Archives for posts with tag: parsley

We decided to pack the root vegetables in closely this year. We’ll cram six rows of carrots, radishes, beets and turnips into the east planter, completely filling the space in front of the Sugar Snap peas.

Four of the rows are already planted, two in April and two in May. The April bunch is in mid-production. We’re harvesting turnips and radishes—or their greens—on an almost daily basis. The beets are trailing behind a bit but we’ll start picking their greens soon. And seedlings for the turnips, radishes and beets sowed in May are pushing their way out of the soil.

But where are the carrots?

After a casual glance at the planter, one might not realize that carrots are growing there at all. There is no sign of those we planted in April and the May seeds have yet to germinate; their half of the row is empty.

That’s because we made a miscalculation when we laid out the rows. Carrots share with radishes in the first, northernmost, row. The next row going south contains turnips and beets and then the order repeats. At the west end of the planter, then, the rows alternate carrot-turnip-carrot-turnip-carrot-turnip, from north to south.

Now, carrots are very slow to germinate and when they do, put up frilly greens not unlike the dill or parsley to which they are related. Once sprouted, their growth remains slow. We don’t expect to be eating them until the end of June.

Turnips, on the other hand, are crucifers with tall, broad leaves. They grow quickly and profusely. They are among the first to germinate (along with the radishes) and soon grow into a dense hedgerow (albeit, at garden scale). The batch we planted in April is currently a foot high.

Hiding behind them are the carrots. Unfortunately, they won’t see the light of day until the turnips have all been harvested. Had we reversed the planting order, putting the turnips to the north, the carrots would not have been affected, at least not until the following row of turnips sprouted. I’ll try to remember this next year.

Fortunately, another consequence of the fast pace of the turnips is that they will soon be eaten, leaving the carrots to have their days in the sun.

We have a small vestibule—it’s about five feet square—at the east end of the dining room.  Its door opens almost directly onto the road and, with the exception of the pizza delivery man, no one ever uses it.  For the last two years, the door has served only as the portal to our adjunct herb garden which is located on a concrete stoop.  The vestibule itself has become a de facto storage room.

But we’ve decided to convert the vestibule into an office alcove in which I can do my writing and other work.  I don’t need much space—I do most of my work on the computer—so the vestibule’s small size should not be issue.  With a modest desk and some shelves, the room will provide the work and storage space I need while keeping the clutter that is inevitable with offices out of view of the dining room.

It’s proximity to the kitchen will be an added benefit (to get coffee and brain food, as Rachel would say) and because work and social hours rarely overlap, my work should not be affected by dinner parties or other dining room events (and vice versa).

The only downside to the plan is that we will lose the use of the door and as a result will no longer have easy access to the adjunct herb garden.  So another of our planning chores this spring will be to decide where to move the pots of herbs.  For instance, they may end up downstairs, in a corner of the back porch where they were located in 2011.

Or, we may move the herbs back to the patio where we grew them prior to 2011 (and where hardy sage, oregano and chives are still growing).  This location has promise due to its convenient location and will be better suited to growing in general once we remove some trees (see February 6, 2013).  We had abandoned this site due to lack of sunlight.

Either way, here are the herbs we’ve decided to grow this year:

  • Genovese Basil
  • Greek Oregano
  • Aromatic Rosemary
  • Extrakta Garden Sage
  • French Summer Thyme
  • Spearmint

All of these should be started from seed indoors (yes, soon).

After last year’s experience, we will leave the growing of parsley and cilantro to the farmers who have acres and acres to devote to it.

I don’t know if our remaining parsley has been to hell and back (we grew it from seedlings) but it has been through a lot:  a long, dry summer; an early freeze; Hurricane Sandy (which came, bizarrely, after the freeze); and Winter Storm Athena.  It is the only plant left in the vegetable garden and it is shows no sign of stopping.  But I think it might be getting lonesome down there.

The problem is that the parsley needs to get out more.  It has spent too much time at home and might benefit from a short trip.  So I replanted the parsley into terra cotta pots (we have several spares on hand) and moved them upstairs to the adjunct herb garden.  There, its fellow herbs will keep the parsley company and with luck—and fair weather—it will survive at least until Thanksgiving.

Back in the main garden, I removed the trellis (in one piece; it will be easy to reinstall in the spring), raked out the leaves (many of which were deposited by Hurricane Sandy), pulled out the weeds (that had taken advantage of the otherwise empty beds) and scooped out the old, decomposing mulch.

With the top surface now clean, I dumped four bags of compost into each planter and raked it out until level.  On top of this, I sprinkled blood meal at a dosage of one pound per 1000 sq. ft., as recommended in the soil testing report (see October 4, 2012).  I think that I probably should have done this sooner (while there were still plants growing) but better late than never, I guess.

At this point, I decided that the soil level is still a bit low—I wonder whether the planters will ever be full—and I will need to get more compost before putting the garden to bed for the winter.  It was just as well.  Due to the return of Standard Time (and my late start), it was getting dark.

The forecast held up and the temperature did, in fact, drop below freezing over night.  When I looked this morning—the sun having already risen—the thermometer was reading about 31 degrees.  The Weather Channel reported a low of 27 degrees so it may have been sub-freezing for much of the night.

However long it was, it was long enough.  Almost all of the plants that we left unprotected—the string beans, tomatoes, bell pepper and eggplant—were affected by the cold and subsequent warming; their leaves are hanging limp and lifeless.  Freezing and thawing has also cast a literal pall over the garden:  the greens are tinted with black, as if the garden is now permanently in shadow.

The radishes, toasty-warm beneath their tarp, weathered the frost well.  When I uncovered them, they looked as fresh as on any other morning.  It remains to be seen, however, whether there is enough sun left in the season to develop them to maturity.  At the moment, they are still nothing more than sprouts.

Although left out in the cold, the parsley and other herbs also fared well (they don’t need no stinkin’ tarps).  I was not surprised by this.  Last year, most of the herbs survived the late-October snowstorm that left them covered by a foot of snow.

I appreciate having gotten two day’s warning of the freeze—thank you National Weather Service—and am very glad that we were able to successfully harvest our remaining viable produce before it could be damaged.