Kitchen Garden

Garden Notes — June 20, 2019

Open air composter

An innovation I discovered at a political event was an open air composter made from shipping pallets.

At Jean and Jix Lloyd-Jones home they had a composter similar to what’s in the image outside their kitchen door leading to the yard.

During the last few years I secured some pallets and made one. It works great for all the greenery I harvest and weed from the yard and garden. It was time to use the compost in the bin so I re-built the device on a different spot, replacing the pallets that were being composted from exposure to the ground. While portable, it’s a permanent fixture in the garden.

This year some garden experiments are worth noting.

For the first time my arugula is producing well. What got me going is starting the tiny seeds in soil blocks then transplanting the seedlings to a garden row. In the past I broadcast them and picked the leaves from a mess of weeds that joined them. The taste of fresh arugula is something distinct and I’m thankful to have figured out how to grow it.

As readers may recall we missed the March 2 planting date for Belgian lettuce and punted. The idea is to make an early patch of lettuce from which leaves could be harvested. I got the seeds as remainders of last season at the home, farm and auto supply store. Because of delayed planting the starts from the greenhouse produced better results while the sown seeds got lumped together rendering the patch difficult to manage. The lettuce process requires further refinement and will begin with more careful selection of varieties from a seed catalogue. I will likely plant Belgian lettuce again since that’s a tradition passed down from Grandmother, but with more reliance on conventional process using the greenhouse.

I added Hakurei turnips to my standard purple top white globes. They produced early, in abundance. They make a great snack or sliced thin and mixed with arugula, a delicious salad. Multiple varieties of turnip proved to be a good thing.

I changed how I used buried containers this year. I planted successions of radishes and used one for daikon radishes which continue to mature. When the radishes were done in one container, I planted basil seedlings. I also planted onions starts in succession for green onions. The production has been better than the potatoes of past years (which were the reason for getting the containers). If I want potatoes I will acquire them from a farmer friend through one of my barter arrangements.

I broadcast okra seeds in a two by three-foot section and they successfully germinated. The first thinning is done and another will be needed once the best plants self-identify. I put them along a fence, but am a little concerned with that decision because deer love okra. We’ll see how it goes. The germination was remarkable.

A main learning is to allow more space between garden rows, but gardeners likely know that. There will be more lessons as the season progresses.