Sunday, May 23, 2010

Last Spinach Harvest

I woke up at 6 am this morning to a warbling vireo and a field of fog outside my window. Last night I just wanted to go to sleep fast so I could wake up and get to Sunday. Like a little kid. I was looking forward to a sunny day in the garden and then a bike ride to the arts festival downtown and some live music. And maybe some ice cream.

I figured I could get all of my transplants in the ground, dig up the rest of the cover crop, and harvest all of the spinach. Well, I was able to harvest the spinach. It took two hours to cut, wash and bag it. It was HOT out there. The forecast seems to be calling for a week of hot sunny days more along the lines of late June or early July than May. Looks like we've definitely seen the likes of our last frost. The spinach just started to bolt the past couple of days. It seemed like an excellent time to pull it all out and bag it up... into seven bags.

As I harvested in the powerful late morning sun, I heard a hermit thrush singing from the same spot I heard it last spring. Seems like perhaps on the way north it makes its pit-stop in the exact same spot. 

Every once in a while you learn something about growing vegetables that's a real breakthrough. The benefit of overwintering spinach is one of those breakthroughs for me. I've never seen spinach grow like this before. I did plant some spinach seeds mid-April, but I harvested those plants today too. They had finally produced large enough leaves to harvest today, but I had picked leaves from the overwintered spinach five or six times before today. I've managed to grow and harvest the grocery store equivalent of $60 worth of spinach, and that's after sharing with the slugs. In the future, whenever I am in the same gardening space from one season to the next, I'll plant spinach six weeks before frost and then cover it for the winter. It's really been quite a spinach harvest this year. Because I'm taking off for a few days, I'll be freezing some of this spinach for use later. (Who am I kidding? I'd be freezing some of it even if I was going to be here eating spinach for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next two weeks!)

By 1:00 today it was too hot! I took off on my bike and enjoyed a blissful ride downtown and then some fantastic live music. Feels like summer!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


From where I'm sitting at my computer I can spot the outrageously fat groundhog that has been climbing over the fence and mowing down my peas. I can't see him or her right now, but I'm waiting. At the moment the HAVAHART trap is set (though I've never actually heard of anyone getting a groundhog to enter one) and I'm trying to confuse the thing to death by covering up the peas with floating row covers and by sticking a blue rain barrel over the fence post where it usually enters. Brilliant, right? Nothing will keep a groundhog from eating all of my vegetables, except one thing. (And maybe I'll post some fancy pants artistic blog photos after the fact.) 
But in the meantime...
I've heard about violet jam. Eating flowers is definitely on my to do list every chance I get, but I just wasn't so into this idea. Then I tried it. This is WORTH DOING. I followed this violet jam recipe. I had no idea it would be so good. It's a delicate flavor. It makes me think of childhood, specifically the shade of my Montessori preschool playground. It's special stuff. 
*One note: make sure you check the flowers for creatures: I disturbed three caterpillars, a spider, and one click beetle from their petalled hideouts.

The violet jam revved up my jam-making engines and I decided to turn the rest of last summer's raspberries into jam as well. I would also HIGHLY RECOMMEND leaving your frozen berries in the the freezer while procrastinating for months, saving this chore until May, when there's really only green things to eat fresh from the yard, and make that jam now. The cooking berries smell like hope. So, even though the thought of the berries in the freezer nagged me several times over the past months, the timing turned out to be excellent.

As Victoria Williams would sing, have "peace of mind that you're always on time!"

Friday, May 14, 2010

There is Nothing Like a Groundhog

sighting to make you angry. 

It ate my peas. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

(Quick Update... Almost)

"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

I would like to record that as of today (May 12) I have harvested $30 worth of spinach. I actually froze a bunch a couple days ago because I couldn't eat it all fresh. I've also harvested at least one pound of lettuce just from thinning the lettuce plants! The radish harvest was brief and lovely. But there are maggots in the radishes already. Urgh. I read that you can cook and eat the radish greens, so I will try it. I'm happy that there might be something I can do with the radishes even as they are being eaten by fly larvae.

There's been a ton happening in the garden. Full update later.

I haven't been able to take any pictures for several days, but I'm going to the airport to pick up my camera - ahem! - my husband (who is returning from a much needed tromp through the Everglades to soak in some natural wonders). I'm looking forward to taking some pictures of the garden and doing some more thorough updates. I've learned a lot lately!

In the meantime, here are some two-week old shots. Time is flying by.
Earthworms love my old compost pile that never got hot. They can have it!
"You've got a little, um dandelion on your beak... um, right there."
You can eat the WHOLE THING. Cook the greens.
Chickling vetch is fixing nitrogen in my new raised bed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May Fourth

I just planted a few things...

1. Mokum carrots in between the rows of spinach. They will be ready to harvest in 48 days. 
2. On the edge of the spinach I eeked out room for a row of beets. Chioggia beets. (I still have a pile in the fridge and I ate some a week ago. Not bad.)
3. I stuck the little broccoli mix transplants in the ground.
4. I threw my stunted failure of a try at onions in the ground. (I'm seriously going to buy onion seedlings, but I might as well try to grow these.)

I also harvested another pound of spinach this morning. Two plants are bolting. I'm up to $25 worth of spinach. That's one fourth of my entire investment in this garden this year. WHAT!?!?! Yeah.

I harvested some surprise radishes that I seem to have planted last fall but don't remember. They're ready. They're kind of tasty. (I don't love radishes, but look how pretty they are!) (I also just read that you can cook and eat the greens. I'll try it.)