February 26, 2011

February Garden Tour

Here I am, squeaking in my February garden tour at the tail end of February. Mostly this month, I've been working on the companion groups for the garden, because until this recent bout of lovely weather, the garden itself has been too wet to work in. The first week of February brought us over three inches of rain, but it hasn't been warm enough to dry things out much. Still, spring planting is right around the corner, so I decided to go out and see if soil conditions were good for working in.

Turnip bed drying in the sun.
One of the first things I did, was to rake back the mulch from the turnip bed. This is where I am going to plant English peas, so I needed to check on the soil. It was still pretty soggy under the mulch, so I left it to dry out in the sun for awhile. Last fall I marked my nicest turnips to help me remember not to pull these, so I can collect their seed this summer.

New beet leaves
Besides the turnips, I mulched my beets and carrots in preparation for freezing weather. This worked well for winter harvesting, because our ground doesn't freeze deeply nor stay frozen for very long. Last fall, I tried storing turnips in a cooler, layered with sand. This wasn't successful because temperatures were too warm and the turnips kept putting out new leaves.

Now that the days are longer and the weather milder, I'm wondering when my root crops will start to flower and go to seed. Last year's turnips taught me that the roots got tough when this happens, so I need to make sure I get all but a few harvested beforehand. Before that though, I need to mark a few beets and carrots to save for seed. The rest I can harvest.

Carrie asked about my garlic. It was planted in the fall and has made it through the winter.

Other winter survivors...

lettuce, mesclun, and radishes...

Swiss chard...

... and broccoli. 

Only about half my broccoli plants grew, which was disappointing. Still, we've had at least some to enjoy. Warmer weather has brought a new spurt of growth, so more is on the way.

I have a couple of cabbages left, but these didn't look so good. The outer leaves were wilty dried and brownish looking. Peeking beneath those, I discovered small green heads doing rather nicely.

While I was out in the garden digging around, I pulled out my second horseradish pot...

I had already pulled the first pot, and used the horseradish in a big batch of Supertonic. That pot contained a lot more smaller roots, which this one had only one big one.

I think the pot method for growing horseradish was semi-successful. I planted it with the potatoes, as a companion. While the potatoes did well, I found lots of little horseradish leaves popping up all over the place. At first I thought this was because it had gone to seed, though I never noticed any blossoms. Once I pulled out the pots though, I think it may have been roots growing through the water holes at the bottom of the pot.

My winter wheat is also doing well and starting to grow again ...

On the other hand, the annual rye we planted for green manure...

... made a disappointingly sporadic appearance. Dan thinks this is because he used my bargain seed spreader, which may be the case. He thought we did better last year, with hand broadcasting. (A photo of how last year's turned out is here.) Either we don't have the knack of the seed spreader, or maybe we just don't need that thing! Still, some green manure is better than none.

By the time I finished my tour of the garden, the soil in the turnip bed had dried out enough to plant a packet of peas. I planted Wando, which are supposed to do well in warm weather. With March right around the corner, gardening activity will be in full swing soon.

February Garden Tour © February 2011 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/


  1. ahhhhhh, it's just so nice to see some green!!!

  2. Well, thanks to your garden tour, I can just about smell spring! But . . . do we live in the same country? My garden is still covered with 2-3 feet of snow! Such a difference. You'll be harvesting your peas at about the same time mine should go in. :o)

  3. Thanks for the tour. Your are one smart lady to overwinter so much and to save seed. Having our own seed is going to important in the future. Who knows what's around the corner with all the GMO?

  4. Yeah Garlic! Yours looks about as big as mine. I was really worried about ours because in early February we had what for us (Dallas) was a deep freeze (with inches of ice) that lasted for 4 or 5 days (think 8-10 degrees F at the lowest point). This was highly unusual for around here and I didn't put a single amount of mulch around the plants beforehand. The garlic got some major frost bite and I thought I lost it. However, once the temps warmed up new leaves began to emerge and things are already back to looking like normal. This is my first year planting garlic and I'm hoping for a bumper crop! -Carrie

  5. Heidi it's amazing how quickly it's showed itself, the green I mean. Everything is starting to grow!

    Mama Pea, I confess I'm having a bit of doubt about those peas. The other day I discovered a chicken had been in there, scratching all over the turnip bed. I may not even have any peas!!!

    Starlighthill, yes, the GMO thing is of great concern. Not only stories about accidental cross pollination, but now this, new pathogen found in roundup read BM crops causes spontaneous abortions and infertility in livestock?". I don't see any other choice than saving our own seed.

    Carrie, I'm hoping of for a bumper crop too. Most of it I will replant though, because I need to grow a lot of garlic! And seed garlic in the catalogs is just too expensive.

  6. How exciting to be getting underway with garden projects and to see all of the new growth emerging. Your garlic looks great, we will be planting ours next month if the ground ever thaws out...we are trying something different this year by doing a spring planting. Can't wait to see your peas and good luck with your seed saving endeavours...send some of that spring weather my way will you.:)

  7. From here (covered in snow) it is amazing you are beginning to garden! I had always understood garlic liked a period of cold to produce well and we always planted garlic before the freeze. The GMO crops are alarming. Thanks for the link to the report.

  8. Lettuce survived the winter? wow.
    Were all these plants covered by just leaves? amazing.

  9. It was - 10 this morning when I went to feed the chickens. It will be the end of March before I can even think about starting seeds and sometime in April before I can plant cool weather veggies outside! How wonderful that you have spring and can start planting already.

  10. Thank you for the garden tour!!! Very inspiring! I'll be starting a small container garden in a few months, can't wait!

  11. It surprises me that your green leaves don't freeze and die in the cold. Your crops look great!

  12. The garden looks great...Spring is right around the corner! After seeing your garlic, I wish I would have planted some...I opted for more onions and shallots. I had to replant my peas twice: the chickens couldn't or wouldn't leave them alone! I got electric poultry fencing and that seems to have done the trick...they have a whole orchard to peck around in and the garden is safe...I do let them out when I'm in the garden to supervise.

  13. Your tour of the garden makes me envious. Between starting a new job (requiring three hours of commuting each day) and DH and I talking about moving I'm not sure if I will get a garden in this year or not. At least I can enjoy watching the progress of yours. Good luck with the peas ;)

  14. Mike, it all just starting getting into gear this month! I'm really, really motivated, but know another cold snap is just a wind's breath away. Doing a lot of indoor planting!

    (Spring weather is on it's way :)

    Evelyn, it's hard to believe there's still so much snow in other places! I didn't know that about garlic, but then, it's still a crop I'm trying to master. Hopefully this batch will be a good harvest.

    Peaceful, it went pretty dormant, but it didn't die! I had cut off most of the leaves in the fall, so just stumps of the plant remained, and started to grow again with longer days and warmer weather.

    Nina, brrrrr! In April, though, I'll be envying your cool weather veggies!

    Rain, you're welcome! Hurray for your container garden. I never fully explored that, but know folks grow an amazing amount of good things to eat in containers.

    Debbie, some of them did die back. I mulched heavily though, so that the plant didn't die. We had quite a number of nights in the teens, so I admit I'm surprised at how well everything has done.

    Lynda, I may have to be doing the same for my peas. I suspect chickens are why I don't see anything sprouting!

    Donna, I would be in a dilemma in your situation too. Moving is a big job! Hopefully once you get settled, you'll be able to garden to your heart's content.

  15. I enjoyed the tour. I think you are very successful.

  16. How wonderful to have so much food still surviving outside. And everything looks like it would still taste good! Of course I am getting desperate for something fresh. I saw some grass growing under the snow. I wonder how that would taste ;)

  17. I hadn't even thought of growing horseradish. Huh! Thanks for the motivation!

    My lettuce survived too. They make a nice little border around the new raised bed. I dug up the spinach that survived, but my broccoli and cauliflower just up and died.

  18. Toodie, I have to admit that this is the best garden I've ever had. Not sure if it's actual success yet, but it is encouraging.

    Jane, I really need to learn how to capitalize on that. I think our plants survived even the teens is because the ground never truly froze solid. We're thinking that with some hoop type row covers next fall, we can do even better!

    Tami, hurray for horseradish. I need to find a recipe for that big root. Next summer, I'm going to try more things in pots as well. I love the idea of a lettuce border! Thanks for mentioning that.

  19. Great tour. If I did one it would read like, "here we have a snow bank and over here, a snow bank and look at this one, poop on a snow bank......


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