Vegetables (In Progress)

by jean-paul | May 03, 2012 at 09:00 AM | categories: vegetables, maine | View Comments

Last time I wrote here, it was the end of March and we were enjoying some unseasonally warm weather. Now it's the beginning of May and the weather is back to normal - which means it's a bit colder now than it was. And it's wet.

Wait, let me be more specific. The Sunday before last it rained six inches. Over the following week it rained two more inches. Last week it rained another two inches. We put a 100 gallon tank out in the field. It's three quarters full now. So... a lot of field work has been suspended, since it's unpleasant, difficult, and damaging to try to work out there in several inches of standing water and mud that grabs onto your boots and holds tight.

Still, the vegetables are coming along. Our hoop house is working out really well. The days of moving one or two dozen flats of seedlings indoors overnight are long gone. Now happily inhabiting the hoop house full time are flats of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, beets, green peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, fennel, onions, leeks, shallots, a couple kinds of flowers, and even a little bit of lettuce.

One thing I've learned about seedlings is a problem called damping off. This is a description of symptoms more than cause, but the causes seem to mostly be fungal. An unfortunate number of our touchstone beets have succumbed to this. Here's a healthy touchstone and one affected by damping off:

The touchstone seem to be much more succeptible to this than the merlin variety. The merlins look a bit better overall, in fact: ours have germinated more reliably than our touchstones, and they look tougher than the touchstones that did come up (even the healthy ones).

Yellow beets, though. That's worth it, right?

We've also direct seeded a few things - carrots, beets, peas, salsify, spinach, turnips - out in the field. Despite how wet it is, these (as well as the kohlrabi, beets, and chard we transplanted out a little while ago) are doing pretty well. Our raised beds are probably partly responsible for the big puddles, but they also mean the plants are up out of standing water (which I can only guess is a good thing).

How do I know those things are doing well? Mostly because of this:

It's not extremely obvious from these pictures that we're planting into raised beds (but we are). These are about three feet wide and three or four inches above the pathways between them. As with the garlic bed, they're a hundred feet long. And as with the garlic bed, we're making them without powered equipment. Last fall, Jericho figured out what our soil is missing based on soil analysis results from the extension service. So the first thing we do to make these beds is amend them.

Then it's time for the mattock (yes, I was thinking about minecraft the whole time) and garden rake to move soil from the pathway onto the bed. The garlic also looks and smells awesome.

Although I have started to notice quite a few slugs clinging to them (I'm sure they love the near constant drizzel and absolute lack of direct sunlight).

Based on our crop plan, harvest starts tomorrow. Let's just say the plan is flexible.

Finally, here's a quick chicken update (I know the title of this post is Vegetables, but I've decided to make the chickens honorary vegetables). On Tuesday we moved them outside into the trailer Jericho built. So far they're doing swell and enjoying scratching up the grass. And they continue to grow at an incredible rate.

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