The weather has been wonderfully spring-like over the past week - I've been prepping beds, hardening off seedlings and spent one day ridding an old perennial border of buckthorn. Then, this morning, I woke up to this:
|The pile of buckthorn brush sits beside the large tree on the right|
So let's backtrack to the goings on earlier in the week. I picked up 18 - 12.5kg/28lb bags of sheep manure, which is just enough for the beginning of season bed prep plus a few extras to use throughout the summer.
Once I get the manure home, I place one bag beside the beds that will need it. All of the beds will be prepped over the next month and a half and placing the manure beside them from the start (instead of in a pile beside the shed) saves me from lugging it around a 2nd time.
The onions, shallots and leeks have been hardening off since Monday, together with the rapini, kohlrabi and claytonia.
Of course, these guys are staying inside today but tomorrow, they'll be back out outside.
The rapini & kohlrabi seedlings are still very young, only having been sown on March 29, but I need the room under the grow lights and they should do just fine in the ground...once all this snow goes away, that is.
Transplanting or sowing outside is always based on the forecasted weather, fallible as it may be. I'm fairly sure this will be the earliest I've ever transplanted seedlings, not because I'm planting them out earlier than I should, but because I've always been late in the past. Good weather would arrive and it would take me a good couple of weeks or longer to get my spring seeding act together.
But this year, I'm ready and my transplants will be going in next week. It’s particularly important to get the rapini transplanted as one of the varieties I'm growing, Sorrento, matures at break-neck speed – going from seed to harvest in as little as 35 days. And yes, I have tested that in the past and it is indeed true.
I grew a new variety of rapini last year, Quarantino, which is almost as quick at 40 days to harvest.
I harvested it somewhat late, however, which is an issue I frequently have with rapini. I'm often uncertain as to whether it's done growing or not so let it keep going. Then, all of a sudden, I see the tell-tale signs as some of the buds are on the verge of flowering and I do a mass harvest.
Overall, the rapini last year did ok, but nothing spectacular. I had planned on sowing an additional 8 square feet but didn't get around to it, so it was a rather meagre harvest.
This year, I’m going to make every effort to harvest the rapini on time and I’ll be comparing the three varieties in my seed stash (Zamboni, Quarantino and Sorrento) with an eye to eliminating at least one of them. In the past, I haven’t noticed a huge difference between them, but I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to do a proper comparison.
Grated, however, they were just fine, so the harvest didn’t go to waste. In fact, grating kohlrabi into a regular leaf lettuce salad was not something I had done in the past and everyone quite enjoyed it. One benefit of a less than perfect (or over-abundant) harvest is that you sometimes have to be more creative in how you use it (cream of lettuce soup comes to mind…no kidding, it was good!)
This year I completely forgot to add Kossak to my seed purchase list, so I’ll be sticking with the leftover Kolibri seeds from last year. I'm trying a bit of a succession planting with this one as I'll be direct sowing a 2nd batch at the same time as I transplant the seedlings next week.
Kolibri is a quick maturing variety so I'm hopeful that, with the help of the newly installed drip system keeping the bed nice and moist, they'll be ready for harvest before the heat of the summer kicks in.
It's still snowing a bit right now, but that's ok. Tomorrow it's going up to 12C/53F. And Sunday? A gorgeous 18C/64F, thank you very much - perfect gardening weather. I have a feeling I'll be sore on Monday :)