The tatsoi has sprouted nicely, the orach pretty well, and the mizuna, lettuce, and cutting greens sparsely. Keeping the soil surface moist has been a challenge this week due to extremely high winds (strong east winds blew the farm stand over yesterday) and very low humidity.
I finished installing the garden irrigation system today. We can run two soaker hoses on each of the six garden rows.
This evening we planted tatsoi, muzuna, and orach in row 5, and little gem lettuce and cutting mix in row 6 (3×3 patches about 6 feet in from the east end). The seeds are so tiny, they remind me of having “faith as a grain of mustard seed.” It’s hard to believe that these ones will grow into food for the dinner table.
I want to be a radish-lover. They are beautiful, crunchy and a give you fresh garden produce in early March. But the truth is, I haven’t quite developed a taste for them.
I learned this week that you can roast radishes with butter and salt. I never thought to roast them. So, today I’m planting radishes so that in 28 days I can see if I like roasted radishes. Also, it’s February and I’m tired of waiting for winter to be over. (Sorry, February!)
Winter isn’t bad. In fact, I’m learning about winter gardening. I planted garlic in September last year and it’s growing! It’s pretty incredible that we can plant things in the fall and they’ll survive and grow slowly during winter. Our kale and chard has been producing all winter. It’s slow, but we’re still able to harvest at least weekly!
The snow and ice we got over the weekend is gone. Now we’re expecting temps in the 40s over the next week. It’s feeling springy!
I spread more sulphur on the garden a couple weeks ago to lower the pH further. A couple days ago, I lightly pruned the young fruit trees. This weekend, an ice storm encased everything in up to an inch of ice. Our kale still looks like it will survive, though.
We picked our first ounce of beans today. 😉 The beans that were barely alive are now looking quite healthy and should produce a good crop. The first cucumber and pepper should be ready this week. My peas are almost done for the season. They weren’t nearly as productive as last year but still provided some good table fare. The chard and kale continue to produce like gangbusters.
Our neighbors’ field was cut and bailed over the past week. They generously gave us some bales for our sheep.
Our other neighbors have us three probably-fertilized turkey eggs, and one of our chickens is broody, so we’re letting her sit on them. It’ll be a couple more weeks before we find out if they hatch.
We transplanted a bell pepper plant and basil today. The pepper plant is larger than the one we transplanted way back in early May. I think we really need to be more patient with planting. Things that are planted too early languish and get ravished by bugs. Now that the soil has warmed up, things are finally taking off: corn, bean, beet, tomato, cucumber, and squash plants are all looking fairly healthy.
On the other hand, I wonder, if we fix the pH problem, will plants do better earlier in the season?
Lastly, today we transplanted an oak tree we got from our friends.
For the last few weeks Josh has been threatening to pull out the kale if we don’t start using it. The truth is that by the time I’m done making dinner, the last thing I want to do is harvest a fistful of raw ingredient, dirty up another pan and prep a side dish–I’m just mentally ready to sit down and relax. Truly, I LOVE having kale with dinner. When Josh comes in from work with a bouquet of kale and pulls out a pan, I am so grateful.
Late last night as we sat around the table with the kids, Josh started looking up ways to preserve kale. (No way I’m canning it–that’s gross) He suggested freezing it raw or blanching it first then freezing it. Less work is better, so I ran out to the garden in the dark and grabbed some to wash and freeze so we could test it out.
This morning I cooked the frozen kale, which didn’t even need to be defrosted. I put a little water in the pan, threw in the frozen kale, steamed it, then quickly and buttered/salted it. It was PERFECT!
Today I picked, portioned, and processed 2 lbs 12 ounces of kale (both varieties that we have). I froze them in 3 ounce chunks, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer bag. I was able to get 9 three ounce pouches of washed, deveined and ready-to-steam kale.
Our garden continues to languish while we see lots of things growing around us.
We did a red cabbage pH test yesterday, and I think we found a major problem.
From right to left, the first four are the rows of our garden from south to north. All rows are too alkaline, especially #2 and #3. Next is soil from north of the barn, where we plan to plant blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries next year. It’s also too alkaline, especially for blueberries. Next is the only good news in this test: our well water is pH neutral! After that is tap water, which is alkaline. Then distilled water, our pH neutral control.
We also bought an electronic soil pH tester yesterday. I can’t get any reliable results out of it.
We immediately went to the at store, bought 50 pounds of granular elemental sulfur, and spread about 10 pounds on the garden rows (including a little on rows 5 and 6). We’ll spread the rest in the future berry patch area later this summer.
Fortuitously, it rained last night and absolutely poured today, so that will help get the sulfur into the soil… but it will still take months for bacteria to concert it to sulfuric acid and lower the pH of the soil. In the meantime, Heather is experimenting with a watered down vinegar solution to see if it helps in the short term.
Trying to keep up on what Heather has been planting…
The carrots she planted on April 11 didn’t sprout. She replanted today.
Half of the beans that she planted on April 17 didn’t sprout. She replanted today.
She transplanted a gypsy pepper plant today.
Miniature slugs have been eating several of our garden plants the past couple weeks. We have been picking them off and they seem to be diminishing, but not before doing a fair bit of damage to my peas.