Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Beets, Spinach, and Peas: A Confession
Despite repeated attempts, I've never gotten a good crop of beets or spinach or peas -- noble vegetables all, which I hold in the highest esteem and like to eat in all manner of dishes. (Does any California restaurant that doesn't serve roasted beet salad with arugula and goat cheese really deserve it's business license?) I keep trying to grow these three because the boutique samples I've been able to produce are a delicious incentive.
Above is this season's entire crop of chioggia beets, harvested this morning. Only a couple have the rounded shape you expect in a real beet, the rest look like hot pink horseradishes. I wasn't scrupulous about thinning the seedlings when they sprouted last fall, and no doubt it was simply too crowded in the old wicker laundry basket that served as a planter. The greens look gorgeous, though, and shouldn't go to waste.
The spinach is going to seed and is looking lusher than it did at any point since being planted out last fall. I think this is the Gigante de Invierno, not the Bloomsdale. The California poppies have taken over the planting bed.
Throughout the winter months and until just recently there were enough spindly little plants to supply leaves for adding to salads, but nothing that would count as a real crop. I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that spinach just doesn't size up in the San Francisco area, so maybe that's the problem. The recommendation was to plant the large leaf varieties -- and it's true that the Gigante did better than the Bloomsdale.
These Caseload Shelling Peas were planted as seeds on March 19th, and represent the most promising set of pea seedlings so far, but were probably planted too late in the season. About half managed to make it to this stage. I think the rest got chomped because there are some tell-tale green stubs. Some of the ones that made it show signs of damping off: thin brown stems at the soil line.
Last fall I planted out two entire packets of two different varieties of shelling peas and NOTHING came up.