Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Fun and Summer Eats!!

Mmm the scapes are ready!! So are the golden sweet peas and the carrots. Ohh and the favas came in, no photos because we ate them that fast! We had two good nights of them and then they were done, quick but worth the wait. I guess planting them early is the key.

Last year we had problems with carrot fly, a horrible little bug who's larvae enjoy munching on carrot roots. From what I have read they are attracted by broken carrot leaves, and any trimmings, so this year I have a strict compost rule. The carrots bits that I had previously strewn behind me as I munched in the garden, must now be put in the compost, which is farther away. Unfortunately I have already noticed a few brown worm holes in the larger carrots... sigh. The only other option is covering the entire crop, for the whole season, and I hate remay. I have also planted some carrots with our onions, perhaps the onion smell will hide the carrots.

Some very respectable carrot thinnings! This was two weeks ago, they must be three times this big now! How do I forget in just one year that everything grows so fast in the summer???

We have had a very exciting summer up this way so far, parties and trips, lazy days on the lake, I really don't know when I'm supposed to be in the garden.
Hope summer is finding every one well!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Quick cut them off at the pass... the garlics are trying to 'scape!

This was the week for the alliums to bloom!  The white flowers above are evergreen scallions... we think they look like brontosaurus tails!  

Then the pretty purple chives, I hope they spread more, I'd love to have a huge clump.  Then there is the garlic, with the most delicious flower of all.  Scapes!!!!  Mmm scape omelet, scape and veggie stir fry, scape quiche and my favorite: scape pickles.  Long, tender, garlic flavored pickles were great at thanksgiving last year.
Another one of my absolute favorites is blooming.  Peas!  This is the flower of the golden sweet peas, I love all the colors on this plant.  Pretty golden stems, light green leaves, and those purple blossoms!  The green peas that I planted take a bit longer to start, their flowers are bright white.

The last shock to my system was this bed... 
The favas are b-e-a utiful!!!  They have loads of blooms, and they have no signs of black mold, which was the problem I had a few years ago.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Newest view of the plot!!

Garlic and peas are dominating the scene.  The plum tree has set some fruit but not nearly as much as last year:(

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lettuce and greens in the first days of June

As I've mentioned before I have been saving seed from different lettuces for a few years now.  The photo above is of a few escaped lettuces from last year's seed heads, they decided to make their home in the pathway and the neighbors plot.  The self seeded lettuces are farther along that the ones that I planted this spring...  I can't compete with nature.

This variety I have been calling Variety #1.... dull I know but I have no clue what it's true name is.  It came in a mixed packet from High Mowing in 2007.  Var. #2 and #3 are from that packet as well, var#2 is dark red and small, #3 is an oak leaf type and a little bitter.  I enjoy saving lettuces, they rarely cross and they have a high rate of germination success even after two years.

I have been taking big hauls of spinach and lettuce for a few weeks now, the cilantro and radishes are a new addition.  The radish pictured was also self seeded.....  I didn't think that they could do that!!!  Last fall I made a pile of the radish tops after the pods got too tough to eat, now that spot is covered with radishes, and again they are bigger than the ones I planted this spring....  Perhaps I should sow lettuce and radishes in the fall.  Anyone have success with that??

It was a sort of a silly ride home, the bags of lettuce kept flopping over and hitting the bike's tires, I'd have to stop and tuck them back into the bungee cord.  I need a new system.  Perhaps a milk crate, or a basket.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The plum tree is flowering!!!!

This is the most recent view of the garden, as you can see the blossoms are going all out.  The tree is beautiful, and smells like the inside of a bee hive, sweet but a little earthy.   Unfortunately the whole week has been rainy, bees don't really like rain, so I am hoping that the tree has been pollinated.  Cross your fingers if you like plums!  

In this photo it's sort of clear that I have dug over all the beds except two, so almost all of the spring heavy lifting is over.

I have to say I love this photo, because I have the tallest peas in the Tommy Thompson Gardens.  Yup that's a bit of pride....   By next month there will be no clear difference between the size of my plants and the plants in the annual plots, so I allow myself to enjoy this for a moment.  The peas here are called Golden Sweet, they have yellow pods which makes them super easy to find.  Next to them I have planted cilantro and beets, I've got to economize my space.

I guess worrying about the favas not sprouting was all I had to do to coax them out into the light!  They are such nice substantial sprouts!!

The rest of the garden is coming along, my first tee pee of Rattlesnake pole beans went in a few days back, the carrots are coming up well, and all the garlic is looking strong.  I like to plant a few types of vegetables in each bed.  For example the bed that will house the tomatoes is fully planted with carrots already, I just dig the tomato starts in among them.  The carrots grow along side the toms, and are even said to aide each other.  I generally give them a few weeks head start.  In the onion bed there are also lettuces, carrots, and radishes.  Pretty much if there is room I'll put something there, and most likely it'll be lettuce, carrot or a radish...  I really like those three. 
Just as I am getting accustomed to summery weather we get a forecast with frost in it.... I had almost forgotten how summer can turn to winter in a heart beat up here...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Winter-sown project update

The cabbage has done very well in this system, I only wish I had started some other brassicas like this too.  I think since our forecast is going to have rain for a few days I will transplant today, so they have a chance to get established.  

Last summer we planted two varieties of hops in the garden; Centennial and Brewer's Gold, they grew very tall and produced loads of flowers.  We planted bare rhizomes, they just looked like twigs...   This year they have already sent out new shoots and have spread a bit.  They are very vigorous and the vines can grow to twenty feet tall.  Hop gardens are very beautiful things, tall rows of green, they look like giant's hedges.  We'll select three or four shoots from each crown and pinch back the rest.  Since we only have two plants we wont have the lovely green rows, our hop garden might end up looking like a big green arch, or a bit of rickety stick and string construction with hops growing on it.

This photo above is of the garlic bulbils (top set garlic clones) that I planted last fall, they are on their way to becoming cloves, I hope!  I didn't realize how many I had planted, there must be thousands..... eek!  If this works as planned I might need to get a second plot.

Last I have a little fava question.... how long do they take to come up???  I planted them with the peas very early this month and not even a rogue one has come up!!  Am I being impatient? (Most likely)  Or is there a fava trick I don't know?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Green Brains..... Spring is Here!!!

A little rhubarb from my parents house. Yum!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A day of firsts!!

First greens harvest... First cutting of chives...

I wasn't expecting the green onions or spinach to be ready, I hadn't even brought a bag to put them in!!  They were all planted last season and are coming back very quickly.  The chives are always welcome spots of green in the early spring.

First sprouts from the 'winter sown' project!!

I finally took a few decent photos of the winter sown projects.  These seeds were planted outside in late February in one gallon containers.  The Spinach/Swiss Chard container is on the top, and has a decidedly 'brassica-esque' sprout,  the Cabbage container is below and is looking good!!!  The cabbages don't have true leaves quite yet, but man are there a lot of them!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Parsnips on the table and seeds in the soil

I have seeds in the ground two and a half weeks early!   Wow!! 

 Today was a marathon of digging and planting.  After three days of warm weather the soil was thawed-out and dried-out, so I began turning the beds in my garden.  The forecast for the next few days has rain, so I knew I had to get a lot done.  I pulled the second half of the parsnips and turned in some good mulch. 

Most recent addition to the garden series time lapse
 In the bed closest to the plum tree I planted greens, radishes and favas, as well as lettuce and kale to transplant.  I planted crops that like sun but are quick, in 'the shade zone' because by the time there is shade from the tree, these crops will be done.

Nero di Toscano (kale) with Pirat (lettuce)
4 varieties of nameless saved lettuce seed from last year
Pak Choi
Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach (seed is from '07)
Plum Purple and Halestone (radishes)
The Windsor favas are on the end and will not be shaded, I know they take a while

Two beds down....

Golden Sweet peas went in, next to a mystery snow pea that I love!
Purple Top turnips went on along side the peas. I'm trying to get a quick crop in.
Bull's Blood and Red Ace beets went in there as well.
I have my fingers crossed for all of these seeds, but have more of each of them incase they don't come up.  

So far I think I'm off to a solid start, so many early veg varieties, and I am digging around in the garden on April first!!!!

My kit and booty

An update on my little green houses:
Cabbages-  these look so great!  They are up and lively, they don't have true leaves yet, when they do I'll start hardening them off a bit quicker then transplant then straight into the ground!!!  Woohoo!

Leeks- haven't seen any:(

Onions- I see a few but they are super tiny, don't think they will get to the right size any time soon.  Not a big deal, it was a great learning experience.

Spinach- 3 are up, no true leaves yet... 

And so it begins!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Winter Sown Project Part II

Checked today and the spinach container has a sprout!!!!    And get this... so does the cabbage!  I really didn't think this was going to work, how lucky am I?!  Too bad the photos didn't come out... next time I'll take out the good camera.  Maybe the onions and the leeks will come up too!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Soup Peas to Pea Soup

Last year I chose a few new varieties of pea for my garden, one of those was a soup pea called 'purple podded' or 'capucijner' pea.  Mainly I was interested in having three different colors in the pea patch, I was only mildly interested in saving the dried peas to make soup.  Good thing I did, the soup was the best I have EVER had!  The first photo shows the beautiful color of these peas in the garden last summer, then the peas in the pot, with some ham from the Rockville Market Farm, a little onion, celery and carrot. Easy Peasy!!!


My biggest surprise was the texture of the finished soup, the peas stay whole, and retain their shape.  Unlike split peas they still had their little seed coats on so they didn't mush down too much.  I hadn't believed that I would be able to taste the difference, but the flavor was almost smokey, and super rich.  These peas were a real treat and something I will be growing this year.  I set aside the best looking seeds to plant, I also marked out pods last summer that produced more than eight peas and saved those, to try and perpetuate a productive line. Hopefully the peas will be planted in the next few weeks.   I love it when crops come full circle.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Springtime Poem

With temperatures in the hight 40s and even in the 50s, and my mind on the warming garden, I thought it was about time for a little Frost.

To the Thawing Wind
Robert Frost

Come with rain, o loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snow-bank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate'er you do to-night,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit's crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the pictures on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o'er;
Scatters poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.

From "A Boy's Will", 1913

Monday, March 9, 2009

'Winter Sown' Project Begins, Parsnip Eating Does Not.

  A Close up of some of the containers before they have their tops put back on.

Two weeks ago I began my 'winter sown' project.  I had read about it on several other blogs last fall and really wanted to give it a shot.  Wayne at Pathways Horticulture has just started a project with his students.  Winter sowing is a planting that is done in late winter, the seeds are placed in soil in containers, the containers are then left outside.  The containers (in my case huge mayo containers) moderate the temperature of the soil and the air around the seeds.  Night isn't as cold, and day is a touch warmer.  This enables the seeds to germinate earlier than if I had to wait to put them in the ground.  If all goes well I will have onion and leek starts  to transplant into the garden.  Mostly it is an excuse to begin playing with seeds and some potting mix.  
The process is fairly simple, the hardest part for me was picking the seeds I wanted to sow.  The seeds have to be hardy, if they are to delicate they won't survive the freezing and thawing that winter sowing puts them through.  I chose winter giant spinach, fordhook swiss chard, cippolini onions and blue solaize leeks.  These are all cold hardy plants but that doesn't ensure success.  I wouldn't be entirely surprised if nothing came up at all, but the guessing is so much fun. Once you have your seeds chosen the process goes like this:

1.  Choose your container and punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage, and in the top for some air, then cut it in half.
2.  Fill the bottom half with soil and plant your seeds LABLE the container.  Leeks look just like onions when they come up.
3.  Water thoroughly 
4.  Tape your tops back on, mine didn't all have lids so I used four layers of plastic wrap and rubber bands over their mouths.
5. Place in your garden and cross your fingers.

Containers with their tops back on.
While I was in the garden putting out the containers, it was clear that mud season (a New England season that comes before spring, and sometimes replaces spring) is almost hear, the ground is still frozen, but the top few inches are mud, puddles and old snow.  I tried to rescue some parsnips from the ground but they wouldn't come free.  It was such a tease, I got them half out but the bottoms were held fast.... Either I have to wait or be happy with half sized parsnips.  The other surprise was waiting under my remay.  The fall planted spinach is sending up leaves, although all the tops died back there are new greens emerging!!!!

New green!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

They're here!!!!!

The seeds are here!  The seeds are here!!  From ordering to delivery felt like the longest 13 days ever.  Was new years really so long ago? This feels like the true beginning of 2009, maybe I should crack open a bottle of something bubbly?
I ordered everything from Fedco Seeds in Maine this year.  I think I pretty much covered the whole season's needs except for a few varieties that they were sold out of.  This seed company I have found has great heirloom selections, high germination rates, cheap prices and a big organic selection, plus their graphics are fun.  The garden still needs parsnip seeds and soybeans.  I'll probably get those at Gardener's Supply (my local garden shop).  
I am very excited to be trying some new vegetables this year:
Brussels Sprouts (var. Oliver)
Broccoli (var. Windsor)
Cabbage (var. Golden Acre)
Fennel (var. Zefa Fino)
Not only have I never grown these I haven't grown them from seed before, so I am in for a big experiment.  Anyone ever grown any of these varieties from seed in New England or in zone 5?
I also have a box full of seed from 2008, seed I saved from the garden or simply didn't quite use up.  Last year the seed I saved was mostly letuces, beans and peas.  This year I hope to a add to that list.  2009 feels like it's off to a running start.
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