Monday, November 29, 2010

Harvest Monday - 29 November 2010

Not much got harvested this week. I have plenty of Asian greens still out there, but except for Thanksgiving there wasn't much cooking going on this week. I still have plenty of Asian greens from the week before in the fridge. It is really hard for one person to eat up almost five pounds of greens in a week.

I only picked one bunch of Fun Jen on Thanksgiving. I made a fruity Asian salad. No photos were taken as I barely had time for anything that morning. The above photo is what is still left of that head of Fun Jen in my fridge.

  • Greens 0.63 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 0.62 lbs
  • Total for the year 345.58 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $880.94

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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This and That

I haven't had much time to write so I'll do a quick post on what has been going on. The first is that we finally got our fence in. I can't wait to have a rose growing over the arbor.

The second is that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had way too much food. Everyone brought enough to feed at least twice as many as themselves and that means the tables were still full when we were done. My son made two dishes this year so I didn't make as much as usual. I did decide that I needed to bring Asian greens so I made a salad with them. Also from the garden were my pickles. And I brought a lox plate. The lox were on a bed of my red lettuce. I also had red onions, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, and pickled serranos as sides to the lox - all from the garden. It was one of the few dishes that was actually finished at the meal. But that was because it was an appetizer and people hadn't stuffed themselves yet. I swear I meant to take photos. But alas I don't even have photos of the Asian green harvest.

Then I noticed yesterday my garlic is coming up.

This I could take photos of as I wasn't rushed.

I suppose I could give you more garlic photos, but really, do you need 20 of them? I think not.

My garden catalogs have started arriving, but so far no Pinetree or Fedco catalog. I hope they come soon.

I hope those of you who celebrate it had a great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harvest Monday - 22 November 2010

Two things made the harvest really good this week. The first is that all the Cherokee Purple tomatoes that I picked ripened. Yay! 5.46lbs of tomatoes were added to the harvest this week. And though I will at some point get around to doing an overview of tomatoes (I hope). I just have to say 43lbs of tomatoes was the final tally for just this one plant. Cherokee Purple was the most prolific tomato I've ever had. It out produced most of the other tomatoes by 2-4 times. I can only hope it produces well in one of our normally cool summers.

The other thing that made it a great harvest week, but a bad gardening week was our first freeze. Well our first two freezes. So I harvested all the lettuce, chard, and spring onions and cleaned up the bed. They won't be doing any more growing anyway.

I also put up a plastic hoop over my row covers on my Asian greens to extend my harvest a bit longer. But I only had enough metal hoops to cover part of them. So the rest of the bed was harvested. Most of it got covered up though. I find at night it keeps it about 5F degrees warmer than outside and during the day it is about 20F degrees warmer. The rock wall leaks cold air into the soil so it will be hard to keep it warm. The most frozen part of the soil was along the rock wall. I would have guessed that the rock wall would be a good heat sink and keep the soil warm, but it doesn't seem to be true. I'll be hoping that I can keep them alive through December with the plastic added, but it probably depends upon how sunny we are.

I spent more money this week. I spent about $100 on hoops for next year. I bought 20 pieces of 18" rebar and two rolls of tubing. I pounded all the rebar into the ground so when it is spring time and I want to defrost the soil, the stakes to hold up the piping will already be up. Two beds have been treated like this. I also spent about $25 on some thick plastic for the Asian green bed. I tried to find a piece of plastic big enough that I already had, but no luck.

  • Allium 0.40 lbs
  • Greens 4.81 lbs
  • Radishes 0.63 lbs
  • Tomaotes 5.46 lbs
  • Spent this week: $123.64
  • Total harvested this week 11.26 lbs
  • Total for the year 344.95 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $877.78

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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Today I noticed I still hadn't done anything with the hot peppers. I thought about making more pickled peppers, but I wanted to do something different. So instead I made hot sauce. I looked at a recipe for Louisiana Hot Sauce, but it was so boring. Yes I wanted mostly chilies and vinegar, but you have to have at least some garlic and a little bit of sugar helps you deal with the heat.

Daphne's Green Hot Sauce

  • 14 green cayenne peppers and 22 serrano pepper (or any kind you've got)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 c vinegar
  • t sugar
  • t salt

Roughly chop the peppers and garlic. Toss everything all into a small saucepan. Boil covered for 10 minutes or until the peppers are soft. BTW I should emphasize that the pan needs to be covered. It really turns the house into a smelly place and a cover helps a lot. You really don't want to choke on hot pepper fumes. Put it into a food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a sterilized jar. I used an old vinegar jar.

You could process this I suppose. But why bother. Anything with this much vinegar will keep forever. I just put mine in the fridge. Though if I had a lot of peppers, I could process it and give it out as gifts. I certainly don't need more than one bottle in a year. Hmm but if you gave it out as gifts you couldn't have it in a tall thin bottle. And hot sauce in a canning jar just isn't right. Do you know of anyone that makes canning jars for things like vinegar or hot sauce?

One drop of this is really hot. It is perfect to spice up anything. If that chili is a bit too mild just a touch of this and instant heat.

And speaking of heat. I opened the windows in the lower part of the house to get rid of that peppers and vinegar smell. I turned the heat off but so far the house hasn't dropped a degree. It is amazingly warm today. It might get up into the mid 60s.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harvest Monday - 15 November 2010

Fun Jen right, Bok Choy left, Tatsoi and Chinese Broccoli behind

This week saw a basket of the oldies but goodies. Are you getting tired of seeing the same basket of greens every week? I'm not getting tired of eating them yet. I have a ton still in the garden. I still can't eat it all myself though. I always send some over to my townhouse mates. Caroline will come over asking if I have anything to go into soup or spaghetti sauce and I'll say the only things coming out of the garden right now in excess are Asian greens. Please, please take them.

This week was a bit of a change since I also sent over a lot of lettuce and parsley. The rock wall garden was getting hit constantly where the lettuce was planted. I would say about once a month it gets hit. So we put up a couple of posts to keep it from happening. And we got the wall repaired. Which means they had to take it apart and I had to pick all my lettuce from that section. One parsley plant got pulled too, but I still have one left.

And it was clean up week. I took down the beans and got a lot of shelling beans in the process. I've never cooked with scarlet runner beans before. I haven't a clue as to what they taste like either. Also on the list, but no photos were some peppers. The frost didn't really take them down. It killed a lot of leaves, but the lower leaves that were more protected survived. I pulled them all and picked what peppers remained. I forgot to put them into my sidebar tally. I'll fix that next week. But they are in the tally below.

So far the garden is still going strong. We have had only one frost hit the garden. Saturday night I saw frost in the morning on some of the roofs, but not much. It didn't get my garden again. The weather has been so nice that we have been speculating that winter just isn't coming this year. Will this be the first year I bring Asian greens to Thanksgiving? Last year was abnormally warm too and I brought red lettuce, but I didn't have the abundance of Asian greens that I have now.

  • Beans 1.52 lbs
  • Greens 2.99 lbs
  • Herbs 0.80 lbs
  • Peppers 0.36 lbs
  • Spent this week: $48.00
  • Total harvested this week 6.76 lbs
  • Total for the year 333.66 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $953.62

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.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cleaning Up

Last week should have been fall clean up week. We had a frost. I should have taken down the tomatoes and beans, but I didn't. So yesterday I got myself off my derriere and finally got out and cleaned up the dead beans and zucchini plant.

Now I don't have to look at dead bean plants. Usually I crop the photos so you don't see the neighborhood, but I know some people are shocked when I say I live on a tiny bit of land now. This photo gives you an idea of the neighborhood. There are lots of two family condos in the neighborhood all crammed together. The rock wall garden usually has a car or two parked in front of it. Next year I think I'll put asparagus in here. I love the ferny foliage. So I'm going to call it an ornamental.

When I was cleaning up I ended up with a whole lot of shelling beans. Sadly the scarlet runner beans didn't set until very late in the year. I was worried that I wouldn't get any dried beans from it as seed, but I got a few pods. Enough to seed another year, but no more. I think it was just too hot for them early on. They didn't set until it had cooled down.

In other beany news, I figured my dried beans picked earlier would be dry enough at this point to freeze. Beans tend to have weevil eggs in them, but freezing kills them. So every fall is the great bean freeze. Not to be confused with last weeks bean freeze that killed all my plants. Anyway the hammer is there because beans will die if they are frozen and not dried enough. This wouldn't matter if I were just eating them, but I want some to be seed. They are dry enough when they shatter when hit by a hammer. Now I have bits of bean all over my kitchen. Last year I was smart enough to do this outside.

I'm wondering if I should use the seed saved this year. I swear the runner beans and the cranberry beans crossed. They all look like themselves, but some of the cranberry beans are growing way too big. I swear they are trying to get to runner bean size. If you didn't know runner beans are HUGE. Mine are usually an inch and a half long. But runner beans and cranberry beans are not the same species. So I would think crossing would be uncommon.

Today my chore is to take down the old tomato and pepper plants. It is supposed to be sunny and 60F today so it ought to be a pleasant chore.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bag Lady Strikes Again

I've learned over the years which weekend is the perfect weekend to start collecting leaves. It is after the leaves are 90% off the trees and right after a weekend with good weather. Everyone will go out and rake that weekend. And in the process leave garden gold (and red and orange) at their curbs to be hauled away. By me.

At my last house there was no trash pick up. So no gold left on the curbs. I had to go one town over to pick up my haul. This year I'm in Arlington with trash pick up right at my curb. Many people don't leave bags, but leave their leaves out in trash bins labeled "Yard Waste". We have weekly yard waste pick up in the fall and you don't even need those wonderful paper bags that I so love. But not to worry. Most people's yards have too many leaves to fit into their single yard waste barrel. Within two blocks of my house there were more leaves in paper bags on the curb Monday than I could possibly use.

My big issue with getting them is that I no longer had my minivan to collect leaves. I could use my husband's car which is a Prius, but you can't even fit the bags in upright. When I got rid of my old minivan I knew it might be an issue. So I gave my car to a friend that lives just a few blocks away. He lent me the car for a few hours. That minivan can fit an enormous amount of bags. And while I had the car I stopped by one of the local hardware stores to pick up two more pallets. Now I have four bins.

And three of them are totally filled with leaves. The other is for the leaves from our yard and the extra leaves in the bags. In the spring the leaves will all have compacted and this bin will be empty to start composting.

You will notice that I need two more small pallets to enclose them. I like the small ones in front because I can reach in if I need to and when I move them they are lighter. They still keep the leaves in well enough. The small pallets are harder to come by. These are from the Ideal Hardware store in Waltham. They use small pallets for their bricks. I didn't even have to collect them. They were from the bricks used to make our walks. I just wish I'd thought to tell them to leave more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday - 8 November 2010

This week we saw our first frost. This does not mean tomatoes won't be added to the tally.

The Cherokee Purples that I picked green earlier before the first fall frost warning a couple of weeks ago are ripening up nicely. I don't add the green tomatoes to the tally until they ripen. So throughout November I'll be adding in more Cherokee Purples.

Sadly it is the last of the cherry tomatoes. GabrielleAnn (which you can barely see tucked into the corner in the above basket) was a huge producer at 26.84 lbs this year. Wow. This harvest was pretty small though. It is also the last of the peppers and the zucchini. All I can say is that any harvest of zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers is amazing in November around here. This year we have been really blessed by hot weather - and cursed with a lack of rain all summer long.

Fun Jen, Tatsoi, Bok Choy seeds from Mac, Chinese broccoli from Mac

I decided I'd better pick the Asian greens and just try to use them up. Soon the ground will freeze and I won't get any harvests. I picked not quite a quarter of all the greens in the garden. You see here all the Asian greens I've got growing except the green stemmed bok choy. This was the first of the Fun Jen that I picked. It was the longest maturing of the greens I put in. I wasn't sure if it would mature or not, but it finally did. My favorite way to eat this is in salads. I mix it with a bit of lettuce and add some fruit and nuts. I use an Asian style salad dressing of some kind. This time it was a Japanese style dressing. Tasty.

  • Alliums 0,19 lbs
  • Cucurbits 0.14 lbs
  • Greens 2.99 lbs
  • Herbs 0.06 lbs
  • Pepper 0.06 lbs
  • Roots 0.51 lbs
  • Tomato 0.90 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 4.85 lbs
  • Total for the year 326.91 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $969.84

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.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Frost

Well our first frost came last night, November 3rd. I woke up and all the buildings in the area had frost on their roofs. So did my plants. The plants by the fence had just a touch of frost, but the plants at the end without the wooden fence had some pretty heavy frost.

I always love how pretty the frost is.

I guess it is time to take down the tomatoes now.

The marigolds however didn't seem affected by the frost. They are mostly lower and right on the blacktop (better known as a heat sink). They are also more hardy than my tomatoes and peppers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Get Growing in November

This is the last in a twelve part series for new gardeners. If you have never planted vegetables before but always wanted to, this is the series for you. Robin, who writes the blog Vegetable Matter, was posting through August. Robin lives in Houston and I live in Boston. We will be posting about what to do in the garden that month and giving advice. So if you have always wanted that vegetable garden, but didn’t know where to start, you have no excuse. Get growing!

November in New England brings frozen ground. Even most of the hardy plants will die soon without protection. Some root crops can be harvested if they are well mulched - beets, leeks, carrots, parsnips. Some brassicas could still producing like kale and Brussels sprouts, but not much gardening is going on in this month. Typically the last of the garden is cleaned up and the plants put in the compost bin.

My old garden at the end of November

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

November is a time of reflection for me. The first thing I do is look back on the growing season and take stock of what did well and what did poorly. If you took records throughout the season this part is so much easier. I don't keep a garden journal, but many do and that is a good way of record keeping. My blog is my record of what happened, but I do keep other records. I have a sheet that has all the seed that I'm going to plant and it lists what date I expect to plant. It has a a place fill in for when it was started, how well it germinated, and when it was planted outside. In early spring I'm really good about filling it out. As summer hits I quit. Lets just say record keeping isn't my strong suit. I really try, but sometimes I fail at it. When don't record things, I have to go back to my blog to try to figure out when something was planted.

I ask myself questions like, "Did my carrot crop fail because I planted too early?". "Should I have harvested my garlic later?" "Should I have put my zucchini under a row cover early on to avoid the squash vine borers?" "What were my favorite varieties?" "Was it worth growing Amish Paste again?" Step through each of the crops and take notes for yourself. I do mine on my blog every November. Look to the right panel on my blog and look for my 2009 Overviews. For each set of crops I list the good and the bad from the year. This way I have a place I can go back to and see what happens when I plant carrots in the middle July versus the middle of August. Your notes don't need to be as detailed as mine, but it is good to have all this information to tell you what works and what doesn't where you grow. Next year when you plant carrots, you can go back to your notes and see what worked for you in previous years.

Looking back at your growing season will help you plan next year's garden. Yes we have come full circle to planning your garden again. But this time you have information. Looking back will tell you if you planted too many beets and you need to only plant a three foot row rather than an eight foot row. And if you are like me and read blogs looking back on what you have read will give you an idea for what you will want to plant for next year. I know I want to try celery for the first time next year.

As you plan next year's garden. You should keep in mind one thing that I talked about once before in June. But it bears repeating because it is so important. Rotation. You will often hear that you should rotate your crops. This means that if you planted tomatoes in a spot last year, you shouldn't plant tomatoes in that spot this coming year. Different crops have different rotation schedules based on the diseases they have and how long they last in the garden. Each crop is rotated with the other in its family. These families are plants that are all closely related and tend to have the same needs and diseases and insect pests. The following is a list of the families of the common plants in your garden.

  • Amaryllidacaea Family often called the Alliums: leeks, onions, chives, garlic
  • Brassicaceae Family often called Brassicas or cole crops: broccoli, cauliflower, mustards, cabbage, rutabaga, kale, collards, cress, radish, rocket, turnips, Asian greens
  • Chenopodiaceae Family: beets, Swiss chard, spinach
  • Compositae Family: artichokes, sunflowers, lettuce
  • Cucurbitaceae Family often called cucurbits: squash, pumpkins, zucchini, gourds, melons
  • Gramineae Family: Corn
  • Leguminosea Family often called legumes: beans, peas, peanuts
  • Solanaceae Family often called nightshade crops or solanums: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos, eggplants
  • Umbelliferae Family: dill, carrots, coriander or cilantro, fennel, parsnips, parsley, celery

Typically the solanaceae rotation is on a 3-4 year basis. So don't plant tomatoes where ones of the solanaceae family has been in the last few years. The brassicas are typically on a 6-8 year rotation because club root can be very persistent in the soil. The others I worry less about as their diseases aren't as persistent in my garden. In fact I often keep the peas in the same bed with my leafy greens. And then beans come in the next year. So I occasionally have legumes following legumes. But I am adamant about not following a solanaceae with another solanaceae.

Diseases aren't the only reason to rotate crops. Different plants have different nutrient needs also. If you always grow the same crops in the same place. Your soil is more likely to become unbalanced. The typical rotation is to put a heavy feeder (like corn or leafy vegetables) in after a heavy giver (the Legume family puts nitrogen back into the soil), then follow that with a light feeder (like a root crop). Which gives you a three year rotation. This is the typical advice. Which I never follow. My rotations are as follows. Solanum is the first rotation, followed by a mix of brassicas, lettuce, root crops, herbs and peas, followed by a mix of beans, squash, and corn. I put my legumes in with my heavy feeders typically. There is no one right way to do a rotation. Do what works for you.

Since we are busy looking ahead to next season. Now is the perfect time to look ahead to your compost pile. We talked about this last February, but this is the month to collect leaves for you piles. If you live in the suburbs the easiest to find carbon source is leaves. And during this season other people do your work for you. They bag them up and put them right on the curb for you to collect. You might have enough leaves already that fall in your own yard, but if you don't, your neighbors can supply that need. I collect enough for a whole year of composting in my garden. In fact if you collect more than you need for your compost. You can save the rest in a pile for a couple of years to make leaf mold. This is just the leaves broken down into organic matter. It makes a fabulous and free much if you have enough room in the garden to do it.

Other Posts in the Series

Determining your growing zone and planting peas (Vegetable Matter - December)
Planning a Garden (Daphne's Dandelions - December)
Growing Lettuce (Vegetable Matter - January)
Starting transplants indoors (Daphne's Dandelions - January)
Growing tomatoes (Vegetable Matter - February)
Compost (Daphne's Dandelions - February)
Snap Beans (Vegetable Matter - March)
Peas and Spinach (Daphne's Dandelions - March)
Eggplant (Vegetable Matter - April)
Brassicas (Broccoli, Cabbage, Asian vegetables) (Daphne's Dandelions - April)
Edamame (Vegetable Matter - May)
Tomatoes (Daphne's Dandelions - May)
Lima Beans (Vegetable Matter - June)
Disease Control (Daphne's Dandelions - June)
Chili Peppers (Vegetable Matter - July)
Insect Control (Daphne's Dandelions- July)
Southern Fall Garden (Vegetable Matter - August)
Preserving the Harvest (Daphne's Dandelions - August)
Season Extension (Daphne's Dandelions - September)
Garlic (Daphne's Dandelions - October)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Monday - 1 November 2010

Harvests are getting smaller as it gets colder and colder. We had a frost predicted for last night that didn't come to pass here. Even the basil is still alive. It isn't really edible. There are so many little black spots on it, but it is the most cold sensitive plant in the garden. I'm just shocked. I don't think in my decades of gardening in eastern Massachusetts that I've ever had a tomato plant alive and producing still in November. I know it is because of the dry summer we had. It kept all those fungal diseases at bay for a long time. But it is also because we haven't seen freezing yet. The next two nights will be interesting. We have some good lows projected for the Boston area. Will we get frost?

I've only been harvesting as I want to eat things. Which means I don't pick much and often photos don't get taken. What I ought to start doing is picking a quarter of the remaining plants in the next four weeks. That way they would have a better chance of getting used up before some really good freezes take them down.

I harvested some bok choy and tatsoi this week. It is very, very tasty. Maybe bringing more inside will get me to eat more of it. I have a weird lazy streak in me that doesn't have an issue with hauling tons of dirt all over the yard, but keeps me from going outside and picking at the last minute. That is why I usually harvest by picking a lot during one day and then using it up over time. I should get back into that as the harvests won't last long.

I also harvested two tiny little zucchini. The week before last was so cold I didn't get any, but last week warmed up a bit.

The GabrielleAnn put out a bit more than last week too. And I found a few more green tomatoes to pick and hope to ripen on the counter. If just half of my picked Cherokee Purples ripen I'll be happy. Heck if a quarter of them ripen I'll be happy.

  • Alliums 0,38 lbs
  • Cucurbits 0.38
  • Greens 0.88 lbs
  • Herbs 0.09
  • Pepper 0.02 lbs
  • Tomato 1.29 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 3.03 lbs
  • Total for the year 322.06 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $948.14

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.