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.|
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.
|Early Jersey Wakefield|
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.