Raddish Treats

November 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm (Vegetables)

DSC00178After I got my drip irrigation system installed (during the summer), my rows of soil replenished and built up, and seed broadcast, I then let the sun do its work! I had ten rows of garden vegetables– beets, kale, spinach, and lettuce. I also planted some tomatoes and corn only because I had some tomato volunteers (which I relocated along the drip line) and extra corn seed left over. I knew both would perish by December or January. Neither do well in cold, but you never know with the mild winter in CA, and, at the very least, green corn stalks are pretty.

DSC00157Also, a lot of things I do I learn the hard way. Rather than research things, I tend to experiment. I noticed this summer my corn cobs did not fertilize well. A lot of the kernals were missing on the cob, and this is due to poor fertilization and lack of neighboring corn. This time I packed the corn stalks in so each stalk had lots of neighbors! I am curious to see if I get more kernals this way per cob.

DSC00181Since corn grows tall with good sun light reaching underneath, amongst my rows of corn  I planted herbs, onions, and raddish. The ‘tiered’ approach worked well, and I imagine it is a excellent one when dealing with plants that do poor in direct, hot sunlight. These would include pumpkins (for fall) and any vine/squash plant in general. I highly recommend using corn to help provide shade for such plants in otherwise hot, sunny areas.

DSC00180To the right above (and left side) is a picture of my raddishes. Many only grew leaves without bulbs below. Both kinds I gave the leafy stalks to my bunnies. Bunnies love raddish leaves. I also gave my bunnies the roots or stalk end of kale which tend to be very hard and not good for cooking. The leaves (which tend to be large) are really the most edible/cookable part of kale, and they are best picked early on. If you wait they begin to turn ‘blue’ and fiberous. However, kale is exceedingly rich in vitamins. The raddish also get more ‘hot’ or peppery as they are left in the ground. Like beets, raddish roots turn into bulbs and as they rippen they ‘lift’ themselves out of the ground. When they are 2/3 above ground they are more than ready to pick.

This time around my most important lessons were:

1. Bottlenecks in home fertilizer production during summer is always a problem (I need more bunnies!). In summer, grass clippings and other sources of compost decrease. Also, compost piles tend to dry up and decomposition slows. Spray your compost pile with a hose and keep damp. Layer compost between dry clippings and wet table scraps. I only have three bunnies, and don’t get enough droppings from them to solve my fertilizing problem. Normally, on farms livestock is the primary source of nitrogen. This would work much better if I had ten bunnies with twelve chickens. Then I’d be in the black! Summer is a low point for compost bins, so ramp up over autumn and winter. My chipper helped but these were still large particles, so take more time to decomp.

DSC001732. Insects and weeds are always a problem. I am organic with no pesticides or herbicides. Normally I ignore weeds. But after the first rain in September I got overwhelmed by sour grass. Sour grass has grown everywhere and is faster and taller than my spinach and beet plants. I had to go through my rows a pull sour grass crowding out and covering my vegies. This was time consumming and self-defeating. I found, however, plants like Kale do the opposite! Kale outgrows the sour grass and will dominate. So, during sour grass season (the first good fall rain until Feb.), plant kale. My next crop will be less spinach and beets and more kale and sweet potatoes.

With insects, I found aphids to be most pernicious. They can explode on you, covering every stem and leaf in the garden. However, aphids will not endanger anything until your leaves are fully mature. The trick is to keep on eye on your plants and pick early. Don’t let your vegies over-ripen. I was able to isolate and hinder aphid growth this way. I had a couple pockets, but as soon as I saw them I picked the plant. On your drip line you know you have aphids in the row if you spot ants going up and down the line. Ants milk the aphids just like cows.

3. Plant herbs, raddishes, strawberries, sweet peas, and squash under tall plants like corn, sunflowers, etc.. Your corn stalks might even have some string between for vines to creep along! Try to save space (especially for urban and suburban gardens) by using a tiered approach.

Some future projects: At the local hardware store the garden section sells worms for composting. I’ve put off the chicken coop idea due to my racoon friends, but will adopt some worm pets instead! Expect something on vermiculture soon. This post is more or less a sum of my autumn vegie harvest. Two more posts are in the works– one on St. Francis, the other on Hallow’s Eve.

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3 Comments

  1. Lee Poteet said,

    I haven’t had a decent garden since I left California but am hoping to begin putting a anew one in next Spring. I will really enjoy following what you are doing. I will also be envying what you are going to be eating.

    • chapelmouse said,

      Thank you Lee. I am always behind on updates, but have some great pictures of my bunnies for St. Francis day. Also, the winter grows things slow, but in CA can still do greens. Right now turning soil over for more kale. They outgrow the sour grass, and I am painfully opposed to herbicides. But CA is never really cold.. What state are you now in?

  2. H Lee Poteet said,

    I am now in Oklahoma where I grew. I live very close to a point equidistant between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. My ground is not very good so I am layering raised beds for the Spring. It should be quite cold now as it has already snowed almost all around us, but at about 44 F. today was quite comfortable to work outdoors.

    P.S., I would not want to rob your bunnies, but you can make a quite good soup with radish leaves.

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