Garden update for March

The radishes planted February 15th are starting to become ready for harvest. They took a couple weeks longer than the estimate on the packages, but the weather has been cool and rainy.

French Breakfast and Purple Plum radishes

It has been a joy to harvest a few each day, although so far none have made it to the refrigerator. I’ve just been pulling them out as they are ready, washing and cleaning them, and then eating them right away. I am planning on planting more of the Purple Plum radishes again. They are crisp and pretty with just a little bite. The French Breakfast radishes are nice too, and I may grow them again, but they would be my second choice to the Purple Plums if I had to pick one or the other.

So far I’ve been enjoying the root pouches that I’ve been using as raised beds. I don’t bend over as well as I used to, so they really save my back. In the above I have radishes, a couple tomato plants, a pepper, and some carrots in the middle. The plan is to put in a luffa at the top once it warms up a little.

Radishes, tomatoes, and carrots.
Squash Seedlings and Pepper in center

Having fresh summer squash was so nice last year I decided to grow more for this year. In this root pouch there are yellow, zucchini, and zephyr summer squashes, a butternut winter squash, and a lone pepper in the center.

Dixondale onions in a 65 gal. root pouch

The onions seem to be doing well. These I bought from Dixondale farms are bigger now than they were when I received them. They may be a little too close together, but I anticipate picking some of them early for immediate eating. These are Super Star, Red Candy Apple, and Candy onions.

Stockton Red Onion

This Stockton Red Onion is the largest in the garden. It will be interesting to see how it does over the next month or two.

Sunflower

These Mammoth Sunflowers are along my North side fence-line. I haven’t grown them in years and they are a little closer together than they should be, but hoping they give me a little more privacy on that side once they get taller.

Root Pouch Container Garden Setup

I took advantage of the three day weekend to set up some 65 gallon root pouch fabric pots to use as raised gardening containers. The trellis is good and sturdy for this year, I’m not sure exactly what it was before, but it is a trellis now.

For a growing medium, I am using a mixture of coco coir (rehydrated from bricks), peat moss, vermiculite (not a huge fan, but had a bag so used it), perlite, chicken compost, and steer compost.

Proper spring planting isn’t for another month or so. Because I know I’ll get impatient waiting, I planted 30 day radish seeds. Not only did I use a mixture of radish seeds from this year, but I threw in some older seeds that are definitely past their prime just to see if they’ll sprout (and to get them out of my seed box). If they all sprout then I’ll have much thinning to do. We will see if that keeps me occupied enough to stop me from planting other things too early. On the other hand, I do have more tomato starts going than I need, so I may wind up risking a couple since the winter has been so mild.

The first two have decorative rings with carrots planted in the middle. For some variety (and fun) this round I’m trying Burpee’s Kaleidoscope Mix which has a mixture of Atomic Red, Bambino, Cosmic Purple, Lunar White and Solar Yellow carrots.

There are a few cabbages hanging in, but they got pretty beat up by insects earlier in the year. Fingers crossed, it looks like I’ll get enough from the Romanesco (fractal broccoli) to at least try it.

The Stockton red onions and the Dixondale Farms starts seem to be doing fine. The starts are showing new growth, and I have an entire 65 gallon root pouch devoted to them.

Dixondale Order Arrived

For the sake of transparency: I purchased the onion plants in the following article, and planted them in a 65 gallon Root Pouch furnished by Tradewinds Wholesale Garden Supply.

Callooh!¬†Callay! My first ever Dixondale Farms order of onion plants has arrived. Last October I put in my order for one of their¬†Intermediate Day Sampler bunches for $12.35 (shipping included), to be sent when ready, and now they are ready. As far as onions are concerned I live in an intermediate day area, so I made sure to order intermediate day varieties. To the north is long day onion territory, and to the south the short day onions are grown. According to the Internet, one can fudge that a little depending on location, but since this is my first attempt at growing onions I thought I’d play it safe and stick to recommended varieties for my latitude.

TIP: Make sure to order the correct type (long day, intermediate day, or short day) of onions for your area.

Upon opening the box, I was greeted with a rubber banded bunch of onion plants, my invoice, and a thoughtfully bagged growing onion guide, the suitably enough named “Onion & Leek Planting Guide”. Right on the front cover are useful directions in red capital letters to:

  1. Remove plants from box immediately.
  2. Cut the rubber band and spread plants out for ventilation.
  3. Do not put in soil or water before planting.

As a novice onion grower, I appreciate the advice. Clear direction helps with confidence.

So I immediately removed the plants from the box, and the rubber band from around the plants (which is why the rubber band isn’t shown in the picture).

According to the Dixondale Farms website the ideal size for a starter plant is at about four leaves and about the same diameter as a pencil. I didn’t count the leaves, but most of the plants I received were smaller than a pencil, some by a fair amount. My feelings aren’t hurt at all about some of them being on the small side, because they more than make up for it by the quantity of plants I recieved. I’m only describing what I received in my box, not commenting on what anyone should expect. I don’t know anyone over there, so there is no reason to expect anything more than their usual customer care. I’m not sure if it is to make up for the smaller sized plants, or someone was just having a good day while packing up my order, but I appreciate the extra love in the box. There was even an “Intermediate” plant marker included.

Dixondale Farms claims that there will be at least 50 total plants in the variety bundle I ordered, so out of curiosity I counted the plants that I received. A reasonable expectation would be something like 16 or 17 of each of the three varieties, with the understanding that the proportions might be off, but some combination totaling 50 plants or so.

What I received was:

  • 42 Candy (Yellow)
  • 48 Red Candy Apple (Red)
  • 53 Super Star (White)

Granted, some are on the pretty small side, but with 93 extra plants on an order of 50, I’m not complaining. Overall they are about the same size as the existing Stockton Red Onions I started from small plants last fall. These new onions look healthy and happy, and if they don’t do well I expect it to be from user error and not any fault of the starting plants.

Planting

The light in my backyard isn’t ideal, I have some odd shadows and such which limits which areas get full sun. One of these areas happens to be on a concrete slab, which makes it a candidate for container gardening.

The container I’ll be using is a 65 gallon root pouch with handles. For a potting mixture, I used (an approximately equal proportions) peat moss, perlite, and a combination of chicken bedding & steer manure compost.

I planted the onion starts barely deep enough to stand up, and about 3-4″ apart. My intention is to thin them by harvesting and eating some as they start to crowd each other.

Onions

Hopefully the onions do well, it will be interesting to see how they develop (fingers crossed).

State of the garden – January

Daffodil

The mini daffodils are blooming, with the full sized not long behind. In my area they really do well, and require little maintenance except for digging up to divide every few years. Mine need it again, but I’ll wait until after the tops have withered.

My brassicas have not done well this year at all. The bok choy & most of the broccoli bolted, and the poor cabbage has had a time of it. First by caterpillars, then aphids, and now some sort of leaf miner is cutting into them. This may be a “pick your battles” thing, and pretty sure instead of spraying and such I’m just going to skip them next year.

The onions are garlic planted last fall seem to be doing fine. Last October I ordered some starts from Dixondale farms which should be arriving soon. I was looking for Stockton Reds, but they didn’t have any so I got an assortment of three varieties suitable (intermediate day) for my latitude . Of course right after I put in the order, I found some Stockton Red starts at Green Acres Nursery so I bought and put them in. It will be interesting to see which does better come harvest time. I have some in Root Pouch fabric pots, and some in the ground, so will see which does better that way as well. I’m hoping the containers do well since swapping out potting mix would be easier to do proper crop rotation given my limited ground space.

Inside, I have started some pepper plants, and will start some tomatoes in the next couple of months. Pepper plants take a couple weeks to sprout, so I wanted to give them a head start.