Thanks to an early start — both in seeding and transplanting — I’ve just harvested the first crops of the year in mid-May.
I spent Sunday afternoon at garden #2 in town, clearing out weeds and preparing for more planting. Some of what I cleaned out, however, came from last year’s crop. What you see here is the golden chard I planted last season and left to overwinter in place. It bounced back to the point that I was able to fill a gallon storage bag with the leaves as I picked on Sunday — not a bad deal. It wanted very much to set seeds and carry on further (as did some of the pac choi plants I found), but I had other plans for the space.
The lower bed looked completely overgrown when I first eyed it: two-year-old green onions gone to flower, enormous weeds (also flowering), a scattering of pac choi on the rebound from last year, leafy radishes, and the start of this year’s cilantro crop. Cleaning up here took more time since I needed to sort out what went to the compost pile, what went into bags to take home, and what could stay in place.
But what a difference! After cleaning up, I was able to plant four Rutgers tomato seedlings and a Peacevine cherry tomato, along with rows of bush beans, peas, and spinach.
The upper bed didn’t require too much cleanup, though I did need to hill up the potatoes. I planted more greens — lettuce and chard — along with radishes, cantaloupe, zucchini, and nasturtiums, a surprising favorite with my young nephews. At the end of three hours of absorbing work in the warm sunshine, I headed home with plenty of chard, pac choi, stinging nettles, cilantro, dill, and onions to add to my meals for the week. What a treat! We’ve been harvesting at the farm lately, too, in time for Dave’s first farmers’ market of the season. His early offerings included radishes, kale, lettuce, and pac choi, and he reported that he sold out of everything on Saturday. A good start to the year! Unfortunately, the wet weather has encouraged the proliferation of slugs and snails in the pac choi beds, and at the beginning of this week, he resignedly told me to rip it all out. The slugs had turned many of the leaves into green lace, and the crop was no longer market-worthy.
Sadly, I complied, but I managed to peel off layers and layers of tattered leaves and salvage six bins worth of greenery that could still be eaten, if not sold at market. Dave sent me home with two bins’ worth, a bounty I’ve been turning into dried and frozen pac choi for winter eating as well as into meals for this week. The rest will be for his family’s eating, and the scraps got tossed into the chicken pen. (They’ve already increased their laying in thanks!) In its stead, I’ve been transplanting radish, beet, lettuce, kale, and more pac choi seedlings for the next round of harvests. And around the new pac choi, I’ve sprinkled crushed eggshells (with Dave’s blessing) in the hopes that that will discourage the slugs from feasting on this crop. So here begins the harvest season, with an early bounty and early difficulties. May the coming harvests be sweeter and less problematic!