This spring I pushed the boundaries of our usual cool season planting times. There was a lot of uncertainty along the way but it ended up working out very well. I’m still harvesting some cool season veggies as our temps hit 115 degrees!
In addition to my backyard raised beds, I still have a bed at a local community garden where I volunteer. We had to move the garden to a new location last winter. Everything was ready at a time in between seasons. It was very tempting to plant a few warm season plants because we had a very warm February. But I decided to plant a cool season garden and cross my fingers that everything matured quickly enough before the heat really kicked in. We hit 80 degrees in mid-February which was right before I planted. Fortunately, the heat of February passed and we ended up having a cool spring.
I was really excited about peas but I didn’t have a trellis to spare. So, I used an upside down tomato cage. These cages are horrible for tomatoes, especially the big indeterminate varieties, but they work well for peas! These plants seemed to take too long to really take off but I managed to get several good harvests from them before they quit producing in mid May. As you can see in the photo, we had a lot of open garden beds after the move but they are starting to fill up now.
I harvested the last of the broccoli in the middle of May. I really had trouble with aphids on them. I’ve never had many pest issues with broccoli but I usually grow it in the fall or very early spring. Even though it seemed like a mild spring it may have been too hot for them. Bugs love to attack stressed plants.
I harvested the last of the Georgia Sweet onions last week (mid June). The picture shows about 1/4 of the onions this season. I’ve never grown bulb onions before because I’ve always thought our storage abilities here are limited. But I decided to give it a try and see how it goes. Sweet onions don’t store as long as the others so I don’t have to find long term storage. Right now, they’re in the garage in a open top plastic container with holes in the bottom. We’re hitting 115 degrees this week so I’ll bring them inside. I don’t have any storage inside that I can use longer term. I really wish we had basements here!
I’m also still harvesting carrots. I have about 2 dozen more that should be ready in the next week or two. When I’m done I’ll have about 7 harvests the size of what’s in the picture. So far, the carrots and onions don’t seem to be effected by the heat. This variety is Baltimore and it has been my favorite carrot so far. They’ve turned out very sweet and beautifully straight. My girls compared the sweetness to candy. I guess that says a lot! Plus, none have even started to go to seed in the heat.
This is the first time that I’ve grown kohlrabi. I came across some seeds so I decided to give it a try. The leaves really got nibbled by something roaming around the garden. I was about to give up at one point but I didn’t have anything to put in their place if I pulled the plants. So, I just let them to go to see what happened. The plants bounced back and produced great bulbs. No one else in my family likes them but my mom and I like to eat them raw with a bit of salt. It’s like a mild radish. Some of the seeds took a long time to germinate so they kept popping up at good intervals that really extended the season for them.
I used the Square Foot Gardening spacing for the Red Sails lettuce. I actually had six plants so 4 went in one square and the other two are the the adjacent square. All six are in the picture. It was actually quite tight. I still had several lettuces going at home so these were just overkill. Luckily, home grown lettuce lasts for several weeks in our fridge. We were eating a lot of salads! I was able to get 3 good “cut and come again” harvests from these. I could have gotten one more but I found several ladybugs in the larva and pupa stages hidden in the leaves so I just left the plants and they bolted soon after the pupas hatched.
The girls just loved growing the Easter Egg radishes! I just wish they would actually eat them. They are not fans of anything even remotely spicy. We planted way too many of these since radishes are a big hit with kids. They grow fast so it brings a quick satisfaction for the little ones. They started bolting at the end of May but by then we had harvested most of them.
One of my favorite things that I’ve learned about gardening is how to push the boundaries of the seasons. One instructor, from when we lived in southern California, taught us to plant a last round of the cool season veggies at the same time as the first of the warm season veggies. The cool season plants will be at the very end of their season which may be too late before the heat hits. The warm season veggies will be a bit early and may not really take off until it warms up more. Frost protection still needs to be ready if needed. If the spring ends up being cool then you’ll get another round of cool season veggies. If the heat kicks in early then you have really early tomatoes! It’s a chance to take with the weather.
You can reverse it in the fall by planting a last round of warm season veggies at the same time as the first of the cool season veggies. The heat may stay long enough to further extend the summer harvests and if not then you have a jump start on the cool season crops.
It sounded like a great experiment to try and I’m thrilled that I finally got a chance to do it. It worked out really well especially with the onions, carrots and kohlrabi. I’m harvesting cool season veggies at the community garden and tomatoes and cucumbers in my garden at home at the same time!