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Friday, 3 February 2012

Winter 2011-12: What A Bust

You could say that things started going downhill around the time I found out I was pregnant, and got knocked on my butt for three months dealing with the first trimester exhaustion/sickness. But in all honestly, all that would have happened if that was the only obstacle would be that the weeds have grown - I was getting out to water the plants, I was just too tired to weed until now.

And sure enough, the weeds grew - because given half a rainfall's chance, SoCal vegetation will appear. So we have a situation like this, where I can't get to what I thought would be my Mammoth Red Cabbage until it's mown flat:



I'm certainly not risking the contents of my uterus traversing that.

But like I said, if that had been the only combination of problems, we'd be out there conquering it with machines and gloves now. Good compost will thrive with only weeds and food scraps, so it's certainly useful. Unfortunately, it's also been unseasonably hot over the last two or three months - barely into the 40s at night, and an average of 70-75F during the day.

So my bok choy bolted



and while that's lovely for the bees, that doesn't really help a household that wants to actually eat from their back yard. I also don't know if my spinach will last in direct heat - none of my plants are very large. I'll keep the faith for now.

I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not really worth planting any extra "winter" crops that take longer than a month until harvest, because I can't see this year getting much cooler. I'm seriously considering just moving straight onto beans, tomatoes and squash at the end of the month. I'll try radish and carrots around summer plants and wait until next time for onions and turnips and broccoli and bok choy.

But hey! Not everything is an abject failure!



I'm thankful I followed good advice to pick Italian-origin/hardy type heirloom seeds - this bed from left to right is Russian Red Kale, generic Buttercrunch lettuce (seems to do well under 85F), Oak lettuce and Cour Di Bue cabbage, all of which, despite my lackadaisical watering, are thriving in the unseasonable heat. I'm starting to pull the Buttercrunch, and the Kale could easily start being added to a stir fry or when roasting vegetables.



This Alpine strawberry plant I started from seed in January 2011 somehow survived last summer and is now expanding quite happily. Should I repot this plant? Possibly. There's an idea. I should do that soon.



Mixed lettuce seeds in containers in the shaded side yard, also another success. Although at one point, I accidentally left the watering can on the wrong setting and nearly obliterated these with the pressure. Large they are not, but they're great for a salad or two. I just wish I liked lettuce more. Next October, I'll try growing spinach in containers.



And today, unsure if it was ready to bolt and with no plans to water until tomorrow, I pulled in most of the Rapini Broccoli and a head of Buttercrunch lettuce. At the very least, once the aphids are washed off, this can all be put in the wok, cooked with chili flakes/garlic/green onion/sesame oil, and it will make a great greens dish to eat whenever the fancy is taken. Hot or cold. Trust me on the cold thing - it's basically a Korean recipe, and those people know what they're doing with vegetables.

Subnote: It's good to be back in the land of the doing. I'm very fortunate the baby is due into this world as the downturn in planting productivity begins - all I ever need to do between the end of June and the start of October is check for bugs, pull suckers on tomatos and harvest produce. Having months upon months of doing nothing is not my chosen way of living, and I'm hopefully going to set the garden up to work as hard as it can while I can't. More on that later.

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