The Thankful Garden

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I’m amazed at all the things still going strong in the Dirt to Dinner garden at this time of year. In the Midwest, where I grew up, all I had in my garden in late November was frost.

If you’d like to see all the ingredients we have available this year for a Thanksgiving feast, I made a VoiceThread to share them with you.

If you just want the short-list of what is growing, it goes something like this: Ancho peppers, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, basil, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chives, chicory, collards, ginger, gourds, Hungarian peppers, kale, Komatsu, luffa, mustard, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, tomatoes, turnips, sage, shelling peas, snap peas, snow peas, spinach, strawberries and a lone watermelon.

Early Lessons from the Pea Trial

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Lessons from the Pea Trial–So Far

Pisello Nano Piccolo Provenzale

Pisello Nano Picolo Provenzale

#1. Early planting does not equal early eating. It’s not just 55-60 days, it’s the *right* 55-60 days. We thought an early start would give us peas sooner, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Peas that were supposed to be ready to start picking in 55-60 days are just now 6″ tall a week after the 60 day mark we were hoping for. The peas planted February 18th may or may not be ready for picking by mid-April. We’ll let you know!

#2. Peas planted early seem to get damaged by pests a lot more than peas planted later. Maybe because there’s not much else out there looking green and delicious in January and early February. Or maybe we just got smarter about the covers we used as the trial went on.

#3. Peas appear to sprout and grow better in February than they do in January. Weather will surely influence this. We’ll track it next year and compare. This year January was warm and sunny, if that weather had continued, maybe the peas would have been on the table by now.

Pea Sprouts Protected by Plastic Netting

Pea Sprouts Protected by Plastic Netting

#4. Peas need to be grown under netting or cages in order to foil uninvited dinner guests. Upside down black plastic latticed plant carriers from the garden store worked well for the first few weeks, as did the onion bag netting we recycled. Neither of these methods was deep enough to allow for much growth and I would like to keep the peas protected longer, just in case. We lost a whole planting of snap peas in the back garden because something came along and snipped the tops off each of the vines. (Argh!!) We’ll keep the tall covers on these for the first several inches of growth and you can check out our Pea Trial page if you want know how our test of the burlap covered cages does.

Making Hay

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Obviously the Rainy Season is back.  But man we got a lot of good gardening in while the weather held. The peas have started off strong.  Now I just have to hope that nobody eats the plants before they can grow any peas.  That’s what happened to the Fall crop I tried in back.  I really should find some way to cover them or at least mess with any birds or squirrels who might try. We’ve been letting the dog into the front yard at odd intervals to try to keep things unpredictable.  

The grow lights in the garage are up and in use.  The grow light on top of the refrigerator is still our best bet for germination, but once things sprout they should be cosy enough under the big light in the garage. It gives off a little bit of heat and it’s not drafty there.

Cabbages, califlower, and broccoli are all in and doing fine so far.  Not a lot of growth but you can tell that they are establishing themselves slowly.  We have two different stages of spinach going right now, both the plants that over-wintered, which are starting to bush out and are about ready for us to start picking, and the seedlings that I just set out last week, which are doing OK in spite of the now-foul weather.