Friday, June 17, 2011

Garden Update 1

What's that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men?

Well, whatever it is, it most certainly applies to my ambitious garden plan as I described here. We finally broke ground and did some garden planting yesterday, and it ended up looking like this:

Mostly a big plot of tomatoes.  Which we love! But, it's a far cry from the 15 different vegetables I had previously envisioned.  Instead of looking like this:


Our garden mostly looks like this now:


All the tomatoes and sungolds on the right are the ones we'd been growing indoors, while the peas and beans and cabbages and cucumbers are the only seeds that actually sprouted of all the ones I tried to start indoors (I assume the other seeds were just too old to be viable).  Everything on the left side of the garden is just what was growing as weeds in the garden before we hoed it all up.  All those "Tomato transplants" were just growing as volunteer tomatoes in the garden, from seeds that had survived the winter, and so I transplanted them to one side of the garden, just to see what happens. The dill was also growing rampantly as a weed. The "unknown" seedling looks like this:


And although it may very well be a noxious weed, it looked sort of familiar to me, and so I decided to let it grow and see what happens.  Any gardening experts out there recognize it? Will it be something tasty, or have I made a terrible mistake?

Oh, and am I right this this is a milkweed, and that it's good to have it in the garden for some reason?  To attract butterflies or something? 


Is anyone sensing that I don't really know what I'm doing?  But at least it's all a mostly-fun big experiment, that might culminate in delicious food!

2 comments:

  1. Anna, I'm pretty sure your unknown seedling is lamb's quarter -- which is both considered a noxious weed and an edible. Check out the third picture down on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenopodium_album

    I've always heard from folks that it's a good wild-grown green, but I've never tried eating it in large quantities. I've plucked them while weeding my garden and eaten them raw before (they're ubiquitious in Arkansas soil, at least) but Wikipedia mentions some other methods of preparation.

    One suggestion about your seed starts that I've found helpful -- try a germination test before you begin starts, or before you sow outdoors. Take a paper towel and spray it with water until moist; then, count out a certain quantity of seeds and line them up along the middle of the damp towel. Fold it in half so that the seeds lie along the crease, then again and again until you have a wet paper enchilada. Then, seal it in a plastic bag or other airtight container to retain moisture and spray it every other day or as needed to keep the paper damp. Depending on the germination length of the seeds in question, begin checking them regularly for sprouts after a few days. Most seeds germinate fine at room temperature, but look out for special conditions for some seeds, especially temperature. (Also, some benefit from soaking, some require light or lack thereof, etc)

    After the average germination time has passed for that species and variety, you can count the number of sprouts and calculate the percentage yield of the seeds. It's a good way of eliminating unviable packets of seeds (and it also encourages saving old seeds since there's no guesswork about whether or not they're still salvageable).

    You may well already know all this, so sorry for the lengthy discussion if so. I'm about to have steady garden access again for the first time in a year, and I'm really excited.

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  2. samtron77e!

    Thank you for solving the mystery for me. I think you’re absolutely right about the lamb’s quarter, and I think I have collected it as a wild green in the past, which is probably why it looked familiar to me. I guess now I’ll have to eat that which is growing in my garden, to justify my having saved it.

    And thank you too for your seed germination suggestions—I have read that this is a good idea, but have honestly been too lazy up until now to try it. I just went with the “try and see” method, which didn’t really work. Maybe someday I’ll have more motivation to actually make a garden work in a methodical way?

    I want to hear more about your steady garden access!

    AZ

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