Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cauliflower?

I sprouted a few cauliflower plants and planted them in the location of this plant – I think this is cauliflower.  The shape of the tiny head is more like cauliflower than broccoli.   If it is, the head won’t be blanched – it is probably too late to tie the leaves over the head, covering it up.  It will mature as green cauliflower.  I recall planting a few cauliflower seedlings, but they were smaller than the broccoli sprouts.   These plants grow differently than broccoli plants – these leaf branches grow upwards and create a sort of funnel down to the head.

cauliflower?

Notice that along the sides of the beds I plant onions. I grow onions along the outside edges of my beds. I didn’t start many onion seeds, thus I need to buy onion sets, quickly. Time to get them in the ground!  Around here, we have to have our onions planted in late January, or at least by now, mid-February.  Onions need to be harvested before the hot weather of late spring – that means they need to be pulled in May.  Otherwise, the leaves die off when it gets hot.  Then, in the fall when cooler weather gets here, the lost bulbs re-sprout.  Very cute seeing all of the rejuvenated onions come back to life.

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Garden Broccoli vs. Store Bought Broccoli

Here is a comparison between garden grown broccoli and store bought broccoli.  The garden broccoli is on the left, it is looser and I prefer to pick it just before it flowers, usually after a couple of yellow flowers have bloomed.  We like the lighter crunch texture of the larger, almost blooming broccoli buds.  Each individual almost blooming bud has a nice, light hollow crunch.  The store broccoli is more of a solid, hard lump that takes effort to chew. The store broccoli was picked way too early, but crops harvested for store sale must be picked early to allow shipping time and shelf life.  (For all I know, the store broccoli may be an hybrid specifically bred to have tiny, hard buds, who knows).   I check my garden daily and pick broccoli when it is absolutely ready to eat.

garden broccoli vs store broccoli

If you don’t like store bought broccoli, I bet you WILL like fresh garden broccoli!

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The Winter Garden Grows On

It looks like this winter we will not have the deadly freezes of last year.  It is mid February and we haven’t had the below-freezing temps for days on end.  Last year it devastated the crops.  I had planned to build a hoop house out of one of my 4′ x 28′ raised beds, but I never had to actually put them up.  I expect to have to in a year or so since we are entering a mini-ice age.

Most of the broccoli has been harvested.  This is the last big head.

last full broccoli head

Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, the head should mature at 2-4 lbs, (the heads are cone shaped) and in 60-75 days after transplant:

early jersey wakefield cabbage

Ruby Perfection red cabbage, the head matures at about 3 lbs, and in about 75 days after transplant:

ruby perfection red cabbage

Flat Dutch Cabbage, these should mature at 8 lbs. This is a late cabbage, meaning it takes longer to mature. In this case, that is 85-95 days after transplant:

Flat Dutch Cabbage

Different varieties of cabbages have different looking leaves, of course, but I haven’t grown enough varieties often enough to have memorized their leaves. I am also growing a dozen -plus Golden Acre cabbages. They should come in at about 2 lbs, just like grocery store variety cabbages.  They quite frankly aren’t as fascinating as Early Jersey Wakefield or Flat Dutch cabbages.

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Lettuce Sprouting All Over The Place

This past summer I let almost a dozen Parris Isle cos lettuce plants go to seed. I harvested over a quarter cup of seeds. Plenty of other seeds landed all over the place and sprouted in the walkway, in empty pots, in beds, just where ever they landed.

Here are a couple of pics of lettuce sprouting in walkways:

Lettuce sprouting in walkways

Lettuce sprouting by clay pot

As a curious note: I have noticed that these saved seeds that I have deliberately scattered around in patches in the garden have produced a lettuce plant that never seems to fully mature into the large, 12″+ high, large heads that the plants they came from did. Lettuce self pollinates, so I don’t see how it could be a matter of bad or limited genetics. Then, after growing to 8 to 10 inches, the plants quickly die out. I’ll try to get a pic up. I’m not saving seed from these plants. I have fresh seed for next season.

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Lets Talk About The Lettuce In The Greenhouse

I grow my leaf lettuce in the greenhouse because leaf lettuce can freeze. I grow most of my cos lettuce outside because cos lettuce can freeze solid and thaw out perfectly in the sun the next day. It is amazing.

Two views of the lettuce I grow on shelves in the greenhouse:

lettuce in the greenhouse

lettuce on greenhouse shelf

The leaf lettuce is further in on the shelves, the cos lettuce is closer to the camera.

These cos lettuce seedlings need to be planted in the ground outside:

seedlings that need to be planted in the ground

A closeup of leaf lettuce:

closeup of leaf lettuce

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A Disappointing Sweet Potato Harvest

In an earlier post, I showed pics of the sweet potatoes that were growing in the greenhouse. (I planted sweet potatoes in the greenhouse ground, not knowing what else could grow in the sun-screened structure that still reached daytime temps well into the low 100s).

Here is a pic, again of the sweet potato vines. They were prolific, constantly growing up the walls, only to fall back down onto the other vines when they grew too far up the walls. A very thick patch of vines.

sweet potato vines in a green house

I planted them a bit late, late in May instead of mid or early April. They did, however, get their full 150 growing days. I harvested them after a freeze that was cold enough to actually freeze most of the leaves in the greenhouse. That was around Thanksgiving. They had over 4 months, close to 5 months to grow. That should have been plenty of time.

This is the pitiful harvest:

a pitiful sweet potato harvest

Something went terribly wrong. I only fertilized once – that was after a bad attack of spider mites. The mites killed about half of the leaves before I realized what was happening and treated with neem oil. They had a full 3 months of growth after that incident.

Sweet potatoes are supposed to be pretty idiot-proof. Where did I go wrong? I am going to plant them again in the GH, after the Fava Beans and English Peas are harvested this spring.

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