When I returned from the farm Sunday afternoon I transplanted a dozen broccoli plants in the garden. Reserving a couple to replace failures, I gave the rest to my neighbor.
Continuing the minimal tilling experiment, I placed broccoli seedlings in a plot where cucumbers produced in abundance last year. I didn’t remove the plastic and used the same holes. The plot is shaded by the locust tree, so I’m not sure how this will turn out. Fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
At the greenhouse I seeded cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash, which is likely the last starts. Most everything else will be seeded directly in the ground in May.
I brought home a tray of lettuce and spinach for transplanting.
While inspecting the apple blossoms yesterday I spotted leaves growing from the stump where another apple tree was blown over in a straight line wind. I staked and put a cage around it to protect from being eaten by deer and from the mower. Not sure what’s next, but it was a very early apple and I may grow it to maturity if that is what it turns out to be.
The spring share for which I bartered at Local Harvest CSA begins today and runs for five weeks. I’m looking forward to a salad made with fresh, local lettuce and cooking greens for a pasta dish.
The kale is mulched and ready for a long season of production. I harvested a bushel today and most of it went to friends at the library. We already have more than enough in the ice box, and with so many plants this year, we can be picky about what we eat.
Underneath the grass clippings is a layer of newspaper. Once it is dampened down and moistened, weeds will have trouble poking through. It should be worth the extra effort because the way the plants are growing, with the pick leaves from the bottom strategy, we should be in kale through November.
Since rabbits got to my broccoli, I planted more seeds for a second crop. I put the starter tray outside and the seeds are germinating more normally than they did in the bedroom window. There is something to the idea that light is the key to growing broccoli and I’ll re-think how I do it next year.
Yesterday I got out the ladder, climbed on the roof and cleaned out the gutters. While up there I noticed how many pears were forming at the top of the tree. It is going to be a puzzle to harvest those when ready. They were growing higher than my head while standing on the roof.
There’s more to life than gardening, but the green beans for dinner last night, and the promise of carrots, kale and fresh tomatoes keeps me working at it steadily.
It’s all part of sustaining a life in a turbulent world.
It is part of the brassica family of plants. A cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is often an acquired taste, but once developed, one can’t get enough. The plan is to grow lots of broccoli in this year’s garden.
I don’t know how to do it. Most seeds I plant are straight-forward. Put them in starter soil, or in the ground, and watch them grow. Broccoli presents challenges, and in most previous years our supply grew from store-bought seedlings I transplanted, or excess from nearby farms. This year I am determined to grow them from seeds. There is a lot to learn.
My germination shed is a table set on a south-facing window. It’s not the best. Tomatoes, celery, peppers and basil have sprouted and grow toward the light. They look normal. The broccoli got immediately tall and spindly, and that is never a good sign.
Rather than compost the lot, I decided to transplant some of them into deeper cells. The leaves looked healthy—it was worth a try. Left as is, there would be no crop. I set up a work station in the garage with a goal of producing 24 suitable seedlings for the first batch.
Because the plants were so spindly, it was also easy to bend them over and crease the stalk. That couldn’t be good. The starter tray had 72 cells so there was room to experiment and still get 24.
I inserted two craft sticks, one into each side of the starter cell, and carefully lifted the clump of soil into a new cell lined with half an inch of starter soil. In many cases, the long taproot would hang down from the clump along the way. Protecting the stalk, I pressed gently and filled the new cell with starter soil. Success! Slowly the new tray began to fill.
This is basic gardening. Absent guidance or written rules, participating in the trial and error of producing a crop is fundamental to how and why we live. Yes, we look forward to broccoli itself, which is not assured without intervention like this.
It is not about the broccoli. It is more curiosity about other life forms and engendering survival and growth. It’s so basic to our lives on Earth, but often forgotten in a world where we can purchase broccoli year-around at the local mega-mart.
Good news is all the transplanted broccoli was still standing this morning.