The First Radishes of the Season
Finally, something crunchy to go with the lettuce. Radishes are one of our mainstay crops here at Greg’s Garden Party. My strategy is to plant
two four foot rows every three weeks until the middle of September. We
like to have a steady supply of “French Breakfast” radishes, so I plant
a row of those every three weeks. In addition, I will plant a row of
radishes suited to the season. “Crunchy Royale” in the Spring, “Reggae”
and “Watermelon” radishes in late Spring/early Summer, “Rover” and
“Red Satin” in Summer and back to “Crunchy Royale” in the Fall.
We especially love the “French Breakfast” radishes (also known as “Radish d’Avignon”). Our dear friend, Vicki Dyer returned from a trip to France a few years ago with stories about enjoying these radishes on a slice of artisan bread slathered with butter. Can we say “party time”? Yeah, this is a marriage made in heaven. OK, France. This makes a great appetizer, goes well with a glass of crisp, dry white wine and I’ve even had this with breakfast. Radishes for breakfast – that’s how we roll here at Greg’s Garden Party.
Weeding, Cultivating and Thinning
Now that Spring is here and we have had a string of pleasant days,
the weeds are popping up everywhere. There is a Zen to weeding. To
me, this is the real meaning of cultivation; eliminating the competition
so that what you really want to eat can thrive. Do you choose, or does
Mother Nature choose. You decide. Again, great music makes any job
easier. I especially like Debussy or Ravel when I’m weeding. It puts
me in the right frame of mind.
Over the years, I’ve invested in several tools to help make the job easier. Highly recommended are the following; a stirrup hoe, a collinear hoe with a small blade and a small hand circle cultivator. The stirrup hoe can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. I use it to weed my paths as well. The collinear hoe comes in handy for weeding in tight places such as the allium crops (garlic, onions, shallots and leeks). You hold it upright with both hands and dance it around the vegetables: very effective when you get the hang of it. The circle weeder is used in close to plants. The circle shape keeps the roots of your vegetables safe while you weed around them.
Speaking of tools, my wonderful wife got me a new rake for my birthday.
I never liked the rake that I bought fifteen years ago. The rake is jammed
into a hole at the end of the handle. There is no positive fastening of rake
to handle; just pressure. I can’t tell you how many times the handle and
rake have parted company. When Catherine asked me what I wanted, I gave it some thought and asked for a really good rake – no, the best rake available. We found THE rake online, special ordered it from a local dealer and finally received it a month later. It is a “DeWit” bow rake from Holland made from boron steel. The best part is that the rake is attached to the ash handle with a through bolt. That sucker’s not coming apart without a fight. Check it out.
Beets are one of my favorite vegetables. However, I’m not fond
of beet seeds. They actually contain multiple seeds which sprout
multiple seedlings in close proximity. Not fun. I get into my
Zen master frame of mind and try to do the best job of thinning
that I can. It’s all worth it when the beets are ready to harvest.
One of my favorite ways to prepare beets is to parboil them,
remove the outer skin and finish them off on the grill to impart
a bit of smokey flavor. Some butter, salt and pepper is all that
is needed. Beets are especially good with a steak and a good
bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or old vine zinfandel.
Transplanting Flower Seedlings to the Garden
This week I found homes for 140 flower seedlings, mostly
zinnias, in the garden. Following the lead of French gardeners
who use flowers profusely in their vegetable gardens, I decorate
my garden with patches of color. This year, I grew eight
different varieties of zinnia. As they begin to flower, I will
flood my blog posts with photos. Stay tuned. In addition,
we have two varieties of marigolds planted around the garden.
The marigolds have a side benefit of repelling various insects
like aphids and white flies. I am also growing nasturtiums
which deter squash bugs and calendula which deters
I’m thinking that I might do a blog post devoted to flowers in the garden
when everything is in bloom maybe in July. Almost forgot to mention that I have started several varieties of sunflowers for a mass planting in the “sundial” garden. Last Summer, we grew squashes in that space and we thought it might be fun to do something with flowers this year. Stay tuned.
I am going to sign off with a photo of peach blossoms on one of our two
peach trees. Until next time. Your questions and comments are welcome and encouraged. Let’s start a conversation.
All the best,