Seeds We Are Planting This Spring
This growing season I decided to try a little experiment and share our garden trials and tribulations. This year is also a little different, in that our other company, Allentuck Landscaping Co., has moved to a new location.
A little background. At Allentuck Landscaping Co., we have always had a company vegetable garden to not only provide us with healthy whole foods, but also to encourage our staff to take home healthy vegetables, fruits and herbs home to their families (I’m a bit of a health freak). The garden has always been organic, and the soils enhanced by our own green waste composting efforts. Our staff is always welcome to take what they want as long as they leave veggies for others and, maybe pull a weed or two (don’t worry, there are always plenty of weeds left for us to pull.
This year, the company moved to a new 2.5 acre property and we need to establish a new garden space. Our plan is to have 8-4’x8’ raised planters. Planters make it easier to work on and can make for a neater garden space (click here to learn how to make your own raised planters). This is important as we sometimes have landscape customers meet with us at our offices.
Admittedly, I am running a little behind schedule on getting things started. Here is where we are at this time:
An asparagus bed was tilled a few weeks ago and the asparagus plant that we dug up from the old location have been planted. We made sure to mix in lots of organic matter to give them a good start. Hopefully we will get plenty of shoots this year but we may not see results until next year.
Some friends (thank you David and Imelda) gave me a really cool collection of seeds from growjourney (www.growjourney.com). They seem to specialize in organic heirloom varieties. I planted these in 2”x2” peat cells and am starting them indoors. Here is what I planted and some information about each:
Strawberry Spinach (10 cells) Chenopodium capitatum
Despite being native to North America, Strawberry Spinach, or Beetberry, was rediscovered in 500 year old European monastery gardens. Young leaf rosettes are used just like spinach and coral-redberries (taste more like watery mulberries than strawberries) are a bright, antioxidant-rich salad addition – harvest as you would with spinach, simply cut the oldest leaves as needed. Long taproots reputed to taste like parsnip. If you do not want the plants to seed, cut off the berry stalks before they drop to the ground. 40-60 days.
Indian Mustard ‘Purple Rapa Pop Mix’ (5 cells) Brassica rapa
If you like bok choy, broccoli, or gorgeous burgundy foliage for the edible landscape, this “open source” cultivar is the new garden vegetable for you. Very hardy, you may not even need winter cover to grow in mild climates. The entire plant is edible; use tender leaves in salads or any spinach recipe white the juicy flower shoots & unopened buds are used as long, slender broccoli florets. 35-55 days.
Chinese cabbage ‘Bekana’ (5 cells) Brassica Rapa var. chinensis
Bekana is a mild and sweet loose-leaf Chinese type cabbage. The frilly leaves are bright spring green with contrasting white stems, growing to about a foot tall at maturity. Many people use Bekana as a lettuce substitute but it is also fantastic in slaw, sauerkraut, kimchi, stir-fry, and any other cabbage, bok-choy, or lettuce recipe. 21 days baby & 45 days full size.
Chard MacGregor’s Favorite’ (5 cells) Beta vulgaris var. mantima
‘Macgregor’s Favorite’ is touted as the best tasting chard (unlike Swiss chard, this variety has small veins like regular beets). The glossy, tender leaves are deep, antioxidant-rich red with darker burgundy veins and the roots are edible when young. An improved heirloom variety from Scotland, you can cut-and-come-again all season long. Nutritionally contains glycine betaine (amino acid), potassium, calcium, vitamin A, & fiber. 35 das baby & 65 days mature.
Amaranth ‘Four Stars Explorers Mix’ (5 cells) Amaranthus spp.
The purple foliage is a wonderful heat-loving salad green and the sculptural flowers mature into delicious amaranth seeds. Crazy beautiful blooms are fountains, candelabras, and towers of fuzzy purple and red. Younger fresh or fried flower heads make beautiful flower arrangements. 3-21 days sprouts/baby & 110 days grain.
Garden Cress ‘Cressida’ (10 cells) Lepidium sativum
‘Cressida’ can be eaten in 7-10 days as a come-and-come-again microgreen (a baby green you can harvest every 2 weeks) or as a larger salad herb like parsley or cilantro. Peak flavor comes from tender shoots 2”-5” long. The peppery flavor (similar to watercress) is delicious in salads, soups, sandwiches, or substitute for basil to make cold-season pesto. Offers beneficial insect flowers as well. 7-30 days.
Eggplant ‘Rosa Bianca (5 cells) Solanum melongera
This gorgeous Sicilian heirloom has lavender, violet, & white streaks on ribbed, pear-shapes fruit. Ready any time when 3”-7” long and 2”-8” diameter. Harvest while the skin feels like a tacky latex balloon. For best results, pinch off flowers until plant becomes 14” tall (the prolific fruit needs lots of leaves before the plant can ripen eggplants). Non bitter and a chef favorite. 73-85 days.
Mache ‘Baron’ (5 cells) Valenanella locusta
Mache rhymes with “squash” is so delicious that the Brothers Grimm say it’s the plant Rapunzel’s parents stole from the witch’s garden, forcing them to give up their 1st child as penance. ‘Baron’ offers quicker germination, fast growth, deeper color, & large round leaves. It’s more upright in habit (though all Mache plants hug the ground for extra cold protection during freezing weather). Reay in 30-70 days but can be harvested at any size. Best raw.
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