The vernal equinox has come and gone and despite the rest of the country still dealing with snow and ice, any fear of frost is way behind us here in the desert. Like, we are effectively in the 80’s behind us.
Learning from our past late-planting mistakes, we decided to do in our winter crop the week before spring started and start everything fresh and on time. Our winter plants were kind of a sad sight, but we still got something out of them. Namely, lots and lots of greens. Oh, and green onions.
We’d planted onions, beets, kale, brussel sprouts, cilantro, and endives in November, but nothing really sprouted until December, and even then everything was very anemic looking. After a fellow gardener advised us to freshen things up with fish emulsion in January, things finally began to grow in earnest. The onions sprang up like grass, the kale exploded, and the cilantro grew to three feet in height. The brussel sprouts never really got beyond the initial bush and we saw neither hide nor hair of the endives, but by the time we harvested we actually had a handful of fully grown beets.
Did you know you can eat brussel sprout greens? They’re a lot like collard. Totally delicious. Kale, on the other hand, attracts aphids like mad. It probably didn’t help that a neighboring plot already had aphid-infested kale. Next time we’ll have to be a ton more proactive than we were. I can still see the thick layer of them on the bottom leaves when I close my eyes.
The winter crop could have used another month (or two) to really get going, but we wanted to plant things on time for once. Our summer and winter crops were both four to six weeks later than is advised, and with our overly warm winter we knew weren’t going to get any more frosts. So out went the winter plants, in went the spring seeds.
For spring, we’re growing tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, watermelon, okra, zucchini and lettuce. We built a makeshift trellis on the north side of the plot to train the zucchini on and scattered lettuce seeds underneath in its shade. The tomatoes we actually started inside in February, since it’s best to get them flowering well before the heat sets in. Apparently tomato pollen can burn? Who knew.
Of course, hopefully I’m not allergic to nightshades. Even if I am, we planted a variety that’s good for canning, so we can make a bunch of sauces and give them away as gifts. Lady is super excited about all those canning possibilities. I’m just kinda crossing my fingers and hoping I can make tomato tarts (warning: not paleo) later in the season.
I’m mostly excited for the zucchini. I love zucchini noodles and zucchini bakes, and I’m sure I’ll get my fill of zucchini by the time we rotate it out for fall spaghetti squash. Also the watermelon – it was so disappointing when our watermelon last year never finished ripening. This time we’re planting months earlier, so it should have plenty of time and room to grow.
Do you plant a spring garden?