Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Rainy Week and the Start of Crimson Clover Flowers 4-16-15

The week of April 13, 2015 seemed like a wet week, but we are not nearly as wet as last year.

 According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office, as of April 16, 2015 we have only had 1.50 inches of rain for the month of April and 8.90 inches for the year. Last April, we had 3.56 inches by April 16, 2014 and 14.14 inches since January 1, 2014 by this time. We need this rain and much more. 

Besides the old saying, April showers bring May flowers. For us in the Demonstration Garden, April showers also bring shiitake mushrooms. Seeing our stacks of logs wet, means that soon we will harvest mushrooms, which are much tastier than anything you can buy in a supermarket.  Already, a few have begun to form. 4-16-15

Here is one of our shiitake mushrooms. 4-16-15

Our cover crop, crimson clover, has also begun to flower, which is very important. As you will read, once the flowering begins, it will be time to till the cover crop into the soil to get the most nitrogen as possible.  

We need to wait until “late bloom or early seed set.”

If we do not wait, we will still get the benefit of a green manure once we mix the cover crops into the soil. I should add that when we do till both the crimson clover and the Austrian winter pea (Pisum sativum arvense)  into the soil we need to be cautious of the irrigation pipes buried in those beds.

Killing. Its simple taproot makes crimson clover easy to kill mechanically. Mowing after early bud stage will kill crimson clover. Maximum N is available at late bloom or early seed set, even before the plant dies naturally. Killing earlier yields less N—up to 50 lb. N/A less at its late vegetative stage, which is about 30 days before early seed set (342).

Austrian winter pea (Pisum sativum arvense)
Peas are easily killed any time with herbicides, or by disking or mowing after full bloom, the stage of maturity that provides the optimum N contribution. Disk lightly to preserve the tender residue for some short-term erosion control.
The downside to the quick breakdown of pea vines is their slimy condition in spring if they winterkill, especially in dense, pure stands. Planting with a winter grain provides some protection from winterkill and reduces matting of dead pea vegetation.

Here is a publication on the benefits of cover crops in case you want to read more:

Notice how the crimson clover is matted down. Also, notice the missing leaves on our broccoli transplant. 

One of our dependable sources informed us that a groundhog, yes a groundhog has been visiting us!  As you can read in the below PowerPoint by Penn State University, besides greens such as broccoli and cauliflower, groundhogs feast on clover, which is exactly what we have. We have planted a groundhog buffet. 
(Source: PSU: Groundhogs – The Good, the Bad and the Funny See slide 27 for the mention of clover)

Here is our newest tomato. It is a Heinz Classic Heirloom Tomato.

 According to the  Bonnie Plants websote, “Heinz Classic Heirloom plants bear fruit all season long, but ripen the heaviest portion of the crop in summer. Stake these vigorous plants for best results and easiest harvesting. Space plants 36 inches apart in conventional rows, 24 inches in intensive gardens. Tuck one plant into a half whiskey barrel or similar size large pot. Resistant to verticillium wilt (V) and fusarium wilt (F).” 

Stay tuned for updates to see if you might want to add this tomato to your garden in the future. 

Our radishes are doing well, as radishes often do. In between the radishes, we planted carrot seed, which is just starting to germinate. In a way, the radishes worked as row markers for the carrots. 

The following pictures are shots of our garden. Everything is growing well, even if slower than we want. With this time of year, the gardener is perpetually impatient. Soon, we will be overwhelmed and hope our garden to slow down, but it will not. 

Here we have several varieties of lettuce and various greens such as mizuna, a mesclun mix, and kale among several others greens. 

Asparagus  4-16-15

Sugar Snap Peas 4-16-15

Red, Yellow, and White Onions 4-16-15

 Greens, lettuce, cilantro, dill, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, and more

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