Buh Bye Broccoli

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After a fairly wet winter here in Baja, my broccoli plants were well over three feet tall and becoming home to a host of aphids, carefully tended by their farmers the ants. I was becoming frustrated by trying to fight the aphids and use the ever smaller broccoli side shoots.

Photo of key hole shape vegetable garden
My flourishing winter garden

My freezer is quite full and I was having a hard time finding a place to squeeze in even one more zip top bag of broccoli. Enough! I ripped out the broccoli plants with great effort. Some of them had “trunks” over three inches thick! Next I had to prepare my soil for replanting. Here is a spent plant next to my spading fork, notice that the trunk is thicker than the handle of the tool.

Spent broccoli plant
Broccoli plant is bigger than my spading fork

I have friends that know of my garden and some of the asked me if I would loan them my rototiller. I would be happy to, but they have to provide the power for it. Here is a photo of my new one:

Spading fork
My foot powered rototiller

My old one has tines that are bent beyond repair because I was using it to remove some buried stones. My gardens are in raised beds and I do all of the turning of the soil by hand, or should I say by foot. I compost every time I replant the garden. You can see the compost around my spading fork.

After enriching the soil I replant. I am planting snap beans, peppers, chiles, tomatillos, and tomatoes now. I also have some onions that I use as an edging for the garden. Any that I don’t use as scallions, I let grow into dry bulbs for the kitchen. Later this week I will be planting summer and winter squash but they are real space eaters, so they cannot go into the raised beds.

Here is a photo of the first of the beans:

brand new bean plants
Brand new baby snap bean plants

Perhaps you will notice that the rows are not straight. This really bothers Mr. M! “I used to use sticks and string so my rows were really straight when I was a kid.” I have no problem with wandering rows. I plant along the black ooze tubes that run through the garden bed. Since the hose is looped it won’t lay straight. Notice the rock near it. I use them to help hold the hose where I want it. Guess what?! The plants grow just fine in wandering lines. And they really love the water from the hose.

Being the frugal duo, Mr. M and I don’t have fancy planter boxes for our gardens. Our raised beds are simply a row of old bricks that hold the soil where I want it. The main vegetable garden in based on one I saw in Sunset magazine here:  http://www.sunset.com/garden/fruits-veggies/winter-greens-planting-plan-00400000052086/

The size of this plan is great. I can tend the plants easily from any side. I also can avoid stepping on the soil since I turn it by hand (okay, foot) and once I have it prepared, I don’t want it packed down by stepping on it. I just keep composting and turning it every time I harvest a vegetable.

I plant in short groups and at different times so I can harvest over a period of time. For instance, two weeks ago I planted green, purple and yellow bush snap beans. I also planted a row of yellow and green snap beans that are a type that freezes well. Today I planted some more short rows of green and yellow bush snap beans and some Italian type snap beans (the ones with the flattened pods). In a couple of months I will have a variety of green beans for the table and the freezer, followed by a variety of other beans over the summer. Now if I can just find a little space to grow some Anasazi beans for shelling and dry use… And maybe some pole beans…

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