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Lessons 2013- The Good

Another growing season has come and gone, though I still have kale that’s ready for harvest so I suppose it’s not really over, but it sure feels that way. As usual I’ve learned, observed and made some conclusions I’d like to share with you.

I always experiment with some new vegetables and this year was no exception. I actually tried to grow ginger a few years ago and was not successful. I wasn’t terribly surprised as ginger is a truly tropical plant, but I had some ginger in my kitchen this spring that was starting to sprout so I decided to plant it. I grew it in a client’s garden where there was a lot more sun than anywhere in my garden. After about a month in the ground with no sign of it, I’d just about given up on expecting any results when suddenly there were stalks pushing up out of the ground, looking like some sort of grass.


I left the plants in until the first frost and then harvested. As you can see in the picture below, the ginger just about doubled in size (the original piece of ginger is on the left). I found it very interesting that the piece of ginger I planted was still intact (unlike seed potatoes which disappear as the potato plant grows) and had not even formed any roots. Also surprising was all of the roots were on the new ginger.
Traditionally, we haven’t been able to grow artichokes in this part of the country because our growing season is too short, but plant breeders have developed new varieties which we can grow here so I decided to give it a shot.

By early September there were still no artichokes developing so I was concerned I wouldn’t get any, especially since frost wasn’t too far away and I’d read that artichokes were fairly sensitive to frost. Suddenly though, one started to form and when ready, my wife said it was delicious (I don’t like artichokes). Eventually I got another 5 artichokes though, like the side heads on a broccoli plants, all were smaller than the first one.


I planted 2 artichokes but only one of them really developed (you can see the small one to the left of the large plant). That’s probably just as well because you can see how large the other plant grew. I planted them 18” apart, but judging from the plant size, I’d say 30” is probably more appropriate.

Self-seeding Plants
One thing I’ve really come to enjoy is the number of vegetables I don’t have to plant anymore, they do it themselves. Mostly, this is because I let certain plants go to seed (go to seed means allowing a plant to flower and form seeds). Then their seeds drop and new ones come up later in the year (dill, cilantro, and mustard) or the next year (kale, amaranth, Egyptian Walking onions, and the plants in the previously mentioned group). This does cause a bit of disorder in the garden, but that just doesn’t bother me.

Another consideration is often once a plant has gone to seed they no longer taste good (for example lettuce get very bitter), so by allowing plants to go to seed you may be sacrificing space in your garden where you could plant something new, but I really like getting what I think of as free plants so I’m willing to sacrifice the space. Additional advantages include that the seeds of a number of plants are used as spices, such as dill, fennel, and cilantro (also known as coriander seed), and many of the flowers attract beneficial insects.

I’ll be back soon with the more unfortunate results of 2013.



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