Thursday, December 31, 2009

cut and come again; harvest and plant again

New Year's Eve is a time for fresh starts, and boy is my garden the poster child for optimism and starting fresh, again and again. Here are photos of secondary, or side shoots, from my broccoli plants. These are shoots that develop after the main head has been harvested and eaten. You can get no side shoots or many side shoots, depending on the variety of broccoli you choose. Varieties developed for commercial production are usually poor side shoot producers, as they are bred for one fast harvest and nothing more. I am thrilled to have some side shoots this year, as I was out of town for most of the main broccoli harvest.

Also showing new growth, and this after many, many harvests, are the greens. Here you see a collard plant. Notice the long, naked stalk? That is where all my prior harvests were made. I have harvested the largest, lower leaves of each plant as they develop, leaving the growing tip to produce again and again. They are looking a little odd now: a bouquet of collard leaves on a stalk, but they still taste great and are producing well!

The last photo is of tiny baby kale and lettuce plants. On a whim I planted them from seed very, very late in the season, after all my lettuces had been harvested and eaten. I have thinned them a few times, and they seem to be doing very well. Lets see if they make it through the winter and put on a push of growth when the weather starts to warm. You can see the change in their size each time we get a warmer day.

It is still wet and sloppy in the yard. Did you notice the fresh raindrops on the garden in today's photos? Despite all the rain and wind, the hens are all doing well, and we are back to getting one egg a day, even though it is the darkest days of winter. I did investigate and found that each bee hive has at least some bees in residence (I put my ear to each hive and tapped on the side, and happily heard a hum in response), and the two weakest, Dolly and Loretta, had a good feeding of a gallon of sugar water each about 2 weeks ago. Based on the hum from inside, those two already were up in their top box, meaning they had consumed most if not all of their honey stores. We will feed them again this weekend in hopes they will make it through until the Maple trees bloom.

It's dream time for gardens now, with seed catalogs in the mailbox. I'm looking forward to a fresh new year.