Saturday, October 27, 2012

Winter Vegetable Gardening

Lest everyone reading my blog think all I do is bird, butterfly, and bug my way around the world, I do have some seriously domestic interests. I guess you have seen some of my cooking and baking here.

But this time it's gardening, something that my life of travel doesn't let me do much of. Since my next series of tours isn't until February, I decided to put in a winter vegetable bed. It probably pains many of you who are now putting your gardens to sleep for several months of winter, but this is the time of year we get spring fever in SE Arizona.

With the help of my friends Jake, Gavin, and Irene, some trips to the lumber yard, home improvement stores, and an green waste depot brought me all the supplies I needed. The last touch was the rabbit-proof fence (we have Desert Cottontails in the yard), which I hope will also keep out the chickens (yes, we have 8 chickens in the yard).

Already in August I ordered some seeds from Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, Oregon, my favorite source for heirloom varieties as well as newly developed ones well adapted to cool climates and short seasons. I finally got the bed prepared and seeds sown just yesterday, about a month later than I should have.

This is what I've sown so far:
Onion – Evergreen Hardy White Bunching
Mustard – Red Giant
Spinach – Bloomsdale Long Standing
Turnip  – Tokyo Market
Beets – Red Cloud Hybrid
Corn Salad/Mache – Large Seeded Dutch (I think this is what I see in Germany as Feldsalat)
Mustard Spinach – Mizuna
Lettuce – Winter Density
Lettuce – Rouge d'Hiver
Lettuce – Nichol's LettuceAlone
Carrots – Scarlet Nantes
Parsley – Large Flat-leaf Italian
Broccoli – Belstar Hybrid
Kale – Red Russian
Chervil – Curled

My friend Greg Corman also gave me starts of kale, chard, two kinds of arugula, and some i'itoy, the native onion of the Tonoho O'odhami

I'm putting in a bed of sweet peas under my bedroom window, and I'll start some night-scented stocks as well.

In about a month I'll start some seeds indoors for early planting of two kinds of tomatoes and ground cherries. Can't wait.

It was also an interesting bird & bug day. At dawn, two Savannah Sparrows ended their overnight migration by stopping in a mesquite tree in the yard and wondering where one might find a good patch of grass to hide in. I directed them towards the U of A farm down the road. Then this noctuid moth in the gigantic and confusing genus Euxoa camped out on the sill by the front door all day.

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