The Spring garden is producing! The lettuces, kale, collards, spinach, peas, spring onions (aka scallions), radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, garlic, and herbs are experiencing unfettered growth.
Farmers grow food to eat, but I have to believe the majority of them are nourishers at heart who enjoy watching things grow. They are people who appreciate the miracle that happens every time you place a seed in the ground, water it, watch it sprout, grow leaves, and bear fruit. They can appreciate that within every seed there is the capacity for dormant energy to awaken and grow a root that pushes downward through dirt to seek water and a stem that pushes upward to gather sunshine for continued growth through photosynthesis.
Picking up where Morning Rounds 1 left off in April …
The Lower Garden
Typically, only the perimeter of this garden is planted in the spring. I usually leave the interior raised beds open and available for summer crops.
Two words about raised beds — build them! The beds are almost maintenance free. The soil does not need to be tilled because there is no compaction from being walked on. They also offer excellent drainage and are easy to weed.
Influenced by my recent trip to India where I saw daikon radishes in almost every village, I decided to grow a trial crop of them in four of the empty raised beds. You can see them in the photo above. A side benefit of growing this crop is how well the radish’s long roots break up the soil. They do the work of a tiller.
The Sugar Snap Peas planted on February 20th have started producing. Like wild! The plants were nearly four feet tall before the first flowers appeared. Now they are loaded with blossoms and peas.
Butter Crunch Lettuce has been growing well at the foot of the pea plants.
Yesterday, I harvested the entire row of lettuce and donated it to The Nashville Food Project. I will plant a summer crop of string beans in its place. This is Booth Jewett, the Food Donations Coordinator at TNFP weighing the donated lettuce. TNFP weighs and logs all food recovered from the community. Email Booth (email@example.com) if you have an abundance of any food products you would like to donate.
The Champanel and Concord Grapes budded last week. The tightly grouped green balls (aka ovaries, if I must say it–my kids hate when I do)
spread out and flower for only one to two days. During that short time, the flowers self-pollinate. Self-pollination happens when each flower has both male and female parts. They only need a little wind and gravity to bring the two parts together to set the fruit. Tomatoes are pollinated the same way.
One morning, I found little silvery balls of dew around the edges of a grape leaf. That will make you smile.
As I mentioned earlier, inspired by my visit to India, I planted White Icicle radishes on March 13th and harvested them on May 4th.
The bright white radishes were pretty and tasty.
With thoughts of my visit to the Langar Hall of a Sikh temple in Delhi, where I joined volunteers to prep white radishes for lunch, I donated the harvest to TNFP. Little do those volunteers in India know they planted a seed within me that sprouted an idea.
On the left side of this garden, I grew dwarf Sugar Daddy Peas. I planted cool-weather-loving Hakurei Turnips and Sensation Spinach in front of the peas. As the peas grow taller, they will shade the turnips and spinach extending their growing season by a few weeks.
The Back Garden
The back garden gives me more joy than any other spot in my yard. It was built and designed by Jeremy Lekich, owner of Nashville Foodscapes. It is a lush and peaceful place.
My favorite part is the “blackberry fence” Jeremy installed around the garden. He used four-foot high “rabbit” fencing to keep the chickens out. The blackberries are planted outside the fence.
This cluster of blackberry flowers shows each of the stages of flower development: a closed flower bud, an open flower, and a flower that has been pollinated and is now growing a blackberry. Blackberries do require bees for pollination.
The large kale plants in this kale patch wintered over (uncovered!) from the fall. The smaller plants were started by seeds planted on March 10th.
We’ve been picking from the bed of spring onions, shown below, since May first. I planted an entire raised bed of onions this year because I never wanted to run out. I use them almost daily in salads and in cooking.
I planted lettuce seeds on March 10th, but those seeds never germinated. I think the ground was still too cold and wet. When I realized they were not going to germinate, I bought and planted a variety of lettuce plants. Later, in mid-April, I planted new lettuce seeds so I could have a succession of lettuce leaves to harvest. Those seeds germinated and can be seen growing between the larger plants.
I planted garlic cloves from heads of garlic I had in the kitchen. They have grown beautifully and should be ready for harvest next month. Interspersed with the garlic are self-seeded indigo plants from a crop I grew last summer. Once I pull the garlic in June, I’ll let the indigo plants continue to grow throughout the summer. I’m dreaming about indigo dyes.
We’ve been eating radishes for about a month now. I will harvest what remains of those plants this week so the beet seeds I planted in the same row and at the same time as the radishes will get more sun.
I only planted a small crop of potatoes this year; just enough to be able to show the children who visit my garden where potatoes come from.
I love my herb garden! Growing in it are lots of rosemary, oregano, and thyme; all herbs I use in my recipes for Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Marbella, and Lemony Grilled Chicken. Also growing are sage, parsley, chives, cilantro and a fun perennial plant to watch called Egyptian Walking Onions.
I have a few rhubarb plants in the garden. They are perennials, and I’m hoping to establish a small bed of them.
The chickens continue to lay their eggs and delight us with their antics. They are the ultimate composters eating almost everything we throw in the compost pile.
Here they are eating radish and kale tops.
Herb Porch Pots
This is my third year to plant herb porch pots on my front porch. I always plant them using hardy herbs in late February.
My 20-month-old grandson and I have lots of rituals we partake in when he comes to visit. My favorite is to pinch a leaf off of one of the herbs, rub it between my fingers, and let him smell it. Sometimes, he tastes it, too. Yet, another reason to grow your own food!
That’s it for this version of Morning Rounds!
Morning Rounds 1
Eulogy for a Chicken
WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece
Herb Porch Pots!
How to Make Grape Jelly (and grow the grapes)
Cooking 35,000 Meals a Day in a Sikh Kitchen in Delhi (India, Part 1)
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