Picked the season’s first cabbage and the neighbor cut a load of kale. If you count Chinese cabbage, there are roughly 35 more coming along. I spread them out fairly well and mother nature also brings them along at different times so these will keep us in cole slaw, fried cabbage and many other variations for the next couple of months. I also started some seedlings (see pic below) a couple of weeks back to fill the holes as they become available. That will be February and March eatin’s. George said the Kale was the best he had ever had. I suspect it’s the first time he ever ate it about an hour after it was picked. Maybe I should try some. I know for sure I’ve never tasted any fresh from the garden and that could make a big difference.

Everything is doing so well in the garden I decided to take a walk on the wild side and expand my beet crop. I’ve had mostly bad luck with beets but maybe this is the year…… I planted a patch of the old classic, I think they’d probably call this one a heritage it’s so old – Detroit Dark Red, about a month ago and observed nearly 100% germination. I used the scissor technique to thin and the plants seem to be coming along nicely. With that behind me, I grabbed into the old seed bag and found a 2008 packet labeled Lutz, long season beets. Long season means an 80 day cycle compared to 55 for the Detroits. The picture shows the Lutz variety to be quite a bit bigger and uglier, if shape is a figure of merit. The packet says it’s sweeter than the DDR’s and taste trumps looks, especially when they’re pickled. (The only thing I like about Harvard is how they do their beets). I remember trying this variety in 2008 and getting zero production but that was then and this is now. Completely different soil conditions and a far more experienced farmer. For example I soaked the seed for 5 hours this time and I’m sure I didn’t think to do that last time. I’m also watering frequently since I now know that the worst thing for beets is inadequate watering. After 4 days in the ground I was surprised to see some germination starting. What normally happens is that species or varieties with long growing durations, germinate slowly. For example, when I plant an 80+ day veggie I look for first germination 10 days after planting and am not too surprised to see it go 2 weeks. Soaking the seed on some types does shorten the germination time. The next factor is percentage of seeds that germinate at all. With good fresh seed and decent conditions, I typically experience 90%. With 3 year old seed, maybe zero. For comparison, radishes are a very short crop – 25-35 days – and it’s normal to see seedlings within 3 days. After 6 days I can tell that the rate is going to be quite high so old beet seed is ok (so far). I also soaked and planted some 2008 spinach seed.

I frequently use the term “seedlings”. Here’s a pic of the next batch of seedlings sitting in the greenhouse. These are generally about two weeks old. The next step for these guys is into individual trays, flats, when they develop at least 4 leaves, usually 3-4 weeks, depending on the variety. The flat in the picture is lettuce from one of the seedling containers. Then into the garden some time in December; on the table January thru March. You can’t tell from the pictures but this group includes 3 different lettuce varieties, 2 cabbages, a broccoli, celery, and parsley.

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