The Garden in July - Greens and Brassicas

March this year was insanely warm, so I decided to try an early planting of greens and brassicas in early April. The worst thing that could happen was that I wasted seeds - the best would be that I had an early harvest.

So, of course, April was cold, cold and cold. But not cold enough to actually kill anything: all the plants, after they germinated, just kinda sat there and waited for better weather.

Unfortunately, that better weather came in May, in the form of unseasonable heat and drought.  How dry was it?

Lettuce planted in early April. Photo taken May 16.

That's lettuce growing in a raised bed. Please note the cracks in the soil. And yes, I did water. I did three succession planting of greens (lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard) along with radishes and scallions. None of the spinach or chard grew enough to actually harvest anything, and I only got 3-4 scallions from all the plantings combined. The lettuce, however, did quite well. I love the mixes I bought this year - a great range of different colours, textures and tastes. The one thing I did notice was that red lettuces get bitter earlier than green, which is good to know for the future. I can extend my season further into the summer by limiting later planting to green varieties. The butterhead, especially, stayed sweet well into the hot weather.
Lovely, tasty romaine.
The radishes did great as well. I bought two mixes, and it was nice to taste all the different varieties. However, I also had a few French Breakfast radish seed, and for my taste, this is a clear winner in the radish Olympics. I'm not sure if I'll plant mixes again, of just stick to French Breakfast: while I like radishes, I don't eat that many of them, so having 2-3 different seed packs is a bit of overkill. And none of the other varieties stood out for me like French Breakfast did!

As for the rest of the brassicas? One word: ugh.

Oh, they started out great:

Napa cabbage, rutabaga and turnips, May 16.

Napa cabbage, May 28.

Unfortunately, the hot weather made everything bolt before they matured enough to actually eat. All of the Napa, rutabaga and turnips ended up in the compost bin :(

As did the broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco.


The kale and collards did well, as did the green cabbages - the red got shaded out by the kale :( However, both green cabbages seem to be growing at the same rate, even though The Early Jersey Wakefield is supposed to be an early variety (hence the name!)

Early Jersey Wakefield
Copenhagen Market

I'm going to pick one of the Early Jerseys soon, and see how much I actually get from it. It's been FAR longer than the 63 days from transplant that the variety claims. I direct seeded, so I expected it to take a bit longer, but these were seeded at the beginning of April. That's four months!

So, lessons learned? Lettuce seed mixes are great. Succession planting and variety selection is important. And I need to re-think my brassica growing strategy - I'm no wasting an entire bed anymore, simply to pull half of it out and add it to the compost. I know the weather this spring was unusual, but springs are getting warmer, earlier in general. It's quite possible I will switch entirely to fall-sown brassicas and over-wintering for an early spring harvest.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...