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Fall Root Vegetables

Ah, the best laid plans…! Obviously I didn’t get very many posts done this week, since a whole host of other things claimed my attention. I think that we are probably done with Friday PhotoEssays until next year unless we get some picturesque weather. In a month or so, we may do some catalog reviews/new variety reviews as those catalogs start rolling in. For now, I have a few more topics to blog about from the fall portion of the garden, starting with a look at some of the root vegetables.

Some of the radishes and turnips were looking ready to harvest, so I pulled the biggest ones and got some good pictures. (You may have guessed that from the Radish Salad recipe that Denise posted on Monday.) I also pulled a few of the parsnips, since some of them are supposed to be better for fall harvests and some are better for spring.

First up: Turnips!

We have 3 varieties of turnips. From the upper left, going clockwise: Golden Ball turnip, Early Flat White turnip, and Scarlet Queen turnip. There were some larger Scarlet Queen turnips a couple weeks ago that I gave to a Master Gardener to try a soup recipe. All of these varieties look good and productive. The Early Flat White turnips seem like they might be a little more difficult to deal with due to the shape. These turnips all went into a Turnip & Parsnip Gratin that we had at a Master Gardener class.

As you can see, there are some interesting things going on with the parsnips! Varieties, again from the top left, going counter-clockwise: Javelin, Albion, Cobham Marrow Improved. The 3 problems in evidence with these varieties are side-splitting, forked roots, and some type of canker. My As you can see, both of the Javelin parsnips are problematic (I had pulled a third earlier that was also split), one with a split and one with a canker. The Albion parsnips displayed two crazy forked roots and one small, nice root. The Cobham Marrow Improved had two nice roots and one split.

So what happened here? My suspicion is that the side splitting is probably due to moisture fluctuation, if you can imagine that! The canker could quite possible be Parsnip Canker or some other type of root rot/root damage. The forking roots is what has me really confused. Usually forking roots like that is indicative of one of two things: root knot nematodes (please, no!) or a physical obstruction that caused the roots to split (really, in a sand + compost soil?). I did see some references to excessive nutrients causing the forking, but there weren’t a lot of reliable sources for that. I didn’t see other signs of nematodes, so I guess something else happened with the Albion parsnips. When we pull the rest of them, we may see if I just had bad luck pulling those two or if there’s something about that variety that is problematic. Just form this sample, it would seem that the Cobham variety did the best. We’ll have to see what the final harvest brings!

When I was poking around the internet looking for parsnip information, I came across this blog post that seems like a novel way to grow parsnips – almost like mini-raised beds for your parsnips! I’m intrigued… http://ukveggardeners.com/profiles/blogs/side-splitting-parsnips

Ah, the fall radishes. Aren’t those daikons enormous? From the top left, clockwise: Watermelon radish, Alpine Daikon radish, Nero Tondo (Black Round) radish. Again, all of these varieties look great, and I’m particularly impressed with the daikons. They could be longer, but this variety isn’t one of the really long ones.

I’m really happy with the color on the Watermelon radishes this year. Sometimes the center color is much more faded or only in the very center. I wonder if it is due to the weather or to the seed source this year. We got our seeds from High Mowing, which is different from where I’ve purchased them in the past.

Watermelon, anyone? Okay, that would be just mean, wouldn’t it?

I think we are going to pull the remaining root vegetables and harvest some of the greens next Tuesday, since there is a forecast low of 22 on Tuesday night. (Yes, I know it will probably change. Yes, I know the roots probably won’t be damaged anyway. Yes, I know we could put on row covers.) I think most of the roots are just about as big as they are going to get for the year, so we might as well get them pulled out. Stay tuned!

Friday PhotoEssay

Whew! It was a pretty hot week here. I’m looking forward to temperatures in the 80s next week. Let’s start out with our weekly overview of the garden.

The front bed still looks pretty bare, but I bet that by a month from now the sweet potatoes will have completely covered the soil. Just for fun, let’s see what the garden looked like at the end of May.

This is one of the pictures I took on May 31st. For one thing, the sky is sure a different color! In a month’s time, the garlic has gone from being the dominant feature of the landscape to being a faded remnant, while the tomatoes have turned into quite a jungle! It’s hard to see from this angle, but the eggplant are also quite a jungle.

Speaking of Eggplant, this is the ‘Orient Charm’ eggplant. I apologize for the horrid sun and shadows in the picture. It was giving me fits this morning. this is the long, Chinese type that has a pink/lavender blush.

The ‘Millionaire’ eggplant is already reaching the stage that I would term “quite prolific.” We harvested one on Tuesday and there’s another one ready today. I think by next Tuesday there will probably be several ready. We are going to need those eggplant recipes! Once we get a few more plants producing, I’ll have a post about harvesting eggplant.

Speaking of harvesting, I picked this small handful of green beans earlier in the week and found about twice this many today. By Tuesday it looks like there will be lots of green beans to pick! The purple ones don’t seem to have started producing yet.

The parsnips have  been looking a little bit strange, and on closer inspection yesterday it appears that they’ve got spider mites. Who knew that parsnips get spider mites? This is why we try new things! Anyway, when I was watering yesterday (we are currently handwatering the parsnips because the garlic in the rest of the bed is in dry-down phase), I turned the water up all the way and blasted them good with a hard stream of water. That is one way to combat spider mites, and the undersides of the leaves look much cleaner today. We’ll probably have to either do that or spray with neem oil for the duration, since they will be growing until fall.

This truss of Golden Honey Bunch tomatoes just keeps growing! (You should compare to the picture in last week’s photoessay!) How many tomatoes do you count on it now? I’m wondering if they are going to ripen as a whole truss or if they will ripen one or two at a time. If the catalog pictures are to be believed, they should ripen as a group.

This is one of our two beds of basil. I love the perfect mounds and the pyramid shape of the plants. The only thing that would make it better is if the Red Large Lettuce Leaf Basils (the one in the middle tier) were as red as they are advertised to be. Oh well, we can’t have everything!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

How about all that rain this week? I’ll be honest that excessive rain comes with its own problems in the garden, but I can’t complain too much yet. If we’re getting 3 inches of rain a week all summer…well…there are limits. That should help with the Cheney Reservoir though. We could only be so lucky in that case. We ended up with 3.3 inches yesterday, and we really saw the benefits of our drainage system, as we had no standing water in the garden at all.

Here’s the whole garden today. The main visible difference is the addition of the straw mulch, although there are many more changes when you get closer!

The sugar snap peas are continuing to produce just enough for a little snack when you walk through the garden. I guess that’s the point of the Snack Garden, right? Read the rest of this entry

Planting Day 1!

We finally got to plant our poor tomatoes! We had originally planned for them to be planted on April 23rd, so they have just been hanging out for the last 2 weeks. This is the last time that I try planting tomatoes early. Or something like that.

We planted the tomatoes and herbs in the Pizza Garden. The open area is for a couple peppers.

The tomato & basil garden. We are using cages this year, hence the double row of plants. We have 3 determinates (more compact vines) and 3 interdeterminates (crazy giant vines) of both red and yellow tomato varieties. We also have a wide range of days to maturity, from about 60 to more than 80 days.

We also planted our thyme garden and the rest of the herbs that will be in containers this year. I’m excited to see how the different thymes grow and fill in the front of the grape area.

Our two new entry beds were planted with some annual flowers, and we’ll be planting containers next week.

We also harvested the remaining radishes of two varieties from our radish & parsnip planting. The ‘French Breakfast’ radishes were much bigger than a week ago, and the ‘Cherry Belles’ were all ready to harvest as well. The silly ‘White Icicle’ radishes are still taking their sweet time.

Next week we hope to be planting eggplant, peppers, basil, and probably some seeds for some of our vine crops. After a slow spring, the garden is off and growing!

More Thoughts on Interplanting Radishes & Parsnips

I thinned out the other two varieties of radishes and parsnips this morning, so I have more to add to my comments on the viability of the practice.

First off, the rows I thinned yesterday had perked up quite a bit and were looking good. It made the other rows look even more overgrown.

The first variety I thinned was on the other side of the bed. The radishes were the ‘White Icicle’ variety. I can say that this is NOT the right variety to interplant with parsnips. The leaves are much larger than other varieties, resulting in more shading of the parsnips. The roots are also very long, resulting in more soil disturbance when pulling, and there were basically none of the ones that I pulled that were ready to eat, even as baby radishes.

The middle rows were ‘Cherry Belle’ radishes. Very different! The leaves were much smaller and more lobed, leaving more gaps for sunlight to get through. The radishes were also much more developed and pulled out of the soil much easier.

Once all the radishes are out, we’ll have to go back and look at germination and how our stand of parsnips looks. For right now, I can say that the quick maturing round varieties with smaller leaves are a better option for interplanting with parsnips.