My family loves broccoli; this included two young boys! So, you can guess how excited we were about our harvest this week. We only harvest one loan head of broccoli, but the broccoli plant already has several side shoots. It is the Packman variety and the head is about 6" across.
I called the boys over to watch me cut the head from the plant. My youngest tried to take a bite out of it right on the spot.
Now only if the other 10 seeds I planted had germinated...argh!
I keep forgetting that I have an herb garden. This is because it is on the opposite side of the house. The vegetable garden is on the garage side of the house. The herb garden is on the other side, but is closest to a door that leads to the kitchen...see my reasoning. Maybe I should move it and just make that a flower bed. I imagined running out that door to grab some fresh cilantro or basil. Maybe it should stay. I just need to remember to walk over there more.
Anyway it had bad germination as well. But this is completely understandable, given that I planted it and forgot it was there for two weeks, then left on a two week vacation (it's not connected to the automated sprinklers). So anything I get from here (this fall) is a total bonus.
What is most surprising is that anything is alive here. Not only does it get no additional watering (though it has been raining every 5 days or so), but it has been left completely exposed to the 20 degree nights. I thought that would surely kill what came, but it hasn't killed one thing that sprouted.
The sage does show signs of injury (at least I think that is sage). The parsley and cilantro show no signs of injury. I think I'll be fixing some potatoes this weekend!
So yesterday I braved the frigid temperatures to take a look at the garden beds. Northerns are probably laughing at me for calling highs of mid 40's and lows of high 20's frigid. But this is about as cold as it gets here.
All of the beds are covered with 1.5mil plastic. This gives them a couple degrees of protection, but it also protects the leaves from frost. So today was about peaking under the cold frames to see how the crops were doing.
Bed 12 (the one on the right above) has our garlic and broccoli. One broccoli plant looks about ready to harvest. I couldn't believe it. Its only been about 3 days since I last looked; this thing looks ready to harvest. The other broccoli plants don't look so well, but I am holding out hope for their recovery. Perhaps they were too small to endure the cold. I planted all of these at the same time, so I have no clue why they are at such different developmental stages. The garlic looks fine, though some of the older leaves are yellow. You can see the garlic around the edges of the 3rd picture below. Per GardenWebForums this happens so I am not worried yet.
In the next bed over (Bed 11) the lettuce is doing very well. The carrots are moving along as well - albeit slowly. The carrots are the little patches of green you see growing close to the ground. They are basically closely-spaced seedlings for now.
The turnip bed (Bed 6) (which was planted at the start of Nov) is almost none existent. There are some seedlings in there, but I am not sure if these are turnips or weeds. Maybe they'll overwinter and start sprouting in the spring. In the south, we need an early start on the spring anyway as it gets hot fast.
And nowwwww (drum roll) The Bed 3. I call it this because this has been my best bed by far. This is the bed that was closest to the sprinkler when we had a leak, so it has always been watered well and it shows. The interesting thing is, I harvested from this bed last Saturday and it looks like I hadn't touched it. I harvested all the way to the ground because I knew the temps would be dropping. So you are basically looking at one week of growth! (Except for the garlic of course). The garlic is doing great and none of it is yellow. The gap in the middle is where the radishes were; I guess I should plant some more. My calendar says we can plant radish and lettuce throughout the winter here. In front is collards and in back is spinach. Under the collards are some mesculin (lettuce mix).
The only garlic that is not doing well in Bed 3 is the grocery store bought garlic. It looks miserable.
And lastly Bed 9, this bed has broccoli, spinach (that didn't germinate...maybe in spring). and onion (around edges - looks like garlic). The left picture is my broccoli; the haze you see is actually tulle netting. The other broccoli doesn't look as good but you can see the onion in the background!
This is both Disappointing and Exciting! Its disappointing because of my low germination rates. I should have full beds; instead they are mostly mulch. I did direct sow everything, so I guess if I want better germination I'd better set up for indoor sowing or taken better care of the beds until sprouting. I hope the beds will probably be more productive come spring; I read somewhere that seeds will sometimes sprout in early spring if they didn't in the winter. I hope so bc I sure love turnips and broccoli and those don't do well in our spring bc it gets warm to fast. Maybe I'll sow some indoors so they are set to mature in March.
But I am excited to be getting something and I am excited about my garlic.
So this week was an exciting week for me in that I harvested my first ever fall crops. It wasn't much, but it was still a first and hopefully a sign of more to come.
I harvested a basket full of collard greens and 3 nice size radish.
Even though it was a basket full, we all know that they cook down to very little. So we cleaned the collards and added them to a pot of cabbage for a delicious mix.
We also harvested some lettuce and spinach. The lettuce will go in a salad this week and the spinach was blanched and frozen.
And for a sneak peek of whats on the horizon....look was growing under my row cover....
There are several smaller broccoli plants as well, but we had our first freeze here and some of them now show signs of stress. I hope they rebound. Although the next 3 days will have lows in the 20's and highs in the 40's. We'll see. I covered them with some 1.5 mil plastic this weekend in anticipation of the frigid temps.