Monday, April 26, 2010

From the Vegetable Garden: Potato Mounds, Lettuce Leaves, and More

Here's an update from the vegetable garden! So far things are going pretty good. My tomato frost scare wasn't as bad as I originally thought and since I have some spares to plant I should come out fine. I saw a scary 39 degrees on the forecast for Tuesday night but I'm prepared with coverings. I'm also starting a few more plants inside from seed just in case. Here's how the rest of the garden is doing:

The Potatoes are Mounding

Mounding potatoes is a great technique for growing your potatoes with an easy harvest in mind. It does involve a little more work through out the season than just digging the potatoes in the ground.  As the potato plants grow taller I add more grass clippings or compost over the plant to make a larger root system for the tubers to grow. The big advantage of mounding the potatoes is that the potatoes lie underneath the mound and it's easy to remove the soil and get to the potatoes. A secondary advantage is that the straw or grass clippings decay and add to the nutrients in the soil and improve the ground underneath over the course of this year for next year's vegetables. The grass clippings have been harvested from my lawn which contains no herbicides or pesticides, which I feel is very important. The cool thing about grass clippings is that they contain up to 5% nitrogen to replenish the soil. The grass acts as a mulch and keeps the moisture down near the roots where it is needed.

Zucchini Seedlings

Zucchinis are both welcome and dreaded. Welcome when you have enough, dreaded when you have more than you can use, more than the neighbors can use, and more than your city or state could use! There are only so many zucchini dishes you can eat before you grow weary of it. Cucurbits could probably solve the problem of world hunger. Despite their prolific nature I'm excited to see these two seedlings. I highly recommend sequential plantings of summer squash and zucchini. If you only have one or two plants producing at one time you can manage them. Remember never let them grow too large! Pick when 4-6 inches long for the best flavor. When one plant begins blooming plant another one to try to avoid the squash vine borer - the squash and zucchini's number one enemy! It's really a toss up for me between the borer and the squash bug.




Let us have Lettuce!

And we did! We had a delicious salad last night made only of greens. Three types of lettuce, spinach, and chard mixed with some carrots (unfortunately most of these were not from our garden) and celery (also not grown in my garden).

The red Romaine lettuce had the most flavor.


The green romaine lettuce was good, just not as good as the red.




Little Tom Thumb was a cute little lettuce but took some cleaning as dirt from the rains was all over them. Also the birds have pecked at it for some reason making it's leaves rather holey. I wonder if the birds were doing us a favor and cleaning of some sort of bugs like aphids, I'll never now I suspect.



Lettuce Harvest Hint: Use pair of scissors to clip the lettuce leaves, take what you need and let the rest of the plant continue to grow!

Basil and Sugar Snap Peas

My dark purple basil is planted where the sugar snap peas are. Once the peas are done they'll be removed and the area will be planted with something else. Maybe more squash...or cucumbers...or cantaloupe...


I'll be sprinkling some more basil seed in various areas of the garden both near the vegetables and in the ornamental gardens. Sweet Italian and Thai basils are regulars but I'll also be planting a few others. You can never have enough fresh basil!



Strawberry Bed Gone Wild

I'm anticipating a nice strawberry crop this year. The strawberries have gone completely crazy and are filling the pathways next to the strawberry bed. That's what I get for letting the runners stay put last fall. Once the strawberries have been produced it will be time to fertilize the plants to encourage bushy green growth and more runners. I'm wondering if I need a new place to plant the strawberries - away from the garden. I think I'll be giving away strawberry plants before too long!


Where do you like to keep your strawberry plants, in the garden or in their own garden?

7 comments :

  1. How wonderful! I love seeing all the new plants. Thanks for sharing the photos and the update on the veggie garden.
    JC

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  2. Looking good Dave. I have my Veggie garden going now as well. Wow those Strawberries have gone a bit wild, huh? ;)

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  3. I have my strawberries in my vegetable garden, but will be moving them out after they produce this June. They took over everything. They spilled out over the raised beds and rooted in the pathways. I have to be more vigilant with trimming runners. But, I'm sure going to have a bumper crop of berries this year
    :)

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  4. It looks so good, Dave! Our potatoes are growing nicely and we have piles of compost to add to the bed a couple of times. No grass clippings here, but agree they make the perfect cover. Thanks for the heads up about red romaine. It will go on the list. Our strawberries are on world domination and many have been ripped out to allow other crops to grow. Our solution is buying seed of a small, non running wild strawberry from Baker Creek. Those babies are planted now but are still tiny. The old strawberries like yours will be giving us plenty of berries this year it seems. Don't all the plants love all the rain?

    Frances

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  5. I moved my strawberries from a raised bed in the veggie garden to a patch of clay on the far end of the house last fall. They are thriving there, and it cleared up so much space for me! Like yours, mine were going a little too wild in the raised bed.

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  6. Hi Dave, You are so very inspirational...I have a feeling that we will one day have a dedicated veggie bed! In the meantime, there are containers! I've been thinking that planting tomatoes in a black trash can might be the ticket for C and L. I saw an article in FG magazine and I happen to have a trash can.

    Someone left a comment on my Monday post about how beautiful romaine lettuce is when it bolts and flowers...I am so tempted to let the lettuce go when it gets hotter. Do you collect seed from lettuces?

    Gail

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  7. The veggie garden is coming along nicely. I know that first salad was most delish!

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