January Gardening

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Arugula plantPlease try not to hate me. It might be hard when you hear it was over 70 degrees Saturday and I had to spend the bulk of the day in the garden. I couldn’t stay inside. I know it’s January. I know weather like this can’t last even in California. But it was still wonderful.

I found this giant volunteer arugula growing contentedly on the edge of last year’s bean patch. I may have munched a few of those leaves after the picture was taken, but it clearly has plenty, and it’s not even close to going to seed. Several of the pampered arugula starts in the raised bed nearby are already sending up fuzzy flower stems. I was planning to let five or ten of them go to seed for saving, but maybe I should wait on this one instead.

French Green Lentil SproutsAnother wonderful surprise was seeing how well the lentils have sprouted. In our family, my mother-in-law is a legendary cook. If you want to get the kids to try something new, all you have to do is tell them, “Grandma Susan made it,” and they head to the table salivating. Our youngest is especially partial to Grandma’s lentil soup, which is made with the small ‘French Green‘ lentils that look like little grey rocks. When I saw these available through Bountiful Gardens, I had to try growing some. And the sprouts look healthy so far. French Green lentils are supposed to like cool weather, unlike the Asian varieties that are a lot prettier, if you ask me. But what really matters is how they taste in that soup!

Rat-tailed radish sproutsWe’ve also got some Rat-Tailed Radishes and two small sections of Golden Beets coming up nicely–for once! Germination for Golden Beets here has been a fraction of what we get for the red beets we grow. And I honestly don’t know why. Maybe the red beets do better in warmer weather and the golden ones need cooler temperatures to germinate well? I’ll keep experimenting because I love golden beets and this is the first time I have gotten them started well. Hopefully, I’m on a roll. The patch has already been through it’s first careful thinning. I thought I would need small scissors but it ended up working fine to just pinch the stems of the beets chosen to be eaten as micro-greens with my fingernails. I’ll go through the patch again in a week to keep them spaced far enough apart that their leaves don’t touch.

Persian Cress transplantsThe rest of my day was spent on the Spring Salad Garden, which ended up planted in containers on the patio in the back garden. IĀ transplanted Persian Cress, a variety of lettuce varieties, Bloomsdale and Guntmadingen spinaches. I seeded one pot with Beta Salad Mix and another with two varieties of Romaine, because we like it and because Frank Tozer says it’s one of the most nutritious kinds of lettuce to grow.

The salad garden ended up on the back patio because it’s close to the kitchen and well-lit. Even if it’s already dark when it’s time to put together a dinner salad, we can still pop out to the patio and snip away. And I am hoping that slugs and snails will find it very annoying to have to climb vertically on dry terracotta in order to attempt to ruin my salad greens. Earlier this week we were running late getting dinner together and had to pick spinach by flashlight. We discovered dozens of slugs had gotten there ahead of us. Yuck!

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