Thursday, March 18, 2010

March planting continued

Planted 64 lettuce seeds today. That would be one block. I am hoping there will be much salad eating this summer. I say this, because I have not had much luck with lettuce in Ohio, although it is probably in part to a backlog of old seeds I needed to get through. If we actually get a surplus, lettuce should be marketable; otherwise, what doesn't get eaten by us or sold at market should be greatly appreciated by the chickens.

Then I planted 432 onion seeds. At 9 seeds per square, that is a mere three blocks. Supposedly, these go from seed to bulb in one season. They are yellow sweet Spanish. Southern Exposure lists them at a 110 day maturity rate. Of course, my performance with onions has been more abysmal than lettuce. Other than scallions one year and garlic one other, the only things in genus allium that even come up is the crow garlic (decent for nibbling the greens [might be good in a salad], but not much use in cooking), which is everywhere. Anyway, assuming they do come up and reach harvestable size, what aren't eaten or sold can be dried or pickled. I've also heard good things about onion wine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First plantings

I got my garlic transplanted out today. I never got around to planting them in October, so I started them indoors in January. I put out 11 plants. Hopefully, the geese won't take interest before I get a chance to move the geese to the pond pasture.

In addition I planted seeds as follows:

Arugula - 20 seeds -- I'm not expecting this to be a particularly big market draw and I don't know of any appropriate preservation methods, so I decided small succession plantings were in order. Past seasons have shown arugula grows well in Ohio, pretty much regardless of when planted.

Fava Beans - 40 seeds -- The whole package; Southern Exposure says culture similar to peas, so we shall see. I planted favas two years ago and the pods rotted before they were ready to harvest. I thought maybe it was too wet here; perhaps I just planted them too late?

Bok Choy - 216 seeds -- Again, I don't expect a big draw at farmer's markets for bok choy, but it makes fine kimchee, so I'm not worried about swimming in the stuff. Also, it does not work for succession plantings -- any bok choy planted after March will bolt before it really develops. Starting in July, we can do succession plantings for fall crops.

After two years of planting in rows, I'm back to planting based on Mel Bartholomew's square foot method. I'm using four foot wide strips (I call a 4'x4' section a "block" and a 1'x1' a "square"). This is what I used in Arizona and the first two years in Ohio. I changed to rows because I thought it would be faster. Unfortunately, rows did not significantly help me get seeds planted, and they made it more difficult to keep track of where things were planted. Weeding was a nightmare. Square foot gardening employs an intensity that aids in weed suppression, as well as aiding in seeing where the "strips" are. I'm also being a bit more realistic about what and how much I plant. We're looking forward to a good year in 2010.

2010 Maple Syrup Production

Sap collection ended last week, after about a three week collection period. We tapped 18 trees this year -- 11 with proper spiles and buckets, 7 with copper tubing and food service buckets. We produced about 9 quarts of syrup. My last batch I processed into maple sugar -- first time. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get the temperature right and scorched the bottom of the pan. The resulting sugar is usable, but strongly flavored.