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.


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.


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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Carrots and Krautchi

I had a lot of problems earlier in my carrot bed. Germination was fine, but the cutworms were very bad. Obviously a lot of cutworms eggs had been laid the previous fall. I planted them where my seed mustard was. The hope was that it would keep the nematode problems down. Mustard is a natural way to fumigate the land from them. I didn't anticipate that the cutworms would like the mustard so much though. I would guess that about a quarter of my crop was destroyed. Maybe a bit more. Not that you can tell from the photo, but I thin to about 3-4" apart. The cutworms thinned much father apart. And there is one sixth of the bed with almost nothing at all.

I noticed that some of the carrots were showing above the bed. Some years they seem to hide and I have to dig down to find them. But some years they show themselves. It was time to start picking. I won't pick them all at once. I don't need this bed for another three weeks. So I'll pick some. Once they are used up, I'll pick more.

I planted my beloved Mokum carrots of course. Many carrots taste bitter at this time of the year. Mokum is always sweet and tasty to me. It isn't a large carrot at 5-6" long (well by the book, I've had it grow to 8" one year). But I'm always on the lookout for another to plant near it. This year I trialed Nelson. It was described as a good summer carrot as it tastes good when the weather is hot. This one is 6-7" long.

Of course a trial means I have to know which carrot is which. Did I write it down where I planted each one? Nope. Not on the blog, not in my journal. Not on my planting map. I think Nelson was put on the northwest side. I think. Maybe taste would tell me which one was which. I know Mokum will taste sweet and delicious. If one is bitter, then I know.

I cleaned them up. I used a trick I used to use with my garlic when I had more than one variety. When you trim them, trim one higher than the other so you can tell them apart. I left some stem on the top of one. It really helps if you KNOW which one is which to start with though. The ones I think are Mokum were a bit shorter than the Nelsons, so that jibes. I tasted the one I thought was Mokum. Yup sweet and so delicious. It will be nice not eating store bought carrots anymore. I tasted Nelson. Also a really lovely carrot. Sweet, but not quite as sweet as Mokum. I think the flavor is a bit more complex though. Very nice. It is a definite keeper. Last year I tried Yaya. It was sweet enough without bitterness, but it lacked the depth of flavor that a carrot ought to have. It was insipid. Both Mokum and Nelson are very good. I think my summertime carrot trials are at an end. Unless some other blogger proclaims a summer carrot above all others, I'll stick with these.

And the mustard crop I used to keep down the nematodes worked to an extent. I did see a touch of damage, but not much. Definitely not worth the cutworm damage.

And as a quick update, I decided to use one of my Chinese cabbages to make a couple of quarts of Sauerchi, Kimkraut or something like that. I made it like you do sauerkraut. Chop up the vegetables and use a dry salting technique. Then jam them into jars. But I seasoned it like kimchi (or as much as I can without peppers). I used garlic, ginger, and cilantro. I didn't use any sugar or fruit to keep the fermentation under control. And I'll let them ferment for weeks not days. So it is more like an Asian flavored Kraut.

They joined the fermenting station in the dining room. I might make more this week with the last cabbage. It seems like a very nice way to preserve the cabbage. Tasty and long lasting.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Harvest Monday, 22 June 2015

Lettuce and bunching onions

First kohlrabi

Kale and first small cabbage

Onions, first fennel, first celery, parsley, cilantro, and pea shoot


First broccoli, broccoli leaves, kale, raspberries


One of two strawberry harvests

A small amount of raspberries get picked every day

The first of the currants

I had a few firsts this week. I let the fennel sort of self seed in the bed (put seed heads from last year on the bed). They came up thick. I thinned them down, but they need more thinning. It is at the point that I can eat my thinnings. So that has been a treat. The first kohlrabis were picked. I'll need to pick more next week. I planted 15 so there is a lot left to go. I picked the first little cabbage. I noticed some slug damage, so picked it before the slugs could get too far in. I picked the first celery. In previous years it wasn't as strong. But this year it seems to be growing better. I'm not sure why. But I'm going to be harvesting the outer leaves as it grows now. In the past I've waited to pick the head in fall.

The biggest first is the broccoli. I love broccoli and am always happy for the first harvest. This one had three big heads, so I started freezing it too. And last but not least are the currants. Last year I just threw them into my smoothies. Any fruit goes into those. But I'm contemplating making currant jam for the first time. I give jam as holiday gifts to the neighbors. It varies by what is good from the garden. I think the currant harvest will be wonderful this year, so I'll probably have enough.

  • Alliums, 1.83 lbs
  • Broccoli, 4.66 lbs
  • Greens, 7.05 lbs
  • Herbs, 1.03 lbs
  • Peas 1.78 lbs
  • Weekly total, 16.34
  • Yearly total, 144.67 lbs, $217.06

  • Fruits
  • Strawberries, 1.74 lbs
  • Raspberries, 0.61 lbs
  • Currants, 0.61 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 22.2 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.