Garden Update & Root Harvest, June 2015
So the spring garden is coming along nicely. We have new tomato plants:
Already showing some small fruits, under the bird netting and (that day) backed by the bed-net shade. We also have some new wax bean plants:
With many flowers! Soon there will be beans — yum! I’ll be planting more of those really soon. This is me, being “bold”: pollen dies when the temps are over about 95°F, so usually one wouldn’t expect a good bean crop in the dead of Arizona summer. But this year is turning out (as predicted) to be cooler and wetter than usual, so I think it will be a long and prolific bean-producing season. Which is good, because I really like the wax beans.
Not shown: my onion!
I buy one onion per year. OK, this is like “confession time” now: I really like just a few vegetables, and so the extremely small size of my garden is really enough to cover most of my vegetable needs for a year — in this case, one onion. So I bought an onion at the grocery just before Thanksgiving 2014, and I used half of it and put the rest in the vegetable drawer in the fridge (just in case I found a use for it around Yule — which, as it happens, I did not). Two weeks ago, I discovered that half-onion in the vegetable drawer of the fridge, and it had grown roots and a bit of green shoot. As it happens, Arizona is apparently the perfect climate for onions, in that we plant onions here at all times of the year, and they do great. So I just took that onion from the fridge and (after 24 hours of temperature adjustment), buried it in the garden behind the carrots. Now, a week later, the green top is 8″ high, and I’m thinking I won’t need to buy a new onion at Thanksgiving this year! So yay, LOL.
Last year, I planted three potato chunks with eyes on 23 February, hilling them up right away and not adding height thereafter. Two of the resulting plants were attacked by birds and died. The last plant gave me 12 potatoes, shown here. So I got 12 potatoes, and a few were quite large.
This year, I planted the potatoes earlier, on 20 January, and added dirt over them as they grew over the next six weeks or so. All three plants survived (thanks to the bird netting), and in the last week of May, I got this:
(Same bowl.) That’s still about 10 potatoes per plant, but they were generally smaller than last year and some really look like they were left in the ground too long. Recently, I learned that some potatoes like to be “hilled up”, and some don’t. So my take-away here is that my particular potatoes (from the grocery store) are the ones that aren’t so keen on “hilling up” (which is why last years’ crop was better), and my next experiment will be not to do that. As I took out this crop near the end of May, I planted another two chunks, over which the dirt is currently smoothed flat and on top I will add some, but not a lot, of dirt when they start showing leaves. It’s also summer, so I’ll see how they like growing in this weather.
I planted the carrots on 23 October, which is the end of summer here. I didn’t really see any clear carrot action (by which I mean sprouting) until the end of the year. As advertised, carrots take a long time to sprout, but maybe it shouldn’t take quite that long. I can probably wait until December to plant the next round.
Confusing me further, there is some information out there that says that carrots are better the second year after they are planted. Maybe those reporters live in Canada or some cold place? And then, I got word that carrots are like beets or radishes, in that one harvests them at the point when they start pushing themselves out of the ground. Finally there are those who say that you harvest carrots like onions: just before they flower.
Second year? That opinion got a low rating. Pushing themselves out of the dirt? OK, I watched carefully for that to happen, and I kinda expected that might be a good clue. But that never happened. Flower stalks? OK, that looked like a really good indicator, and you can see the tall, thick stalks shooting up in the picture above. At that point, I couldn’t wait any longer, and pulled up the carrots. And this is what I got:
Wow! Here’s what they looked like after trimming:
(Same bowl again.) The big one in the middle is the size of a sweet potato! Yow! And they are sweet, and crunchy and honestly the best carrots I’ve had in ages.
And here’s my problem: I’ve somehow lost two seed packets, the sweet bell peppers, and the carrots. ROFL, I shoulda let at least one of them go to seed I guess…