This is turning out to be our best and most ambitious fall/winter garden so far. We got some major garden work done over the last week. There are three beds that are manured, hayed, planted, hooped and netted. The hoops look so nice and professional – definitely a step-up from the ugly pvc pipe hoops we had made last year. We’re half-way to my goal of having six beds done by December. I was hoping to plant another six in January to carry us through the spring season before the summer garden kicks in. I feel like that’s been my focus this year – filling in the gaps between seasons when I find myself in the grocery store. We DO have a climate in which year-round gardening is supposed to be possible, although I’m not sure I will ever really be able to grow anything in August. The fall starts of cucumbers, squash and beans have all died, but they might have been nursed though better if I had re-composted/manured the beds to refresh them. I also neglected to water them through a dry spell, because all my focus has been on building this winter garden. I hate to say it, but more cucumbers and squash just does not appeal to me these days.
Ahhh, but I’ve been watching the bekana growing and drooling a little bit. I was sick to death of greens just this past February, but it’s hard to remember that now. It’s funny how that fades after awhile. I know that by April I will be craving squash fried in butter and cucumber salad and forcing myself to eat yet another stir-fry or greens and fat back.
This week was the first week we were able to harvest some greens. The daikon radishes are also coming along, and in the front the Napa cabbage seems to be starting to head. I only hope the peppers from the summer garden last until we can put up our first batch of kimchi. This cabbage is the only hybrid I am growing. It is the first hybrid I have grown in our garden. I usually stick to open-pollinated varieties, but I have been unable to find an open-pollinated Napa cabbage, and I really like them. It’s one of those things I find myself buying from the store regardless, so I might as well grow it myself. I found some seeds from Johnny’s seeds. This variety is called “Rubicon,” which sounds so exciting.
My goodness the kale starts are so pleasantly alive this year! This, I have to admit, is the first year that I have even had starts to plant, but I have always tried – unsuccessfully. It’s not so much that I tried harder this year, I just was finally able to apply my knowledge of the past six years of failure to my advantage.
The cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower starts all went in over the weekend, and I’ve just finished planting rows of carrots over-seeded with radishes. Last year was the first year I seeded the radishes and carrots together, and it seemed to work out really well and definitely saves space in the garden. The carrots take a much longer time to germinate, and the radishes seem to help keep the seeds in place or something. I swear more carrots came up this way. I’m growing French breakfast, plum purple and golden Helios radishes this year. It’s always hard to decide on the radish selection because they are so beautiful, grow so easily and I’ve grown a lot of different kinds so there are more I feel attached to. I usually ferment them into brined and grated pickles. It takes the spiciness away completely and they become sour, mild and delicious. I’m trying out some new carrot varieties this year, encouraged by the successful growing of carrots last year. I’ve got St. Valery, Chateney Red Core and Paris market carrots seeded in this bed.