Category Archives: Spinach

A Final Peek Under The Hoops

Time to take the plastic off.

This pic shows kale on the left side.  My notes read ‘Vates Kale’, but I didn’t note the seed vender.  I like this kale.  A few carrots are in the very front right side.  The empty space after the carrots is where spinach was planted.  Under all 3 of my hoops this past winter, I had a real problem with aphids.  They, of course, never freeze out under the hoops – nothing freezes under the hoop.  A bit further back, with the red stems, are Detroit beets.  I don’t know if they will mature in a month – within a month I will be pulling out everything except some kale and chard so that I can plant my spring crop of squash and peppers.  These cool weather crops had their chance.  If the beets don’t mature their roots, I will at least be able to harvest the greens.

I am really having a problem trying to figure out how to grow under the hoop in Texas.  This past winter started out in October with a rough week or 2 of freezes, then it was very warm for a few months and winter finished with a few weeks of freezing weather.  This lack of consistency causes problems like early  bolting and stunting.  I’m going to have to think this thru for next winter.  I also learned this winter to NOT grow broccoli or cabbage under the hoop.  (The cabbage & broccoli grown outside of the hoops is doing great.) I also can’t grow spinach under the hoop.  I’ll also have to be more vigilant about the aphids.  Also, the cos lettuce didn’t need to be under the hoops – it didn’t do well.  I think that the main reason that I planted all of these things under the hoops was to protect them from rabbits.  Last fall the rabbits ate all of my lettuce and spinach.  This winter they didn’t even touch any of the cabbage or broccoli that was planted in the open.  The only rabbit issue I had was one blue berry plant eaten.

Some of this gorgeous kale is bolting and some isn’t.  While I like this kale, I don’t believe a few plants will be enough to save for seeds.  Also, I just don’t have the room to let this leaf crop sprout it’s seed heads – that takes a lot of space.
under the hoop

This is a close up of the kale and small beets.
under the hoop beets kale lettuce

There is no reason to show pics of the other 2 hoop garden beds – they aren’t this impressive.

Last winter this bed provided me a bountiful crop of chard that I spent weeks dehydrating in the food dryer.  Chard will be one of my main hoop crops next winter.

Again, my hoop garden is 5′ wide & 16′ long.  A 10′ length of gray plastic conduit fits perfectly from one bottom edge to the other, held in place by a 2′ section of 3/8″ rebar cut into 2′ sections with 12″ of each piece pounded into the ground.  I bought a $40 box of thick plastic.  The 100′ roll was cut into four 25′ sections.  The 12′ width fit perfectly over the hoops with a foot on each end resting on the ground, weighted down with old 2×4 pieces of lumber.  The extra 3 to 4′ of plastic on each end was gathered and weighed down with a few bricks or rocks.

I like the idea of the hoop gardens, but I need to rethink this and work it some other way next winter.

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Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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Lettuce After The Rabbits Visited

Last winter rabbits ate all of my lettuce and spinach growing in this bed.  These few cos lettuce plants regrew, as did 2 spinach plants at the far end of the bed – top right of this pic.
cos lettuce regrew after the rabbits ate it

It is time to pick this lettuce – I don’t need the seeds so I’m not going to let it go to seed.  I planted peppers, basil, onions and squash around the lettuce.  (The peppers and onions were started from seed.  These basil are volunteers.)

Those are t-posts holding up a 16 foot cattle panel that the winter squash planted directly under it is going to grow up on.  I keep my beds heavily mulched with old leaves.  Raised beds are not the best idea here in hot, dry Texas, but it is how I have chosen to grow my garden in this red CLAY soil here.

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A Load of Horse Manure

My raised beds are filled with poor, sandy soil so I had to do something to get a serious amount of organic material into the beds.  My solution? A ton or 2 of composting horse manure from a local stable.  The trailer was fully loaded and piled high when I pulled it in.  It took me about 4 days of serious shoveling to get the other poop out of the trailer and into the beds.  I shoveled more out than is pictured.  Have to find a good place to store the rest until next spring planting.  I lined the trailer with an old tarp so as to not mess it up too much.
trailer load of horse manure

I put about 6 inches of horse manure into this bed and turned it in.  This picture shows that I still had a few more inches to add to this bed.    Since I had more horse manure than expected, I filled each bed to the top edge.

manure turned into garden

Another bed with the poop turned in to the soil and filled to the top edge of the bed.  Notice the prolific blooming of the morning glories in the back bed.

horse poop turned into garden soil

Put a few wheel barrows of nastier horse poop ( had beg clumps of hay in it and some that didn’t smell quite so composted) into the compost pile.

Horse manure is high in nitrogen, so hopefully the leafy greens that I grow in the winter – kale, lettuce, spinach and swiss chard will use up the excess nitrogen.  I don’t want an overload of nitrogen in the soil for the spring planting.  Too much nitrogen will produce lots of green plants and little fruit – so I am hoping that it will work out well for the winter leafy greens.  Will keep you posted.

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My Hoop Garden Is Taking Shape

I have prepared two of my raised beds for hoop gardens. I plan to do this for my 3rd bed that doesn’t have a raised cattle panel running down the middle of it.

The beds are made out of 16′ lengths of 1×6 treated lumber.  The boxes are 5′ wide.  I purchased four 20′ sections of 3/8″ rebar and had one of my sons cut them into 2′ sections.  I decided to put 7 hoops on each 16′ bed.  I pounded the 2′ sections of rebar 1′ into the ground, leaving 1′ above ground – the height of the bed side.   I used 10′ sections of gray electrical conduit to bend over the bed for the arch.  Each end of the conduit covers the raised 1′ section.  Hopefully this will be satisfactory to anchor the pressured ends of the conduit.  I plan to tie a piece of the gray conduit along the top of the arch to keep the pipes properly spaced.  I will then cover the arches with clear plastic.  I need to find a thick 50′ roll of plastic.  Twenty-five feet will cover each bed with enough to gather at the ends.  I need a roll that is at least 12′ wide so that it will cover the 10′ arch and leave at least a foot to lay on the ground and be weighed down by old garden timbers or lengths of wood.

I still need to work the ground around these beds – putting mulch around the beds.
hoop garden

Another view:
hoop garden

The winters here have been getting colder each year for a while now, so I am hoping these covered hoop beds will allow me to grow winter crops better.  On the list for my winter crops are:  cabbage, broccoli, spinach, lettuce – both leaf and cos, turnips, carrots, fava beans, peas and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.  Garlic doesn’t need to be protected from the freezes.

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Spinach

I planted spinach over a month ago, some 2 months ago. We have had some very cold days, but I really expected my spinach to be further along. For the first almost month after sprouting, the plants barely hung on. Within the past few weeks I can see them visibly growing larger.

This tiny spinach plant has to be at least 6 weeks old. I don’t think I noted the plant date in my garden notebook. (I really need to keep better records.)

Sinach sprout

These little guys (or girls) are all over the rows where I seeded them. As spring gets nearer, they should grow faster. I need to get busy planting more seeds in the next few weeks. I will have to plant them in between where I think I will be setting pepper and squash plants.

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