Mid-Winter Transition Of Garden For Spring

Early tomatoes are done and I’ve emptied out two of my four Earth Boxes and purchased a fifth. In the three newly planted Earth Boxes I have some hybrid tomatoes in one, cherry tomatoes in another and pole beans in the fifth. They are all doing quite well. The two older Earth Boxes still have Roma tomatoes in one and cherry tomatoes in the other. I’m keeping the dead or dying vines cut off and all plants well watered, but these tomato plants are on their last legs, producing less and less fruit each day, but from the two boxes combined I still get enough tomatoes for the day’s salads.  I’ m hopeful that will continue for about another week or so. That’s about how long it will take to see ripe tomatoes coming from the two other Earth boxes I planted now a little over a month ago. The cherries should come along first and then the hybrids. It’s been a bit cool here at night, but it’s starting to get warmer now and I expect the new tomatoes to take off. Nevertheless, when the old tomatoes give out I still have a couple months left to plant something that will give good yield before the end of May.

The remainder of the garden presently focuses on the green stuff that goes into the everyday salads. I have four large pots with maturing Romaine lettuce with 3-4 plants in each. I’ve been using the outer leaves for salad so far but now the centers are starting to close and I’ll start using those which are closing over in the centers and then as the heat starts to threaten them, I’ll start harvesting the whole plants — especially those plants that might otherwise head out. Probably I will have to give away a few heads to neighbors and friends, as I may have too much coming along too fast. Nevertheless, there’s lots of lettuce coming along quite rapidly and Romaine heads keep well in the refrigerator so we’ll have lots for salads for another month at least.

The rest of the Lanai garden is composed mainly of small pots containing individual and different  herbs from which leaves and sprigs may be harvested and thrown into salads for smells that enhance tastes as health. These are also great to throw in small cut pieces into soups that start up from a chicken stock in my kitchen every other day. I have 5-6 dill, 4-5 basil, a few parsley, 5-6 cilantro. They are easy to cut leaves and sprigs from every day and they still keep going.

I also have several pots filled with red onion sets. Many are being harvested for salad and soup and many will remain behind and be harvested when they’ve grown into larger onions that can be cleaned up, packaged and put in the cooler that goes north in June. Those onions may last us half the summer until greens and green onions start to come in from the Ohio garden.

Aside from the onions, I also have some regular chives and garlic chives that are coming along nicely. I have pots with several kinds of leaf lettuce. The oregano and the sage is mainly for harvesting and drying at the end of the season. I also have an eggplant — just one in a big pot. The reason I never plant more than one is that I had a friend who planted a whole row of eggplant in a “victory garden” during WWII. After the war was over he never ate eggplant again.

In a few days when I harvest the remainder of the Romaine lettuce I’ll start up some additional lettuce or lettuce alternatives like spinach for salads later this spring. I’ve already put in a big pot of spinach and that should be ready for harvest in about three weeks also. I also have a big pot of beets planted from seed. They usually grow into plants with great leaves — good mainly for steamed beet greens late in the spring. The spinach goes the same way.

So the key to my early and late spring garden is tons of variety and constant attention to when to harvest and alternate these small crops. Lots of things may go  into the ground or into small pots in seed. Only then will they be ready to transplant into a larger pot or an Earth Box at the appropriate time. You can always buy plants or collections of plants from the local nursery, but that can get pretty expensive these days. Small packets of seeds go a long way and I usually have some seeds left and use them in my raised bed garden in Ohio during the summer.


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