Chronicle of the Collards

For Thanksgiving I harvested the last of the collard greens. 

11-27-08_Collard Stalks 

The plants were started inside under lights way back in March or April.  Collard started in (typing) paper pot

My “planter” was constructed from regular typing paper that was folded, wrapped around a can of spray food color, removed from the can and then I tucked the ends under to form a base.  I ran a band of packing tape around the middle for added stability.

Homemade Starter Pot

It’s my version of the homemade newspaper starter pots.  The spray food can was a good size for me.  The final pot is the width of a standard cell pack, but it had more depth for the roots. 

I started the seeds in flats.  Once they germinated and had a few true leaves, I transplanted them to the paper pots which I then put in a small box.  I was able to line them up in the box in rows of 4×6, so I had 24 plants growing in a small amount of space.

The plants grew well in the paper pots.  This picture is showing the root system just before I transplanted them into styrofoam cups.

 Collard root system grown in paper pot

The collards are in the back couple of rows.  The row is also planted with lettuce, Bachelor’s Buttons in the front, cabbage in the middle, and a couple of marigolds with the two tomatoes in the back.  For some reason, the tomato plants in this bed never grew well and I ended up pulling them out.

Here they are back in May.  05-31-08_Lettuce, Bachelor's Buttons, Cabbage, Collards

Here they are the end of June.  06-30-08_Lettuce, Cukes, Bachelor's Buttons, Cabbage, Collards

Middle of July.  07-14-08_Lettuce, Sweet Potatoes, Bachelor's Buttons, Cabbage, Collards

Middle of August.  08-17-08_Cukes, Sweet Potaotes, Cabbage, Collards

The Bachelor’s Buttons had outgrown their space, so I pulled them and Free Cycled them.  Then I put in the trellis for the cukes that I made from some bamboo poles that I had received from Free Cycle.

Beginning of September.  09-02-08_Cukes, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Collards

The cabbage are gone now, and I started a few turnip seeds in the front squares.

I only picked the leaves from the collards a couple times during the summer, and they just didn’t taste as good as the leaves harvested after the frost hit them.   On top of that, the collards occupied the same space from May until now, so there was no chance to do any succession planting.

So, what did I learn?

  • In my humble opinion, collards taste best when they mature in cool to cold weather.
  • If you want the plants to mature in cool weather, you should start your seeds closer to July or August..
  • Older leaves need to be picked, otherwise they die off as the new leaves develop.
  • I will calculate the planting time of the collards so that they’ll be the last thing growing in the garden to be harvested after the frost hits…no frost cover needed.

A while back I transplanted some carrots from a planter into the raised bed.  Yes, you can transplant carrots and I’ve got proof.  I’ll post the proof and pics soon.

Happy Gardening!!!

The Wee Watermelon

After going to the grocery store and seeing a monster watermelon (which, okay, I admit it, I bought it for the seeds), I decided it was time to pull the watermelons that were growing in my self-watering container.  That plus the fact that the leaves and stem were more brown than green.

This was back in April Cucumber_Bush_04-08-08

This was mid July07-14-08 (4)

And this was my watermelon harvest for 2008, two watermelons both a whopping 4 1/2 inches measured across the middle.DSCN1538

Sugar baby on the left, regular on the right.

DSCN1541 DSCN1539 Despite the fact that they were miniature watermelons, they tasted great.  They were fully ripe with sweet, firm flesh.

My mother-in-law has a sugar baby that’s about ten inches tall that she picked (which I forgot to take a picture of).  Her plant is growing in the ground.

So, what did I learn?  You can successfully grow watermelons in a small city lot.  You can successfully grow watermelons in containers…you may want to refer to them as diet watermelons, though, since they won’t get too big and are the perfect size for one person.

Here’s a trick to picking a ripe watermelon.  The thump the watermelon advice never worked for me.  When you pick it up, it should feel heavy for its size and the underside where it grew on the ground should be a creamy color as opposed to white.

Did you know that one cup of watermelon contains only about 50 calories and has more of the antioxidant lycopene than even tomatoes, so it really is a healthy low calorie treat.

Will I grow it next year?  Yeah.  It’s a super easy to grow plant, but it does need a little elbow room.  My mother-in-law didn’t use compost or Miracle Grow and hers did great.  I’ll still do a couple of plants in the container because they’re the cutest little things, but I’ll find someplace to grow at least one plant in the ground.

Happy Gardening!!!

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Compost Heating Up Again

Compost after last addition of browns - 3-29-08 Compost made it up to 120 two nights ago.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to fluff it up and the temperature is slowly climbing back up.  This is the compost made from Starbuck’s coffee grounds, leaves, and the last addition was sedum stalks and hosta stalks and leaves.  The last addition is what got things going after a week of no heat at all.

The compost is serving double duty.  I’m hoping the heat from the compost will help this new “crop” of bell peppers planted in egg shells to germinate

Happy Gardening!!!!