Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting Behind in the Garden

Last week I didn't get too much work done in the garden. I did get a few things, but the garden needed (and still needs) attention. Above is my spring spinach that still hasn't been picked. I need to pick about half of it and freeze it. Or at least give it away. What you see is just the end of an 8.5' long bed.

At least I got to the winter spinach on Monday. Don't you just love how large Winter Giant grows? I think next year it will be my only winter spinach as it is so easy to pick and clean up in the spring. And there was a bit more cleaning needed than normal. Usually I would have done this a week ago, but with company I put it off. The leaf miners show up in mid May. I don't cover my overwintered spinach because by the time the miners show up my protected spring spinach is ready. But the final picking for the winter spinach was a week late so I had to scrape off a few eggs on the back of the leaves. Luckily they are very very easy to spot. The bright white on the back of the dark green leaves are so easy to find.

My SIL who was visiting asked if I washed the spinach before I freeze it. Yes I do. It gets well washed before blanching. Then I vacuum seal it. They do keep a lot better if I vacuum seal them. These have to keep for almost a year. I harvest in May, but I eat them mostly from December until April. There is no way they would keep in your normal freezer that long, but my chest freezer downstairs is very cold and doesn't have an automatic defrost. I now have 16 little packets. All I have to do is heat and serve. All the work has already been done. By the end of summer I will have about 40 1/2 cup packets of spinach and chard (about 10 pounds). I use them in the same way so almost consider them the same.

Next up Monday afternoon was putting in the trellis for the espaliered apple and pear trees. I put in four horizontal wires down the 24' length of the fence. I kept debating on how high they should be and how far apart they should be. In the end I think I put them just a touch too high. Now it will be hard to trip the top wire.

This morning I went out to pick some more harvests. But the biggest harvests are still salad greens. Above is a tuna pasta salad made with cooked kale, raw mizuna, and pickle relish from last year. Then there is the nice mixed green salad. Which finally has something not green from the garden. Radishes! The first of them. This year I covered them since the root maggots got in them last year and destroyed most of them. And I couldn't tell if it was good or not until I cut into it. But so far this year they seem to be all good. My love hate relationship with my row covers continues.

This afternoon it was on to using string. Above is my mache going to seed that was shading out the parsley and getting into the peas. I tied it all up with some bamboo sticks and string. Now hopefully it will stay in its spot.

Then it was onto the peas. I put metal stakes in when I plant the peas, but the strings don't go up until they need them. And I was a bit late. They could have used that first string to grab onto. But at least it is done. I also strung up the cilantro that is going to seed. I have two different ages of cilantro in the garden. What overwintered and is going to seed right now. And what germinated this spring. Currently that is what I'm picking and eating. But the ones in bloom fall over easily and shade out the new ones. So they had to be controlled.

The front yard also needed attention. First on the list was pruning and putting the 16' long trellis for the two figs. These are done in a candelabra or vertical cordon shape. I have two main branchs that follows a pipe a foot off the ground. Each branch going in a different direction. I didn't have the wires up from the pipe to the top of the fence. So I added some small eye screws to the fence cross bar and put them up a foot apart.

Yesterday I was at the nursery and bought a few pots of flowers and 6 packs. I planted the flowers in front of the apple and pear trees to be espaliered. I need to get some more as I want to put a few more flowers in front of the peach trees and maybe at the end of the driveway. I wish the nursery that was close enough to walk to had a larger selection of plants. I suppose I'll just have to experiment with what they have.

The rain chased me in. I'm not sure I needed to go inside yet. The rain didn't last. It keeps threatening but nothing is really falling. I'm going to have to water the garden again this coming week. I'm not happy about that. But I really shouldn't complain about such beautiful weather. We have just had so much beautiful weather. And I have been enjoying it.


  1. Wow! That spinach is very impressive. It sounds like you had a very busy day.

  2. Winter Giant certainly is living up to its name. You do like your spinach - an 8.5 foot bed is a lot! I noticed the first leaf miner eggs on my spinach this week also, I think I need to just keep up on the harvests to keep them from being too much of a problem.

    Isn't spring just an amazing season - things seem to just leap out of the ground and it is hard to keep up.

  3. That is some big spinach! All your hard work certainly shows in your beautiful garden beds.

  4. You have a great bed of spinach and you make such interesting meals. I am feeling overwhelmed with the garden also since I was gone for 11 days. I guess this is the season we wait for all year so I am trying not to get stressed! and you have so much more to do than I do!!! Nancy

  5. We should join forces and share out the best aspects of our weather! :) It is really cold again here (3C last night) and we are getting plenty of heavy showers, but we need some sunshine.
    Re spinach: I wish I was able to grow it like you. I have tried many times, but it just bolts. This is a shame since I love baby spinach as a salad ingredient.

  6. What a fantastic vegetable garden you have! Your spinach looks really wonderful, and it's a great idea to freeze it for using later in the year.

  7. I love spinach, but never freeze it for some reason. We just gorge on it all summer long. Last year I planted something called Perpetual spinach (from Baker Creek heirlooms) that was more of a mild chard, but it blasted away throughout our blazing summer like a champ.

  8. Blimey, you are fabulously organised - how lovely to have your own frozen spinach to keep you going when the garden isn't as productive. Would love to try freezing as I often have a chard/spinach glut but I assume without vacuum packing it wouldn't be great.