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Friday PhotoEssay – May 19, 2017

We survived a rainy, stormy week and the garden looks generally green and healthy.

34338565900_43a1b986e6We also planted most of our remaining warm season plants this week, including replanting some things that hadn’t been successful so far…

34561246082_4759b39366Part of that planting was putting up all of our cattle panel trellises before planting our vine crops. We planted cucumber, watermelon, and cantaloupe seeds this week. I think they have managed to stay well watered!

33880685484_786770a1e3We also saw some pesky insects starting to make an appearance. The holes in the cabbages turned up some young cabbage loopers on the undersides of the leaves. We treated with Dipel Dust (a bacterial-based product) on Tuesday. Unfortunately, most of it did wash off later. Hopefully it did enough to get rid of the majority of the caterpillars.

34591910851_658f220b44Like most other plants, our carrots are growing well. Unfortunately, the plants are a bit too thick to produce good carrots. We thinned the plants out so that there is about one carrot plant per inch. This should make it easier to get good quality carrots rather than carrots that are twisted around each other.

34591916961_be056cd758We also transplanted our gingers back outside this week. They had been in my office and are more than ready to go back out. This is the turmeric. The rhizomes are still nice and healthy, but it is just starting to come out of dormancy and put on new growth for the year.

We are almost done with our spring planting, so from here on it is just a matter of watching everything grow!

Thinning Seedlings

I think that one of the least favorite parts of seed starting for everyone is the process of thinning seedlings. I hate it too! For that reason, I try very hard to only plant one seed per pot. I even plant extra pots “just in case” so that I don’t have to thin or transplant lots of seedlings. Of course, unless you are perfectly dexterous every time with tiny seeds, there are times when you end up with more seeds than you want in one spot.

If you have a couple seedlings in one pot, but on opposite sides, it isn’t the end of the world. They will usually be easy to divide later on if you want to. The hard part is when you have more than one seedling growing from essentially the same spot, like you can see here. When that happens, it is usually best and easier to just snip the two weaker seedlings off right at the soil level.

I KNOW that it is so tempting to just let them be. If you do that, you are ultimately compromising the ability of each individual plant to grow. If you just can’t bear to kill the other seedlings, then you can try to divide and transplant them. The key to this is to do it at this stage, when the seedlings are just starting to put on their first set of true leaves. They have large enough roots to handle it, but not so large that you will cause major damage when you separate the seedlings.

After thinning and a little bit of transplanting this afternoon, I have over 150 tomato seedlings growing in my office! Most of them are the heirlooms we’re going to try out this year, and I can already see differences in plant vigor as the seeds germinate.

So…I know it is hard, but if you have started seeds already, make sure you thin or transplant your extra seedlings soon! Can you believe that in only 2 weeks I will start moving these little guys outside to harden off?

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.

Thinning Radishes and Thoughts on the Radish-Parsnip Interplanting Project

I went out and thinned out some of the radishes this afternoon, and I thought I’d share some pictures as well as a few thoughts on interplanting radishes and parsnips.

The radishes were very thick and needed to be thinned whether there were parsnips hiding underneath or not! Given the crazy spring, the radishes aren’t yet at full size, but we needed to get some more sunlight to the parsnips anyway.

This is what the first few inches looked like after I pulled out several radishes. It is pretty tedious work, especially since the radishes are so thick. I had to be extremely careful not to uproot the parsnips. I tried to leave some radishes to get larger, but I pulled the ones that were too close to the parsnip seedlings.

In case you weren’t sure what the true leaves on parsnips look like, this is it. For something in the carrot family, the leaves definitely don’t look very carroty. They are much more reminiscent of parsley, actually.

This is what the final thinned rows look like. The plants do look pretty floppy at the moment, but they should straighten up in a day or two. I tried to gently tamp the soil around the roots of all the plants, since I was disturbing them by pulling radishes.

A few of the radishes. Some were good sized and others were still very small. These are the French Breakfast radishes.

A few thoughts on the whole project:

1. It is very tedious to remove the radishes without damaging the parsnips! It is probably not worth it to do this unless you don’t have the space to plant them separately.

2. The timing doesn’t work out as well as I had hoped, BUT that could just be the crazy spring-winter-spring-summer-winter-spring we are having. Ideally the radishes would have been completely pulled out by now.

3. I think the optimal way to do this type of planting would be to plant the parsnips very thickly (maybe as much as 1.5x as many seeds as ideal) and to plant the radishes very thinly (1/2 as many seeds as normal). That way you wouldn’t have to be as careful pulling out the radishes and worrying about losing too many parsnip plants in the process.

Have any of you tried this type of thing before? Did it work out?