Over the past two days, the wwoofers have been helping me in what I refer to as our “greens” garden. In autumn, I set up an area to plant greens for our smoothies. We had bok choy, kale, spinach, silverbeet, cut-and-come again lettuce and miners lettuce in this space. In September, the bok choy started going to seed so we harvested what we could and pulled it out. Yesterday, we removed the kale plants which had started going to seed and salvaged what we could, in addition to the five or so bags which I harvested by myself last Sunday. Today, we removed the miners lettuce plants which had also begun to go to seed. While the girls sat on the grass harvesting what they could of the miners lettuce, I worked in the garden bed, removing some Italian parsley which had started going to seed. The area is not quite bare, as you can see in the photo. There is still some silverbeet, perpetual spinach, bunching spinach, rocket, Italian parsley, triple curled parsley, celery, borage and calendula. Eventually, the calendula and borage will die down so I’ll be able to remove them and have a bit more space. I’ll probably use the area for my large Sweet 100 tomato plants which were in the earlier photo of my plants lined up under the eaves of our house. I’ve never grown basil around tomatoes but I might give that a try this year. They are supposed to be good companion plants and doing so apparently brings out the flavour in the tomatoes. Planting tomatoes in this area is also a good rotation of crops, as the leafy greens will be followed by a fruiting veggie.
There is actually another part of the garden that we use for planting other leafy crops, our leeks and spring onions. This patch has always been problematic for us as it borders the neighbour’s property and there is an enormous willow tree near the boundary. The area is mostly shady but it does get a couple of hours of sun every day. I discovered that leafy crops do best here, especially leeks and spring onions, which even like a bit of shade. Like silverbeet and spinach, we pretty much always have leeks and spring onions growing in our garden. They are so versatile and can be added to many dishes. In early September, some Danish wwoofers helped us to plant 13 punnets each (!) of leeks and spring onions in this area. These were established seedlings purchased from Kings Plant Barn.
Leeks and spring onions are very easy to grow from seed. They can be sown in both spring and autumn. I usually raise mine in punnets with some seed raising mix and leave them outside to germinate. Spring onions usually mature in around 12 weeks, but leeks take at least six months, sometimes even longer. In mid-September, I sowed the leeks “Winter Giant” from Kings Seeds and “Welsh Wonder” from Yates Seeds. I also sowed some spring onion seeds from Yates and Kings Seeds (“Red Bunching” and “Tokyo Long White”_. These are coming along nicely in the nursery. The only difficult thing about growing spring onions and leeks from seed is that planting them can be a bit fiddly. I manage this by doing only a punnet or two every day and wwoofers sometimes help me.
Another leafy crop we enjoy growing is celery, which we use in soups over winter. About three weeks ago, I sowed “Groene Pascale” from Franchi Seeds and “Utah” from Kings Seeds. They have just started to germinate, which is very exciting. The process of raising celery from seed is similar to the way you would start leeks and spring onions. Celery is prone to rust, as I discovered a couple of summers ago. I used Natures Way Fungus Spray from Yates, but the rust was at a very advanced stage so I couldn’t salvage most of the plants. This year, I have decided to spray my celery seedlings with Yates Liquid Copper from an early stage. I hate using sprays on edibles, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order to have a decent crop.
Finally, as you may recall from the photo I included in an earlier post, I have a number of spinach and silverbeet seedlings coming along nicely in the nursery. In a few days or so, I will get the wwoofers to help me repot them from punnets into seed raising trays so they can grow a bit more before being planted into the garden.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s still not too late to get any of the leafy veggies I’ve discussed in this post started from seed or you can purchase seedlings from the garden centre.
What leafy green crops do other people have in the garden at the moment?