This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he always thought the garden was his. Even though I do all the work, he always stood by me. I'm located near Boston (in USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot and a backyard vegetable garden. I use sustainable organic methods and try to grow all of my family's vegetables.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

garden review: G to parsnips

GARLIC: My garlic was a super crop this year. I cringed to mail order 4 types of high quality garlic seed bulbs that cost about $12 each as I remember. With shipping costs, it added up to a lot. I ended up planting about 100 cloves in my garden and a similar number in my parents' garden. In July, I harvested 100 big beautiful heads of garlic. In October, I replanted about 1/10 of these - 100 cloves in my garden (and the same at my parents'). So the garlic expense was apparently a one time expense to get started. Not bad. Right now I still have a good basketful of garlic in my larder. Its keeping very well and seems like a perfect size crop for the amount we eat. I may never need to buy supermarket garlic again!

LETTUCE: I grew a cold frame full of great lettuce in the spring. I look forward to this again this year. But then last year the summer was very hot and dry and, as I often do, I forgot to keep planting lettuce every couple weeks. I went for at least 2 months with no lettuce in my garden. I will try again this year to avoid the lettuce lull. Our local CSA farmers produced lettuce all summer, so it can be done. And then in the fall, I planted lettuce for my cold frame too late. The lettuce in my cold frame is still harvestable now in mid-winter, but its too small. I have learned that it doesn't grow after early November. Lettuce is one of those crops where I probably couldn't grow too much. My favorite varieties last year were Big Boston and Oak Leaf.

I didn't get any melons last year :( Oh well. I grew 4 varieties and planted them in my cold frame. With the covers off during the summer, I thought this would be a perfect warm and sheltered spot. But the cucumbers in front of them grew so tall and thick they shaded the melon vines and blocked the sprinklers. I have a perfect spot marked for the melons this year (I hope). They will get the south west corner of my community plot next to the garlic, which won't shade them! I will give them lots of manure and compost when I plant and then hope for a hot sunny summer. I am also going to devise a support rack so they aren't on the ground.

ONIONS: I loved those onions! They did great last year. I liked the big yellow storage onions, Frontier and Ailsa Craig. I thought I was starting too many seeds, but it was a good number. I wouldn't mind more this year. And they could even be started earlier and transplanted out to the garden earlier. The ones I grew lasted me from harvest in August until just a couple weeks ago. But we preferred the yellow ones and ate these first even though these were the better storage ones. So the purple ones that we ate second we starting to go bad as we finished them off. Lesson: I'll eat the poorer keepers first,and maybe I won't grow purple ones.

I only planted one pot of parsley seeds. But I ended up with 20 times more than anyone would need. Since parsley does well in the shady parts of my garden, I will continue plant the same amount again this year. One 5 foot row of about 20 plants.

PARSNIPS: Two years ago I grew a nice plot of parsnips, then forgot to store them properly (in plastic in the refrigerator) and I ended up composting them. Last year I never got around to planting parsnips. Then in the late fall, a fellow gardener asked if I wanted some of their bumper crop. (Yes!) We just ate the last of them tonight, oven roasted. Yummy. Parsnips are even harder to grow than carrots, because they take several weeks to germinate and need to be kept moist and not mistaken for weeds. I will try to plant a row this year.



Blogger ~Holly~ said...

I'm loving your reflection of the past year's crops. I usually keep a journal and jot things down as I go along but having it all in one place (a blog) is a great idea!

January 09, 2011 3:58 PM

Blogger Kay said...

Good reflections! For the melon supports- I got a building project book with a project in it perfect for melon supports. It's actually a tomato support but will work for anything really. It's like a low table (foot or two off the ground) with four legs, and the "table top" is wide-screened metal mesh/fence, with holes big enough to let a tomato or other plant stem through. The concept is then your plants will sag, but the fruit will rest on the table a few feet off the ground!

January 09, 2011 8:34 PM

Anonymous Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Peaceful Valley ( has some significantly better prices on seed garlic. They've got great prices on seed potatoes too. They're like 1/2 to 1/4 the price of other companies.

Also, I did a review of De Morges Braun lettuce, which you might be interested in reading.

January 09, 2011 8:54 PM

Blogger Green Zebra Market Garden said...

Are you saying that the proper way to store parsnips in in a plastic bag in the fridge? Or is that the improper way?

January 10, 2011 10:53 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Kay, The support sounds just like the one I saw. I wouldn't use this for tomatoes, but sounds good for melons and squash.

I will have to look into those good priced potatoes prices this year. I may have some of my own spuds left for planting.

Parsnips (like carrots, beets, and celeriac) need to be kept at high humidity and low temperature for storage. Inside a plastic baggie in the refrigerator is a good way to store them. I misplaced my parsnips in a paper bag at room temperature a few years ago and they didn't last last long. In a plastic bag in the fridge they last several months or more.

January 10, 2011 10:47 PM


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