Friday, May 21, 2010

Malabar spinach and other things to see

The Malabar spinach is up! Its usual abundance reminds me to pot up 3-packs, which are now on the left of the front steps at 56 Gordonhurst Avenue. There are more of them than tomatoes on the right. If you planted some last year, inspect your garden before you take mine.

Malabar spinach tastes very much like regular spinach, but it is a climbing plant, so you will need a fence or trellis if you are going to raise it successfully. It begins in mid-summer, so is a fine replacement for sugar snap peas, with the added advantage that woodchucks (aka groundhogs) don't like it. I froze lots of it last summer, but that takes discipline since it SEEMS to last forever, unlike most things I freeze, which if I don't do it "soon," will no longer be fit for picking. The "seem" is deceiving because it and basil are the first to be killed by the cold in the fall, before eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, which go with the first "hard" frost.

I also have my first snap pea today! I am courageously not picking it until after the open garden tomorrow (from 9:00 - 11:00 AM) for some mixed motives of an urge to educate and to show off. I hope it's still there tomorrow. Something is nibbling my pea plants, but it isn't disaster yet.

I also have some green tomatoes about a half inch in diameter, which is early.
I'm delaying planting out most of my eggplant and peppers because the cold is intermittent. We haven't had a frost since March 26, but it was in the 40s this week. My basil plants provide a dramatic display of how much they prefer to stay inside.

I've left up one cold frame to protect the abundant lettuce within from rabbits. It also has the last of the winter Chinese cabbage, and you can see as well pak choi, collards, parsley strawberries, and Hakurei turnips that I am harvesting this week, along with promising bean, corn, celery, broccoli, cucumber, garlic, and zucchini plants.

Oh, yes, last evening's film "Dirt" reminds me that you can also run your fingers through good garden soil (not like Montclair's native clay) and compost.


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