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The Garden on Memorial Day

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Blog entry by Radicalfarmergal posted 05-27-2013 at 03:09 PM 1364 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Today was bright and sunny after several cold, raw, rainy days. I couldn’t help going outside to capture a few images of my garden. Everything is suddenly so alive and exuberant. Thanks for coming with me on my garden tour.

Our Rhododendrons are in full bloom; here is my favorite:

This springs chicks were loving the warm weather and the opportunity to be outside:

A littler later than usual, our garden has really taken off with the energy of spring. We are enjoying harvests of lettuce, spinach, Good King Henry, Sea Kale, broccoli raab, strawberries, scallions and cilantro.

Our best early harvesting has been in the areas that I allowed to reseed naturally. The plants are growing so densely, I can harvest micro-greens daily and, by the next day, I cannot even see where the plants I removed had been growing. Here is our biggest patch of lettuce, all from last year’s plants that I allowed to go to bloom and then I used the plants as mulch to protect the soil from the harsh winter weather.

Here is a small corner of the garden that I planted this spring. It is a polyculture, or a combination of plants that I believe will compliment each other and form a diverse, healthy little ecosystem. I am growing Salad Burnet, Pak Choi, lettuce, beets, garlic, Nasturtium, Rosemary and Oregano. Around it is Comfrey, Fennel, a Goumi berry bush, an apricot tree and lots of strawberry plants. I am planning to harvest our first Pak Choi this week….

On this hugel kultur raised mound, I have a polyculture of strawberries, peas, cucumber plants and buckwheat. It was my experiment last year, using up lots of rotting branches that we had to trim after the two hurricane/tropical storms (Irene and Sandy). The strawberry plants look pretty happy. I am looking forward to seeing how it develops over time.

My no-till corn patch. I just dug holes in the thick mulch, added compost and transplanted the Blue Hopi dent corn that I started indoors. If all goes well, I will be grinding my own corn meal this fall. I plan to save some seed so that I can have a bigger planting next year. Last year, this was my sons’ potato patch and you can see some volunteer potatoes emerging where my sons missed some of the potatoes during their harvesting….

Although I took many more photos, here is a final one to end the tour. Here is our no-till potato garden this year. This is where the chicken coop was kept last fall. Chickens and thick mulch gradually covered and killed the grass. We allowed it to rest all winter and this spring we made two trenches in the mulch, planted potatoes and we have been slowly filling the trenches with compost as the potatoes have grown.

Although I don’t have any photos of them, we have seen six garter snakes and several salamanders in our garden, signs that tell me that my gardens are healthy and prospering.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout



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Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

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19 comments so far

View jroot's profile

jroot

5056 posts in 2237 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-27-2013 at 03:52 PM

I am SO ENVIOUS of your rodos. Mine have not survived …. again. I give up on them after planting 3 different years.

All looks good RFG. I really like the chicks. They look SO happy.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Harold and Pam's profile

Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1682 days
hardiness zone 10b

posted 05-27-2013 at 03:53 PM

My that looks nice. seems like winter and spring did you nice and you are on your way to a great summer garden. Nice photos dear.

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2607 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-27-2013 at 05:25 PM

My ‘dendrons aren’t looking good either. I won’t be replacing them.

I didn’t know that lettuce would come up again the next spring. Huh!

You sure do have a lot of edibles already!
I’ve been going to ask you, “what is your favourite way to prepare the King Henry?”

I had some beans come up yesterday without me seeing them and they were hit by the frost last night.. argh.
And no beets. I guess they were bad seed. I’ll have to pick up another package and try again.

Your garden looks wonderful.. very impressive

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1705 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 05-27-2013 at 06:58 PM

Awesome progress. By this weekend it should be safe to get my first plants in! Ha! Though I have been harvesting dandelions, plantain and some of the neighbour’s rhubarb and asparagus. And I was just about to make lilac tea. Everything else is just going in…

I love all the no-till gardens. It’s what I am trying this year too since I have a lot of grass to kill!

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1586 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 05-28-2013 at 01:31 AM

Your garden looks wonderful.It seems everyone is having a late Spring this year. Our Japanese cherry tree just started blossoming two days ago and our hedges have just started to get leaves. We lost almost all of our Juniper ground covers, bushes and a couple of smaller trees. We spent two days cutting them down and one day driving them away and one day digging out the roots of 30 plants. A little discouraging, but also an opportunity to plant something different.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-28-2013 at 05:40 AM

Thank you everyone, for your kind and interesting comments. After eight years, despite growing in size, our gardens are getting easier because I have learned so much and nature seems to be doing more of the work for me. Much of what we are eating this spring are either perennials or annuals that reseeded themselves. This is the first year I didn’t even get out my little Mantis rototiller at all. The small area I had planted in a cover crop of winter rye, I just turned over with a shovel. It might be time to find a new home for the rototiller because I cannot imagine going back to my former way of gardening.

Jroot and Stefang, sorry to hear about your losses. I know it can be disheartening to lose plants that you have worked so hard to nurture. I applaud your decisions to plant something else that will work in your gardens. I have come to the realization that plants have to be tough/well adapted to survive here because I don’t have the energy or desire to coddle them.

Debbie, I looked back at my list and realized I should have added nettles, sorrel, lovage and asparagus (only a little) to my list of the edibles we have enjoyed so far. They are scattered all over the yard so sometimes it is hard to think of them all. I like to balance Good King Henry leaves with other foods that have a strong taste of their own. I don’t eat the leaves raw, only cooked. I like it when they are sauteed in butter and garlic or in bacon fat with crumbled up pieces of bacon and tucked inside an omelet with a strong cheese like aged cheddar, gouda or even feta. I also like to chop them up and add the leaves to my marinara sauce and enjoy it on pasta.

Daltxguy, our rhubarb plants are enormous. I don’t really know how to prepare rhubarb in a form that my family will eat. No one in my family even likes rhubarb pie (sigh), so I have just been using it as a mulch plant, cutting back the leaves and blooms and dropping them on the ground to cover the soil and feed my fruit trees and bushes. Living as far north that you are, with its short growing season, you will probably have better luck with perennial vegetables unless you can build yourself a pit greenhouse and get a head start on your annual vegetables. As for converting grass to gardens, the limitation that slows me down the most is not having enough mulch, but you have a huge stockpile left over from previous owners so you can really jump into garden making this spring. I am learning to include lots of mulch-generating plants for the future. Whatever you make of your new home and gardens, with your creativity and willingness to experiment, they will be wonderful.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2607 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-28-2013 at 08:51 AM

here are some rhubarb recipes that I found and thought I’d try but never found the time. Rick refuses to eat rhubarb but I didn’t get a “no, I won’t even try it” at the suggestion of some new options.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1705 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 05-28-2013 at 12:55 PM

Thanks RFG.

Perennials are going to feature a great deal in my garden. I was reading about how the birth of agriculture is when we started growing annuals. And Joel Salatin says “annuals are degenerative of soils, perennials are regenerative”. So really, we need to be growing all perennial gardens. This is way it used to be done for 1000’s of years.

I brought some fresh rhubarb to my mom and she supplemented the rhubarb with some apples to make an apple rhubarb pie. Perhaps it is more palatable like that. I certainly didn’t mind!

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-29-2013 at 06:10 AM

Thank you both for the recipe ideas. I might try the salad dressing recipe but I don’t think the rhubarb pickles will go over very well. A combination apple/rhubarb pie sounds good to me but I will have to buy apples from the store. Does anyone know from personal experience, can I still use the rhubarb stalks after the plants have bloomed? I get mixed answers from my research on the internet.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2607 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-30-2013 at 02:19 AM

I have asked and asked “why do you have to remove the flowers” and people just say, “you don’t want them” (and rip them off the plants).

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile

jroot

5056 posts in 2237 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-30-2013 at 05:30 AM

I use them all summer long. Like msDebbieP, I remove the flowers, and the plant seems to do very well.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1705 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 05-30-2013 at 05:36 AM

I believe rhubarb is like most plants. If you let them go to seed, then a lot of energy goes into the flower and producing seed and not into the production of leaves and stems. This will sometimes affect the palatability of the parts that you eat. Lettuce is like that, for example.

On young plants in general, you probably don’t want them to set fruit or seed to force the energy into root production. This is something which might be important for perennials in cold climates, where plant longevity is more important than a first year harvest.

RFG – I realize that apples/rhubarb are not exactly seasonally compliant – unless you’ve stored enough apples from last season. So maybe rhubarb and strawberries would be more slow food appropriate?

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-30-2013 at 08:18 AM

Thank you all for your answers. I do have lots of strawberries and rhubarb stalks so I will make a strawberry/rhubarb pie. Unfortunately we are in a heat wave right now, so using the oven is definitely not on the agenda. After this weekend it will cool off again and it will be a good time to try out the pie. Now I just need to check out some recipes…..

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2237 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-30-2013 at 11:42 AM

RFG, I always enjoy the pictures of your gardens….....and admire the obvious work you put into them. I’m also alittle envious, first of the rhodos you have blooming. I have been so tempted to try them. But after reading jroot’s and MsDeb’s comments, I guess I’ll continue to admire yours. :) Secondly, I’m so envious of all your foodstuff so early in the season. I have visions of you and your family just brusting with good health with such good food. :D

I have always used rhubarb, as one of the first spring treats from the garden. Rhubarb crisp (like apple crisp) served warm with real whipped cream or ice cream is delicious. Mix in some strawberries and it becames ambrosia. Rhubarb and strawberries also make a tasty jam for winter morning toast.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View jroot's profile

jroot

5056 posts in 2237 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-30-2013 at 03:18 PM

RFG, I make a mean rhubarb/strawberry crisp, as Iris43 has suggested. I sometimes make it in the barbecue, setting the temperature to about 350F, and then keeping the burner on on the far left, but shutting off the other burners. I find that I have to play with the settings to keep the temperature fairly steady, but it works out well. In fact, I shall be making one tomorrow night as my wife invited company for dinner, and expects a crisp for dessert, and we are in the middle of the same heat wave. Ah, the joys of married life! :)

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 06-04-2013 at 05:50 AM

Ah, the weather has cooled off nicely. I am going to use your rhubarb/strawberry recipe today, Jroot.

Thank you, Iris. Rhododendrons grow naturally here. I often see them growing wild in the woods. I wouldn’t grow them if they were difficult.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2387 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 06-04-2013 at 07:11 AM

Your gardens are looking really good Robin.Way ahead of mine.I am just getting my first radishes this week.I have a really great recipe for rhubarb bread (cake) if you would like to try it.It’s made with rhubarb sauce and is nice and moist and delicious.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 06-04-2013 at 07:42 AM

That little bit to the south and closer to the ocean gives me a slight edge over Ontario. Yes, please Bon, I would like your recipe. I have plenty of rhubarb growing in my fruit tree guilds and I would like to use it.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4296 posts in 1870 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 06-04-2013 at 01:06 PM

I found your recipe. I never actually had the chance to try it when you originally posted but I can try it now. Thanks, Bon.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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