By LYNNE IRONS
I am not exactly sure that we will not get another frost. When we have a few beautiful sunny days and light warm rains, everyone is out in force — trowel in hand. I noticed Dee at Eden had covered everything last week. It was wise on her part since we did freeze here in Vineyard Haven that night. I am still closing all the cold frames at night and have yet to remove the Reemay from the annual seedlings. One late night two weeks ago, I was finally on the sofa in my bed clothes, happily enjoying Rachel Maddow. I was switching back and forth during commercials (don’t you love the remote?). The weather channel recorded 39 degrees in Vineyard Haven. It was the one late afternoon when I had made the wrong decision to leave everything open. I pulled on the untied work boots and trudged around, securing plastic frames in pitch darkness. I swear I am about to purchase a coal miner’s lamp. It is a good thing I have been blessed with relatively good humor, especially at myself.
I am finally about to finish the transplanting of the cole crops and leeks. Leeks should be planted deeply with just an inch or so of leaf exposed. You want to force them to grow long stalks. They can be hilled up with extra soil throughout the growing season. The result will be greater edible blanched portions. Leeks are much sweeter than their onion cousins and are quite creamy when cooked.
As far as the coles, I do love cabbage as does my granddaughter Violet. I simply cut and add her favorite dressing (Annie’s organic Asian). We can polish off a small one in one sitting. I grow several varieties. My favorite is early Jersey Wakefield. It is cone-shaped and very early maturing. I also plant a non-hybrid early red, Danish ballhead, and a savoy. I tend to avoid using hybrids as I am always on the lookout for seeds to save.
This year I planted Long Island brussels sprouts. Love them! The Scottish Bakehouse makes a great side dish suitable for potlucks. I also plant both red and white kohlrabi. They have crisp apple-like flesh with a mild cabbage flavor. They can also be used for sauerkraut if you are lucky enough to harvest a bumper crop. My friend Sharlee moved to the southern Indiana, northern Kentucky area briefly in the late 1970s. She went on the hunt for kohlrabi at some local shops, to no avail. Finally someone interpreted her Yankee-speak with: “Oh! You mean collar-ah-by.”
It has taken weeks and still no emerging pepper seedlings. I neglected to use the propagating mat for them and am paying the price. I do have hope, however. I know they will come along once the nights warm up. They are in a 90-degree greenhouse during the day but I think it gets as low as 40 degrees at night. I am always slow with my peppers and tomatoes but seem to manage, still picking bushels in the fall.
Every year I make the same mistake. I ordered Cornish game hens as day-olds on March 1, smugly assuming I would have them into the freezer before I get really busy with gardening. Time can get away from you. I still have six very large roasters left walking around. Talk about economical. They are only nine weeks old and at least six pounds dressed. Meat birds are the one hybrid I favor. The tiny Cornish hens found at the supermarket are three or four weeks old at the most.
I made a salad out of entire baby turnip plants; the actual turnip was pea-sized and pure white. I used the roots and greens whole — just tossed in a vinaigrette. They were similar to but way better than radishes.
I was sorry to see Vice President Biden taken to task last week as a result of his comments concerning staying off public transportation in the wake of the swine flu brouhaha. I haven’t been on a plane since the 1980s when I freaked myself out about Legionnaire’s disease. I have enough personal space issues without breathing someone else’s air. Yuck!