Friday, October 30, 2009

A Tour Around the Fall Garden

I probably have two or three weeks before a big freeze in the garden. Usually in the middle of November I get all excited thinking I can pick lettuce for Thanksgiving dinner. It never happens. We always seem to get a freeze by the third week in November which effectively ends the gardening season (though this year I have kale which will extend it a bit). I still have plenty of vegetables that are going strong.

I have two sections of brassicas. This is the biggest. Still growing strong are: purple mizuna, tatsoi, komatsuna (one is flowering - but I can eat the flowers so it is good), Chinese cabbage (the one by the fence never headed up - deep shade), broccoli and one kale. My other bed has broccoli, one Chinese cabbage (the other two were picked) and one kale. The brassicas in this bed grew much better then the bigger one. The bigger one was in mostly full shade for the last couple of months. The other got at least some sun. It really appreciates what sun it does get.

The chard is always a favorite of mine. You might notice that something is munching the leaves. I think I'll have to go out and strip the plants tomorrow to prevent more damage. I mentioned to Dan the other day that his red chard had really dark leaves and mine were more green. Well the weather sure has changed that. Now the red leaves are dark red.

I still have some alliums growing. Bunching onions like this are scattered here and there around the garden. Wherever there was a touch of space they got put in. These are in front of the few leeks I have left. It is really sad when your bunching onions are larger than your leeks. The bunching onions are huge and the leeks are smaller.

I've been picking my carrots every week now. I'll keep doing that. I still have about 7' of carrots left. They aren't as big as my spring carrots, but they are still tasty. The Danvers didn't like the conditions much. They grew about one or two inches long at most. Plus they don't taste all that good. They have a bitter edge to them. I won't grow them ever again. The Sugar Snax were great though. These were shorter than the spring carrots too, but most were between 6-8" long.

Last but not least are two crops that were sown very late. My spinach is growing OK. They did much better in the spring. I have a lot of empty spaces here. It is hard to get them to surive the slug attacks, but some did. I haven't made up my mind yet whether to eat them this fall or see if I can get them to survive the winter. The mache has started germinating in patches. I'll have to fill it in next spring. Right now they are tiny little things.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chinese Cabbage Soup

It is a cold day in the forties today. It is rainy and windy and later today I have to go out to the last farmers market of the season. To fortify myself I decided I needed soup for lunch. Since I didn't feel like going out to the garden to pick anything I made Chinese cabbage soup with the rest of the head of cabbage.

I first looked online for a recipe, but they all seemed to be missing something or called for ingredients that I didn't have. So I just made something up that seemed right. I love it when a plan works.

Daphne's Chinese Cabbage Soup

  • T oil
  • 1/4 c diced onion (maybe, it was a small onion from the garden)
  • 1 1/2t grated garlic (yes I grate my garlic with a microplane grater)
  • 1 t grated ginger (and my ginger too)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork or ground turkey
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • t toasted sesame oil
  • 2T brandy (I didn't have rice wine or sherry)
  • 2 T seasoned rice vinegar (because it is the kind I have)
  • T sugar
  • pepper
  • 4 c chicken broth
  • 2 bunching onions (because I found them in my fridge after already frying up the others and more onions are always better)
  • 12 oz Chinese cabbage (I think. It really is a guess as to how much.)

Do I really have to tell you to heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions until translucent then add the garlic and ginger? My recipe cards tend not to have this step. I break the ingredients out into brackets and don't even say what to do with them. Well anyway, after cooking the above for 30 seconds I added the meat and cooked until brown. Then I threw in the brandy then the rest of the seasonings. I stirred it up then added the broth and bunching onions. While it was simmering (about four minutes - maybe - no promises). I chopped up the Chinese cabbage. First I separated the middle stalk part that is thick and chopped it 1/8" thick. OK I tried to chop it 1/8" thick but most of them ended up thicker. I tossed them into the pot. Then I chopped up the leafy part about 1/4" thick. I was better at that. After a few minutes I tossed those in. I let it come to a good boil and took it off the heat.

Lets just say it was really yummy. Sometimes my experiments don't work out. Sometimes they do. I consider this one a success.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2009 Overview Tomatoes

Market Miracle, Early Ssubakus Aliana, Black Moor, Sungold F2 (gold and red), Chocolate Cherry and Black Cherry

I will eventually do an overview of all my categories from my tally sidebar. Some I will break up. Some I will combine. The overviews will help me remember what the heck happened in 2009 without me having to go back through all the posts. So I will know when I planted and know if it worked or I should do it later or earlier. I'll know what pests were annoying or not.

This ought to have been a very bad year for tomatoes, but it wasn't for me. It was just shortened. In the past I've had trouble growing tomatoes. For big beefsteak tomatoes I might get three from a plant. For smaller slicing tomatoes maybe 7. Some of these might rot before picking due to blossom end rot. Cherries would give me more, but still wouldn't be very prolific.

This year I decided to make changes to help get a real harvest. I made the following changes:

  • Double dug the beds to about 20" deep adding 3" of compost into the bottom layer.
  • Changed my amendments to: 1 c bone meal, 1 c powdered egg shells (the ones that were just crushed didn't work as well), 1 c Azomite, 1 c organic 5-3-3. These were mixed into the bottom of the planting hole and dug deeply in.
  • Planted Ground Control marigolds for nematode control behind every other plant
  • Took one foot of growing space away from the tomatoes and planted carrots (May 14th) in that spot which grew all summer long in the shade of the peppers and tomatoes. Used to have a 2'x3' spot, now each had a 2'x2' spot.

These changes worked amazingly well. The tomatoes were a jungle and not just scraggly plants. They produced well. I only had the Sungold F2s in the ground the others were in pots. Their 5 gallon pails were amended exactly the same. They grew fairly well too, but not as vigorously as the Sungolds.

The plants were put in much earlier than I usually do due to some out of town scheduling issues. This worked well this year because our May weather wasn't any worse than our weird June record cold and damp weather.

  • April 3rd sowed seed in soil blocks - put on heating mat
  • April 23rd potted up into newspaper pots
  • April 24th first hour of sun outside (25th 3 hours, 26th five hours)
  • April 30th planted in the ground with a remay row cover
  • July 14th Alice (Sungold F2) gave the first ripe tomato of the season
  • August 10th first Market Miracle (only large one I have) tomato ripens
  • September 9th last of the tomato plants removed from the garden due to late blight

My note to self says tomatoes only need four weeks inside before they start outgrowing their newspaper pots and need to get outside. I'm a firm believer that letting a plant get a little root bound (even in a newspaper pot) is bad for them. They do best if their growth is never slowed down.

I had a few problems with the tomatoes this year. The foremost one was late blight. It took over the whole NorthEast. I still got plenty of tomatoes, but when the stems were getting infected I had to pull the plants to keep the spores from spreading. The second worst was the cold wet weather. I'm sure the plants were slowed down by our cold June. I had some horn worms. I killed a few myself and the wasps took care of the rest. This year they were hard to find. When there is little foliage on the plant hornworms are easy to spot, but in a jungle it is impossible. Aphids were more prevalent this year, but they didn't get out of control. The lacewings and lady bugs eventually caught up with them. The flea beetles took their toll, but since the plants grew so well the damage wasn't too destructive. Blossom end rot wasn't too bad this year. Black Moor was the worst off. I also lost a couple of Market Miracles and Alianas.

Production for me was pretty good. Tomatoes tend not to like my garden and depending upon where they are planted lack of sun, but this year was my best.

  • Market Miracle 7.5lbs average per plant, beautiful round unblemished tomatoes
  • Sungold F2 6.4lbs average per plant, the best two were saved for next year
  • Black Moor 5.5lbs
  • Black Cherry 4.2lbs
  • Chocolate Cherry 4.0lbs
  • Early Ssubakus Aliana 3.4lbs (very sweet but tasteless)

I love Market Miracle. It was the first beefsteak that did well in my garden, probably due to all the amendments they got and it was in a pot away from my nematodes. I will grow this next year. I've saved seed. In addition I'll grow at least one of the two Sungold F3 seeds I saved this year - Gabrielle (red) and Emma (orange). I saved Chocolate Cherry since I liked it a tad better than Black Cherry, but was wondering if they were exactly the same plant or not. I couldn't tell a difference. I'll probably grow it too.

Next year I'd like to add Moskvich and Cherokee Purple if I can get them without $5 shipping. I should have just bought one Moskvich tomato this summer to save seed, but didn't even think of it.

Things I would like to change next year. I hated keeping the pots watered. My in ground plants can handle a week without me, but the pots need watering everyday. I had a friend give me an old timer, and I poked some holes in an old hose, but that system was just waiting to fail. If I do it again, I need to get some real irrigation equipment.

I should not plant basil behind the tomatoes. They get no sun and die. The basil needs to be on the edges of the bed maybe or somewhere else.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Harvest Monday - 26 October 2009

I've noticed a distinct change in my eating habits as Fall gets colder. In summer I would try to eat from the garden in every meal (though breakfasts only if I have raspberries). Often my meals would contain more vegetables than anything else. Now when lunch rolls around I'm eating less vegetables and more heavy carbs. It isn't that I don't have things to pick in the garden. I do. I haven't picked my lettuce or chard in weeks.

I do this every year. I wonder if it is a biological drive to fatten up for the winter. But my lunches have been homemade whole wheat and spelt tortillas, beans, and cheese. Yes I put some of those pickled peppers on top and some of my homemade salsa from the summer, but nothing fresh. I ought to at least add some lettuce. I swear I'll try to this week. I have also been going for grilled bread. I keep a container of bread dough in the fridge and just grab a bit to grill for lunch. I have an indoor grill on my stove so it is easy and quick. I add cheese and some of my apple butter or raspberry jam. Yes the bread is half whole wheat flour but it still isn't a very healthy lunch like my summer lunches are.

So I decided I needed to bring in something that I would eat. I picked carrots and made them into carrot sticks. The first batch was eaten for dinner when my MIL was in town (she also got garlic mashed potatoes from my stored potatoes and garlic). The rest I made later and have at least been nibbling on them. I'll endevour to pick carrots a couple of times a week and eat them up. I have plenty still in the garden.

I also picked some Chinese cabbge this week and a couple of side shoots of broccoli. So far they have ended up in a stirfry. At least that dinner was pretty healthy.

At the farmers market I'm still stocking up. Sadly the egg lady was out of eggs again. I'll have to buy from the store. Sigh. I'll try this Wednesday to remember to get there right as the market opens and get a few dozen. We obviously need more egg sellers at the market in the fall when the chickens don't produce as well. They had disappeared after only a couple of hours (maybe sooner). I still haven't bought my cabbage. Last year I got three huge heads from Wilson's Farm (which was eaten all the way into February). They had a sale for IPM cabbage at $1 a head. So far this fall they haven't had this (or I haven't noticed).

Now onto the tally.

  • Berries 0.19 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.05 lbs
  • Carrots 1.05 lbs
  • Greens 1.06 lbs

Weekly total: 2.35 lbs
Weekly spent: $0
Yearly total: 201.83 lbs
Yearly earned: $707.13

If you would like to join in showing off your harvest, put your name and URL into Mr. Linky below. It doesn't matter how big or small your harvest is. You don't have to count the pounds like I do. If you have had a harvest this last week, show us and join in!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting Some Chores Done

Well I never got a chance to go out to do more digging in the garden. I've been busy with other things. This week I've been mowing the leaves. I love sucking up the leaves with my little Neuton. It isn't perfect. It can't suck up the leaves from depressions, but anything on the grass works great. I end up with some nice chopped leaves for my leaf bin.

This year I found the leaves that I collected from others (which I haven't started yet but will soon) decayed in various quickness. If the leaves were chopped up they decayed very well. Most of the leaves were used up over the year to add to the compost pile, but what was left in the bin at the end of the year was leaf mold if the leaves were chopped. The maple leaves decayed, but not as well. The only holdouts were the oak leaves. My whole backyard is oak so getting them chopped is great. I think when I do go out to collect leaves I'll empty the bags out and chop them up before adding them to the bin.

I've also been busy with apples this week. At the farmers market they had 10lb bags of apples for $6 so I got a couple of bags for applesauce. The varieties were Cortland and Spencer. The applesauce wasn't as good as the earlier batch with Ginger Gold and McIntosh.

When I first ran them through the strainer the sauce was such a pretty pink. I then proceeded to destroy the pretty color by adding cinnamon. Cinnamon applesauce is my favorite.

Twenty pounds of apples makes a lot of sauce. I filled up a case of pint jars and still had three quarts left. I froze two and left once quart for eating this week. I kept looking for one of my stray pint jars. I thought I had a couple jars emptied already, but couldn't find them anywhere.

Oh yeah. I pickled some hot peppers earlier and totally forgot about them. I'm guessing they might be ready to eat by now. Mostly I pickled them just so I could keep them in my fridge instead of the downstairs freezer. I'll use them more often this way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saving Pepper and Bean Seeds

While most of my seeds have been dried and put away already, I have some beans seeds and pepper seeds that are still getting prepared. The Early Jalapeno peppers didn't ripen in the garden in time. As frost was coming I had dug up the plant that I isolated for seed saving. I didn't need to keep it long. Just long enough for those peppers to ripen all the way. When it was dug I had one pepper that was partially ripe. Now all the six peppers were showing red.

Two of the peppers were completely ripe so they were taken off the plant.

Their seeds were stripped out and laid out to dry. Over the next week I'm sure the rest of the peppers will be ripe and I'll process those. Then the poor plant will get sent to the compost pile.

Trail of Tears (right), Ottawa Cranberry (left)

The other seeds that are still not done are my bean seeds. Bean seeds can have weevil eggs in them. I have no clue if that is true here or not. I haven't saved any bean seed without killing off the eggs to find out. Killing the eggs is easy. They die if they are subjected to 3 days at 0F (-18C). Suzanne Ashworth claims that you should keep them in the freezer for five days. I've already done this with my beans that I'm going to eat and not save for seed. With those I didn't worry if the seed was dry enough first. If it isn't the seed can die.

So I tested the seed by whacking a few the a hammer. If the seed mushes instead of shattering, it's not ready. All the seed shattered except the one on the far right. That one half shattered. It was just a touch mushy so I'll dry those for a couple of more weeks and try again. The others were put in a ziplock and put in the lowest part of my chest freezer. I'll take them out on Monday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Snow Again


Sunday night we had snow again. I think we got about an inch before it stopped. I figured it would be melted by the morning but at 8:30am it was still there so I had to take a couple of photos. Sadly I really wanted a photo of my lettuce bed. It was so pretty in the snow, but none of them came out. They were all blurry. Really dark mornings are not the best for photography.

The Chard looks happy with the weather.

My remay row covers don't hold up well to snow. They tend to collapse. These hoops are over the spinach. I think I'll remove the hoops before the ground freezes and just lay the remay on top of the spinach.

The snow finally did melt, but not until after 2pm. It is getting really cold out there. I was going to do some digging yesterday, but it was just too cold and damp. I need better weather for some motivation to get outside. Luckily the weathermen say it is warming up for the next few days.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvest Monday October 19, 2009

Sadly this is my one harvest photo this week. Just a small bit of broccoli and a not quite ripe Magdalena squash (not counted since I don't know if it is edible or not yet). I also harvested just a small bit of raspberries. It was too cold out last week for many to ripen. I didn't get to eat them though. They were saved for the family that came in last weekend.

I do have more veggies to harvest out in the garden, but I was trying to eat up what was in my fridge, plus this weekend we had a Bar Mitzvah so I wasn't eating much but party food. Right now I have one carrot left and a little lettuce. So next week I'll be out harvesting some more greens.

I did a little stocking up from the farmers' market. We ate the corn for dinner, but I buy extra sometimes to cut off the cob to freeze. This time four cobs were saved. The pumpkins were too pretty to pass up and since they are sugar pumpkins I'll puree them up in a month or so. I'm going to need a lot more squash. The squash was not looking all that good at the market this week. I want some that can store and the few people that had butternut squash didn't have stems. Squash doesn't store well without the stems. Maybe next week will have some better looking squash. I hope so. If not I'll buy it, puree it and freeze it all.

The meat is grass fed hamburger. I'm trying to figure out how much I eat. The markets will close down at the end of October (just two weeks left) and won't start up again until next June. So how much should I buy to get us through the winter? We rarely eat beef except hamburger. I would guess we have a roast about twice a year and steaks about once a year. But we do eat hamburger probably once a week, occasionally twice. We eat about 1/4lb per person. I have two people to feed right now and 4 people for about a month over the holidays. I'm guessing I'd need to buy 18-20lbs of hamburger before the markets close. Right now I have 10lbs. Next week I'll get more.

I also tried to buy my free range eggs. There is just one lady that sells them. Recently she is out of eggs a lot. Sigh. This week she had none. Luckily I know this and the week before I got two dozen. I hope she has more this week. I'm really going to miss them when the markets close down. I'll have to buy eggs at Whole Foods. Mass market free range eggs are not the same as little farm free range eggs where the birds can really free range and eat bugs.

Now onto the tally.

  • Berries 0.17 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.21 lbs

Weekly total: 0.38 lbs
Weekly spent: $0
Yearly total: 199.48 lbs
Yearly earned: $700.97

If you would like to join in showing off your harvest, put your name and URL into Mr. Linky below. It doesn't matter how big or small your harvest is. You don't have to count the pounds like I do. If you have had a harvest this last week, show us and join in!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Planting Garlic

Garlic planting takes a bit of forethought for me. I can't just run out and plant it whenever I feel like it. I treat my cloves before planting. The night before I plant, I make a baking soda and water solution, about one quart of water to one teaspoon of baking soda. I've seen ratios of a teaspoon to a gallon and a tablespoon to a quart, but I go somewhere in the middle of those extremes. I break apart the cloves and drop them in.

In the morning I peel the cloves and plop them back in for a longer bath - until I'm ready to plant. Many people cringe at this since they say the skins are protection for the cloves, but I did it last year and the garlic grew well. I only lost a couple of cloves and they were from heads that were not that great.

I like to peel them because I can see if the cloves are damaged. With the skin on you can only tell if there is major damage, but the little damage you see above I couldn't see through the skin. I weeded out three bad cloves, all from my Bogatyr. The other reason to peel is the same reason for all the soaking. The garlic has fungi and insect eggs on them, much of it on the skin. Removing it gets rid of a lot, and soaking gets rid of more.

Right before I'm ready to plant, I rinse off the cloves and do another soak. This time with vodka. I've seen sites that say 150 or 100 proof vodka, but all my vodka is 80 proof. So that is what they got. I soak for about three minutes then rinse it off. Now my cloves are ready to plant.

All these cloves are from garlic that I grew this year. I chose my biggest and best heads to plant and from those heads only the larger cloves. The small cloves I saved for cooking later. I have three varieties. German Extra Hardy makes huge cloves, but only about 5 on each head. When I peeled the cloves I couldn't help notice how huge they all were. The next biggest was my unknown variety (from the supermarket last year). It too makes huge cloves, but the skin is slightly red where the XHardy is white. I really need to name this variety. I hate having something unnamed in my garden. The last is Bogatyr. It has much smaller cloves with a bit of purple skin. I thought about ditching this variety, but the cloves were tiny when I got them last year. This year they are bigger. I'm hoping with good conditions they can get even larger. After one more year I'll pick the best two varieties to keep.

I decided to plant them where I recently double dug the potato patch. I added some lime, compost and fertilizer. Then laid out a planting grid. I wanted my garlic 6" apart in all directions on a triangular grid. Once the grid was done I just set them in 4" deep and gave them a couple of inches of compost mulch.

Not everything went perfectly. I found another potato. I really hope they are all up. I can't dig this spot up anymore without distrubing the garlic. After double digging the bed was too high for the soil and extra mulch. I had to add a bigger log to the top. My beds keep getting deeper.

Gack! Snow!

Snow is not unheard of in October, but it is unusual. November is much more normal. Last year we had our first snow storm in December. Usually we don't get any accumulation if we do get October snow. For Boston the snowiest October had a grand total of 0.4 inches of snow. My little hill has a strange microclimate. My first fall frost is usually about a week or two later than the first frost at the bottom of the hill, but I will often get snow when that area is still getting rain. I will be getting to my real post soon, but I couldn't help but share more of the weird weather we have been having this year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day October 2009

Korean Dogwood fruit

Well it is Blog Action Day today. I really did think about writing about climate change, but some days it is just a hell of a lot easier to write about my garden. Sometimes you just need a nice flower to cheer you up.


This time of the year many of my flowers are dressed up for Halloween. Their pretty pink skirts have been put away. They are in their goth costumes. They are still lovely in their own spikey way.


Not all of my flowers have given up. We had a frost last night, but the rose still thinks it should be blooming.

My tithonia won't stop.

I do have one flower in my garden that blooms just for autumn. Autumn Joy is a perfect name for this plant. When it starts to bloom the bees are so joyful. They cover it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Preparing for Frost

Sunday was a beautiful day with a distinct chill in the air. I checked the weather forecast and it said it would get to 35F. This was potential frost weather. I still had my peppers outside. They seemed happy enough. I'm not quite sure why. They get barely any sun anymore and it is so cold.

It was time to pull them up. I stripped off all the peppers on the plants. Well all except one plant. This is the plant that I caged to isolate so I could save its seed. One pepper was almost all red, a couple were just turning. The rest were still green. I had two choices. I could cover the plant and hope the peppers ripened before we were hit by a freeze or I could dig this one up. I chose the latter as it was a faster method of getting ripe seed.

I found a pot to fit. It wasn't a really large pot, but the plant only needs to live for a couple of more weeks. I'm glad it doesn't need to live there longer since my clay soil is a far cry from potting soil. The shock of getting the rest of its roots cut off ought to convince it to finish setting seed. I brought it inside and put it in the dinning room window. This spot is warmer and sunnier than its previous location. I hope it will be happy there for the next couple of weeks.

Then my husband wanted to know why I was growing a tree in the dining room. I'm not known for indoor plants. I find them too much work without my friendly beneficial insects that live outside.

Now the bed is even lonelier. All that is left are the carrots. Even if I think they look a tad lonely, I'm sure they are appreciating their breathing room.

The garden is mostly dirt right now. Last year I did a better job. I sowed a cover crop of oats and vetch. I have the seeds this year, but didn't get around to sowing them in time. I could do it now, but without any sun they won't grow much this year (that photo was taken at 1pm and only a tiny part of the garden is getting sun). I need to be better next year and at the beginning of September over seed the crops that are still growing. It gives the cover crops a nice boost.

And no we didn't get a frost on Sunday night. We have frost warnings out most of this week. The most likely time is mid week, maybe tomorrow. Or maybe my first frost will hold of until my normal time, which is the end of October.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Raspberries 2009 Overview

I got a couple of questions about my raspberries today on the harvest post. So this post is to answer some of them and be the first post to go over how the year went with this crop. I planted the raspberry patch 18 years ago. I had two sections (each about about 6' long by 4' wide) started in raspberries. I planted three canes of each type. They were bought from Pinetree.

I planted two different kinds one in each section. Lanthum is a summer bearer. It didn't last long in the garden. It never grew well and got diseased and was unhappy. I eventually ripped it up.

September berries

The other variety I planted was Heritage. It too got the same disease as Lanthum (something that makes each of the segments of the berries not ripen all at the same time and also makes them crumbly). It just didn't seem to care. I would lose a few berries to it , but not many. It would produce well anyway.

The first year that the raspberries grew they didn't produce much. The second year was OK. After about three years they had filled their space up and were producing like mad. Raspberries send runners underground. Once they get settled they act like weeds. A few times a year I have to go out and rip out roots that are trying to take over other sections of the garden.

Raspberry canes right before pruning back

My berries are planted in partial shade right at the edge of the woods. They do not get full sun. In the summer they probably get about four hours of full sun. At this time of the year they would be lucky to get about an hour of sun, but I haven't timed it. Since they grow well I don't worry about it. One side of their bed is raised with a small little poorly made rock wall. Which means it was put up by me. I'm the opposite of EG, I try to engineer everything so it just barely works. The least amount of effort to make it work right is my motto. MIT, my alma mater, is probably ashamed of me by now. The other side is bound by the driveway which is just slightly higher than the bed.

I have fertilized this bed exactly once in five years. I like to keep the leaves that blow into the bed there to mulch it. In the past decade we had a landscaping service that would blow them out even if I asked them not to. Now I'm doing it myself so they will once again be left in. There isn't a lot of work involved with the raspberries bed. Once a year I cut out the spent canes in July and at the same time thin out the new canes. In addition in March I usually clean up the bed of any canes broken over the winter by snow and prune off the old flower heads if I didn't do it in the fall. If it didn't try to invade its neighbors so much it would be the easiest bed in my whole yard.

The Heritage plant produces berries in July on year old canes. It does this in a very short time over about two to three weeks (this year July 14th- Aug 2nd). This year it produced 6.5 lbs of summer berries. Then starting in late August (Aug 25th this year) it produces fall berries on new canes. It will keep producing for quite a while. Frost won't stop them. It will kill the flowers, but the fruit that has set will still ripen. A true freeze will shut them down though. Last year I was still harvesting in early November. When it gets cold they do slow down a bit. So far this fall I have harvested 6.4lbs of berries. I have plenty of berries on my cereal every morning and still some left over to freeze.

As to problems with the crop, I had more than usual. The fall berries were more moldy and rotting than usual. I had to toss a lot of the berries in September as they would mold and ripen at the same time. The October berries seemed better. Also in September I had wasps (some kind of paper wasp) start eating the raspberries. At their height they ate about half the crop. They had disappeared by October.

Raspberries love rain, so our weird wet weather didn't bother them in the least. In fact they probably grew better than an average year.

Harvset Monday October 12, 2009

This last week was all about pulling out all the tender crops and cleaning up. The pineapple tomatillos came out so the last harvest was larger than before. I picked up all the tomatillos that fell to the ground. Any that hadn't filled out their husk were tossed. The other will probably ripen just fine.

I had a lot of parsley that had hidden in the beans and zucchinis. I ripped them up. I don't need them to go to seed next year. I have plenty in the herb garden for seed. Since I was ripping them up I harvested the greens and dried them. I also pulled the roots. I kept two because they looked so pretty and I thought they were edible. After some research I found out they tend to be woody and aren't worth eating. They sure smelled good though.

Sunday the frost warnings came out. I don't think I'll get one, but I picked all the peppers on the plants anyway. I don't think with the cold weather they will get much larger even without a frost. Ditto for the cucumbers.

As always in the fall I had a nice raspberry harvest this week. The best fall harvest yet for the berries. I only take photos when I get a nice flush as I got this Tuesday.

Now onto the tally.

  • Alliums 0.16 lbs
  • Beans 0.32 lbs
  • Berries 1.08 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.16 lbs
  • Cucurbits 0.33 lbs
  • Greens 0.19 lbs
  • Peppers 0.69 lbs
  • Tomatillo 0.59 lbs

Weekly total: 4.11 lbs
Weekly spent: $0
Yearly total: 199.10 lbs
Yearly earned: $698.55

If you would like to join in showing off your harvest, put your name and URL into Mr. Linky below. It doesn't matter how big or small your harvest is. You don't have to count the pounds like I do. If you have had a harvest this last week, show us and join in!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Greens

Most of my fall crops are under row covers right now. It makes the garden a very sad place since you can't see much green anymore. White little bubbles just don't make for a beautiful garden. There are a couple of crops that are still lovely and not yet covered.

My chard has been a favorite in the garden for a long time. I started harvesting from this batch in the middle of May. It is still going strong.

The lettuce is getting to be a good size. The heads never get really big in the fall for me, so I harvest them a leaf at a time. Luckily I have a lot of plants going now.

Under the covers are lots of different greens. The tatsoi above is going strong. I ought to pick it soon. Sometimes I have trouble picking the really pretty plants. Tatsoi is in that category. It makes such a beautiful rosette. Last time I harvested them only because I had new tatsoi transplants that needed their spot in the garden.

Under a bubble all its own is my spinach. I'm starting to think it is too late for much of a spinach harvest this fall. Maybe. If not I'll over winter it under a row cover and eat it in the spring. Frankly I'll probably want it more in the spring than now in the fall, but I worry. I've yet to overwinter any green successfully. Maybe with spinach and mache I'll be sucessful. I can hope.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


As I've been cleaning up the garden, I've decided to leave most of the sunflowers on the plants for the animals to find over the winter. So far I've had no birds or squirrels eat my sunflowers. Isn't that strange?

I've kept one head. I'm thinking of planting the seed next year. I'm curious to see what plants will grow. The head was from a Lemon Queen sunflower, which is a tall, pale yellow flower, but that was the only one of its variety to grow. My other sunflowers were MusicBox, which is a dwarf variety that has orange markings. Did they cross?

According to Susan Ashworth, sunflowers can be self-incompatible or not depending upon the variety. I don't know what Lemon Queen's behavior is. Since it was part of the Great Sunflower Project, I often watched the bees on the plants. I noticed that the bees that went to the Music Box flowers didn't fly up to the Lemon Queen. They tended to stay low to the ground. And likewise the ones that visited the Lemon Queen flowers flew in high and didn't go down to the ground. That doesn't mean that there was no pollen transfer. It just means that I never saw it. If the Lemon Queen variety is self-incompatible then the one plant couldn't have formed seeds with its own pollen and I would have a hybrid. But what would it look like?