Kitchen Garden

June 1 was a Garden Day

Experimental row tillage to minimize damage to soil structure.

It was finally a day to spend outside in the yard and garden.

I planted Kentucky Wonder Bush beans (Seed Savers Exchange, 65 days) and transferred beets, arugula, lettuce and parsley into a single row next to the summer squash planted the previous day.

The garden plots have not dried out as well as I’d like. The urgency to get things in the ground had me doing the best I could to dig the semi-muddy soil and move seedlings and plant seeds in garden rows.

I’m using a technique I call “row tillage,” in which I dig more narrow rows to plant. I turn the soil with a spade, break it up with a hoe and then break it down further with a garden rake. Because the soil was still muddy, it didn’t break down as easily as I hoped but it got the job done. Hopefully soil structure is less damaged than if I were to dig up and rototill the entire plot. Because I mulch, there is no concern about weeds by leaving part of the plot untilled. If I had a mechanical tiller, I’d use it in the narrow rows. I may get one as I age or if garden tool-wielding bothers my shoulders or back. The technique worked last year with tomatoes, so I plan to use it more this year.

Culled hot pepper seedlings.

Culling hot pepper plants to pick the best starts is important. This year I plan rows with six ancho and six guajillo chili peppers. Seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds germinated well so there are extras. The rest — cayenne, jalapeno, Bangkok, Serrano, Red Flame and Red Rocket — will be planted two of each in a big bed. Ancho and guajillo are an experiment in Mexican cuisine. I use jalapeno and Serrano fresh and dry the rest. If the seasons proceeds well there should be plenty of them all.

Harvest was more turnips, parsley, beet leaves, and lettuce. I’m ready to spend another day and the forecast is clear skies. After a bit of desk work, I’m ready to make June 2 a gardening day as well.