Friday, March 9, 2012

Early Spring Harvest

Colleen Golden, Atlanta Botanical Garden Senior Horticulturist in charge of the Edible Garden, writes about a recent switch out of greens and veggies.

With warm temperatures arriving, it’s time give the winter vegetable garden a face lift and welcome it into spring! Earlier this week my volunteers and I said good-bye to a few of our hard working hardy winter greens and replaced them with some new transplants.  

We harvested Cabbage ‘Wirsoa’, a lovely savoy type with large round heads of dark green tight crinkled leaves.  

We also picked our Kale ‘Lacinato’, an Italian heirloom with blue green strappy leaves and a great flavor.  We had quite a bountiful yield of these two veggies that we donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank!  

To harvest, we went through the Edible Garden cutting off cabbages and kales at their base.  We removed any yellowed leaves and were quick to get the greens out of the sun and into the cooler to cut down on wilting and increase their storage life.  Then we used a shovel to dig out each root ball.  As first I thought I would be able to pull the root balls by hand, but I was sorely mistaken. These leafy greens were very happy indeed and had grown an impressive root system that needed a little more coaxing to remove than my muscles could provide (and I’m pretty strong too). We tidied up by raking any remaining plant debris and smoothing out the planting bed for our new transplants. 

Next, Swiss chard ‘Golden Sunrise’ and Broccoli ‘Beaumont’ were planted into the beds.  To ensure proper spacing, I first laid out all the transplants into the bed.  When the volunteers and I started planting, we took care to loosen the roots of each transplant to make sure the roots could stretch out and establish quickly.  A good watering and some kind words of encouragement finished up the planting festivities of the day.  While we’re still a month and a half out from the exciting vegetable change out of summer, right now is a great time to squeeze in a mini cool season crop.  Great plants to try are lettuce, garden peas, Swiss chard, carrots, collards, mustard, potatoes, radish and spinach.  Finding them as transplants would be the quickest way to enjoy fresh produce from the garden, but all of these could be started from seed if transplants were unavailable. 



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