Thursday, July 2, 2015

Broccoli, Cabbage, and Kale

The broccoli I seeded two weeks ago was doing well. I figured it was time for it to see the light of day. I didn't bother to harden them off. They were better off just going in the ground. Soil blocks don't need much hardening off and with even one sunny warm day the blocks can dry out if I forget about them. And I tend to. They were safer in the ground.

In the spring I plant 10 broccoli plants, 5 on each side of the bed. After I harvest the heads, one row gets pulled out.

Side shoots starting to form

The other side I leave for side shoots. That way I get the best of both worlds. I get some really nice heads, but I get a constant supply of broccoli over the summer too.

The huge leaves on the other side of the bed will die over time, or start to get mildewed. I tend to pull them off at the first sign of yellowing. The side shoots will put out more new leaves to feed the plant.

I also got under the kale cover to pick. I'll miss my kale harvests when it comes time to plant this bed up in carrots.

Golden Acre

Also under the same cover as the kale are my cabbages. This one had a leaf starting to crack. I was worried that it might bolt on me. I've never really gotten the hang of when you should pick cabbage. Someone mentioned when the head hardens up. But this head was tight pretty small. It would have been a tiny thing. It still isn't huge, but a couple of pounds is pretty good for cabbages in my garden. Some year I might learn how to grow them well.

Early Jersey

Despite my lack of cabbage expertise, this is turning out to be my best ever year for cabbage. Though I suppose that really isn't saying much. I might not get huge heads, but I love cabbage a lot and will enjoy eating them. Big or small.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Strawberries

Strawberries underneath the pear and apple trees

I picked the last of my strawberries. I only grow June bearers as keeping the squirrels out of the patch is so annoying I like to keep the picking season short. I do have alpines that are closer to the house, though the squirrels tend to leave those alone. Those also rarely make it into the house.

Every year I have to renew some of the beds. This spring I bought some and planted them. But it would be nice to renew them with runners of the established plants. That way I could plant them now and they would be big enough to pick next year. Nice in theory at any rate.

I ripped out a stretch of the plants. The bigger ones halfway up are the ones planted in the spring. The lower ones are planted with partly rooted runners. I'm not sure they are rooted enough to survive, but I'm sure I'll find out in a week if they live or die. Probably some of both. If I'm lucky enough the ones that have survived will start sending out their own runners to fill in the gaps. If not I might buy more plants next year. Or try again.

I did get around to trimming off most of the runners from all but one section of the plants. I don't know if I'll keep up with it. It is a never ending chore. It does help them from getting too crowded though. I grow Earliglow which sets a lot of runners. Usually by the end of July I've gotten so sick of the chore that I quit. I'll cut off the easy ones hanging down, and the ones trying to over take the trees planted in the back, but nothing more.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cucumbers, Peas, and Amaranth

I keep my cucumbers under a row cover when they are young. The cucumber beetles around here can be vicious. And wilt is common. So it gives the cucumbers a head start all safe and sound. Eventually the beetles will show up as will the wilt they carry, but for their early life they are protected. I took the covers off on Monday. Some of the cukes were starting to run. I like to grow mine up a trellis, so that had to be constructed.

In past years I've had a very vertical trellis, but this year I built it on a bit of a slant. I'm hoping it will be easier to find the cucumbers amid the foliage. I know it is a futile effort. I will miss picking some cukes. But it can't hurt.

The zukes behind the cukes were trying to burst out of their row cover, but it is still squash vine borer season, and I've seen several of them recently. So I rearranged them and added a separate row cover for the biggest one.

I had peas blooming in two spots, but since I can't eat peas and I want more greens, I've decided to rip them out. This spot mostly was done with its first flush. The harvests all went to my townhouse mates.

The other spot was near the parsley and celery. Since I had planted two extra celery plants and they were in the way, I harvested them. I'm surprised at how well they are doing now. I've never had such nice celery so early in the season. The beds were seeded with amaranth, both a green and red variety. I also started just a few upstairs under lights. The red ones have already sprouted, but not the green ones.

While I was near the parsley I noticed that the plants were getting huge. If I don't pick the leaves they turn yellow and die, so I picked the oldest ones and dehydrated them. I use a lot of dehydrated parsley over the winter. It isn't as good as fresh, but it isn't bad. I'll freeze some too later on.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Harvest Monday, 29 June 2015

The greens are coming in slower. I did pick chard this last week, but never got around to the kale. I'll probably get to that today. It is a big change from a few weeks ago when I had to pick and process greens every single day to keep up.

Some lettuce that needed to come out. Both are romaines. That pretty red romaine that I couldn't figure out what it was? Well it is Red Romaine. Who would have guessed. I totally forgot that Baker Creek gave me a surprise packet of that one. It has started to bolt when I picked it, but it still tasted sweet. The problem is that it didn't head up well before it bolted, so it probably isn't a good one for a later planting. Though it might do well earlier in the spring.

Kohlrabi and turnips

The broccoli was going to flower if I didn't pick it so I picked a lot all at once. It wasn't the prettiest broccoli in the world, but still tasty. I froze some and saved some to eat this week.

Snowpeas

Chives all cleaned up

The first of the carrots came in this week. I love carrots. They are one of the vegetables that if I run out, I'll buy it from the store anyway. So I'm happy to be eating my own again. I can say the same for onions, but I've been mostly using the scallions instead of bulbing onions right now. Only occasionally I'll need a real one. Soon I'll be picking my bulbing onions and I'll be happy not to have to buy those.

Currants were the big fruit harvest this week. I also had a good amount of raspberries and just a half pound of strawberries. Both the raspberries and strawberries are coming to a close. But the raspberries are everbearers so they will start producing again in a month or so.

  • Alliums, 0.79 lbs
  • Broccoli, 7.51 lbs
  • Carrots, 2.89 lbs
  • Greens, 8.18 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.75 lbs
  • Peas 2.19 lbs
  • Roots, 1.15 lbs
  • Weekly total, 23.47
  • Yearly total, 168.14 lbs, $292.69

  • Fruits
  • Strawberries, 0.58 lbs
  • Raspberries, 1.24 lbs
  • Currants, 2.99 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 27.03 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Garden in the Rain

We so needed this rain. I should have watered on Friday, but I didn't. I only spot watered things like the lettuce and newly seeded plants. It hasn't been too hot and I was hoping to wait for the rain to come. Summer is hard because sometimes the predicted rain never comes.

Corn

This time they were right. So far we have had 1.4" of rain so everything is very happy.

The peas will have to wait to be picked. But they sure do look pretty with all the rain drops.

Prairie Splendor coneflower

The front perennial garden is in its first year and I'm getting a glimpse of some of its first flowers in the rain.

The gaillardia that I grew from seed is slowly getting longer petals. Not all of them are as spectacular as the one above. I like the color gradations on it. Another has opened that is more subdued - at least comparatively. I didn't expect these to be quite so vivid orange. The name Arizona Apricot seemed to me to imply a more subdued apricot orange. I would name this Arizona Sunburst. Sadly the kniphofia Red Hot Popsicle which I expected to be vibrant, is just a burnt orange red. It is always interesting picking plants from a catalog and not from real life.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Whats in a Name?

So green!

I always hate when they change the name of a family. The Apiaceae family will forever be the Umbelliferea family to me. I have a bed of miscellaneous Apiaceae in one bed. I love their different green textures.

The fennel has been slowly sizing up. I pick a few each week to use in my salads. Since these were sort of self sown - I tossed old seed heads on the bed - the plants are way too close together. So eating is my way of thinning. Eventually I'll let some of them go and flower.

The celery on the other hand were sown indoors and spaced fairly far apart. Celery hasn't done so well for me in the past. I've gotten the plants to grow but they never produced that much. This year I have a lot more plants and I've given each one ore space. They are growing better. I've started harvesting the outer most stalks. each week. So far they have been small, but the newer stalks are getting much bigger.

Also in the bed is some celeriac that won't be harvested until fall. But the parsley right near it is doing very well. I pick a few leaves every couple of days to use in the kitchen. I keep a bouquet of them on the counter so I have some fresh during dinner. I find I'm more apt to use it if it is always there.

I'm obviously not the only one to like this family of plants. I've got a small praying mantis patrolling for bugs. I've seen them here and there in the garden earlier on when they were tiny. It is nice to see them growing. I also saw one in the raspberry patch today. When they get full sized they will freak me out a bit. They do get huge. And they look so much like sticks from a distance that I won't notice them until I'm almost touching them. Gack! But I love them anyway. They are such cool creatures.

I do have a plant from another family in this bed. The peas which are in the Fabaceae family. Again they changed the name on me. The name legumes are in common usage here, but it is no longer Leguminosae. Why oh why do they do that? Since I can't eat the peas, they are going to be pulled out. I was just waiting for some seeds to show up.

And they did today. I wanted some amaranth seed. Ones that were bred for greens and not flowers. Though I'm sure their flowers are pretty enough. I've been wanting to try them. I figured if they had calliloo in their names they would make good greens. I've had calliloo in the Caribbean, but most of the time they made it with dasheen leaves. I wanted to know what dasheen looked like and one of my guides pointed out the plants. I'd always called them taro and hadn't a clue until then that you could eat the leaves too. I always thought it was a root vegetable.

I think tomorrow I'll get out and plant my seeds. Though I'm still contemplating starting them indoors first. I could always do it both ways and see what works. I have absolutely no experience with these plants. I just hope I can keep them small enough. The packet says three feet apart, but they are talking about for seed. Hopefully if I keep cutting it, it will stay smaller. Or I can start new ones on occasion. If anyone has any hints, let me know.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This and That

View from the kitchen window. Lavender!

I was a bit disappointed when I found my broccoli all needed to be picked yesterday. I really need to have two different varieties to keep me in broccoli longer. It does make it easy to freeze though.

My currant bushes are so easy to overlook. They ripen, but hide behind all that foliage.

Up close you can see them. So I picked the berries on this bush today.

I stripped them off the stems and froze them. I don't have time today to make jam, but I will sometime this summer I'm sure.

And my pink variety is almost ready to pick. It really likes to set a LOT of berries on just a few stems. It will make it much easier to pick.

Also today I sheared off half the chives. They were getting a bit ratty. I picked through them and kept about a quarter of what I cut.

I'm dehydrating them. I've never done that before. I couldn't cut them up into small bits or they would fall through even my herb screens. So I left them large and will cut them later. I hope it works.

There were a lot of weeds growing up through the ends of my beds so I've been slowly putting on some mulch. I collect leaves in the fall from the neighbors who put them in paper bags. I keep the bags and cut them up to mulch in these strange spots. It helps keep the weeds from my neighbor's side from getting out of control on my side. I can tie it to the fence and block them. He probably saw me doing this and now his side is dying. I'm sure he sprayed it. So now I'm half done and no more weeds to contend with. Should I finish anyway?

My melons last week got chomped down by slugs. Sigh. I resowed and they have come up again and seem to be doing fine. But I pulled the lettuce in the bed that I was letting go to seed. They don't need the competition when their season has been shortened so much.

My krautchi did bubble over. So it wasn't just the sugar that was an issue, it was the ginger probably. Plain kraut doesn't do that for me. So I took it down by half an inch. That seemed to be enough. I had the not very well fermented krautchi that I took out for lunch. Yum. Though it could have used some vinegar as it wasn't at all sour yet.

Lots of other little things have been done, most of which I don't remember except weeding. But I have noticed my peach tree is dropping fruit. Sad. But not unexpected. I went out the other day and collected and composted them. I'll probably go out and do it every couple of days until it stops.