May Garden Tour Part 1

It’s been a while since I gave a tour of the Happy Acres vegetable gardens, either virtually or in person. Last week fellow MG Jan came by and got one in person.  I told him he would get to see it ‘warts and all’, though I guess things aren’t in too bad a shape. At least that’s what I tell myself! So here’s a tour for the rest of you, and a chance to see what’s growing in May.

cold frame with lettuces, kohlrabi and celery (click on any image to enlarge)

I’ll start with the cold frame beds around the greenhouse. The cold frames aren’t really doing much this time of year except to provide critter control (which is critical here), but I usually just leave them in place year round. Cold frame #1 (which had overwintered spinach) was recently replanted and has a mix of lettuce (Spotted Trout, Radichetta and Sea of Red), kohlrabi (Kolibri) and celery growing in it. I’m growing both regular celery (Tango) and cutting celery (Parcel). I’ve also got kohlrabi and celery growing in a raised bed in the main garden.

young celery plant

Since celery has a reputation for being finicky about temperature, I waited until night and day temps were settled and consistently above 55F before planting it out. Hopefully that will keep it from prematurely bolting to flower. I also plan on mulching around the plants to keep the soil moist. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to growing celery, so I will be learning as I go with this one. The cutting celery is more strongly flavored, but it is also not nearly so fussy to grow. I’m going to try growing some of the Tango as a fall crop too.

cold frame #2 with lettuces

Cold frame #2 is all lettuce at the moment. From left to right I have Merlot, Oakleaf, New Red Fire, Slobolt and Hyper Red Rumple lettuces. There are six plants of each, so it’s quite a bit of lettuce in that one 4×4 foot bed. Though if you look closely the first plant in the Oakleaf row is something else! I lost one plant and replaced it with a Simpson Elite I believe. I’ve been harvesting some of the outer leaves already for salads, and we had some wilted lettuce last night, which is one of my favorite things.

young Florence fennel plants

Cold frame #3 is half occupied by arugula that I am letting go to seed. The downside of saving seed from many species is that the plants occupy garden space for a longer period of time. Of course the upside is you get the seeds. I also planted some Florence fennel in the open part of the bed.

young Florence fennel plant

I love the crispy Florence fennel bulbs. I didn’t grow any last year, but it’s back in 2012. It probably does better here with a fall planting but it should still bulb up for us this spring.

garlic bed in May

Some of the garlic crop is growing in the bed nearby the cold frames. I call it the ‘lasagna’ bed, since I used the lasagna method to build the bed initially. Now it’s just a 30 foot long slightly raised bed where I grow various veggies each year. This year about one third of it is devoted to garlic.

stem of Simonetti garlic plant

Simonetti is a softneck artichoke type garlic we’re growing for the first time. The stem of the plant in the above photo is huge, and I can only hope that is a sign of the size of the bulb that’s growing under ground! It almost looks like a leek growing there.

garlic scape

And as I predicted last week, the scapes on the hardneck garlic varieties are running about 3 weeks ahead of last year. I got the first harvest Saturday, just enough to make a batch of salad dressing. These are surely a tasty treat for me!

fingerling potatoes

Sharing the lasagna bed are potatoes, onions and tomatoes. The potatoes are the Russian Banana fingerling variety. I saw some small potatoes forming when I hilled them up the last time, which is a good sign. I had said I wasn’t going to grow fingerlings this year, because I don’t think they are a good use of garden space for the amount of potatoes I get, but I wound up planting some anyway. As my wife has learned, with me ‘no’ doesn’t always mean no! I do love the taste of these little potatoes roasted, fried or in potato salad.

early planted tomatoes

The tomatoes in this bed were started a bit early, and planted early, and they are a mix of types, colors and sizes. I have Sun Gold, Supersweet 100, Mountain Magic, Champion 2, Early Girl, Jetsetter and Cherokee Purple planted there. Every plant got a nice handful of slow release organic fertilizer, and I watered them in with a fish emulsion/kelp solution as well. Then I mulched with newspaper and caged them. I will sidedress them again with the same fertilizer in a couple of weeks. That should keep them growing and making tomatoes for the rest of the season, especially since the whole bed got a liberal helping of compost this spring.

blossoms on Sun Gold tomato

As is the norm here, Sun Gold was the first one to bloom. To which I say “go tomatoes!” Sun Gold is one of our favorites for eating fresh and for drying.

green carrot tops

Last year I did a terrible job of growing carrots. I let weeds take over the spring planting, and the fall planting was overrun by the China Rose and daikon radishes I planted right next door. So this year I resolved to do a better job. I had to resow several places to get a nice stand, but they are looking good now. There are four little short rows in that bed, for about 16 feet of carrots. All I have to do now is keep them weeded and watered, and we should have some carrots before long.

carrot forming below the greens

I have the Mokum and Yaya varieties growing now for a spring/summer planting. I see orange just below some of the greens, so that is a good sign of things to come. For me the hard part of growing carrots is getting them germinated, and keeping them weeded when they are small. So it should be all downhill from here.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the garden tour. I hope you enjoyed today’s peek at what’s growing here!

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6 Responses to May Garden Tour Part 1

  1. Daphne says:

    The lettuce looks so pretty with all the colors. And your garlic looks like it is doing fabulously. Mine is doing better this year than most years. Maybe I’ll get some really bit bulbs.

  2. Mike R says:

    I used the lasagna method to build two beds in the fall a few years ago. It really does work, and in the spring the beds were ready for growing squash with the addition of some more compost around the squash plants. For some reason celery will not grow for me. The seedlings grew well and the celery did fine for a about a month after it was set out, then it died. I tried Tango and Golden Pascal and no luck. I’m thinking of trying to grow it in an earthbox.

  3. Liz says:

    That garlic is huge! I’m most impressed by your carrots though – I find it really difficult to grow carrots successfully: some don’t germinate then those that do get eaten as seedlings then if they make it past that I inevitably get bored of waiting for them and harvest too early. I clearly need to be more patient with them but then again perhaps there are some things that some people are never destined to grow well.

  4. Bee Girl says:

    Everything looks so good! You’re carrots are sizing up nicely!!! Looks like you’ll have a great harvest year!

  5. kitsapFG says:

    I had a bad carrot year last year too and have paid more attention to the crop this year as a result as well. Your garlic patch looks great and the rows of lettuces in various colors and textures is really pretty.

  6. Shirley says:

    Nice!!! Love the carrots and your lettuce etc. bed. *(especially that on the photo you stated “green carrot tops” Ha! I’m a redhead so you can imagine how many times I’ve said “carrot tops are green!”

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