This is my third season growing a garden, and my desire to grow more in the garden include growing more varieties of plants. This year, I’ve expanded the area dedicated to some plant, and have added several new ones.
Seed pods on the turnips
I mentioned in my last post that I overwintered turnips, and I am letting them go to seed. In the past few days, the flowers have started disappearing and the seed pods have arrived. The plants are producing what looks like a large amount of seed, to the point that I should not need to buy turnip seeds again. I’ve also noticed that the turnips seem to be a nest of bugs: I’ve counted no less than 11 lady bugs on the plants, for which I am very grateful. Less desirable are the multitude of what looks like could be Harlequin Bugs. I still need to check the bugs against the pictures I have found of these bugs before I will trust that I have the correct identification. I hope it does not turn out to be a big problem. As long as I get seed from these plants, I will be okay with the rest of the plant dying. More of a concern is that I have cabbage planted elsewhere in the garden that might be affected by these bugs. For now, they appear to be content to hang out in the branches of the turnip tops.
The garden has really started to pick up recently. All the plants are starting to fill out nicely and in some areas are so dense that weeding is no longer needed. This is especially true under the radishes and the pinto beans. I’ve made better use of the garden space this year than I did last, but I still think I could easily squeeze in double what I have now if I were to plant more densely and start succession planting. This is quite evident where the peas were. I’ve harvested all the peas I will eat and am saving the remainder as seed. However, if I had planted beans in the rows by the peas about two weeks ago I would have small pinto bean plants already up. The main reason that didn’t happen is that was about the same time I caught something that the remnants of are still plaguing me. Also, while the lettuce I planted by the perennial flowers is doing quite nicely, there is still ground that could have been planted.
Peas and buckwheat seeds. Both were very easy to save. Just let them dry out on the plant and for the peas, to shell the pods.
One of the things I want to do with my garden is to become mostly self-sufficient with seed. This obviously requires that I become familiar with saving seeds from all my plants. Last year, I saved seed from the pinto beans, the onion, some mint and a pumpkin. This year, I have added buckwheat and peas to the list and I am planning on adding radish, sunflower, lettuce and okra to the list. I’m still waiting on the sunflowers to bloom and the lettuce to bolt. In the mean time, I’ll be battling the caterpillars that started appearing on the sunflowers a couple of days ago. My main plan of attack is to knock them off the leaves into a gallon-sized freezer bag and freeze them to death and also preserve them for David to use in his aquaponics system. Since my tomato plants never made it in the ground and David’s are doing amazing, I might be able to get a tomato or two in exchange.
Today, I decided that the garlic was ready to check for harvest. A few of the lower leaves on the garlic have already turned brown, which is the first sign the bulbs are getting close to being ready to harvest. After using a garden fork to break up the soil around one of the garlic plants, I found the bulb was small but fully formed. So I went ahead and harvested the rest of the plants. In total, I got fifteen plants out of the original three bulbs I bought from the farmers market last year. I plan on using most of the garlic in this harvest to plant out more garlic later this year. I expect to get about forty to fifty plants from this. I will only be planting the larger cloves and the smaller cloves will be used for cooking.
Things are finally starting to pick up in the garden. Nearly all of the peas I have planted have sprouted, and those that haven’t sprouted, I don’t really expect to see. The seed I was starting with was a couple of years old, so it doesn’t surprise me that some would not sprout. In addition to the peas, the beans are also starting to sprout. I still have several lines of beans to plant, but it looks like I’m getting good germination rates so far. About half of the seed in the ground I saved from last year, so I’m pleased with the results so far. I also have a few corn plants sprouted, but I have barely planted any corn so far. I intend to plant a lot more along the back yard’s fence line. This will be new garden space, so I am unsure how it will turn out. Probably fine, but there is always the chance of some wrench getting thrown in things.