EarthBox 2014 Recap — The Oddballs

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

2013 Oddball Recap post here.

We’re getting closer to a four-season harvest from the EarthBoxes. As we’ve moved along we’ve learned that many of the Oddballs actually do best as cool-weather or winter plants. The overall yield should continue to improve as we figure out how to more tightly schedule the various plantings — in the last two years there have been long “fallow” periods. As it is, September/October planting for winter harvest is really too late.

The Oddballs Sorted By Temperature Preference —

Cool Weather:  Arugula, Bok Choi, Carrot, Cilantro, Dill, Garlic, Mache, Parsley, Radish, Romaine Lettuce, Spinach.

Warm Weather:  Basil.

Warm or Cool Weather:  Brussels Sprouts, Scallion, Shallot.

Comments —

Note that up through spring 2014 we were using the EarthBox covers and cutting holes in them for the cool-weather plants. This fall we removed the covers, allowing for the boxes to be planted at much, much higher densities. Hopefully that will help increase the yield.

Arugula — 0.1 pounds. It would have been 1-2 pounds, but a late spring planting combined with unseasonably warm weather caused it to bolt just as it was maturing. Arugula is interplanted with Spinach and Romaine in a few of the half-barrels and ready for harvest between now and the spring.

Basil — 2.9 pounds. Basically 50% of last year’s 6.3 pounds, but we used one box this year instead of two, so there it is. At 2013 retail prices 2.9 pounds is $195 worth of basil.

Bok Choi/Pak Choi — 3.3 pounds. The harvest was overwintered Bok Choi. There is now an EarthBox full of Pak Choi, and the veg is ready for eating. We’ll thin it through the spring.

Brussels Sprouts — 0.0 pounds so far. Planted in the early summer, I’d guess there are around three pounds on the plants, ready whenever.

Carrot — 0.0 pounds. Planted this fall for winter/spring harvest. Two types, though the better winter type is underdeveloped due to Territorial Seed’s failure to ship. At all. In effect, they lost my order. Hopefully that will be the first and last time they screw up.

Cilantro — 0.9 pounds. “Santo” (regular) Cilantro was planted in September along the backs of  a couple of the half-barrels. One EarthBox has “Confetti” Cilantro. None of these are ready yet. I’ll be interested to see if they get big enough to be usable this winter. Interplanted in various containers with Mache, Dill, Romaine, and Spinach.

Dill — about 0.5 pounds. Bolted in the spring. Planted too late in the fall. Right now there are two big plants and a one-pound log of dill butter in the freezer.

141004 dill spinach

Garlic — 0.0 pounds.  Three heads were received as a gift from a neighbor and planted a few weeks ago. They’re growing like crazy and should represent a good spring harvest.

Mache — 0.3 pounds. We planted a little bit in January and it did fine. There just wasn’t much of it, least partly because we used the EarthBox covers. Mache is now interplanted in many boxes and barrels with “vertical” stuff. It seems like the germination rate hasn’t been very good, either because the seeds are over a year old, or the temperature wasn’t right, or… I won’t be surprised if it continues to germinate as it gets colder.

Parsley — 0.3 pounds. A big bunch of these that were planted in the spring made it all summer before finally bolting in August. The location was somewhat protected and only got morning sun. That’s what I was hoping was going to happen with the half-barrels in the front yard. It’s something to build on.

Radish – 0.8 pounds. We tried a few of two different varieties in the early spring – “French Breakfast” and “Cherry Belle”. Both did fine, though the French Breakfast may be better suited for being “cramped”. This fall we planted “Dragon”. The Dragon are supposed to be better at holding in the ground. The spring types are intended to be pulled as soon as they’re mature, otherwise they get hot/ pithy/ woody.

Romaine — 3.4 pounds. A good yield before it bolted. Had we trimmed these more aggressively the we probably could have gotten about twice as much. Currently ready to harvest – interplanted in a few half-barrels with Arugula, Cilantro, and Mache.

Scallions — 0.5 pounds. a.k.a. “Bunch Onion”. A spring harvest of a few overwintered plants. It went well enough that there’s now an EarthBox jammed full of seedlings.

Shallot — about 0.5 pounds. Many of these rotted in a half-barrel. It seems alliums don’t like wet feet. I figured this fall we’d try growing them in an EarthBox, and use seeds rather than bulbs, since seeds are so much cheaper. We’ll see what we get. The worst case scenario is an inexpensive failure.

Spinach — 1.7 pounds. Spring harvest of overwintered plants, mostly. Lots and lots of spinach is interplanted throughout the boxes and half-barrels. I read somewhere that the crinkly (savoyed) types do better in cold, though I have yet to read that twice, so it needs verifying.

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