First Harvest

RadishesRadishes. First planted. First harvested. These are Early Scarlet Globe from Seed Saver’s Exchange. These were planted the end of April along with my carrots, peas, lettuce and spinach. I plant radishes in the same space as my carrots which helps break up the soil for the carrot roots to get down deeper.

These are just delicious. If you haven’t tasted homegrown radishes, you need to. The initial bite is crisp and sweet and ends with a spicy peppery finish. A perfect addition to any salad or eat right out of the garden.  I will let some radishes go to seed. Radish seed pods are just as delicious and can be eaten raw or thrown into a stir fry.

It’s wonderful growing all your salad ingredients. Unfortunately, not everything is ready at the same time! But picking a variety of lettuce, spinach and other greens still makes for a delightful meal or side dish.

I like to grow leaf lettuce as opposed to head lettuce. It allows for continual harvesting and you can pick when very young for micro greens or when mature. An easy way to wash these delicate leaves is to fill the sink with water and swish them around.

Washing LettuceThen add them to your salad spinner to spin off the extra water. To further dry them, lay out on paper towels and toss. Do not press in between the paper towels as you can bruise the leaves. For the final step the keep your greens dry line your baggie with paper towels and add your green in between them as show here:

storing lettuceThis will keep your greens dry and crisp and will last a surprisingly long time in the fridge, up to 10 days or longer.

I am also currently harvesting spinach, Swiss chard, endive and thinning my beets and using the beet leaves, too.

Mmmmmm, salad.

 

Rain,

I don’t mind. Shine, the weather’s fine.

As a gardener, I love when it rains. It means I don’t have to do any of the watering for a while. I need to set up a drip system, but for now I hand water everything. Many times that means I’m out in my garden 9:00 at night after getting everyone to bed. Luckily in the middle of summer it’s still light out. But right now it means watering in the dark.

Last year we bought a rain barrel. I researched on-line about making our own, but I really wanted to make sure that our container was food grade plastic. If you’re using a rain barrel just for flowers or your lawn, any plastic container could work, but I’d still be cautious as plastic that heats up leaches out many bad chemicals. Since it would still take time to find a food grade container, we decided to buy from a local business. And they are actually just up the street from us. Check out Rain Barrels Iowa for more information about collecting and using rain water. Here is a diagram from their website explaining an average household’s water usage and how a rain barrel can really help.

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Steve made a great stand for the rain barrel, which is a used jalapeno barrel. We added a diverter to the downspout, so we can easily switch when rain goes into the barrel or straight out of downspout. The rain barrel also has an overflow outlet for when it fills. And it seems that it doesn’t take much for it to fill!

What can you use the water for in your rain barrel? Every kind of non-potable use. Water your veggie or flower garden. Water your houseplants, wash your windows or your car. You can even use it for laundry. I use it for my woodland garden (lots of ferns and hostas), as well as over in the fairy garden where a hose doesn’t reach. I also fill a container to sprinkle over my compost pile.

So while some people grumble about rain, I relish in it. I know my gardens are getting a good soaking and the rain barrel is filling up. Plus, after living in Portland, OR for 16 years I find the rain (and humidity) is really good for my skin and hair.

Rain, I don’t mind.

Spring has finally arrived

What  a long winter we all had. Everyone has been talking about it and we were all so giddy on the first nice day we could get. But for so long those nice days were just that….one day. Then back to the cold. March was such a teaser and we were so anxious to get out. Then came April, I knew good weather was just around the corner.

I’m not one to do too much planning over the winter. I think it just makes me too anxious and impatient. So out came my seed catalogs and my paper to draw out the garden. My two favorite places to order is Territorial Seed Company in London Springs, Oregon and Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA. Steve and I discussed what worked last year, what we liked and new things we’d like to try. So I drew out my plans and placed my order.

Last weekend I got all the tools out and started digging, prepping and readying my beds. I feel fortunate that we have good soil. There isn’t much I have to do for amendments. This year I just added some Oma-Gro. I’d really like to try a green cover crop to till in. That would make the garden look good over the winter, too.

This weekend was Easter and absolutely beautiful weather. The Farmer’s Almanac says to plant potatoes on or right after Good Friday. So the potatoes got planted! Since I don’t have a lot of space for good crop rotation, I decided to try potatoes in pots. I’m using an older planter and an actual potato planter bag. I planted German Butterball, a buttery-fleshed spud and Sangre, a red-skinned, white-fleshed tater.

I erected my trellis using bamboo sticks and chicken wire for the peas, Serge and Green Arrow. It will be fun to sit around the table with the family shelling them. Before we know it, we’ll have peas! I also planted carrots, radishes, a variety of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, endive and beets.

It was a long day and I was exhausted. But it’s so rewarding seeing the sprouts shoot up and watching everything grow! More planting won’t happen until the soil warms up so here’s to hoping for many days of warm weather. I’ll get the rest of the seeds in once it’s warm enough and my tomato and pepper starts will be shipped in mid-May.ImageImage