The vegetable garden has been coming along nicely, albeit with a few setbacks. On the plus side, the warm late winter/early spring meant that my peas, spinach, and radishes all came up earlier than planned.
One of the negatives with this year’s garden? I have a new nemesis. He is a cute, teeny little cottontail bunny that hops around adorably. Leslie decided to name him “Newman“, after the Seinfeld character, Jerry’s nemesis. And yes, dear reader, now he is my nemesis too. I’d ooh and ahh over how cute he is except for the fact that he nibbled off 4 of my 6 Brussels sprouts seedlings, took out half my pea seedlings (which thankfully have rebounded), and half my spinach. For these reasons I want him dead. But…he’s so cute! And did I mention I want to kill him? It’s just so hard to want to exterminate something I’d normally want to pet. But that cute way he hops around through the tall grass…
You can see my dilemma.
My solution has been to shower the garden with Repels-All, a natural animal repellent which seems to do the trick. As an added measure, I boiled a gallon of water with a chopped onion and a large handful of hot chili peppers, to make a spicy onion “tea”. This is something I’ve learned during my time volunteering in the vegetable garden at Old Sturbridge Village, were I’ve been taught that in the days before industrial pesticides, farmers and home gardeners would make a brew of boiled onions that would keep most insects and small rodents away (in the case of rodents – like cute little Newman – they don’t like the smell.) I added the chili peppers as backup in case evil Newman wasn’t deterred by the smell of the onion, at least he’d be in for a spicy surprise the next time he decides to chew off the tops of my pea plants, which he did earlier this spring.
Newman aside, things are progressing well. In the picture above, you can see the three raised beds that make up my garden (don’t get confused by my neighbor’s garden, which is immediately adjacent to mine – the one with the black weed barrier laid down). You can see the bright green buttercrunch lettuce growing nicely in the front right of the bottom raised bed, which we’ve been eating in salads mixed with tender radish greens.
To the left of the lettuce are the Brussels sprouts seedlings, and in the far left of the front bed, the frilly looking plant is a Lacinato kale plant that’s gone to seed. Once the seed pods have dried out in a few weeks, I’ll harvest the seeds and remove the plant to make room for the tomato seedlings that I’ve planted along the edges.
Most prominently featured in the picture is my pea trellis, which is abundant with pea vines that are now 6′ high and still growing. The cool spring we’ve been having has been ideal for the peas. There are about a hundred pea pods that will be ready to pick within the next week. Immediately to the right of the pea trellis are two rows of carrots that are coming up.
In the far back bed, you can see wooden stakes marking off where I’ve sown seed for beets (in the right side of the back bed) and several varieties of bush beans.
The blue fabric bag that’s sitting in the barrel on the right side of the picture is my potato grow bag, the same one I used last year with great success. I planted the seed potatoes saved from last year’s harvest about a week ago, so the plants are yet to send green shoots up through the soil. I anticipate the first leaves popping through the surface within the next week.
Not visible is the patch of French radishes I’m growing, blocked in the picture by the pea vines. In addition to the edible root, we’ve been eating the greens, which have a pleasant crunchiness and an ever-so-slight peppery flavor. The young, tender leaves are preferable to the larger, more mature leaves which develop a tougher texture.
Also not pictured in this post is the bed of spinach that I’ve grown in the side bed of our front yard. This spot gets only partial shade, perhaps 4-5 hours in a day so I thought it would be a good spot for spinach. We didn’t get more than a few meals’ worth of spinach this year, as the plants went to flower quite early and stopped growing more edible leaves. In addition to that, the flower buds that began to develop started to get covered in flea beetles, which were clustered solely on the developing flower bud. I immediately uprooted all the plants and bagged them for town pickup to prevent further infestation.
In recent weeks we’ve gotten a higher-than-usual amount of rain, after a nearly snow-free winter drought and very dry early spring. Fortunately, I installed our rain barrel early this year and have been able to hand water the garden when rain has been absent for longer than a week.
I have a great tip on how to serve the radishes, by the way. A week ago, we went to dinner at the house of our friends Ted and Ravit, I brought along some fresh radishes. We served the radishes sliced in halves, and Ted put out a small bowl of Maldon sea salt to dip the radishes in. It was fantastic. I’ve tried eating the radishes at home this way, except we don’t have Maldon sea salt. I tried it with standard kosher salt, but the flavor and texture wasn’t the same. I’ve already ordered some Maldon salt to replicate the way we had the radishes at Ted’s house.
Until next time, happy eating and happy gardening!