Mary's Veggie Garden

July 17, 2017

July 17, 2017 Community Gardens Plot Tour and Harvest

Filed under: Cabbage,Floating Row Cover,Lettuce,Onions,Seeds,Sweet Potatoes,Tomatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 6:40 pm

Yesterday, I photographed my garden plot at the Vassar Farm Community Gardens. My plot is 20’x40′ laid out in beds 3.5’x14′ with 18″  wide beds along the fence.

This lovely weed, possibly a white heath aster, greets me at the gate. The old 2×4’s weigh down cardboard that keeps weeds out of the fence.

Overwintered Swiss Chard blooms just inside the gate.

Swiss chard is a biennial, blooming its second year. Sown May 2016, this plant survived the winter under a heap of abandoned light weight floating row cover. In forty years of growing chard, this is the first I’ve seen survive the winter. I’ve often wondered what happened the second summer.

Peppermint Swiss chard before harvest.

Two hours later – chard after harvesting 4 pounds.

The floating row cover protects broccoli, cabbage and kale from the ravages of cross-striped cabbage worms and imported cabbage worms. Background – my preferred vehicle for traveling to the Farm.


Foreground – sweet potatoes; back – cucumbers. The cucumbers had been growing under a row cover for protection against the bacterial wilt spread by cucumber beetles. I uncovered them for pollination when they started flowering a couple days ago.


A shade cover keeps a new carrot planting moist while germinating.

The shade cover is a piece of concrete reinforcing wire covered by a piece of old sheet. I sewed leftover bias binding to the sheet corners to use as ties.  I start a new section of carrots every 2 weeks during June and July. Even with shade I water the seed bed every 2-3 days. Germination is excellent under the cover.

The tiny plants in the foreground are more sweet potatoes. They are growing very slowly this year. The row cover protects cabbages and Chinese cabbages. Edemame soy beans and  corn are growing in the bed behind the row cover. Butternut squash is just beyond and tomatoes are last. The tomato plants are short and bushy because they were shredded by hail in early June.

The west side – Copra and Cabernet onions are against the fence. Bush beans are growing & flowering under the row cover for protection against Mexican Bean beetles.  Behind the beans are a few beets and a planting of summer crisp lettuces.

In the front are two blooming Cimmaron Romaine lettuce plants. Behind are my first carrot planting and more onions.

I try to harvest all the lettuce before it bolts but I always plant too much. I allow the last plants that bolt to set seed. I want to select for plants with delayed bolting when I save seed.

Harvest is the last job before I bike home. I try to keep the food in the shade of the bike, but there is precious little shade at noon. Shown here: 4 pounds of chard, some Lactinato kale and a bag of broccoli – one head and lots of side shoots. The onions and lettuce didn’t make the picture and the strawberries were eaten.



February 4, 2013

Germination Test of Bean Seed

Filed under: Beans,Gardening,Seeds,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 9:08 am

I grow Jacob’s Cattle dried beans. I let the pods dry on the plant, snip them off when dry, dry them a few more days, then shell out the beans. Good beans are burgundy with white markings.

Jacob’s Cattle beans. The discolored beans on top were germination tested.

Jacob’s Cattle is a bush bean. There are always some pods that hang low enough to drag the ground. If it gets rainy while the beans are drying, the pods may turn black and mildewed where they touch the ground. Inside the mildewed pod, the bottom bean or two is often sprouted and moldy. I discard those. Beans higher up in the pod sometimes are discolored but without mold. The discoloration is from being partially dried, then getting damp, then drying again. Although I don’t save them for eating, I’ve often wondered if these discolored beans could be saved as seed. Or has the dampness caused by the pod touching the ground ruined their viability?

I started the germination test Nov. 11 with 10 ugly beans.

I started my germination test Nov. 11 with 10 ugly beans.

Seeds are folded in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag for the test.

Seeds are folded in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag for the test.

In November I taught a class on Seeds and Transplants and in class I discussed seed germination testing.  Students were asked to test the discolored seed as homework.

I tested 10 of those seeds myself and 9 germinated.  Usually beans grow quickly and five of my seeds had good-sized roots showing 6 days later. I discarded the growing seeds and put the rest back in the plastic bag for a few more days. In another 3 days four of the remaining seeds had germinated.

Germination results on Nov. 17.

Germination results on Nov. 17.

Results: of 40 seeds tested 32 germinated.
Now that I know the seed is viable, should it be used as seed stock? It doesn’t meet the standards of the seed industry – I’ve never seen discolored bean seed in a seed packet. And knowing the seed has been wet then dried, there is probably some danger of some sort of mold or mildew contamination – even if I cannot see it. You can probably tell – I’m still undecided.

Nov. 17, 4 more growing.

Nov. 17, four of the ungerminated beans in the previous photo are growing.

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