The 226 Day Beet


Yellow Beets

This is my first post for Fight Back Friday.

I love yellow beets. They hate me, but I adore them. I crave them no matter how stubbornly they refuse to germinate for me, or how long it takes the few that deign to grow in my garden to finally develop to eating size. I could grow red beets in the dirt that accumulates in the trunk of my car. Yellows are carefully seeded into flats and coddled atop the hot tub as I pray for germination. Then, carefully, with a special $7 tool purchased for no other purpose, I transplant the tiny four-leaved beets into the prepared garden bed at the tender age of three weeks. By the next morning, half of them fall over dead just to spite me. Or perhaps slugs crave yellow beets even worse than I do.

But today, after 226 long, anxious days, I lunched on yellow beets braised with their greens in homemade chicken bone broth. I dribbled tamari on a third of my bowl, some really snooty French apple cider vinegar on a third and left the center portion au naturel. The bliss! After lunch I seeded a new flat with ‘Touchstone Gold Beet’ from High Mowing and ‘Golden Detroit Beet’ from Natural Gardening Company.

Yellow and orange carrotsAnother root vegetable I struggle with is carrots. They are happy to sprout in my garden but the second I look away something, or someone, mows their tiny tops down to nubs and whatever is left of the seedling dries up and blows away. I got three patches of carrots to grow this fall and they have overwintered well. We’re still eating them in May, which is wonderful. But I would love to grow more. I have tried covering the seed bed with straw, I’ve tried covering it with burlap, I’ve tried interplanting with cabbages–which actually worked in one of the patches but not the other two.

Maybe it’s time to pre-sprout the seeds on paper towels and then transplant into a bed? I got some red carrots that look gorgeous in the catalog, but half the seeds are already gone with nothing but an empty garden patch nicely lined with onions to show for it. I know carrots are supposed to like tomatoes, but do they hate onions?

If you have a favorite way of growing carrots, please share it with me in the comments. I need suggestions!

Peas and Potatoes

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Potatoes Looking Done

Potatoes Looking Done

Last weekend at our Open House the kids harvested the last of the All Blue potatoes. The plants were looking pretty sad by the time we got to them. Which is fine. That’s what potato plants do. When the vines die down then you have an easy way to tell that they aren’t doing anything more to grow the potatoes and you can take them out of the ground now. The ones I hadn’t already stolen ‘new’ for potato salads, that is.

This week during our Open Garden time, we pulled the spent vines and tossed them into the compost. Then we added a layer of finished compost and the worm castings we saved when we added a new level to the worm farm and mixed those in well with the existing soil.

Split Bamboo to Keep the Dew and Mold Off the Plants

Split Bamboo to Keep the Dew and Mold Off the Plants

Peas like to have something to climb on, even if they aren’t the pole varieties that grow very tall. On one side we put in Cascadia Snap peas and the seed packet says they climb to 32″. Our poles extend well beyond that, but we figured there was no harm and that way the poles stay a good size to use with our determinant tomato plants in the Spring.

The other side of the bin holds Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Peas, the ones that you pick and eat flat. We are only expecting those vines to grow to 28″ or so, but it still helps to keep pea vines off the ground when you are growing them in the Fall. We don’t know if the weather will be wet or the slugs will be hungry so climbing gives the vines a little bit of an edge against both bugs and disease. Peas also don’t like to be touched and having them staked will make it easier for us to harvest the peas without messing too much with the sensitive vines or possibly spreading disease from one plant to another.

Spacing Out the Pea Seeds

Spacing Out the Pea Seeds

The Cascadia peas are planted ~1″ to 1 1/2″ apart and the Oregon Sugar Pod packet insists that they need 2″. The packet actually says “Seed Spacing: 2″ (Yes. 2″)” which made me feel like they knew me and maybe had seen how closely we had packed in the peas last year during the Winter Pea Trial. I think for one of those varieites we calculated almost 100 peas planted in a single square foot. We gave the Oregon Sugar Pods each their 2″. If they don’t all sprout we can always fill in next week when we see what we’ve got coming up.

The middle section of the bed on the Oregon Sugar Pod side we planted some Golden Beets. Next week during Open Garden we can keep filling in the bed. It might be nice to try some greens along the front of the bed where they will get a bit of shade and we have a seed donation package coming from Territorial Seed Company that might have some interesting things in it we’ll want to add. We also still have kale, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and celery plants we have started that are all getting ready to look for more permanent homes. There’s always plenty to do in the Dirt to Dinner garden!