As uneventful as December is in the edible garden, late January and early February are really exciting. It’s time to clean the garden beds, pull all the frozen plants, prune perennial herbs, and get the beds ready for spring planting. Today the garden is looking great, and I feel the promise of spring around the corner.
Temperatures are still cool enough for a few winter crops, so last weekend I planted more cauliflower and ‘Oregon Giant’ peas, a napa cabbage and another ‘Bright Lights’ chard seedling, and some green and purple kohlrabi seeds which I have never grown before but love to eat.
On the newly cleaned beds, today I planted more multi-color beets, ‘Carnival Blend’ rainbow carrots, heirloom watermelon radishes, shallots, and onion transplants of white ‘Bermuda’ and ‘Red Belle’ purples. We have some cool ideas for planting potatoes (and more onions) above ground, inspired by an idea from Cecilia Nasti’s Field & Feast, in an attempt to use some of the debris that Will has been accumulating behind his workshop. I have bought ‘Yukon Gold’ seed potatoes and am waiting for the cool varieties that should be arriving at the Natural Gardener, including fingerlings and blues!
For some reason, and I have read this same complaint from other gardening bloggers, the Brussels sprout plants are doing well but not forming little heads. They make the blooms on the stalk but they don’t stay as heads, instead they open up like blossoms. I am sure they will still be tasty but I am disappointed on my first attempt at growing these coveted veggies. Anybody out there having the same problem or knows what I am doing wrong?
Now is also the time to plant fruit trees. Finally I managed to get one, an ‘Orient’ pear sapling that will hopefully cross-pollinate with the existing -and dying- pear tree we have. We think it’s a ‘Kieffer’ but not really sure. Unfortunately I didn’t do my pear homework before we bought it so turns out we were misled by the Natural Gardener person and ‘Orient’ is not a very tasty pear, but rather hard, coarse, and similar to the one we already have. Oh well, we’ll make the best of it I guess. Of course Rosie helped with the digging.
She also figured out how to harvest her own broccoli leaves. I usually give them the leaf stalks to chew on, and they love them. But why wait for someone to give them to you if you can get your own NOW? As I was cleaning up the plants she came up and took the stem, broke it off the plant and ran away with her crunchy treat, then did it again and again until I had to shoo her away!
At least she hasn’t figured out about the carrots yet, but yesterday they helped themselves to a bag of prunes from the pantry drawer and ate the whole thing, pits and all. My dogs, I swear…