Monday, February 22, 2016

the great uncovering

Today was the first blue-sky day of an entire week forecasted to be blue-sky days, so I took the chance and peeled back the tarp that's been covering the first beds I'll plant this spring. Hopefully after a few days of sun, the soil will be dry enough to make some raised beds!
The only life I found under there (other than the good guys--earthworms and ground beetles) were the thistles, emerging at last from their winter dormancy. It's hard to kill these perennial weeds; they store so much of their energy underground, a few months of cold and darkness up above has little effect. But at least I can see them, and I'll try to make some time to dig them up before I build the beds later this week.
This is actually a dandelion. But trust me, there were lots of thistles too.
And finally, I had to bring home a few of these chicories, or what I think of as "the lettuces of winter." Although they're not lettuces, they are distantly related, and with their sweet and bitter crunch, they make darn good salads with strong dressings. I especially love them in a caesar salad.
clockwise, from top: castelfranco, radicchio, sugar loaf
I'm still learning to grow these chics, and I definitely haven't nailed it yet. As far as I can tell, timing  the plantings right is critical. If any of you master gardeners (or garden ninjas) out there have learned the trick to growing sweet and hefty chicories, I'd love to know about it! Otherwise, my experimentation will continue.

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