The portion of the garden on the north side of the duck pen is done. I'm calling it my "Irish Stew Garden" as I have planted potatoes, peas, carrots, and cabbage there. I planted three varieties of potatoes this year that I purchased from the Snohomish Co-op. I planted Yukon Gold, Red Lasoda, and a white variety whose name escapes me. I'm trying something different this year with the potatoes. I heavily mulched the potatoes in wheat straw with the intention that I will be harvesting clean potatoes from the straw. I forget where I read about this, but it seemed like a great idea. I planted a rainbow blend package of carrots, purchased from Ed Hume Seeds. It included red, yellow, orange, white, and purple varieties of carrots. I also planted Marner Cabbage, and Super Sugar Snap Peas. After planting my main potato crop I received a gift of Banana Fingerling potatoes from my daughter, Rachel. I planted those as well, but in a different part of the garden.
|My Irish Stew Garden|
In addition to stew ingredients, the portion of the garden near the duck pen also includes my rhubarb patch. I've added four new rhubarb plants this spring in an effort to grow redder rhubarb for pies. I have three Victoria Rhubarb plants from last year. I purchased Cherry Red Rhubarb from a local nursery and I purchased Canada Red Rhubarb from McDaniels, our local hardware store. Then a good bee store friend renewed her rhubarb patch and asked me to help her find homes for all of the surplus crowns she dug up. I think there were about twenty. I added two of them to my rhubarb patch. She couldn't recall the exact name of her rhubarb, but knew it included the word "Crimson" so that is what I will call it for now.
The main garden area is in the front yard, our sunniest location. I've planted two varieties of pole beans. Fortex, a green pole bean, is supposed to be absolutely stringless. It was strongly endorsed by two serious gardening friends as a significant improvement over Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder. I also planted a yellow Romano type of pole bean called Marvel of Venice. It was probably a little early to plant pole beans, but we are having a warmer year than normal. They came up well although I had to replant a little of it due to slug damage. I reduced the number of bean seeds I'm planting for each pole with the idea that it will end up looking less like a jungle. I also planted more Marner Cabbage and Bull's Blood Beets near the pole beans.
At this time of year I lose the use of the ducks to keep the slug population in check. If I let them continue to do their slug patrols they trample all of the emerging seedlings. Thus I am left with either using Deadline or doing some nighttime and early morning slug patrols of my own. Deadline isn't bad as far as garden poisons go. The active ingredient is metaldehyde and supposedly doesn't leave noxious residues in the soil. I bought some Deadline for Linda to use on her Hostas and flowers, but I've stuck with physically removing slugs from the garden and dumping them into the duck pen. Watching the ducks make short work of the slugs isn't a sight for the squeamish. While looking for slugs early in the morning I found that I still have some allies in my pest control efforts. I found this little salamander out looking for his breakfast in my vegetable garden.
|I'm assuming this salamander is looking for protein and not vegetables|
I planted a lot of onion starts in our front garden. Either McDaniels or the Snohomish Co-op had a package deal of three different kinds of onion starts. The bundle consisted of 1/3 Walla Walla Sweet Onions, 1/3 yellow onions, and 1/3 red onions. Linda loves the red onions so I'm hoping that will keep her well supplied. I planted the onion starts in late January so at least that part of the garden wasn't planted late. The onions are all doing very well except for a little slug predation. This year I will make a point of removing the seed heads when they start to form. Next to the onions I also have a small patch of garlic I planted last fall.
|Newly emerged Mandan Red Clay Indian Corn|
Parching consists of heating in a skillet without oil. After a few minutes the corn pops, but it doesn't expand as much as popcorn. It merely triples in size. You end up with a fully cooked corn kernel which has a nice crunchy texture. I've read that any flour corn can be parched if dried properly, but a few of the colors don't taste very good. Supposedly, the red kernels have the best flavor and the blue and black kernels the worst. I experimented with some of the Painted Mountain Flour Corn I grew last year. It parched very easily in the microwave and I found it to be pretty tasty. Parched corn was used by a number of indian tribes as travel food because it was both lightweight and compact.
I have four hills of winter squash planted on the east side of my indian corn. That will allow the squash to expand through the corn patch. I've also planted a few plants each of zucchini, yellow crookneck, and a yellow pattypan squash called Scallopini, all near the pole beans. The winter squash is called Potimarron and looks like a French version of Red Kuri. I had intended to plant Red Kuri as I had such great luck with it last year. Territorial Seeds carries it, but I never found it on their seed rack in the Snohomish Co-op. I purchased the winter squash seeds from Uprising Seeds in Bellingham, along with the indian corn and a number of other seeds. They are my current favorite seed company. They specialize in locally adapted varieties, something I would like to encourage. Everything I have ever purchased through them has done very well.
Another good bee store friend gave me eight tomato plants last week. He is a serious tomato expert and gave me eight different varieties that he really likes. The tomato plants are from his green house. I've used a homemade hoop house for the tomatoes to keep them warmer and drier. I reduced the size of the tomato hoop house by a third this year and hope I have a more manageable tomato surplus this summer. I also still need to plant cucumbers, but it is still a bit early for both cucumbers and tomatoes. I starting the cucumber seeds indoors a week ago and they are already up. I won't plant them outside until the weather is more consistently warm.