Thursday, March 27, 2008


My first multicrop, Garden Cress and White Hailstone Radishes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Swiss Chard, Rapini: Harvest and Reflections

My grow shelves were beginning to feel a little cramped. My chard was getting too tall, and I didn't have any room to raise the lights higher. Besides for this, my rapini, having been unattended for a couple of days, was also pushing its spatial limits. What to do? Harvest!

I'd already taken a few chard leaves for a salad last week, but these were mostly unharvested plants. I transferred them into the Earthbox clone on March 2, but had planted them previously in flats. Part of me wanted to wait until they grew to the size of those I saw at Plum Market. Part of me realized that was silliness. It was this latter part of me that held the scissors.

What's left behind still looks rather happy and healthy, so I assume there will be further harvestable growth. Despite the still somewhat full appearance of my planter, I made out with a fair bit of chard:

So what do I think about growing chard indoors under lights? Well why don't I reflect on that for you...


When I read that chard roots can go six feet deep, I knew I hadn't made the optimum choice for an indoor crop. Nevertheless, I'm quite happy with how it has gone. Despite the limited root space, all of the plants are producing well. In addition to this, they're just beautiful. The leaves range from green to plum in color, even within a single plant. Some are bright and shiny green, some are a solid, beautiful purple color, and most of them fall somewhere in between, sporting green to purple leaves with red veins.

Even the small ones are on the bitter side when eaten raw, and I'm not a big fan of bitter. I've never cooked with chard, so I think I'll be scouring the web for some good recipes to help me figure out what to do with my bounty. If any passing reader has a nice chard recipe they'd like to share, I'd love to see it in the comments.

I don't know the exact planting date for these plants, but I'd guess they spent around six weeks in a flat before beign transferred to the self-watering container (in which they really took off). I'd say these plants are therefor around two and a half months old. The seeds were a 59 day variety, but considering their excessive time spent in flats, they seemed to mature indoors at about the normal rate, though not mostly to the projected height of 2 feet.

I will definitely be planting more chard outside this spring. They're a really beautiful edible plant. I'm less likely to grow it indoors, but if I do, it will be the colors of the plant that persuades me.


Boy was this an interesting plant. I got the seeds for this from a lot on eBay awhile back. The pack that had my rapini was labeled "Sprouting Broccoli", but they're certainly not that. Rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe or Broccoli Raab, among other things, is a less common cousin of standard broccoli.

Rapini is fast growing and most of the plant is edible, two nice features for indoor growing. Clipping off the first cluster of flower buds and it's stalk will result in a bevy of side shoots. Once the shoots start to come up, they come up fast, often growing right up into the light fixture. For this reason, they require frequent harvesting. Because many of the flower clusters are relatively small in size, I suggest either having a good number of plants from which you can harvest large amounts frequently, or a lesser number of plants with frequent harvests and short-term storage, until enough of the buds have been collected.

The buds are best before the flowers emerge, but remain edible for a while after. The stalks are supposed to be edible, but I have yet to successfully enjoy them. I find that they grow tough rather quickly. I'd like to try some of these after blanching them.

The leaves are also edible and, while slightly bitter, provide a brocolli-like taste, as do the buds and (presumably) the stalks.

This may be a plant worth growing indoors, thanks to its quick growth and large degree of edibility. I will surely be planting it in the garden this spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Garden Log - March 22 and 25, 2008

A lot has been going on in here lately, including a lot of new seeds planted for transplant in late May. I thought it was about time to get some new photos up.

I decided the pea plants were growing too fast to stay downstairs on the grow shelves. I've replanted them into a couple good-sized pots. One will stay here in the kitchen and the second is going to Lindsay's house.

My tarragon seedlings also have a new home in the kitchen. Here's one of the three pots.

I harvested half of my garden cress growing in the bonsai container for a salad last week. In the empty half I planted White Hailstone Radishes and more cress. This shot was taken 3 days after planting. It occurs to me that this is my first intercropping. I'm going to look into the compatibility of these two crops, as I think they'd make an excellent planting project for children.

And here's a shot of my leading chile pepper, an "Ancho Grande", which I received as a free bonus packet from Baker Creek. Anchos are dried pablanos, so I assume this is a large variety of that kind of chile.

The okra is coming along somewhat slowly, but it is a very attractive seedling.

Finally, my yellow hog tomatoes are coming along quite well. The whole of the plants are rather furry, to go along with the promised fruits.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wild Lives

This little guy was walking around my backyard eating seed I put out for the squirrels (an offering to appease them and distract them from my bird feeder). Possums are nocturnal, so it was surprising seeing one around noon. He let me get pretty close, so he was either rabid or quite hungry.

So, what do you think? Do you see the resemblance?

Friday, March 14, 2008

To Plate

A frozen pizza from Trader Joes topped with store-bought garlic and home-grown radishes, rapini, and basil.

Last Night - This Morning

Last night we had burritos for dinner. Here are the home-grown fillings...

This morning I saw spring peaking through the ice and snow in the form of Mache Vit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Garden Log - March 12, 2008

These pictures were all taken yesterday evening. The little seedlings are all coming along well. One of the Okras died, but the other is thriving. I'll probably split the tomatoes up into separate containers soon.

I really like these pea plants. They're growing so quickly, I might have to pot them up in some larger containers before it's time for them to go outside. They're supposed to be a bush variety, so hopefully this will work out.

The onion that sprouted in the kitchen has perked up quite a bit.

These rapini are in need of harvesting. I keep meaning to make myself a salad, but just haven't gotten to it.

This tray, which is actually the second one I planted in, is doing real well. The chard is looking great, but I'm not going to be able to grow it as big indoors as out. I recently read that chard roots go as deep as 6 feet, which obviously isn't going to happen in here. Radishes are coming along well through the middle of the container.

I've gotten a lot of Cherry Belle Radishes out of this container. The rapini hasn't quite developed yet, but I'll be eating a lot of it when it does.

I'll have some more in depth thoughts on everything up soon.