I love looking at the garden when the beds are shaped and bare. There is something about seeing mounds of soil waiting to be filled with lush vegetables that excites me and the gratification of knowing that I made those beds what they are is immediate and fulfilling. While I usually would have had the whole garden laid out by May, being two weeks behind with the kind of Spring we had, isn’t so bad after all. Soil temperatures are just starting to move into the warm range, at least in some corners of the garden, and as long as we don’t spike to 80 for a prolonged period of time, the broccoli and cabbages and lettuces will have time to stretch their roots and reach for the sky in a timely manner.
Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a day and a half finishing off the last 2 quadrants of the Vegetable Garden, and while I had mostly picked out what vegetables will go where, I always end up wondering if adjusting a bed here or there will be better for successional cropping, or if I have given myself enough room for the Eggplants and Peppers. I have so many new plants that I am trying out this year too, Okra and peanuts among them, that I don’t really know what to expect for size aside from what the packages say. I used to get caught up in trying to pick out the perfect sets of rows, agonizing over 6 inches here or a 30 inch bed there, but after a few years of seeing the plants in motion, I have come to relax a bit, knowing most vegetables will still produce a harvest, and at least produce a learning experience.
In addition to finishing off the shaping of the garden, I tasked myself with getting all of the transplants that had been lingering in the pathways waiting for the soft earth to hit their roots into the ground. I put about 100 broccoli plants and 400 or so onions; kale, artichokes, celeriac, a lot of leeks, a few jalapenos (as a test of their vigor) in the ground and seeded Radishes, spinach and carrots in the raised beds. As positive as that all was, I was quite disappointed to see that due to the long moist period that the seedlings sat in trays, I seem to have caught a case of Wire Stem (Rhizoctonia), a fungus which attacks young cruciferous (Cabbage Family) plants, causing the stems to crack or become woody making it virtually impossible for the plant to ever put enough growing energy into production to get a good crop. Had I given the seeds a hot water soak before sowing, supposedly they would have been impervious (really?) to the fungus. Fortunately, I had two sowings. One set, from 3-12, and the other from 4-8, and the latter seemed to have little to no infection. I tossed most of the diseased seedlings, and segregated the less sick plants out to see just how negatively they will be impacted. And yes, I understand this fungus can live in the soil, but I do practice good crop rotation, so ideally, this test won’t be an issue in the future.
Anyone else lose their early crops from waiting too long for planting? Am I keeping up with your gardens at home? Any random questions for me?