Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Winter Veggie Garden – Finally Planted! October 14, 2008

It was a loooooooooooooooong time coming, but the fall edibles are finally in the ground. How they will fare with such a late start remains to be seen, but at least they’re in and I don’t have to feel guilty anymore when walking past the formerly bare spot in the parking strip where they are now planted. It took a few separate efforts, over a ridiculously long span of time, but such is life these days.

First, on a sunny day a few weeks back, I emptied a cubic yard of organic compost into the small space where I’d cleared out the spent summer stuff (snap pea vines, flowering leeks, bolted lettuce, squirrel-downed sunflowers).

Compost blob

Then I dug it in and roughly raked it over. Soil looks much darker and richer now, so I hope it will be enough since I don’t typically use any fertizlier.

Raked and ready

This appears to be a daffodil, sending up a shoot totally out of season. I left it just to see what happens. I wonder why it got confused? Or even how it ended up in the veggie patch??

Freak daffodil in fall

Then I took a break for various reasons (health, busy-ness, wacko weather, including thunderstorms and hail), and got back to it last week. I have to lug everything down about 20 steps to the street, which is part of my procrastination rationale. Good exercise, though, especially the many trips to refill the watering can!

Ready to plant

A recent windstorm had caused the fennel to flop over. I ripped it out – it never bulbed anyway, something to investigate for next time I plant it.

Flopping fennel

When I got the four-packs of starts out of their flat, I saw quite a bit of slug damage. Then I found the offender, who was surprisingly small given all it had eaten – it was promptly tossed into the street after this photo.

Sneaky slug

It seems to have preferred the ‘Monument’ Chinese cabbage:

Chinese broccoli

and the tender green leaves of the ‘Teton’ spinach:

Spinach starts

Ouch. I hope they survive, I had to remove quite a few destroyed leaves.

In went four each of two kinds of lettuces, ‘Merlot’ and ‘Redder Ruffled’ leaf,

Planted lettuces

plus some Red Russian kale, ‘Old Fashion’ Mustard (could be fairly spicy), and two colors of chard – “Magenta Sunset’ and ‘Bright Yellow’ – which I attempted to plant in a circle in the center of the garden. We’ll see how that turns out. Just got tired of my usual semi-straight lines and thought to try something new (considered a peace sign but only had 8 plants so couldn’t make it work).

Then, finally, it was time for a very limited selection of seeds. Considering how cool it’s getting (down into the upper 30s at night and only the mid-50s during the day), germination is going to be a challenge for these guys.

Fall seeds

I don’t have a real science of seed planting, but just do it the way my mom taught me – dig in some planting compost, make the trench with your gloved finger, take the gloves off to put the seeds in as precisely as you can, cover it over gently with soil, firm it just a bit, then cover with newspaper (I usually use the NY Times, since I fantasize that it makes the plants smarter) held down at the edges by rocks, and water the paper every day and keep peeking to see if they come up.

All planted

Looks kind of sparse at the moment, but I hope it will fill in and end up providing us with at least a few snips for the salads in the coming months. One year I may try a cover crop to renew my soil out there, but I’ll have to really wrestle with my desire to have something edible growing during each season. For me, there’s nothing like going out on a near-freezing day and still finding some arugula leaves valiantly hanging in there despite the weather. I don’t bother with cloches or coldframes, although if it’s going to get into the 20s, I do sometimes put temporary floating row cover over the stuff I’d like to give a little extra help to.

What about you, get anything started to grow through the colder months?

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4 Responses to “Winter Veggie Garden – Finally Planted!”

  1. Shibaguyz Says:

    All of the overwinter crops in here! We went the cloche route just to ensure a constant harvest. A peace sign of lettuce… I’d love to see that!

  2. Racquel Says:

    Congratulations on getting your winter veggie garden planted! That compost really made a difference and I’m sure your plants will thrive.

  3. Megan Says:

    I don’t know anything about crops, but it looks like you’re giving them a good start, I can’t imagine they won’t repay you.

  4. Curmudgeon Says:

    We opted for a cover crop this year–just got it in this past weekend. It’s the first time we’re trying it. We planted fava beans and crimson clover. And we did plant some garlic and shallots. But I couldn’t bring myself to yank out the chard which survived the Spring slugs and the summer heat. It’s looking really good right now so it was allowed to stay.


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