, then potted them up.

It is interesting to see the differences between varieties when rooting mother sweet potatoes. I placed all of these in water the same day  (around 3/10) and photographed them on 3/21. Most sweet potatoes root from the bottom tip as shown by these Lace Leaf and Purple spuds.

Laceleaf sweet potatoes.

Laceleaf sweet potatoes.

Purple Sweet Potato

Purple sweet potatoes. I should have potted these when the roots were only 1/2″ long.

Georgia Jets are the slowest of my varieties to root. They usually root at the tip but will sometimes produce roots higher up. Yes, the two on the right do have roots but they are barely visible.

Georgia Jets sweet potatoes are barely showing roots.

Georgia Jets sweet potatoes are barely showing roots.

Frazier Whites produce roots all over.  For the last two years I’ve only seen roots at the very top, so this year I was surprised to see a Frazier White root at the bottom.

Frazier White sweet potatoes

Frazier White sweet potatoes

Here they are, all potted up.  See those tiny slips at the tops? In a few weeks I’ll be removing the slips for rooting.

Sweet potatoes potted up for slip production

Sweet potatoes potted up for slip production

This is a lot of sweet potatoes, because I’m growing slips for the garden at Locust Grove. I expect each potted potato to produce  6 or more slips. Actually the mother potatoes just keep on producing slips, the problem is getting about 20 of each variety by planting time the last week of May.

I finished my garden plans this week and was happy to discover the peas go into an area that is already snow free. However we are still in the ice box: the temperature as I took the snowdrop and spinach pictures was only 21°F (-6°C).

March 17, 2014

3/17 Sign of Spring

Filed under: Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 2:49 pm

Even though the temperature is barely above freezing, I’m thinking spring might come soon. It’s not just the calendar: the birds are lively, the goldfinches are molting into their summer plumage, and about half the lawn and garden has melted clear of snow. Although my snowdrops are still covered by piled snow, I spotted this on the slope behind the mailbox:

Daffodils emerge as the snow recedes.

Daffodils emerge as the snow recedes.

The snow is melting gradually and the plants closest to the snow have only just emerged, as shown by their blanched, yellow color.

Rotation Plan

I’m finally motivated  to work on my garden plan. Crop rotation is a key consideration for pest and disease control. I’ve had the same two plots in the community garden since 2006 so every year I add a column for the new plan. This year I finally got smart and color coded the cells by plant family: red for solanaceous crops (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes), yellow for cucurbits (squashes, cucumbers, melons), orange for carrots, violet for corn and olive green for soy/sweet potatoes. (They are not in the same family but they are often in the same bed.) The colors make it easier to see the location of a particular family through the years.  I didn’t color most of the perimeter beds because the plantings are often mixed.

The goal is to use a rotation of 3 or more years. This was difficult when half the garden was cucurbits, but it’s getting easier as I diversify crops.

Beds 2-9 are about 3.75’x 15′. Perimeter beds are 18″ wide and circle the 20’x40′ garden except for two gates.

bed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
South 11, path potatoes Naokos broccoli peas peppers beets beans soy brassica carrots (e), onions, brassicas (w) carrots (w), brassicas, onions (e) w-> e: Soy, beets, beans,chard, onions w->e: onions, peas & carrots w->e: peas then brassicas, peppers, sunflowers
North 12, Jim broccoli peppers potatoes/ kidney beans cucumber brassica carrots peppers peppers (w), carrots (e) x w->e carrots, celeriac brassicas w->e: Brassicas, carrots w->e: cucumber, tomatoes, celeriac, beets&chard, cabbage
West 10, Charlie cabbages potatoes soy carrots onions, cabbage peppers carrots Chard & beets onions
9 squash carrots / onions cantaloupe soy sweet potatoes squash beets, cukes, potatoes, fall: peas, lettuce cantaloupes corn sweet potatoes
8 squash Naokos tomato, cukes, soy watermelon cucumbers beets squash tomatoes, onions, fall, north end brassicas squash, lettuce sweet potatoes, celeriac potatoes
7 squash soy / sweet potato squash potatoes onions cantaloupe corn, beans, onions, beets, fall broccoli (north) squash, kohlrabi, ch. Cab tomatoes carrots
6 squash lettuce squash tomatoes onions watermelons soy, sweet potatoes corn squash tomatoes
5 cantaloupe squash lettuce beets potatoes beets onions cantaloupe corn, beans squash/ brassicas tomatoes, peppers squash soy
4 watermelon squash / sunflowers carrots bunching onions watermelon potatoes, beets Squash / kohlrabi sweet potatoes cucumbers peas, fallow corn
3 soy sweet potato watermelons Tomatoes onions carrots squash, corn, kohlrabi soy, sweet potatoes Watermelon / lettuce corn Potatoes, peas & broccoli squash
2 carrots radishes cantaloupes sweet potatoes soy squash, corn, Chinese cabbage onions, tomatoes Cantaloupe / lettuce potatoes, beans soy squash
east 1 carrots peppers soy brassica cukes, sqash, melon, P tomatillo carrots onions peppers Brassica: broccoli

I’ve also considered crop spread: squashes will run under the corn, and the sweet potatoes will be spreading into the tomatoes about the time the tomatoes die.

Now it’s time to draw up the garden map.

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