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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The April garden

With everything coming up so early this year, you'd think our vegetable garden would be in overdrive right now. Not exactly. This is the time of year that everything slows down, in my garden.

The fall planted kale, which has been our garden mainstay this spring, is about done. But, there are a few edibles just barely ready or almost ready.

baby lettuce, to the right, radishes, getting there, to the left

garlic and shallots, whose greens I can cut for flavor

crimson-stemmed chard (these red stems have a phytonutrient
 called betalain, useful as an anti-oxidant against LDLs)

Fordhook Swiss chard

chives are abundant, and the blossoms are just now ready
 for making vinegar or tossing in soups and salads

perennial herbs, sage, oregano, thyme, sorrel

lots and lots of rhubarb (had some in gelatin the last two nights)
two gorgeous lemon balm plants
Nice for tea, or chopped and added to salads and cakes, but also make
 nice ornamentals in the garden, with their bushy habit. I've got a third 
plant getting its start from  a division in a pot on the deck right now. 
Once established, the thirdone will join it's siblings in the sunken garden.

a trio of mints, pineapple mint, peppermint and spearmint
I pulled this pot on the deck, up against the door to the kitchen.
The winter was so mild that I never had to bring it into the garage.
Not enough to make meals from. But there is something fresh to use each day, now. And that's better than nothing, right?


  1. Yes! Some fresh is certainly a great thing! Our gardens sound like they are in similar spots right now, though I have far less herbs (working on remedying that this year) and no rhubarb. My chard was a bit odd. It grew all through winter (mild winter) and started bolting maybe 3 weeks ago now? It's now over 6 feet tall but I'm letting both plants go to seed to collect the seed. I picked off of this numerous times to feed the chickens and ducks and for our own meals...such a wonderfully easy plant to grow here. Spinach is beginning to bolt though we're still harvesting both it and kale. Sugar snaps did well but had to be pulled due to powdery mildew. Leeks and garlic (both planted in fall and covered with landscape fabric over winter) are coming along. We've been eating the Romaine lettuce and another type is about ready. Oh, and my daughter's radishes are ready, but none of us are big fans...she likes to grow them, though, and gives them to our neighbor.

    1. Hi Cat,
      A little bit of fresh does encourage me to get out there and really look for something I can add to meals.
      Wow! It sounds like your garden is doing well! Hopefully you'll be able to add the herbs that you want. Will you be starting from seeds for herbs, or plants? I wanted to add more English thyme and creeping thyme this year. so I found some seed packets in my stash. So far the English thyme has sprouted, but not the creeping one. It takes patience to work from seeds, but for the ones that will overwinter in my garden, it's worth saving the couple of dollars per plant, especially as I have some establish thyme in the garden I can use this year. We shall see how this turns out!
      Good work on collecting the chard seeds! I did that with the parsley last year and was quite pleased with the germination rate this year.
      Your daughter's radishes will ingratiate her to your neighbors. I am sure they are delighted with the radishes!

  2. Oh, a garden, what a lovely thought. I have decided to do pot gardening. Instead of flowers they will all contain vegetables and herbs. I am looking into companion plants and plant a few things together. Herbs will only be rosemary, chives and basil and veggies will be beans, tomoatoes, onions and maybe a pepper or two. Dad bought 400 onion sets and wondered why he bought so many, so now I have a bunch to plant. He also gave me chives seed. The rest will come from Dad's garden just like we've done the last three years.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Your ideas for a pot garden sound wonderful! And if you do want a few flowers in pots with herbs or veggies, you can add nasturtiums. They're edible -- add to salads.
      I love what you've chosen to grow. I think you'll enjoy it all.
      Have a great day, Alice!

  3. I want your chard. :) Looks sooo yummy. I picked the first of our rhubarb a couple of days ago! I didn't get much--we are supposed to get rain tomorrow so I'm hoping that, by the weekend, I'll get a substantial amount. And my husband picked one stalk of asparagus. Definitely not enough to feed 4, but more should be coming, right?

    1. Hi Kris,
      1 stalk of asparagus is more than I've been able to grow here! That one will lead to many more.
      Hoping for rain for you.
      Have a great day, Kris!

  4. Your garden is so lovely. I tried to comment this morning from my kindle and it would not :) that thing has a mind of it's own. My basil is starting to come up. :) I am going to
    do a stacking pot garden to maximize space. Annabel shower one this week on her blog the blue birds are nesting. They will be just perfect for my small patio and
    they look really cute.
    Have a great day.

    1. Showed one not shower. I should read the comments before I publish. Your garden is so wonderful.
      If I lived closer I would help you garden. It is one of my favorite things to do.

    2. Hi Patti,
      I love those stacking pot gardens. I saw one done in succulents that looked quite pretty. I think that should work well for a small patio.
      Can't you just imagine the taste of your fresh basil? I'm looking forward to new basil, too. If you lived closer, Patti, I'd bestow you with bounteous amounts of rhubarb, and more strawberry plants, raspberry canes and watercress seedlings than you could want! I wind up composting a lot of those as they take over the garden pathways.
      Have a great day, Patti!

    3. Aww Thank you. Those would be great in my stacking
      planters. Especially the strawberries.

  5. I wish we had a serious, lovely garden like you do:) But we still manage to eat quite well with our quasi one growing in odd planter containers. Last year, we grew mostly from a few pots on our lanai. Since, we've expanded a bit to the backyard, plus a few concrete planter containers alongside the driveway (instead of beautiful flowers). We enjoy endless green onion (which we blanch for a second, tie in knots and eat with our favorite sauce), basil, kang kong, cherry tomatoes, beets, and swiss chard. We are still trying to get watercress, chinese parsley, chinese spinach, and more zucchini to grow. Don't know what is wrong, but the seeds refuse to germinate.

    Our soil is not soil lol...more like coral dust. It is a challenge to add enough organic matter to the soil to help the water seep down. To address this problem, we "planted" a drainage pipe with holes into the ground. It seems to be working quite well, keeping the ground moist all day. This may be the solution we need to have a working garden.

    Have a nice day!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      have you tried germinating those tougher seeds in a damp paper towel, inside of a baggie? It could be that the soil moisture situation is making it difficult for those particular seeds. you could also try those Jiffy Peat Pellets, which expand when wet, to start your seeds indoors. Do you compost produce and yard waste? that should help your soil, too. As would raised beds (which you can then fill with bags of soil). I can only imagine how difficult it is to grow vegetables in your soil/coral dust. The coral dust might also be lacking in some nutrients, too. Continuing to add compost, and some packaged fertilizer should help. Since you eat fish scraps often, you could also use the remains (skin, heads), buried in the soil for added fertilizer, once decomposed (if you're planning a year or two ahead for a particular spot in your yard for a garden). And it seems to me that I saw a recipe online for fish emulsion, made by blending fish skin/heads in your blender with water, to use as a fertilizer. Sounds gross, but it might be worth a google to find out. I wish you much continued success with your pots and planters.

      And as I said to Alice, above, you could buy a packet of nasturtium seeds to add flowers to your planters. Then from that one packet of seeds, you collect the next year's seeds from the flowers. Nasturtiums are an easy seed to collect. I had a neighbor who did this every year, and gave homemade seed packets to our garden club at Christmas. I may take up her practice, as she's now moved away.

      Have a great day, YHF!

    2. We tried twice to start seeds indoors, using Miracle Gro Potting Mix, and keeping the soil very moist. The tray sat on our kitchen counter under enough filtered sunlight, but yesterday we took the tray outdoors thinking maybe not enough sunlight. The first try we flooded the pots (homemade origami newspaper pots) with so much water mold started to grow along the edges. Second time we made sure there was some drainage. So it really doesn't seem lack of moisture was the problem.

      We don't have much fish scraps to bury, only the bones, but we do compost our kitchen scraps. Today we are going to work in the garden, adding three more drainage pipes into the ground, and adding chicken manure, bone and blood meal around the pipes, and some potting soil. Hopefully, the kangkong will love growing there.

      Thanks for the suggestion to grow nasturtiums, an edible flower, that seems perfect for the planter boxes along the driveway. Our neighbor likes the idea of growing vegetables instead of flowers, so he'll be amused that the flowers can be eaten too.


    3. Good luck with your drainage pipe installation, YHF!

    4. Would you believe, two of the seven zucchini seeds are germinating once brought outdoors. Seems the seeds needed the light and warmth of direct light.


    5. Oh yay! My seeds are sometimes temperamental, too. But now you have a couple of zucchini babies, and you learned something about germination for your particular conditions.

      Have a great day, YHF!

  6. I love to watch things grow-- especially vegetables. The crimson chard is beautiful. Last night I went to talk where I heard that if you affront 2 senses of deer, they will stay away. One person had an elaborate light and sound system rigged up that helped him. I may look into that and try gardening again so we could get something for ourselves and just not the critters.

    1. Oh, me, too, live and learn. One of my favorites to watch is pumpkins. In our last place, I set a bench right next to the pumpkin patch. It was my place in the yard to go sit and think.
      That's very interesting about the deer, and needing to offend 2 of their senses. I am wondering if this would work for birds and squirrels? I may give it a try. Something on a motion sensor, is what I'm thinking. Good luck to you!

  7. Still many useful things there for sure, Lili. I love the Swiss Chard. It is so beautiful and so healthy for you like several things you have in your garden. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Thank you. I think I enjoy growing vegetables more than flowers, even. In large part because I know they're so beneficial to our health.

      Have a great weekend!


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