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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

We’ve tried for a couple of years to get great broccoli but it’s not working for us. Earlier this month we had a crazy hot spell — something you’d expect in July and not early May — with temperatures in the 80s and creeping toward 90 on some days.

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

It started really well — big leaves and small, compact broccoli heads. But once the temperatures spiked, it was all over. What broccoli was growing started to bolt. The stalks were separating and starting to produce flowers. Some of the other ones weren’t even growing (though now that the weather has cooled significantly, they seem to be bouncing back.)

Oh well. We plan try again in the fall, starting from seeds. Next year, I’m going to use our old garden beds as cold frames and get the broccoli, peas and lettuce started way early. Maybe even February. Maybe even when there is still snow on the ground. We’ll see how it goes.

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

Random side note:  This year when we cut the main heads, I discovered a cluster of what looked like yellow eggs on one of the broccoli stems. After a bit of searching, I came up empty as to what it was. Best guess was maybe ladybugs, but those looked like shinier eggs. It could just be a bunch of pollen trapped in a spider web, too. Has anyone else seen something like this?

 

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Radish ready to pick!

Radish ready to pick!

It’s pretty simple, actually. They’ll pop up out of the ground! We pulled four out so far, with more coming soon.

Even though radishes are spring crops, we plan to plant some more by the cucumbers because they help deter certain bugs, including the cucumber beetle which has hurt our plants every year.

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We’re now in mid-April and all our early spring crops are looking good! I’m kind of amazed at how much we have planted so far.

There are peas (sugar snap and snow), spinach, radishes, carrots, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and onions all doing really well, along with the garlic planted in the fall and chives that come back every year. Most of those are repeats from previous years, except the onions.

We decided to grow onions on a whim this year, even though they’re cheap to buy at the grocery store. After successfully growing garlic last season and learning how much better the homegrown variety was, we suspect onions will be the same. I found a bag of onion sets (they look like tiny, slender onions) that had red, yellow and white onions so we’re trying each variety. There are also a few squares we’ll use for onion seeds to have another later harvest (and for green onions).

We have tons of broccoli this year because the cell packs I bought had nine plants each instead of six, and I decided to try two different varieties. Some are planted in the garden beds and others in containers; same idea with the Brussels sprouts, which we can move around to find the ideal conditions/area for them to grow.

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The potatoes we accidentally grew this year!

The potatoes we accidentally grew this year!

A while ago I posted about some mystery plants growing in our garden. Unfortunately, the “carrots” and “peppers” were just weeds.

We guessed right about the borage and the “tomato” actually turned out to be a potato.

We pulled it up early because it was shading out our tiny tomato plant, but they were delicious!

It was a happy accident and if another one happens to pop up from in-bed composting, we’ll let it go!

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Here are the final two of our “mystery plants” found in the garden. I really have no idea what either of these are but with some searching I have a best guess — borage and carrots.

MysteryPlantsThe borage makes sense because we did have that in several beds so it’s very likely a seed or two were dropped somewhere else. But carrots? We didn’t grow any carrots last year, although we are trying them this year.

My only theory for how a carrot could possibly have gotten to our garden is our in-bed composting from this year. And maybe that’s what’s responsible for our other “mystery plants”

It’s quite possible that I cut of an end of carrot, tossed it in the compost bin and never thought of it again until this spring.

If that really is what happened — again, we’ll never know — I think that’s amazing! It shows you how resilient plants can be, and if we get a few random plants from the compost, well, that’s fine by me.

 

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Since we put everything in the ground, there’s not much to report and most of it seems to be doing well. I think the rain and warm, but not too hot, temperatures helped the plants along.

The broccoli has big healthy leaves, and a couple of plants are starting to form heads. The peas have sprouted and are starting to grow tendrils, and the row of radishes did so well it really needs to be thinned. Our lettuce is forming nice little leaves, and even the spinach has stopped looking like grass and grown its “true leaves.”

I keep waiting for the garlic to sprout its scapes, but so far it hasn’t happened yet. The four elephant garlic that survived are huge! They come all the way up to my hip, and I can’t imagine how big these bulbs will be, but we’re excited to find out!

We’re also discovering some mystery plants, and I’ll share those pictures later. If they are what I think then we’re going to be stocked on seedlings this year!

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Our garlic, left, growing strong in front of the peas, and our newly planted broccoli, with garlic behind it.

Our garlic, left, growing strong in front of the peas, and our newly planted broccoli, with garlic behind it.

It was much later than we planned, but we finally have our spring plants in the ground. The weather was so radical in its swings – warm, sunny days followed by freezing temperatures, a bit of snow and days of heavy rain – I was afraid if we planted any earlier nothing would survive.

So right now we have broccoli, spinach, lettuce, radishes and snow/sugar snap peas in the ground.

All seem to be doing well, even though it’s only been about week. And now that we’re “veteran broccoli growers,” we know what to keep an eye on as far as leaf/bug issues.

The squirrels have been digging a bit, probably trying to find the last of the acorn stash, and even turned up a few pea seeds. But, the good news is they were sprouting, so we’ll at least have a few plants! We’ll have to find some method to keep them out until everything germinates and is coming up, maybe some netting will help.

We also have some kale seeds started in small cell packs to transplant when they get bigger. The garlic is also looking great, and we can’t wait until we’re able to harvest it.

 

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