Saturday, May 30, 2015

More Brassicas & Strawberry Update


I've already talked about the broccoli & Chinese greens and I touched on the kohlrabi in a post a couple of weeks ago.  Now on to what is growing in the rest of the two brassica beds.

I sowed the kale and collards back in April.  A couple of weeks ago, I did an update showing that the collards were making a comeback after being whipped around by some heavy winds.  Not long after, I had a visitor to the bed - most likely a cat.  One of the seedlings was completely dug up - I pushed it back in place but it didn't recover, so I am down to 3 collard plants.  Luckily, there was no damage to the remaining collards and kale (although 2 of the collards, for some reason, are about 1/3 the size of the largest one).  I'll be replacing the lost seedling with a new one.

Beira Tronchuda


NCK
 
Red & White Russian Kale
 
As you can see, both the collards & kale are putting on some good growth.  I'll be harvesting some Russian kale within the next couple of days - yay!

The NCK has really taken off.  You may recall from last year, that this acronym stands for "Not Curly Kale" as the packet of seeds that I purchased was obviously mislabeled.  But we liked the (possibly Siberian?) kale so much anyhow, that I decided to keep growing it.

The growth on the kale has really outpaced the baby choy that I had planted around it a couple of weeks ago.  I only planted 3 kale seedlings in a 2' x 4' spot & thought it would take quite a while for it to fill in - definitely long enough for some "30 day to harvest" baby choy .  But you can already see the choy seedling on the bottom right corner of the NCK photo being pushed aside by the kale.

Up next are the radishes - I sowed several short rows on April 29.  Last year, I grew only two varieties - Scarlet Globe & White Icicle.  I didn't have the best of luck with either of them, especially the White Icicle, and the suspicion was that they didn't get enough light as I interplanted them among the collards and Chinese greens.

So this time round, I decided to give them a spot of their own.  I don't need a lot of radishes at once, so I only planted a 2' x 1' section.  In that section, I sowed 4 - 2' long rows, one row for each variety.  I'm growing the same varieties I grew last year - it will be interesting to see what kind of difference  planting them in their own spot makes - and I'm also trying a couple of new varieties that have been on my radar for quite some time:

French Breakfast (25 days, William Dam)

Photo Source:  William Dam
 

Easter Egg Hybrid Mix (30 days, William Dam)

Photo Source:  William Dam
 
I already picked a few of the larger radishes yesterday.  My harvests right now are fairly meagre, so I'll leave the radish unveiling for my Harvest Monday post.

Radishes - 30 days from seeding
 
The only radishes that are not bulbing up yet are the long white icicle.  Their packet does indicate 30 days to maturity, so I'm not sure what is up with that.

Other then a few Chinese green varieties, turnips are the only other brassica that I have never grown before.  We don't normally eat turnips, although I'm not sure why - I have them once in a while at my moms house and I do quite enjoy them.

I'm trying two varieties this year - White Lady & Just Right.

White Lady Hybrid (28-35 days, William Dam)

Photo Source:  William Dam
 
As you can see, this variety is supposed to be super quick...perfect for a fast spring crop.  I sowed the seed at the end of April.  If the days to harvest are correct, they should be ready to pick within the next couple of weeks.  I do see some bulb development, so that's exciting!


White Lady Turnip - 30 days from seeding
 

Just Right Hybrid (60-75 days, William Dam)

Photo Source:  William Dam

This one is noted as being a good summer/fall variety, so I'll be sowing it once the current crop is pulled.


And now for a quick update on the strawberries.  I planted up the strawberry bed using runners from existing plants back in August 2013.  I had an ok harvest last year (2.6 kg/5.8 lb), but now that the bed has had a full year to really get going, I had high hopes that this would be a really good strawberry year.  My excitement was dampened, however, when I saw this on many of the strawberry flowers just over a week ago:


Strawberry Blossom with Black Center
 
At first, I thought it was some sort of disease or fungus.  After a bit of research I realized that it was actually frost damage.  I didn't think this was an issue with strawberries and so it never occurred to me to cover the bed when frosts were forecast.  Now I know better.

Although not exactly happy, I was relieved...I can handle losing some strawberries to frost.  Losing the entire bed to disease would have been devastating.

Thankfully, strawberries bloom over a few weeks and there are lots of undamaged flowers currently in bloom.  I have two varieties growing in this bed - Connie's (unnamed variety from a neighbor) and Fort Laramie.  Oddly enough, most of the damaged blossoms were on Connie's plants.  The Fort Laramie blossoms had practically no damage - perhaps it's a bit more tolerant to frost?

Fast forward about one week and the strawberry bed is bursting with blooms:

Strawberry Bed on May 29, 2015
 

Now lets compare that to what the bed looked like at the same time last year:

Strawberry bed on May 31, 2014
 
Quite the contrast, wouldn't you say?  So even with the bit of frost damage, it looks like we may still be in line for a bumper strawberry crop this year.  I'm so looking forward to those first berries - won't be too much longer now!

Till next time..

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

14 comments:

  1. I'm predicting a bumper strawberry crop for you this year, the plants look to have settled in really well and we all end up with some frost damage on our strawberries, it never prevents them going on to produce more flowers and ultimately more fruit. Russian kale, I've heard good reports about this before but have never grown it. Can you taste the difference between the red and white varieties? I always grow French Breakfast radish, it's what my dad always grew when he had a garden, it's funny how we sometimes follow the same habits as our parents.

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    1. I probably have had frost damage on my strawberry plants in the past, but this is my first year with a really well established patch, so they are flowering a lot more (and earlier) than they have in the past. I was so happy when I saw so many undamaged flowers this past week.

      I haven't yet harvested any of the white Russian kale, but it is on the menu for tomorrow. I love the red Russian and often use it raw in salads. Most kale salad blends in the grocery store use curly kale - I find that Russian kale has just the right amount of "bumpiness" without all of the little nooks and crannies of curly kale that take forever to clean & are a favourite hiding spot for critters.

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  2. You are going to get so many strawberries. Yum. And I hope you like the salad turnips. I love them. I like the regular ones too but the Japanese ones are better I think. Not big, but better.

    I used to grow White Icicle. I always found it slow. About a week to ten days later than the French Breakfast. And I think I want to try Easter Egg some year. I think it was a variety growing in a farm I picked at over the summer and the radishes were huge and so delicious even then.

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    1. I didn't even realize I was growing a particular type of turnip - when I looked at the seed catalogue, these just happened to look & sound really good. I can't wait to try them!

      Well, White Icicle is definitely taking it's time compared to the others. It was the worst when it came to sizing up last year - whereas I at least harvested some small bulbs from almost all of the Scarlet Globe, many of the White Icicles simply gave me roots. The Easter egg radishes are lovely. I don't think I have the range of colours that the photo shows but I also only planted a small 2' row - I'll be doing some succession sowing on these for sure...the colours are so pretty!

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  3. Your beds are looking wonderful. I love seeing the root vegetables bulbing up in the soil. I've grown White Icicle radishes before and don't remember them taking any longer than the others. In the fall all the radishes grew huge and stayed tasty.

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    1. Whenever I'm out in the garden, I check the progress on the bulbs - it's so exciting seeing when you see them swelling up! This is the first year I've had good results with radishes & I'm hoping to succession sow them through the summer. I'm wondering if I'll have similar results as you do when I sow them in the late summer for fall harvest...

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  4. Your beds look great, the brassicas and strawberries in particular. Hopefully you will like the turnips. I grow Hakurei and it is quick and quite sweet, with only a mild turnip flavor. The icicle radish is a sentimental favorite since my dad always used to grow it. I have never had as much luck and it is always slow for me.

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    1. Thanks David - things are finally getting in coming together in the garden. Still lots of work to do, but at least I can now see some results!

      Hakurei sounds like a wonderful variety; I've added it to my list. From what you and Daphne have said, it seems like icicle radishes can be slowpokes; even though they don't seem to have almost any swelling on them at this stage, but I'm not giving up on them just yet.

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  5. I am a radish fan, so I hope yours do as well as the ones in those "official" photos! Your little turnips look good too.

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    1. I'll give you a bit of a Harvest Monday spoiler on the radishes I've picked so far --> :) :) :)

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  6. After last year's poor results from the strawberry patch, I ripped all of mine out save for a few that I planted in a new area to start a new patch. They are MUCH better this year than last and it seems maybe I didn't need to rip mine all out for improvement - yours look so much better! I'm only growing curly kale for the first time this year - I love the russian red!

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    1. Your plants may also like the new spot your planted them in better than the old spot. Strawberry patches do have to be renewed every few years - I've heard that they produce the most in their 2nd and 3rd year. I'll keep this patch going for at least another year or two before I start a new one. I hope you get lots of delicious berries from your revitalized plants!

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  7. I'm jealous of anyone that has any brassicas, and yours look particularly good. My two sets outdoor sowings all got nibbled off by slugs/snails except for one lonely plant. I've finally gotten round to sowing some at home and they all have come up, I should've done that ages ago! It means I won't have any summer cabbages but should have some for next spring at least.

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    1. Oh...slugs love those brassicas! Last year I had quite the fight with them - they just loved our cool/wet summer. Starting them off indoors is definitely the way to go - at least they have a fighting chance once you get them outside.

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