Sunday, April 23, 2017


Following a week of temperatures in the mid eighties to 90 degrees, we got a break last night with lower temperatures accompanied by rain. Relief. Most of our plants will do better with lower temperatures. Whew.
Peas are forming in pods and soon we will have a bumper crop. Broccoli has formed beautiful heads. Turnips are being harvested daily with some to be the bed on which our whole roasted chicken will bake for supper tonight. Spring onions harvested this morning will go in with garlic scapes and a few store bought potatoes. I'll sprinkle it all with herb salt and we eat like royalty.
Lettuce had started to bolt and was also looking parched so this rain saves it.  Garlic will soon be separating into cloves and will be coming out of the garden. All plants including weeds were doubling in size over night.
Beans are up everywhere! Um. What was I thinking? Where to plant corn? In the front yard? Maybe. I've had worse ideas and acted on them. We are good to the neighbors, so I really might be able to get away with it. And then there is amaranth and okra. What's a gardener to do?!?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Green Beans

Green Beans! Planted three weeks ago, they are making flowers! And the seeds planted a week ago are already up! What! Warm soil is a magic elixir.
I have two pot experiments. One carrots, the other Swiss Chard. There is a control of the Swiss Chard. The control is in a 4x4 bed. The pot is next to the same bed ensuring the same sun and water. I have harvested from the bed twice. Not at all from the pot. Which is not to say the pot is not thriving, but the plants are different. I am going to attribute it to close, crowded plantings. The carrots are a very much a wait and see.
We have had very warm days here. Midwesterners call it summer. It is the way of our springs. In the next few days the temps will be in the mid 80's. Spinach and lettuce will bolt, some has already. Bolt is a funny word for the send up a flower shoot over night, like a colt of the the barn. Bye, bye spinach. Toodles lettuce. Make way for a pepper!
This little tidbit I learned on my Master Gardner trip to the NC State soil lab: marigolds really do kill nematodes, the bane of tomato plants. They really do. Also, we all have nematodes to some degree so our goal is to control the population. So...plant marigolds. I bought many from St Pauls High School plant sale. They are interspersed throughout the garden beds. Biology at it's finest, right there.
Swiss Chard can take the heat and is a great stand in for spinach. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Watering and radishes

Every day is planting and watering day now that the weather has warmed. Seeds, especially small ones, need to be watered often so they will germinate and not wither in dry soil below the surface. Seedlings also need to be cared for or they will evaporate on hot days. We've had 85 degree afternoons so I've been out giving lettuce and spinach a cool watering to keep them from bolting. Speaking of leafy greens, we had Swiss Chard and leek frittata for supper with radishes on the side for supper last night. Quick, easy and pretty.

Speaking of radishes. It all started with seed inventory back in February. I had a lot of radish seeds that were a few years old. Time to plant or compost. So we planted a looong row in our community garden bed. They all germinated. All twelve feet of them. They grew into lovely red, mild tasting orbs. (We ate the last of them with supper last night.) I sowed the remaining seeds in a home bed a few weeks later. They will be ready in about a week. The key to radishes that aren't firecracker hot is to plant early and often because they really do best in cool weather. Because they mature quickly sequential planting ensures a long Spring season to brighten ones plate and palate.

Alas. No photo for your viewing pleasure. Too busy noshing.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Leeks planted June 2016. Harvested April 5, 2017
In our beds here on Chestnut Street:
Contender green beans are just emerging. They are not climbing beans but they are heirloom and their reputation is that of heavy yielders. Hello yellow beans, just peeping out!

Potatoes are ready to mulch. I'll let the soil dry a bit first.

Radishes are a big winner in our salads. The rains have kept them mild.

Peas are flowering!

I keep checking the broccoli for heads. Not yet.

Beets are up.

Herbs are thriving.

Drum roll, please. Carrots in the pot are up!

In our community garden beds:
Do we really like turnips so much?

Carrots, you know I love you, right? Looking good, you do.

Radishes are gorgeous and tasty.

Garlic is coming on strong.

Onions, not my strong suit, look good.

Rutabagas look great! Big surprise because they took a hit from mid-March cold. Same with the peas. (The wind blows across football and soccer fields before blasting the garden plants in winter there.)

Beets are up.

Herbs are thriving.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring is Bustin' Out All Over

Our little town is prettiest in Spring. Azaleas, dogwoods, camellias and such are as pretty as they have ever been in our neighborhood. I go out each morning for a walk about and enjoy the just right air, birds singing, green leaves and flowers that are everywhere. It soothes the mind and soul.

In our vegetable garden all things are chugging right along. The potatoes and other root crops have rebounded from the cold of mid-March. Garlic is taking on new growth with the longer days. Peas and beans are good. Lettuce growing in different stages is delicious on our dinner plates. Broccoli in both the community and home gardens looks great.

I watch a You Tube show called Homegrown Veg. This man has developed a method for growing root crops in 10 inch pots. For details watch his show. The most important thing is to plant seed that grows carrots 6" or less. Cleaning up the potting bench I found a few and decided to give carrots a go in a pot. I planted Red Core Chantenay. I love experiments. I love carrots. I am, as always, hopeful. Stay tuned...

The last of the kale harvested 3/27/2017. It made a great kale salad! Time for summer crops baby! 

Friday, March 17, 2017


We had the coldest three nights of the winter this week. Twenties at night and cold blowing wind during the days. Out came the Agribon (spun fabric for agricultural use), down went the hoop tunnels made of fencing, and cover we did, again. I just peeked in to check on the Red Sails lettuce seedlings not yet possessing true leaves, and there they are, all neatly lined up in a row. I am truly amazed that tiny seedlings handle the cold better than mature plants.
Inventory of the unprotected winter vegetables revealed they did fine. What a relief! Azaleas already blooming are fried by the cold but the unopened buds may be OK.  Daffodil flowers are unfazed and  there are more pushing up. Turns out we didn't completely lose out on Spring after all.
Swiss Chard. After the cold. Must have antifreeze in them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Gill feather rutabagas (heirloom)

Son Jonathan gifted the seeds for the gillfeather rutabagas to us for Christmas 2015. What a nice surprise! The greens are as good as the roots. These were planted in a raised bed September 20th. I remember thinking I should plant things I wanted to do well in raised beds because of the rains of October 2015 when all our brassicas died from rot. Who knew it would be North Carolina, not South Carolina, that would be the recipient of so much rain this time? For the record, we measured 15 inches of rain October 8, 2016 here on Chestnut Street. I recorded in my nature journal, "At times the rain blows sideways and the trees look like they would twirl around if not rooted in the ground...I will be glad when it is over."  Six months later it is astonishing that these plants, small seedlings then, survived the pounding rains of Hurricane Matthew. Surely I paid them no mind in the weeks that followed...they are, gifts.