This morning, as I was making my rounds in the garden, I noticed the shallots were bolting.
Not good. This means the plant is finished fruiting, and wanting to set seed.
So I snipped off the blooms and put them in a jar (I can at least get a pretty bouquet out of it, right?), then harvested the shallots as soon as I could get to it. They had beautiful root systems, but the soil was very, very dry. I am seriously wondering about the effectiveness of our drip system. Or maybe it's just that we're not watering nearly often nor long enough. This will take some musing about and fiddling with over the weekend.
Meanwhile, there's a nice crop of shallots, though they did not bulb as large as I'd like. I picked a different kind of shallot this year, hoping for a larger bulb, as slicing up tiny bulbs is tedious. This crop was more uniform, but still not terribly large. Although I learned a lot when I read this article about French Grey Shallots, which is the variety I planted this year. Apparently no 'true' shallot should be very large at all. In that case, I'm a supreme grower of shallots.
I'm unsure how well these shallots will keep, as they already started setting seed. But I've put them to dry up in the usual place, the top of the chicken coop, and we have our 'tiki coop' once again.
So, I harvested shallots in June last year, and in early April this year. Interesting. We use a lot of shallots in cooking, using them in place of onion in every recipe, as we find we tolerate them better digestively. Also, according to Eating on the Wild Side, by Jo Robinson, shallots are actually much more nutritionally dense than onions. And that means they are a nutrition powerhouse!
Well, they smell good, anyway. Kate, who helped me put them on top of the coop, said "they have a very sticky smell." I thought that was a good description. Though I'm not sure she meant it favorably.
After I was done with the shallots, I checked the garlic carefully, as we usually harvest that before shallots. But the leafy tops are still fully green, they haven't started to turn brown yet, so the garlic is not ready for harvest.
I have, however, harvested the last of the turnips and prepared that bed for summer planting. Preparing a bed takes three steps:
1) After removing the drip lines, I take my pitchfork and treat it a bit like a broadfork - I slide it in to the soil at an angle, then just loosen the soil with it. I don't ever till. Tilling disturbs all the wonderful creatures on the micro level - the bugs, worms, mycelium, all those things that make your soil lovely. But roots do need space and air, so loosening it is a good idea.
2) I add a wheelbarrow-full of compost to a 4x4 bed, two barrows-full for a 4x8 bed. I use a garden rake to smooth it out and mash out any big clumps.
3) I replace the drip lines.
That's it! So far, I've got three beds ready for summer planting. I don't like to let them sit a terribly long time - nature abhors a vacuum and will replace any bare ground with weeds if I'm not careful - but letting it sit a short time is fine. (If you look closely at the blooming shallots at the top of the page, you can see two prepared beds in the background.)
We've been harvesting beets and carrots and peas regularly.
We had a big group of teenagers over here yesterday, and they got a kick out of eating fresh carrots and peas straight from the garden. Adam had to teach one boy how to shell a pea. I found this shocking, but I don't suppose there are many kids shelling peas these days. This boy liked fresh peas so much, he had to go pick more to eat. This makes my heart very glad. And they thought it was fun to feed their carrot tops and pea pods to the chickens.
The hops are growing well but not fast enough for me - we could use some shade on the back patio!
Flowers continue to burst out all over. We had several days of high heat (90 degrees this past Wednesday) which confused everything - but we're having lower temps now and a chance of rain, which should right everything. I've emptied all my rain barrels in preparation for a fresh deluge. I can but hope.
My plans for the weekend include opening the hive, as the bees have been very active, and I want to make sure they have enough room to grow. It's good to have a 'buzzing' garden once again. By the way, I'm currently reading "A Sting in the Tale" by Dave Goulson, and it's delightful - all about bumblebees. I'm looking forward to reading his new book, "A Buzz in the Meadow," next.