Today I want to do an update on the area we call the kitchen garden. We call it that because it’s close to the house and with easy access to the kitchen. It’s also where the greenhouse is located. The beds around the greenhouse itself give us about 200 sq.ft. of growing space, and about half of that is protected by cold frames. The rest of the beds are not protected and I either have to grow things the critters won’t eat, or else cover it with netting.
Two of the unprotected beds are planted in onions, shallots and radishes. The shallots and multiplier onions were set out last fall, and the other onions (from Dixondale Farms) were planted about a month ago. I was happy to see that all the overwintered shallots and onions survived just fine, as did the green garlic which I have already harvested. The radishes are just now coming up, and I have begun thinning them. That’s Alpine Gold coming up in the below photo, a Korean daikon radish.
The first of the four cold frame beds has a mix of overwintered lettuce and new plantings of kale and mizuna. The kale is Prizm, a hybrid curly type that I grew last year and a 2016 AAS Winner. For the mizuna I have the red leaf Miz America and the green leaf mizuna/tatsoi cross called Mizspoona.
I got the Miz America plants from Robin’s Nest Flowers, my favorite local nursery. My wife and I went there to pick up a few perennials for the shade garden, and Robin pointed out the mizuna and had me taste a leaf. I was hooked, and brought a 4-pak of it home to grow. Some growers list this one as a mustard, but then the lines are pretty blurred with many of these greens.
Some of the overwintered lettuce is heading up and almost ready for harvest. I have two plants of Wonder of Stuttgart, a butterhead type. I got the seed from Wild Garden Seeds, and it promises to be a good candidate for late fall and early spring plantings here. To the right of it in the below photo are a couple of Winter Marvel plants I harvested earlier that are re-sprouting and sending up new leaves.
The second cold frame bed is planted in kohlrabi. I have two varieties planted there, the green skin Konan and the purple Kolibri. Konan is another 2016 AAS Winner, and it did quite well for me last year.
The Konan is a bit earlier than the Kolibri, and some of the stems are already starting to swell up. I planted the kohlrabi fairly densely in this bed, and squeezed in about 30 plants.
Cold frame bed #3 is planted in lettuce. I set out the plants almost four weeks ago, and they are starting to size up nicely. It’s a mix of varities, colors and shapes in there, including Three Hearts and Garden Babies butterhead. Loose leaf types include Red Sails, Simpson Elite and Elf Ears plus I have the romaine types Outstanding, Jester and Pele. I see the leaves of a curly dock plant in the back that I need to dig up!
Cold frame bed #4 is also planted in lettuce. I have a lot of lettuce growing now, and my hope is that I staggered the plantings enough that it doesn’t come ready all at once. This bed was planted just last week, and the varieties in there include Australian Yellow, Black Seeded Simpson, Red Sails, 21st Century Fire, Tall Oaks, Pele and Wonder of Stuttgart. There’s also a few plants of the non-heading Chinese cabbage Tokyo Bekana in there.
My next chore is to clear the area behind the greenhouse, where I plan to grow a couple of cherry tomato plants plus ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and lemon verbena. This bed is on the south side of the greenhouse, and offers a somewhat protected microclimate that warms up early in the season. It looks pretty weedy at the moment, but the weeds are almost all purple deadnettle and it won’t take much more than an hour to clean it all up and prep it for planting. That’s on my to-do list for later in the week.
I also have a long, unprotected bed near the cold frame beds where I plan on growing a few more tomatoes. These plants will all have to be covered with netting, since our local deer have developed a taste for tomato vines, along with everything else they eat. I also need to put down some mulch in the walkway between that bed and the cold frames. I have already put cardboard down, now I need to cover it with some straw. And it looks like a few of the cold frame covers need to be re-covered with bird netting. It’s safe to say my to-do list often exceeds my time and energy this time of year!
I hope you have enjoyed this look at how the kitchen garden is doing this April. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!