Posts tagged ‘kale’
Wow, what crazy weather this is! It is a little scary that is only the beginning of spring and it is forecast to be 80F at the end of the week. I’m sure we will be paying for this in some way.. in the meantime though, I guess we should enjoy the weather and get busy gardening!!
I planted my cold frame in mid Feb and have some nice lettuce mix coming up and some healthy looking brassicae transplants – cabbage, broccoli, mustard greens and kale. I also planted in my new raised bed at the bottom of my deck – I got some Japanese greens seed from a friend and so am trying that out.. The first peas I sowed at the end of February got eaten by a resident vole or mouse – hopefully with the hot weather it has now abandoned its winter home.
Today was an exciting day for the chickens – we put their coop onto wheels and now can move them around the garden, so today was the first day they were moved. They seem to be enjoying digging themselves pits to sit in to keep themselves cool and to clean their feathers. I love watching them, they are very interesting and they always have something to say when I go by them.
I have been using the “deep litter bed” method in their run – mostly leaves with some straw and of course lots of their poop! Occasionally I throw a little wood ash into the coop to neutralize the ammonia – this seems to keep the smell under control. So today after the move, I shoveled all their litter bed into a compost heap at the back of my new garden area. That is going to be some nice compost!
I haven’t been blogging very much since I started teaching a gardening class at Northampton Community College – I am doing one per month until October. Luckily I found I love teaching gardening! I am enjoying sharing my knowledge and meeting lots of enthusiastic gardeners! This season I am also going to work part-time on a small CSA farm called Shooting Star Farm near Easton. I am working for a share in the CSA and so have decided to grow mostly storage crops in my garden.
I ran out of potatoes in late January, squash in February and my onions didn’t grow so well anyhow. I still have garlic, canned tomatoes and kale in the garden. This year I decided to purchase onion plants instead of sets – they arrived last week and so I go them in the ground already. I will purchase some seed potatoes very soon. I wanted to plant them later, but don’t really have anywhere to store them under ideal conditions – probably in the basement is the coolest place right now. In the potato class I went to, the teacher suggested buying them as soon as they come in since when they are stored at room temperature they lose some vigor.
My compost piles that I made last year didn’t do very much over the winter – I just moved a couple of them and they were really dry and had hardly started decomposing. I added some water and made a bigger pile, so hopefully by the mid to end of the season they will be done.
How time flies when you’re busy gardening, getting the kids back to school and generally trying to catch up with life.. I can’t believe it is a month since my last post..
Anyhow, things are a little wet today (3.5″ of rain so far since yesterday), so no gardening for me – just sorting out house things and maybe a little harvest preservation.. I have the last of the Marinara tomatoes to process – I’m thinking of combining them with the yellow peach tomatoes and making salsa, then I also have to make some more pasta sauce to add to the stocks. The tomatoes are suffering from Early blight and it is taking its toll on the productivity now, plus all the rain probably doesn’t help either – I was planning to remove all the infected leaves over the weekend, but didn’t quite get to it and now it’s going to be wet for a week. The other thing I didn’t get to was re-spraying my squash (pumpkin, butternut & delicata) with a dilute milk solution (1:10) for powdery mildew that they all came down with. Hopefully the fruits will survive, normally they seem to.
Well the peaches seem a long time ago now, but we had a total of 60lbs which was great for the three-year old tree – about half were eatable whole, but since they didn’t keep long and the harvest was over such a short period (10 days), most were processed – made into freezer jam, used in hot pepper sauce, eaten as salsa, baked peaches or peach crumble, the rest were frozen in light syrup for later use. The apple tree didn’t fare so well, it is a sad-looking thing – badly infected with cedar apple rust, plus the birds and the wasps enjoy the fruit, so I picked most of the apples early and made apple crumble and apple cake with the meager harvest – tasty nonetheless!
This is definitely a good year for green beans – the ones I planted in spring are still producing and a second succession has just started producing prolifically! I must admit I’m getting a bit fed up of chopping, blanching and freezing them, but since it is one of the relatively few vegetables my boys will eat, I’m doing it gladly – we’ll be eating green beans well into the fall and hopefully through the winter.
Talking of winter storage, I have harvested some potatoes – still got a few to do – I probably better get on them since they might start rotting with all this rain. Not a bad harvest so far though – they are drying off in the basement before I store them for the winter. Another storage crop – kidney beans and cranberry beans have done well – we harvested them just before the hurricane last weekend since some were already rotting – we netted about 6lbs before podding (~3lbs after) and there are still quite a few left on the bushes (I probably need to get out there again soon). They tasted great in a veggie chili and in a lasagna I cooked yesterday. (Not so popular with the boys, but good protein source if I can sneak them in without them noticing!).
We ate our first cantaloupe melon yesterday – they seem to be pretty late this year, I have to go back and check on my planting dates for them. The watermelon fruits stopped growing due to some disease – I have to identify the problem with that, the cantaloupe also has a disease, but one of the two I picked (actually they picked themselves – by falling off the vine) was a good size – bigger than I’ve grown before with the same seed. It’s funny how things vary from year to year. Like my onions were a relative disaster this year (compared to last year when they all did really well) – I planted a whole lot of sets – red, white and yellow – the red and white hardly grew – they were in the new part of the garden outside the fence – maybe it wasn’t very well-drained or needed more organic matter, or I planted them too late – anyhow they weren’t good and even the yellow onions were small compared to last year when they all did really well. I’m going to try growing them from seed next year.
I have my fall/winter vegetables in the ground – the brassicae I grew from seed didn’t look too healthy but I transplanted them anyway but I also bought some cabbage and brocolli plants for insurance and they are thriving so far. The root crops – rutabaga and turnips are coming along – hopefully they will be good – I love root vegetable soup! My second sowing of romaine lettuce actually germinated so I have some baby lettuce coming up – I have to plant some more mesclun to get some variety.
This week I want to get on with building my larger raised bed close to my house, which will be double covered in the winter with row cover and plastic – I will sow some lettuce, kale, etc. in it, but mainly it will be for early crops next Spring. I would like to get an earlier harvest of peppers and cucumbers in next year.
Tomato season is upon us at last! Those really red & ripe ones are sooo delicious. The Early Girl variety I tried for the first time this year did start ripening first, but only by a couple of days, so now I have Amish Paste, Marinara and Early Girl’s coming fast but not too furious as yet. We had some sautéed in butter for breakfast at the weekend – exquisite! I made a Kale frittata to use up some of the kale and leftover potatoes – that was pretty good, I haven’t mastered that kale cooking quite yet – but it is extremely good for you and very easy to grow, it is a must!
The peaches are ripening up nicely – unfortunately they are covered in bacterial spot and the stones don’t look too good – not sure if that is disease or insects, however we tried a couple of unripe ones the other day (after grilling) and they were super sweet – so I think they will be OK to eat – just not that great for snacking on prior to surgery! A quick internet search revealed that peaches do not ripen off the tree, so more patience is required. My twin sister is leaving to go back to the UK next week though, so hopefully they will be ready before that.
I sowed most of my fall/winter vegetables late last week – turnips, swede (rutabaga), arugula, kale, spring onions, beets and romaine lettuce (I keep trying to sow lettuce throughout the summer but I’m not having much luck so far – I even refrigerated some of the seed but it still refused to germinate). My brassicae (cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli & cauliflower) seedlings are looking a bit pathetic – they are in the cold frame, I’m not sure whether their poor state is due to the heat or the fact that I have them shaded too much or could be due to something else entirely. Who knows. Maybe I will uncover them and see what happens – I may end up buying some seedlings otherwise.
I am in the process of building a new raised bed near to my deck – I am planning to put overwintering vegetables in it, so I’d better get on and finish it soon so I can sow them in time! I am using concrete blocks to frame it out and will cover it with both row cover and plastic to see if I can get the temperature to stay near freezing in the middle of winter. It is an experiment worth doing I think – lettuce in the middle of winter would be rather nice don’t you think? I am also getting my winter storage sorted out – I am having someone dig me a hole big enough to bury a galvanised trash can to store root vegetables in – another experiment! Stay tuned for exciting results (hopefully not too mushy!).
It is raining tonight, which is good – I have been watering the last few days – it always pains me to use our precious treated tap water for the garden, I do have rain barrels set up but they don’t capture enough for the whole garden. Must do something about that…
How satisfying it was (and just a bit sweaty) to dig up 96 great heads of garlic yesterday! I had to fight through the weeds to get to them, but it was worth it! I attended the Easton Garlic Festival last Fall and purchased a bulk load of garlic – mainly Turkish Red, but also a variety pack that included German Red, Music, Elephant, French to name but a few. My son and I planted the bulbs late last October, we mulched them with pine needles and waited… I cut the scapes off in May (although some escaped – resulting in smaller heads) and treated them to some fish fertilizer in Spring and that was pretty much it – they are a very low maintenance crop! The yield was pretty impressive – about 90% of the bulbs produced full heads. (A few of them had gone too far and were splitting at the top – but I will use or trade these ones early).. I made a screen from hardware cloth and an old window frame for them to lie on to cure (out of the sun, dry place) for a week or two.
This week has been hot but productive, I can last until about 11:30am in the hot sun and then I have to retreat inside – how do those real farmers do it? I sprayed my fruit trees with the homemade beneficial spray again – this time it included Neem and Bt for insect control as well as the usual molasses, vinegar, soap and seaweed extract. I got really annoyed though, I had purchased a new gallon sprayer and after 10 mins of spraying, the handle (on/off switch) failed and it was such a pain to keep fixing during the spraying (luckily only my dog was the only witness to the expletives being muttered!). Whilst I was dealing with the trees, I decided to prune them – the peach tree was getting a bit tall, cherry that I am training in a fan against the fence had a center branch that needed to come out, and the apple had two central leaders that I had to choose between. It was tough, but it had to be done!
I started on the new raised bed for the carrots this week and also decided to where I am going to locate the new raised bed for my fall/winter produce – I thought it was going in or near the fenced garden but realized it needed to be nearer to the house (to make it more usable in the winter), so it will go by the back deck where the cold frame is currently. I think I am going to use concrete blocks to frame that out too – the ground is not level there and so I was worried about using wood or plastic lumber.
I sowed some more green beans and a few peas – just to see if they would work this year (I planted them too late last year and the flowers didn’t survive the cold weather). The various squashes are doing very well so far – the butternut is flowering and we ate the first yellow summer squash last night – no signs of squash bugs or cucumber beetle this year.
Hurray, the peas are coming up! Despite all this cold and rainy weather (and my impatience)! The carrots also germinated under the board I had over them to stop the seeds getting washed away – but now I am worried about the effect the rain is having on them – they were a little spindly since they took me by surprise and germinated quicker than expected. Time will tell if they make it – if they can get through today, they should be OK since we have a little break from the wet coming up tomorrow.
The seedlings in the basement are doing well – even my basil has germinated, usually I have difficulty with basil for some reason, but all the new seeds are coming up, the seed from last year is being a bit more temperamental – maybe basil seed doesn’t keep well – I’ll have to look that up. I’m a bit afraid the lights aren’t bright enough, since there doesn’t seem to be a lot of growth from the plants once they get their first leaves. Mike McGrath says you should change out the lamps every year, but I was trying to save the planet (and the dollars) by not doing that. I heard on his show this week that the LED grow lights are pretty effective – I will look into those – good from an energy efficiency standpoint, probably not too easy on the pocket though.
I’m pleased with the transplanted lettuce and kale – all doing well in the garden, and the mache and other radish that I sowed last week is coming up too. The garlic plants are going crazy – I sprayed them with some fish fertilizer a couple of weeks ago, I may do that again soon since I can’t quite be bothered put compost around each one of the plants. Can’t wait to harvest the first asparagus – it is starting to shoot upwards now – I have to check my reference books to see what is the best way to harvest (first time for me) and how long to keep cutting, etc.
At last! A nice day to be out getting dirt behind my nails! (My husband loves that -not!). Torri & I spent the morning picking trash from the side of roads in our township – it’s amazing how thoughtless some people are. Anyhow, it was a feel good project and we both felt pretty self-righteous afterwards!
Then, after a short break for lunch, Torri & my husband Graham went down to clean out the hive of the dead bees – sad work. A couple of the frames were starting to rot, so we’ll need to replace those, but the rest were salvageable and we put them in the new chest freezer to keep the wax moths at bay and kill anything else that might be lurking in those oh so perfect hexagonal cells.
I set to work on fertilizing the fruit trees and some of the beds I will be transplanting and sowing seeds into soon. I used the calculations I learned during the soils course to work out how much 3-4-4 organic fertilizer to put down per square foot – very satisfying! I made a spreadsheet so I will be able to repeat the process next year or whenever I have to do it again.
I sowed some mache, radish, kale, spring onion and carrot seeds. I’m a bit worried about the carrots – I think it might be a bit early for them, they are supposed to be able to germinate at 40F soil temperature, but the seedlings may not be hardy enough for hard frosts – I think I will cover them once they start to come up. I am experimenting with a short 4″ carrot since my soil is pretty clayey and has some small rocks in it.
Well miracles do happen! The marigolds I sowed only 3 days ago have germinated already! I didn’t use any heat under them – only a fluorescent shop lamp over the top. Once they come through, if they have any signs of fungus (damping off), I sprinkle a little peat on them and that seems to do the trick.
The warmer temperatures also have kicked things off in the Cold Frame – I checked in there today and the kale was poking its little head through and some other seedlings (but I didn’t have my book with me so I’d forgotten what I sowed there – really should get some markers!
In the garden itself, I covered the area where I will plant peas in a couple of weeks with black plastic and a spare window I had lying around! Hopefully that will warm the soil up so that the pea seeds don’t rot. I may try germinating them in the house before setting them out – I heard that tip on Mike McGrath’s radio program this week I think.