Spring greens

If you ask me what my weakest area in the garden is, where I show the least amount of skill, I'd have to say that's the veggie garden. I'm just not too good with edibles for whatever reason. Perhaps some of it is out of my hands as the trees limit the amount of sunlight in my small veggie patch. A good part of it is down to me though, in the form of soil prep, watering, and general diligence.



I'm also bad at timing. Getting the cold-tolerant (and cold-loving) plants into the garden early enough has always been a problem for me. Not this year though. This year I've got a great head start.
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The reason I'm ahead of the game this year? One of the plans I made in the fall has failed, but not completely. Remember when I planted the Swiss chard late in the year and then covered it with a horrible makeshift "greenhouse"?


My goal was to see if I could produce fresh chard all winter long. That was an unrealistic goal it seems as this bed doesn't get enough winter sun to warm up enough for continuous growth. Those plants overwintered very nicely though, and they're beginning to produce new growth now.

Instead of a weak winter crop I'll have a fantastic spring crop of chard!


It's beautiful too.

The chard out in the veggie beds just had frost cloth over it for most of the winter, and is looking sort of terrible:


Upon closer examination though, the plants are fine and are starting to produce new growth as well:


I expect great things from these plants this spring too!

Also overwintering with ease was the kale:


These were under a light row cover for the early parts of winter, then I added a sheet of plastic over the hoops for extra protection when it got colder. Every plant under here is doing great, and is there anything prettier than a kale leaf in cold weather?


There were 4 or 5 cilantro (corriander) plants under here too, and I believe two of them actually survived:


That means I'll have extra-early cilantro this year! This plant bolts when the soil temperature reaches 75ºF I've read, and that can happen pretty early here some years, so getting these plants started early is essential. (I'll have plenty of volunteer cilantro in different parts of the yard, but those always stay small and go straight to flower here.)

I put straw over the rest of the veggie beds, covering my garlic:


but also covering a few fall-planted beets:


and some spinach:


Unfortunately, the tatsoi doesn't look like it survived:


Too bad, as I was looking forward to those delicious greens, but I have to look on the positive side...

...at least I have a couple of rows in which to plant something else now. The rest of the veggie beds are already full!

So my fall/winter experiment failed -- yet didn't. Plenty of early-spring greens means less worry for me about getting edible seeds started early.

I like turning weaknesses into strengths!

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Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (February 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM)  

We started some beets and peas but they've barely grown. I love fresh produce, but I'm getting to the point where I'm ready to give up on winter veggie gardening.

Steve Lau  – (February 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM)  

My cilantro has also survived 2F in an above ground pot so it is very cold hardy.

Lisa  – (February 11, 2013 at 8:20 PM)  

Ha! My cilantro couldn't make it through the hot, dry summer...maybe winter would be kinder!

Kaveh Maguire  – (February 11, 2013 at 10:50 PM)  

I'm the same way with veggies. I don't even think I am going to bother with them this year. Maybe again in the future when I have more time to dedicate to them.

Jason  – (February 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM)  

Enjoy your chard and other greens! I too am least proficient in the vegetable garden. A big part of this is lack of interest. My feeling is, if there's a good farmer's market, why grow vegetables? My other half, however, insists on it.

Barbie  – (February 13, 2013 at 2:41 PM)  

Sorry - I forgot to comment :-).
Spinach was a huge washout for me this season - weird, because it is so hardy. Yours is looking like they have life in them. I am so keen to grow Kale this year - yours looks amazing. I love the colour!

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