Monday, May 17, 2010

Harvest Monday and vegetable update

Thinned out lettuce continues to be my Harvest Monday story. On Saturday midday, I checked in on my Minton Stable Garden plot as I waited to receive a walking tour that a BNAN volunteer was leading. We were one of the final stops of the handful of featured Jamaica Plain community gardens, and by that point, only a few people had stuck with it (my theory: the tour shrank as it passed Doyle's), but they were impressed with the attention many people have been giving to their plots. After hearing me ramble on about the history of the garden and showing them the John Carroll memorial and wildflower area, they were interested in what I was growing. So I showed them the lettuces, snap peas (some about 8 inches high), the Chinese cabbage and broccoli raab I had planted from seed about a week ago that were germinating, the strawberries (with small white fruits budding), and the mound of black-eyed Susans (now the circumference of a large hula hoop and in sore need of thinning). As you can probably guess, I was without my camera, so you'll need to rely on older photos and your imagination.Lunch was calling, so before I left, I thinned out the Summertime Iceberg and Forellenschluss Romaine lettuces. To understand why they need to be grown in the sun, one needs only to compare this harvest (above) to the thinner, wimpier leaves picked earlier this evening (below) from the shady backyard garden my daughter and I planted. The MSG crops seem to have more bones to them, and if we continue to enjoy daytime temperature ranges in the 50s-70s, I'll be posting photos of full, crunchy heads by the beginning of June. If you want to compare these lettuces to others across the country and beyond, visit the Harvest Monday posts listed at Daphne's Dandelions.But I don't want to jinx the situation. Anything can go wrong; today I encountered a familiar-looking scourge on my Tyee spinach. Already. I'm beginning to wonder that the only way to avoid leaf miners is to grow spinach in the fall.At home, I've been hardening off my tomato and brassica seedlings. Last week I transplanted my Black Prince and Rose de Berne tomatoes into larger containers and practiced more vigilance in giving them some time on the sunny front porch, and my efforts are paying off. They are catching up to where they probably should be at this time, and I may be able to plant them out this weekend.I can't seem to achieve the same momentum for my broccoli and cauliflower. One year ago today, my Fiesta organic broccoli was not only twice the size as this year's, but already in the ground. This year, I'll be lucky if I can plant out all six of these: two Charming Snow cauliflower, three Fiesta organic broccoli, and the most advanced, the Piricicaba broccoli. I had started four times as many seeds; if I had had more time I would have moved more into larger pots, but I doubt the results would have been different. Now I'm wondering if I can still plant them out this weekend or if I need to wait for them to fatten up a little more. That, along with the arrival of the community garden compost delivery from BNAN and the purchase of a new camera (I've narrowed it down to a particular Canon model) will hopefully happen soon.

Monday, May 3, 2010

There. A harvest.

Finally, my long absence from Harvest Monday has ended. A week or so ago, I commented to Daphne that I would return soon, even with a yield of thinned-out lettuce plants. And here we have them, mainly the Summertime Iceberg my daughter sowed behind our garage sometime in March, the first seeds of our 2010 gardens. I waved hello to my Minton Stable Community Garden plot yesterday as I rode home from a conference that had kept me indoors most of the weekend. My Iceberg and Romaine lettuces as well as my spinach were not as far along, as they were planted a few weeks later, but because they receive more sunlight the leaves were firmer and healthier. Those seedlings will outpace whatever my daughter and I plant in our increasingly shady backyard. Still, we manage to reap enough greens to make the backyard efforts worthwhile. A few years ago, my husband built some boxes along a retaining wall at the edge of our driveway that gets more sun, so I may try some Chinese cabbage and Quarantina Raab, although I probably should have planted them yesterday.

Since I wrote that first paragraph, the lettuce leaves, shown above, were combined with store-bought Romaine, rinsed with boiled water, and consumed in a salad. I'm looking forward to my locally-grown lettuce and other greens making up a larger percentage of our vegetable intake.

For more (and probably better) harvest news, visit the other blogs listed at Daphne's Dandelions that are participating in Harvest Monday.