May 30, 2010

Early Cabbage and Lettuce

I have been surprised at how quickly some crops seem to mature in certain years. Last year, I barely had time to plant seeds for beans and brussels sprouts by June 1st, and this year, I planted cabbage seed ( early cabbage, my favorite) on March 12, since the snow melted in the new raised beds earlier than in other years. I am now able to harvest much of what was sown in mid March, including many lettuce varieties, red Lollo, Buttercrunch, Heirloom Deer's tongue, and early, cone shaped cabbage. Since the dill is also ready to pick, tomorrow a fresh slaw with sweet, crispy early cabbage and dill, is surely on the lunch menu.
The Swiss Chard is also ready to harvest, maybe this week, so that we can enjoy it before the leaf minors ruin the crop. They have already started to tunnel through the leaves which are older. After next weekend, these raised beds will be replanted with tomatoes, summer squash, peppers and beans. 

Early green cabbage can be either round headed, or cone shaped like this Caraflex hybrid from Johnny's Selected Seeds. The heads are tiny  at this time of year, but since we are traveling in June, I am starting to pick some heads now to enjoy before the cabbage butterfly larvae invade our crops.
Our small raised beds are quite packed, even over planted, but we can still harvest enough to keep them worth the effort. Nothing close to the much larger vegetable gardens I was used to growing up, or even had ten years ago, but with a busy life and job, these six raised beds are plenty ( for now!). Just enough to pick a few heads of this and that, and enough fresh herbs and cut flowers for a very active kitchen.
A red horsechestnut, Aesculus pavia, blooms in the ephemeral bed where we can still enjoy it's very tropical looking blossoms at eye level. More of a small tree or tall shrub, than other Horsechestnut species, many of the lesser Horsechestnuts are worth growing in a small garden. People always stop and ask me what this is, and they are surprised when I tell them that it is a Horsechestnut.

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