Monday was our first day of U-Pick! It’s a little later than we were last year, but only a little which is pretty exciting since it does feel like we’re further behind this year. (It’s really nice to have records to look back on, it’ll be fun to do a full comparison of the two year before I leave.)
We have swiss chard, green leaf lettuce, and herbs (mint, parsley, cilantro, and basil) available for our clients to pick right now. I’m a little worried people will be sad at the small selection of veggies we have, but since we were mostly planning for greenhouse planting and we want to supply as much as we can for as long as we can,leafy greens really are the simplest thing to plant and grow.
We will have some carrots, radishes, zucchini, leeks, cucumbers, sugar peas, and tomatoes later into the season. Brussel sprouts will be ready in the Fall! Since we were trying to have as many people planting for themselves within the raised beds, we waited longer than we normally would have and maybe should have for planting the beds that were not taken.
It became apparent the other day, that all the beans we thought to be bush beans are actually pole beans! Pole beans are fun (and I’ll admit I have intentionally planted lots of them this year with cool schemes for landscaping in mind) but the bean they produce just isn’t the same as a nice string bean.
There’s also a little bit of mystery with some of the plants we transplanted, there’s a little confusion between things of the same family, like some squash, cucumbers, and maybe a zucchini. They were transplanted in, looking identical, but as they grow they definitely don’t look the same anymore. It’s a great garden mystery for now, since I wasn’t here when many of the transplants were started.
Another garden mystery is the turnip/rutabaga (I can’t tell the difference because I haven’t grown either before) that I discovered in the middle of my brussel sprouts! It was quite a funny surprise, or it could have just been my reaction that the other staff and volunteers found so entertaining.
I’m starting to look and plan a fall planting, so that our harvest season will last a little longer (and we’ll still have lots of produce growing for the open house). We have a few plots that are unplanted and mulched to protect the soil for later planting; so some more spinach, beets, and swiss chard could easily work.
I like planting swiss chard and beets more than lettuce because while they all prefer cool weather, swiss chard and beet greens don’t go bitter like lettuce does in the heat (or at least that I’ve experienced, someone please tell me if they have). Lettuce can go very bitter if it is close to bolting (going to flower/seed), but it can also be caused by water stress or unusually warm weather. I also know more ways to use swiss chard and beet greens than lettuce.
Does anyone have any creative recipes or suggestion on how they use lettuce, swiss chard, and beet greens? I’d love to hear about them!
All and all it’s great to see people, young and old, excited to pick their own food and willing to try things they haven’t had before because they can ask questions about the vegetable and take just a little bit to try without feeling bad about it going waste. I’ve had a few kids out, who thought picking fresh veggies was really cool and I’m glad I get to share the experience with them.
I grew up in the garden and I feel really lucky to have had that in my life. There’s less opportunities to garden, grow, and pick your own food when you live in the city, so having the gardens and this centre is fantastic.
In the Greenhouse #4 the corn, cucumbers, and gourds are growing quite well; the watermelons are growing a little slow. I’m not sure if it’s because of ground hogs nibbling on them or something else. We’ll just have to be patient and see what happens.
I’m very impressed with how the birdhouse gourds are growing, I’ve never actually grown them before and they just keep surprising me. We have a few planted in Bed 10 of the raised beds and last week we took to measuring it at the end of each day because of how quickly it was growing, and I mean like 3-4 inches in a day!
Another weird thing that surprised me and I can’t get over with the birdhouse gourds is that the leaves are soft! Like cottony, soft. I expected something prickly like zucchini and cucumbers since they’re of the same family.
There are some little, tiny cucumbers starting to develop in Greenhouse #4. They’re so cute, it’s really all I can say about them. I can’t wait for them to get to a size where they can be picked. Harvesting is definitely one of my favourite times of year, right after planning and planting in seeds and transplants.
Finally, on the flower front the gladiolus have started to bloom! As much as I love growing food, I love flowers too. I’m really happy with how well the pollinator beds are growing (especially since I know how much of a struggle growing in those beds was last year.)
I’m also really surprised with how long they have stayed blooming and fresh looking. Hopefully, they’ll stay strong till the open house.
That’s all for today.
— Briana 🙂