Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spring Veggie Review

This week's record-breaking temperatures in the upper 90's have pretty much ended "spring" for us, even if Summer Solstice is not quite here. This seems like a good time to review the spring veggie season. For spring harvest, I planted lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, green onions, and peas - all for the first time.

Lettuce: directly sown into styrofoam fish box, very early in the spring. I over-sowed, and while the lush carpet of sprouts looked great, they were very hard to thin and I failed to be ruthless. The lettuce was productive, but would have grown larger if it were thinned better. The bigger problem was that no one really liked the "Black-Seeded Simpson" variety. DD15 and DH both thought it was bitter.

Spinach: directly sown into styrofoam fish box, very early in the spring. Again, over-sown and under-thinned. The plants are starting to bolt, without ever having gotten large enough to pick. I do still have some transplanted into the carrot bed, and they may still produce leaves.

Spinach Mustard: winter-sown in a tray enclosed in a bag. First thing to sprout in March. Way, way too densely-sown and hard to transplant. I had no place to go with these. A few went into the ill-fated Mom-box and are still growing - the critters didn't like them. The rest of the tray bolted (photo above) without getting more than an inch high - the crowding must have been too stressful. There are also a few in the ground near the carrots, but I think they are bolting, too.

Green Onions - directly sown in prepared ground in March. Slow to germinate. Fairly robust, but still not large enough to harvest. Seems to be a success. Could have been sown more evenly. Requires little labor beyond some weeding. I also planted lots of yellow and white onions from sets, to harvest later in the summer. I find the onions all to be low-labor and easy to weed. Onions may be cheap to buy, but they are also easy-peasy to grow. It felt very productive to have something to plant in the earliest part of the season.

Peas: directly sown around St. Patrick's Day. Pear tree twigs later added as pea trellis. These were a lot of fun to watch sprout and bloom. Pretty plants and flowers. We have already harvested all the peas and eaten them the same day. I need to add innoculant next time, to increase the yield. I would need to plant many more of them, if we want to have peas to freeze. I count the peas very much in the success column.

However, if our overall goal was to reduce our spending on produce, the spring was a failure. I've harvested and dried thyme, lemon balm, and mint. We ate a little of the lettuce, and about 2 cups or so of peas. But much was learned at little expense, which is valuable before we start growing on a larger scale. The germination was very successful, and the fish boxes are great containers. I need to work on less-dense sowing, better thinning, and more containers for transplanting. We would have been fine with 8-12 full-sized plants of each variety of greens, and I sowed hundreds. For lettuce, I think I want to stick with growing romaine, which everyone likes, and was grew nicely last year. I will have another shot at spinach and lettuce in the fall garden.

I've pulled out the lettuce in one fish box, and planted transplants of a head lettuce I hope is heat-tolerant. We also pulled out the pea vines today, and planted a short row of 20 cowpea seeds in their place.

So... on to summer gardening!

No comments: