Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Open Garden report

We had a plant exchange on Saturday, and most seedlings were taken, but my mystery tomatoes were neglected. This surprised me since last year 200 tomato seedlings were taken from my front steps, 150 potted up by me and 50 donated by others. Perhaps this year people are collecting their own volunteers, or perhaps my publicity has been inadequate. Anyone still interested in volunteer mystery tomato seedlings?

At the OG I gave away lots of garlic plants. I realized Friday that I had far more than I can use, and the response to my offers to pull and give were enthusiastic. I bought one garlic years ago, and these are all descendants of that one. I have also eaten lots of garlic! If you took one, wait until the top looks dead, and then dig the garlic. The books say to hang it by the dead leaves for a while. I do that with good results,, but I have no idea how important it is. [P.S. on June 9: I pulled out two plants today to make room for eggplant plants, and -- voila -- there were "mature" cloves of garlic at the bottoms! So you don't HAVE to wait until they look dead.]

I collected lots of sympathy for my woodchuck-snipped peas and brocolli plants (as requested) and some admiration for my tomatoes that are almost the size of peas in mid-May. When I showed off my Hakurei turnips, one visitor said he likes to cook the greens. My Chinese cabbage that I eat fresh every three days in January-March is all gone, and I cooked the Hakurei greens with pak choi last evening. It was indeed delicious.

Many people helped me curb my overgrowing strawberry plants. Hopefully, they will get some berries from them. One person who took some last month said his already has berries! I have a good many green berries next to my driveway and the neighbors', and lots of pretty flowers in the back, where I encouraged people to "weed" them from the edge. Visitors commented about the straw that was visible around the strawberries. It is now easily available on curbs after Halloween, and I've had much better yields since I put about a 4" mulch of straw over the plants each November. The plants poke through in the spring, and obviously are happier than they were before I had easy access to straw. Strawberries like straw, the source of their English name.

People were interested in my four visible crops of lettuce. One commented that hers turns bitter and now she knows what to do about that: plant again about every three weeks, so there is more available when hers turns bitter.

The collards are impressive now, and we talked about them lots. I eat collards every three days at this season. The crop that got the most discussion was carrots, but that's worth an email of its own some day soon.


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