Owing to the fact that the snail eradication project (or at least, my direct involvement in it) is on a brief hiatus while I’m on the East Coast (and while my yard is still in Northern California), I’m going to be bringing you up to date on the garden in whose service I have been trying to control the gastropod population.
Long time readers may recall that the raised garden beds are almost a year old. We actually didn’t get the first seeds planted in them until near the end of July, 2008.
Some of the seeds we planted then are just now giving us plants that are ready to harvest.
Our onions, for example, took a long time to get going from seed, and an even longer time to produce big, round bulbs.
Actually, we harvested a lot of what we planted as “spring onions” since they were threatening to bloom. When onions bloom, it spells doom for the quality of the bulb, at least as far as eating goes. A flower on the top signals an onion bulb that has gone all rubbery. Why exactly some onions bloom and others, planted in the same bed at the same time, do not is one of those mysteries of the plant kingdom.
Don’t get me wrong, I think spring onions are pretty tasty. But I’m inordinately happy that the onion pictured here turned out so onion-y.
These parsnips are also from our July 2008 planting. As you can see, they come in a variety of sizes. The longer parsnip in the picture measured slightly more than 25 inches in root-length … and when I pulled it, some of the root stayed behind in the garden bed.
This beet is another product of our initial sowing of seeds. We’ve actually been harvesting beets from that sowing for awhile. This one was a tiny seedling in the shadow of other, more vigorous beet plants. When we harvested those beets, this one had enough sun and room to kick its growth up a notch. We’ve seen similar behavior among the kohlrabi we planted. This lets us be lazy while still getting a more or less continuous harvest from just one sowing.
These radishes are not from our initial planting. As garden plants go, radishes are ridiculously quick, going from seed to mature radish in about a month. They’re good for short attention spans, and tasty, too.
We’ve still got a few carrots to pull from the July 2008 planting. I’m not sure that I’ll be planting the “purple haze” variety again, given that they take so much longer than the orange carrots and a significant portion of them have had a woody core that’s not especially tasty.
The garlic (from plantings we did during the winter) has all been harvested now. For some reason I thought the harvest would be later — maybe because the Gilroy Garlic Festival is in July. All of ours was done before June.
The strawberries are still getting established, so I haven’t ever had more than about ten of them ripe and ready to pick at a time. (Thanks to the early morning gastropod patrols, however, we’ve actually had a chance to eat the ripe berries.)
The peas (some shelling peas, some sugar-snap peas) are just starting to come in, too. More on the peas in tomorrow’s garden update.
And then there are some really exciting crops that we’ve harvested from winter plantings.
I had been warned that artichokes are more trouble that they’re worth in a home garden. (I find this humorous, since I had a great grandfather who maintained that artichokes were more trouble than they were worth to eat.) The rumor is that they get really fussy if you don’t give them plenty of fertilizer, and that the first year you plant them (they’re perennials) you’re lucky if each plant even gives you a single artichoke.
Apparently, our artichoke plants are reasonably happy with the soil in their garden bed. Some of the plants are on track to deliver three artichokes before the season is over. Also, the artichokes we’ve harvested seem less spiky than the ones we get from the market, with more succulent hearts.
Potatoes are the other exciting crop that I’ve never grown before this year. I planted the seed potatoes during a brief break in our rainy season this winter, and in the past week I’ve started digging up the harvest.
As you may be able to discern from the picture, we’re growing a few different colors, including yellow, purple, and red. The purple potatoes are purple all the way through, while the red ones are a rosy-pink color in the interior.
I’m still learning to read the above-ground signs (from leaf appearance, flowering, etc.) of when the potatoes underground are likely to be big enough to dig. Because I’m a novice at this, some of the ones I’ve dug so far are the size of marbles, while others are about the size of my fist.
A nice way to prepare fresh-dug potatoes is to toss them with olive oil and chopped garlic (from the garden, of course) and roast them at 400 oF. We sliced the larger ones but left the wee ones whole.
Tomorrow I’ll update you on the current crops that are still growing (assuming the gastropods don’t finish them off while I’m 3000 miles away).