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Unexpected Buds & Blooms

I was out in the garden yesterday an noticed flower buds on a couple of plants that I didn’t expect to see buds on. Not just that they were early budding, but that they typically would flower only rarely or not at all.

The first one is the garden sage. I have certainly seen other sages bloom, but it is pretty rare to see the culinary garden sages bloom. It has these rather angular, purple-tinged buds right now that will lengthen into flower stalks in time.

Also, the ‘Sante’ shallots are budded. I don’t see any signs of buds on any of the other shallot varieties, and I didn’t expect to see them on these either. Garlic often puts up a flower stalk, but I’ve never heard of shallots doing it! My instinct is to remove the flower stalks like we will on the garlic later on. A little bit of research seems to indicate that would be best, although some people have had trouble with rotting of the bulbs when blooming occurs. We’ll have to wait and see. That would be tragic, because the ‘Sante’ shallots are already huge compared to the others!

Speaking of the garlic…

After thinking about the shallot buds for a few minutes, I realized that maybe the garlic is starting to put up flower stalks too. I checked the ‘Maiskij,’ the variety that seems to be the earliest so far, and was initially disappointed that I didn’t see anything. Then I looked closer and realized that there are some flower stalks (called “scapes” on garlic) starting from the center of some of them. You’ll have to take my word for it, but the newest shoot in the center of the plant is a flower stalk, not just a new leaf.

We’ll be talking more about garlic scapes in the weeks to come, including a recipe, I hope! But what about the sage and the shallots? Why are they blooming? My initial thought is that the blooming is primarily due to the temperature fluctuations we’ve experienced, although the shallot planting stock we got could have been biologically ready to bloom.

Friday PhotoEssay

Another week, another cold snap. It looks like we may be in for that same weather pattern next week. UGH!

Here’s a little bit of spring cheer for you though:

I found this mini iris blooming and couldn’t resist picking one. When I went looking in response center cabinet for a small vase to use, I found this big martini glass. I have no idea what it was doing there, but I couldn’t resist using it for the vase!

Hmm…can you tell it’s been a while since we weeded last? Can you tell which is the shallot and which is the grass? I’ll give you a hint – wide and flat bright green leaves are one and the tubular blue-green leaves are the other!

There, that’s better! Now you can see the new growth coming from the center of the plant. It looks like some of the shoots are going to divide at least one more time.

Yes, this is the same lettuce from last week. It hasn’t grown a lot, but the new leaves are definitely another shade darker. There is a benefit to those random blasts of cold weather!

We are starting some of our basil varieties from seed this year rather than just buying the plants. I was supposed to plant them last week, but with our crazy weather I knew we weren’t going to be ready to put them outside until mid-May. Basil doesn’t grow quite as fast as tomatoes, but almost.

The radishes in the Root Vegetables garden are looking great, but these that we planted in the Kids’ Snack Garden look like they’ve been scorched. Not sure if it was sun or cold or wind, but the seed leaves are goners. Luckily it looks like the true leaves are going to be fine.

This is the third time I’ve tried to show you this picture. I was having trouble getting the bud in focus. This is a flower bud on one of the Red Beard Onions that we planted last fall. I keep expecting the flowers to burst forth, but I think the weather is holding things back.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – Icy Edition

As you can imagine, I’ve got some lovely, icy pictures for this week, as well as the “aftermath” pictures. I know, I’m trying to make it sound all dark and foreboding. It’s not, really. You don’t have to be afraid to read to the end of the post.

This is the red lettuce that I transplanted last Saturday as part of the Saturday Sampler series. It got a lot darker just over the weekend. (This is a “before” picture.)  I just love the contrast of the white ribs and the red leaves.

I’ve had a couple people ask if the garlic is almost ready to harvest, because it is supposed to brown and dry back as a sign it is ready. This leaf browning is still due to the temperature fluctuations of winter and cold injury, not readiness of harvest.

Iced vegetables! The droplets of ice make these shallots into something of an art project! It is so interesting how you can see the direction the droplets were flowing as they froze.

I think it is really interesting that the ice/rain/whatever you call it didn’t actually manage to coat the pea leaves. The ice is frozen in droplets on the tips of the leaves in some cases, but the plants aren’t completely coated.

The radishes, on the other hand, were completely coated in ice. This radish seedling had about and eighth of an inch of ice on it. Poor thing!

Whoa! Somehow an ice storm built us a grape trellis! Oh, wait…that was one of the Master Gardeners. Oops! Now we have to decide what grape to plant…

Here’s the “after” shot of the radish/parsnip rows. Still no parsnips, but that’s still normal. The radishes look almost as good as new! No damage here!

The edges of some of the lettuce leaves look a little bit nipped from the cold and ice, but overall, things are in good shape!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

Hopefully this is the first of a full season of Friday PhotoEssays! There’s just a few things up right now, but the garden is going to start changing quickly.

I don’t know why, but I’m loving watching the shallots grow. Maybe it’s because I know there was only one bulb planted in each spot originally, and there is now a clump of stems coming up from each spot. I love watching the multiplication! So much more fun than regular onions, or even garlic.

Speaking of garlic, this is the ‘Maiskij’ variety. It is huge already! Those stems are about the same diameter as a quarter! This variety is either going to be VERY early maturing or the bulbs will be huge by late June.

To put it in context, the variety in the background is ‘Maiskij’ (no, I have no idea how to pronounce it), and the one in the front is ‘Siberian.’ It is healthy, but not nearly as big as ‘Maiskij.’ There are some varieties that are currently even smaller than ‘Siberian.’

This radicchio is unfurling a little bit in the warmth and sun from earlier this week. I’m not quite sure what it’s doing, but I’m afraid it is going to bolt. I noticed today that it was curled back up a little more, so we’ll have to keep an eye on it.

Yes, it’s a handful of dirt. No, make that soil, folks. One more picture, and then I’ll explain.

Yes, I know. Another handful. Can you tell which handful of soil is moist and which one is dry? Maybe? It’s a little hard with our current soil to get a really good differentiation in the pictures, but the first picture is moist and the second is quite dry. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to take pictures of differences in soil moisture and temperature (because, you know, warm soil looks so much different than cold?!?). I finally decided just to take a couple pictures and explain.

Because we’ve had (and still have) straw mulch over a good portion of the garden this winter, you can really tell the difference it makes in both soil temperature and moisture. The mulched areas have nicely moist soil, while the bare areas are dry. However, the mulched areas are much cooler. You can easily distinguish the difference in soil temperature by touch, because the mulched areas feel almost cold to the touch, especially after you have touched the unmulched soil. There are definitely some pros and cons to mulching through the winter!

Have a great week!

2013 Garden Plans: Shallots, Beans & Brassicas

These next couple bed plans are going to seem a little bit random, I think. That’s because Beds 2 & 3 are mostly full of shallots, garlic, etc at the moment. That has inspired a little bit different garden planning for this year. Let’s just say that we’re going to be a lot busier in late June, late July, and early August than some years!

Fall Brassicas

So the majority of the bed is full of shallots, multiplier onions, and elephant garlic at the moment. There is about 5 feet at one end where we had some lettuce last fall. In that open space, we will be planting two types of bush beans: Amethyst (purple) and Jade (green). Everything in this garden should be ready to harvest/remove by sometime in July.

For the fall, we are going to plant 4 varieties each of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. We will start the plants from seed indoors in late June with the plan to plant them out in the garden in late July or early August (weather dependent). Here’s a little more information about each variety.


Both ‘Santee’ and Apollo’ are sprouting broccolis, meaning that they do not produce one large head, but rather a lot of smaller side shoots. ‘Santee’ is a purple variety.

‘Arcadia’ and ‘Imperial’ are both regular broccoli varieties, but varieties that are supposed to be very cold tolerant and do well in fall plantings.


‘Amazing’ is our white cauliflower selection. We chose it because it is supposed to do well in the fall and is fairly short days to maturity.

‘Veronica’ is a green, romanesco type cauliflower. ‘Cheddar’ is an orange cauliflower. ‘Purple of Sicily’ is…you guessed it! A purple cauliflower!


We have two savoy cabbage and two regular cabbage. ‘Famosa’ is a savoy (crinkly leaved) green cabbage and ‘Deadon’ is a savoy with red and green leaves. ‘Tendersweet’ is a regular green cabbage and ‘Red Perfection’ is a regular red cabbage.