Tag: broccoli rabe
February 20, 2012
If you haven’t started already, now’s the time to start your vegetable garden. It is also time to be wrapping up any dormant pruning of your edible trees, shrubs and vines. (Think: blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears & the like.)
Buds are beginning to swell and break open. Seeds – including self-seeded weeds – are beginning to emerge from the soil. Birds are beginning to migrate and nest. And, slowly but surely, days are getting longer. And when we’re really lucky, those days are even feeling slightly warmer than just a few weeks ago.
In my own garden, I began seeds for plants like cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, watercress, fava beans, snap peas, mizuna, beets and chard several weeks ago when we had that sunny run of 60F days. I have an unheated greenhouse where they germinated rapidly. In a few days, I’ll be moving several of these from overcrowded sterile mix containers to individual pots where they can grow on a bit more before moving to the garden.
As in years past, this past weekend, I even seeded a few warm season crops (think tomato) in the greenhouse. If they take off, bully for me. If they don’t, I can try again indoors under lights in a few weeks and still have plenty of time to bring them to fruition later this summer. (I also started carrots, chinese cabbage and some flower seeds this past weekend.)
So, if you’ve got onions to place, seeds to sow, soil to test, berries to prune or weeds to pull, there’s no time like this very moment to get out there and get started. Even if your soil is frozen, sowing seeds now indoors or in a protected outdoor spot, will mean your garden will be well on its way by the time the Spring thaw comes. Find ideas for inexpensive season extenders here.
Thinking you need help planning, designing or installing your garden? Pretty sure you need a lesson in how to prune those fruit trees, shrubs and canes properly so you don’t kill them in the process?
Don’t keep waiting. Get in touch now to get your project scheduled and your education underway. If you wait until Spring to reach out for help, you’ll be waiting much longer to get your garden growing!
April 04, 2011
By now gardeners are either shopping for cold hardy crops at nurseries and plant sales, or they’re finding that their seedlings are ready to go into the earth. Even if early season crops can handle cool, wet temperatures, a hardy hail may destroy them.
To protect tender, young starts from the snow, hail, wind and even birds that peck away at newly planted tasty goodness like broccoli, kale, chard, lettuce, and rabe, consider adding some sort of hoop or cloche to get them started.
Although floating row cover (aka horticultural fleece) is a nice protective layer that will also raise soil temperatures a bit and keep out flying pests, but it won’t do much to keep the plants from crashing under the weight a rapid-fire hailstorm.
Instead, something like a plastic hoop house or a glass cloche over your new plantings will help keep out the flying pests, raise temperatures to speed up growth and provide transitional protection for plants just out of a greenhouse, and scatter any pummeling ice hammering down from the sky.
Keep in mind that hoops can end up raising temperatures too much if days get really hot and sunny, so be sure to check and vent them regularly. Venting will also keep up airflow, which helps deter fungal damping off, which will kill your seedlings just as rapidly as a good icy beating.
Also, be sure to check soil moisture. By sheeting your crops water-repelling substances, you may be sheeting water away from their roots too. Open your hoops on days when the rain is gentle; close them at night and when freezing rains sleet down to earth.
March 14, 2011
Yesterday my first, February-seeded veggie starts were ready to be potted up from sterile mix into 4″ pots. In years past, this would have meant a trip to the nursery to pick up several bags of high quality potting soil at around $12/a bag. This year, I decided to try something new, using something old.
Broccoli Rabe, Watercress, Lacinato Kale and Buttercrunch Lettuces were all begging to move into soil mixes offering something more than sterile soil-less starting mix could offer. I had saved several bags of potting soil from containers in which I grew tomatoes and cucumbers last year. Odds are a lot of the nutrient value in this leftover soil was depleted last year by my delicious edible crops. But there’s still a lot of valuable pumice, woody material and other parts of the medium intact. Because veggie crops are huge feeders, I filled my wheelbarrow about half full with this recycled soil (about 3/4 of a bag). Then, I mixed in an equal measure of finished worm bin compost and added about a half cup of nitrogen-rich blood meal.
After sifting it together well, I filled up four flats of 4″ containers. One wheelbarrow load almost exactly filled 4, flats. I watered them in, and let the excess moisture drain from them. Then, I carefully separated individual kale, broccoli rabe, lettuce and watercress seedlings, potting one or two seedlings into each 4″ pot. And, again, I watered them in carefully, placing them in the greenhouse in which they had germinated.
Let’s run down all the repurposed items included in this project: (more…)