I planted my first ever fava beans on April 7 along with snow and sugar snap peas in the same bed. The peas have been slowly emerging for the past week but no sign of the favas until this weekend, three weeks later. I only soaked the seeds for about an hour and did not try pre-sprouting them. Given the large size of the fava seeds, I expected an event when they emerged and I was not disappointed. These things are huge, no chance of mistaking them for a weed. I now have to get some supports in place since these are Windsor favas and are supposed to get at least 4 feet tall.
A lot of work is going into the garden but not much to show for it yet. I have been working my way around the beds, preparing them for planting according to the schedule for what is going in each bed this year. The beds are filled with Mel’s Mix, a blend of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and compost. The mix is very light and friable, but it does compact during the season and especially the winter. The beds are prepared by stirring them up with a trowel and adding additional compost, which supplies all the nutrients the plants will need for the season.
This weekend it was time for the carrots to go in. I am trying the seed mat technique from Annie’s Kitchen Garden to plant my carrots. The seed mat is made by unfolding a 6 inch paper napkin, marking seed placement, and then placing a seed on each mark and covering it with a tiny drop of white glue. I spaded the carrots 16 per square a la Mel’s book, but I see I could have fit in a fifth seed per quarter. Next time I’ll try that if I remember.
The key to making the seed mats work is to cover them with a thin layer of soil. I used some Mel’s Mix I have left over from filling a bed. The mats were covered with the Mel’s Mix and watered well, then mulched with chopped straw. One of the attractions of using seed mats, which should work for most kinds of small seeds, is you can prepare them ahead of time, say during the winter after the seed orders have arrived. Something to do in front of the TV, then store away in a plastic zipper bag for Spring.
On April 17 I set out all of my brassica and lettuce starts and I was happy to see how healthy and vigorous they looked. . This was after the scheduled planting date of April 12 for most, but a week early for the broccolis. About a week later we got a very cold night in the mid-twenties and all the plants were damaged. The escarole and endive above have rebounded, but the broccoli, tatsoi, and choi look very sad. I expected they would rebound but haven’t. Sunday I took a close up look at them and their foliage is totally perforated with pinholes, like flea beetle damage. I haven’t seen any flea beetles yet (although the black flies are definitely out). I’m not sure these plants will make it, so I am going to start some more plants to replace them. There is plenty of time and it makes no sense to try to nurse an ailing plant back to health.