Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Vegetable Gardening

      As per usual, a timely start to fall gardening has passed me by, so that I am now in the catch up mode.  It is difficult to get motivated in the hot, muggy and oftentimes miserable days of late August.  Planting seeds of lettuce, broccoli, kale and cabbage just don't make it onto the garden radar.  Which results in a mad scramble in September to try to find veggie starts or figure out what just make it if started from seed.  The cold frames that I intend to get built are the ace in the hole, protecting many of the plants that might be started too late.
      But there was at least one gardener on the ball over at the park.  Lou Gallo.  The robin man from spring posts.  Lou started his patch of Black Seeded Simpson on time.  Please note the infamous robin nesting chair in the background.  The lettuce patch is a beautiful sight to behold:

Lou's Black Seeded Simpson Patch

      Well maybe Lou has slightly overdone it.  A patch 20 feet long by 18 inches across.  I suspect that adds up to more than 10,000 lettuce plants, maybe quite a bit more!  Lou has been very generous to let me trowel some of his few extras out of the bed, giving the remainders just a teeny bit more room to grow.

Lettuce starts

      The green lettuce above are from two small trowel raids I made across Lou's bed, with his blessing of course.  I did give him a couple of tomatoes, his having met the fall reaper.  The red lettuce on the right are volunteers I found atop the park compost pile.  So I kinda fell into those too.

Transplanted to cell packs, taken 9/21/11 

      The small lettuce plants from Lou's garden were transplanted to cell packs to have time to develop a better root system.  Moving them directly to my garden beds results in a very poor survival rate.  The serrated plants in the bottom right corner are kale volunteers from my garden.  They were growing in the paths, so will be transplanted back to the garden.  The taller plants in the upper left corner are Malabar Spinach.  Yep, volunteers from the compost piles at the park.  I will take cuttings from these plants to try to keep all alive in the house over the winter to be transplanted back to the gardens in June.  Malabar Spinach likes it hot, like 90 degree heat.  The more, the merrier.

      I have been driven to searching for volunteers and freebies because I was remiss in starting plants, and the local availability to buy starts is either minimal, or it is expensive to buy starts when found. 

Rose Hill Plantery

      A week ago I had to travel south a bit to babysit, so took the opportunity to visit the Rose Hill Plantery down on Route 9 near the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  Their six packs are $2.99, probably a fair price as I was soon to learn.  They did not have broccoli, as I believe a fellow Bellevue Park gardener bought out their supply.  I did buy one pack of Savoy Cabbage, and one of scotch kale.  A little later I stopped into Willey's Farm Market on Route 13 south of Odessa, where six packs were $3.49.   They had kohlrabi and collards, so I got one of each.  The mesclun was sown pretty heavily, so even at $3.49, I bought one of those.
      It wasn't until the next day that I thought about Olde Country Gardens here in Wilmington.  I scored two four packs of broccoli at $2.99, but careful selection found me a pack of six, and one with seven!  These starts were planted out in both gardens on 9/8/11.  This might be the end of my purchased starters.

Bellevue, Bed #1

      Following Lou's example, I figured I would start some seeds directly into the garden.  Would sew them thickly, hoping to have enough to move to other places, like my daughter's cold frames. Planted so far:

      9/12/11 Bed #8: One row White Globe Radish, one row Easter Egg Radish, 4 rows Purple Top Turnips

      9/19/11 Bed #5, from East to West: Planted in 6 or 8 inch swaths: Fedco Tatsoi, Livingston Arugula, Lake Valley Mizuna, and Bloomsdale long standing spinach.

      9/20/11 Bed #1 pictured above, in 8 inch swaths from East to West: Fedco Space spinach, Fedco thick stem Chinese mustard, Fedco Beedy's kale, Fedco giant winter spinach, Heirloom early wonder beet, Livingstone white globe radish, and GWD pak choi

      9/21/11 Bed #6 from East to West: two foot block GWD 2011 Arugula, then 8 inch swaths of Fedco winter marvel bibb lettuce, Fedco Rouge D'Hivre romaine lettuce, Livingsone baby romaine, GWD 2011 red sails lettuce, Fedco tango lettuce, GWD 2011 four seasons lettuce, and Phil's 2011 Lush Arugula

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