April 13, 2012

The Garden in Early April

frost fringed thyme
Garden thyme wearing yesterday morning's frost

Mild winters have their pros and cons. On the plus side is not needing so much wood to heat the house. On the down side, more overwintering insect pests survive. This past winter being mild, meant fresh greens, root crops, and broccoli all winter long. Unfortunately not only did those garden goodies keep growing, so did the weeds.

fall planted parsnips
Parsnips bed

Almost everything I planted last fall has bolted, except the parsnips, alliums, and lettuce (thankfully, we're loving lettuce and broccoli salads.) That means it's time to harvest whatever's left and clean things up a bit. Some plants I'll let grow for seed, what I can I'll store, the rest will be fed to the goats.

This is the biggest my garlic has ever grown.
Fall planted garlic

The exception is the garlic, which I'll harvest when the tops begin to die back. I've never had garlic do this well and as you can imagine, I'm really pleased. We use a lot of garlic so I've gradually been increasing it. Hopefully this fall I can plant a whole bed's worth!

Volunteer potatoes under a leaf mulch
Volunteer Red Pontiac potatoes

After my piddly potato harvest last year, I'm amazed at how many volunteers I have. It would appear I'm not all that great at harvesting potatoes as I thought. Pictured above are volunteer Red Pontiacs. Dan likes these but I couldn't find them locally as seed potatoes. Instead, I planted 10 pounds of Red Norlands. I hope the potatoes do well this year. I've missed them as a staple in our diet.

Spring planted peas and turnips

My spring planted peas and turnips are making a showing. Not many of the turnips came up, which is a little disappointing because these are a new variety for us, Golden Ball. If I can get enough for a taste and more seeds, I'll be happy.

Vardaman sweet potato slips

Sweet potato slips are the only thing I got an early start on. Things were/are just too disorganized with our kitchen remodel for me to get to starting any seeds. Fortunately we have a long growing season, so everything can be directly sown.

As you can see from the first photo, we are not past danger of frost yet. According to NOAA's frost/ freeze data, I have a 50% chance of frost on April 15, a 10% chance on May 5. As most gardeners know, the trick is to not be in too big a hurry! I usually start my spring planting the latter half of this month. I am so looking forward to that.


Mama Pea said...

Loved the garden tour! I'm the same way with harvesting potatoes . . . always miss more than I would have thought possible! Also the same with onions. How does one miss onions right there so close to the surface of the soil?

Someday I'm going to try (again!) growing sweet potatoes here. They'll need some kind of protection because of our cool nights all summer, but I sure would love to have 'bout 20 lbs. of our own home grown ones!

badgerpendous said...

Beautiful picture of the thyme! We're much luckier with the weather where we live, which tends to make us lazy gardeners.

But I get motivation and tips and hints from blogs like yours so I'm slowing learning and expanding my comfort zone.

Thank you for your great posts!

dr momi said...

Now I have the itch to start plantng! :-) Too early. Too early.
I love it when there are volunteer potatoes.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Your garlic is looking good, and yeah for the volunteer potatoes.

Tombstone Livestock said...

My grandmother always had a sweet potato vine growing as a house plant, I keep buying small ones to start for my kitchen window, but then end up eating it instead, guess I need to buy more than one at a time, lol.

Sue said...

The garden centers around here make a fortune by putting out bedding plants way too early, which then have to be replaced when it is finally the right time to plant. Those first couple of warm sunny days always suck people into buying, but we still have lots of freezing nights (and days!) ahead of us.

I just bought 4 different kinds of potatoes to try this spring. Wish me luck!

Clint Baker said...

The Frost is killing me! Even after covering it!

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I've missed a lot of onions too! Sounds like sweet potatoes would be more of a challenge for you. It's one of my easier crops. Good thing we like them. :)

Badgerpendous, thanks! I think we all challenge and encourage one another. It's one of the great blessings of the internet.

Dr. Momi, it's hard to resist! I'm amazed at so many volunteer potatoes but they took a hit with the frost. Hopefuly it's just a set back.

Candace, can't wait to harvest that garlic! It's exciting to see it doing to well.

TL, I've thought I should keep a bunch of sweets in vines all winter just for the goats!

Sue, I suspect that's everywhere! I've not experimented much with different potato varieties. I know you'll have fun with all of yours!

Clint, I was so tempted to plant about a week and a half ago. Then I thought, no, I'd better wait. The potato foliage got frost bite though. Hopefully they'll ignore it and keep on growing!

Anonymous said...

We just planted out fingerling potatoes. We still have cold nights but I hope they'll do okay. Do you know of any way to grow sweet potatoes in the NW? Your slips look good. I've been wanting to try sweet potatoes for some time now. Your garlic and onions look great too!

Woolly Bits said...

I have a similar problem right now! we had barely any frost last winter, but now with some bright days - we have frosty mornings:( and I have two rows of lettuce plants inside that need to get out of here.... but normally if I wait until later - I end up not harvesting much at all, because we tend to get a wet spell at the end of april, where I might not be able to get out much! the "woes" of a gardener:)

Renee Nefe said...

Frost is a big problem here too. It seems that even though the nurseries tell you that you can plant after Mother's day, that Memorial day is much safer...and we've been known to have snow in June too.

I love the garden tour, it looks as if you've got a great start going on there. I found that we have a lot of volunteer onions in the old location (I transferred them last year) so I'll transfer them (so hubby doesn't kill them!) and we'll keep going.

Right now I'm so busy with Darly's next play that I don't know if I'll have time to devote to a real garden, but I hope to.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I know what you mean about being anxious to plant. We'll be planting about the same as you (if you can hold off until the end of the month :)

After the last nasty rain storm we experienced this week, surely an early planting would have been a disaster!

kristi said...

So much productivity, so early! I've been meaning to try sweet potatoes, but know they are a bit tricky with our shorter growing season.

Julene said...

I have enjoyed catching up on your progress..once again! I have started a new blog...for our new season of life and some major downsizing..sale of our farm,smaller home...but we are still in glorious rural area! All the animals came with us!
Your kitchen floor is very nice! The post regarding how long it takes to get a project done hits home here!! In time..it gets done!

Kristi@LetThisMindBeInYou said...

Leigh, you are lucky to have lettuce still, mine got bitter and bolted in the past couple of weeks after having been able to eat it out of the garden for months. Now I'm letting it go to seed--that and radishes (which are actually HUGE plants, btw!). I would love to grow sweet potatoes, but I don't really have an understanding of potato growing in general, so I'm waiting until I do one season of potatoes to see how things go. I'm encouraged to think I might have potato volunteers next year! That's IF I'm not great at harvesting, he he. :)