Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garden Bloggers Death Day

Bring out your dead. Does anyone else really miss Kate from Gardening Without Skills? She created Garden Bloggers Death Day. A day to laugh at your mistakes and cry over how Mother Nature is treating you. But she hasn't posted since March. So this post is an ode to her.

I'll start with the easy things and then get into the really nasty. The first up is aphids. Oh my word do I have aphids. I have black aphids; I have green aphids. Above are my fava beans which are a sacrifice to the lady bug gods. I have found some ladies in the garden. This morning I found one right near these aphids on a leaf. It was one of the smallest lady bugs I'd seen. The other was on my chamomile and that sucker was huge. So far I haven't seen children, but I've got my fingers crossed. With zucchini I can hand pollinate, but with lady bugs all I can do to speed the process is provide a free meal.

The worst damage that the aphids have done so far is on my plum tree. If I'd noticed it earlier I could have helped it more. But the plum tree is not in the garden proper so doesn't get looked at every day. I noticed the leaves looked funny one day. Oh the poor tree. I took the hose and sprayed them down and checked the other trees. The apple tree had some too, not as much but enough that I needed to wash them off. I'll do it again in a week and every week after as long as I find a bad infestation.

Second up are my squash plants. They have some sort of fungus attacking them. I'm not sure what it is. So far no cucumber beetles, so I'm counting my blessings there. These will have to get sprayed, but the plants seem to be holding up OK.

The last is the worst. It is hard to describe how bad it is. Above is my pepper patch. It doesn't look all that bad does it? Yeah the lower leaves are all gone, but still things look green. I grew most of my peppers from seed, but I had germination issues. So I bought one six pack from Pemperton Farms down the road. Oh how I wish I hadn't. The plants looked fine. I really don't put them under a microscope since I've never ever had an issue with pepper diseases in the past. Peppers seemed safe.

Well it turns out they had bacterial spot, which whipped right through the peppers before I even noticed there was a real problem. Bacterial spot can wipe out the crop. I may or may not get any peppers this year. I'm trying to control it with two things. One keeping the peppers clean of any leaves that are infected. And two spraying with Serenade. Serenade and keeping infected leaves off is how I got a good harvest of tomatoes in 2009 when late blight went through the garden. I can only hope it works this time. Serenade is a biological. It is a bacteria that kills fungi and other bacteria. I read the list of which one it controls, but honestly I haven't a clue what bacteria it is that has infected the peppers. I speak Latin for plant names at times, but not so much for bacteria.

One of the reasons bacterial spot is not a big player is that it doesn't live long in the soil or on plant debris. It can last up to a year, but as long as you rotate your crops you should be fine. Except for one thing. The disease can be carried on seed and you can buy infected plants brought up from the South. So I won't be saving any pepper seeds this year. Which is too bad since I wanted to save quite a bit. None of the pepper plants will be put in the compost and the solanum rotation is every three years. So next year I ought to be fine. But I hope to get peppers still this year. I might not. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thinking of Fall

I often grow my fall transplants for a month inside, potting them up once during that time. My goal is to have them in the garden by July 15th. But this year I took a different tact. I had a lot of empty space in the brassica bed. So I transplanted them out yesterday as much smaller transplants.

I'm not sure how well they will do in the coming hot spell that is predicted. I hope I haven't made a mistake doing this. But you never know how things do until you try it.

Never quite made it

The first chore was to rip out any plants that were still left. Most got harvested, but I had two red cabbages that never grew well and never headed up. Out they went. Once they were out I added a bucket of compost to the 5'x4' area and some organic fertilizer and mixed it in a bit.

When I planted them I put three michihili cabbage across the four foot bed. I put them along the chard since I figured the chard could handle their aggressive nature. On the other side I put two Rubicon Chinese cabbages. Last time they handled competition with them just fine so I figured they could do it again. On the way other side I put the two red cabbages. Now they are just competing with some choy sum which isn't much competition at all. And they will be ripped out in a month anyway. I'm hoping that giving the Michihili so much competition and lack of space will dwarf the plants a bit. And I might well pull one or two of them early.

One of these is not like the other

As I was wandering around the garden doing odd chores I noticed the Heinz tomatoes. Can you see the Cherokee Purple that got mislabeled? That isn't good. The Heinz are determinates that will get pulled out early. They won't last long in the season. Near the end of August their space will be planted in spinach.

I'm also finding I hate two rows of tomatoes down the length of the bed, even with one of them being Heinz. I'm never going to find the tomatoes in there. I've got a lot of work to trim out the bottom branches to make them even partially accessible. Next year I'm going back to mixing my peppers and tomatoes in a bed. Peppers in the front makes life more bearable.

I also noticed that the sunflowers will be in bloom soon.

These are a patch of mixed sunflowers. So I'm not sure what I'll get. But if I save seed, next year it might be even more of a mixed up mash of different kinds. I'll have to pay attention to which ones I like best and get more seed from them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This and That

Yesterday I had two things on my mind the first was planting my fig trees (behind hte strawberries). They had finally come. It took forever since I didn't want them to show up while I was out of town. I could have picked them up since they were from Roslindale, but I just had them ship them. For me it was much easier. I picked the smallest size they had since I want to train them in the Japanese style. The trunk will grow horizontally along the metal bars and the branches will go up vertically from there. I'm a touch worried. When the sun hits the bars they get really hot. I'm hoping it doesn't damage the plants. I wanted to train them this way because figs are only semi hardy in my zone. Anything unprotected over the winter could die. Grown this way I can always protect at least the trunk.

Chamomile on the right in front of the zinnias

The second thing was to harvest my chamomile. This is quite a project. I've got a lot of tiny little flowers on the plants and picking them is slow. As I was halfway through I decided that the plants sprawling in the pathway just had to stop. So I staked them up with some bamboo and twine. While I was at it I did the dill and the blooming cilantro too. They both had been knocked over in the rain.

Then I took the flowers in to dehydrate. I will use these for tea in the winter.

They look so pretty in the glass jar. One thing always leads to another. Since I was starting to store my tea for the winter, I had to clean out the tea cabinet. It has some really old tea leaves in it. I got them all cleaned out.

Then I figured it would be canning time soon and I'd better get my pantry cleaned out. I got rid of all the things I wasn't going to eat ( I didn't like the pickles I'd canned last year, didn't like the dried tomatoes). And I moved things around so I could find out what is left. I haven't been eating applesauce as much I should be, but I'll use more as zucchini season ramps up. My zucchini bread uses applesauce. And I barely touched the Salsa Verde. I really haven't figured out what to do with it. I tried it in pork and it was OK, but hubby wasn't impressed. I eat it on chips at parties, but I don't eat chips on a regular basis. The rest seems to be getting used up pretty well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Harvest Monday - June 27 2011

Monday's chamomile.

This week had a super large harvest. Since I didn't harvest anything the week before from Thursday-Sunday, all those peas got into this week's tally. I took a total of five photos from last Monday.

Monday's zucchini were unpollinated. No male blossoms had opened yet.

Monday's greens harvest basket.

Monday's odds and ends basket.

Monday's peas with a few fava beans.

On Wednesday I picked a couple more zucchini and some dill that wasn't photographed. Then On Thursday I had some more unphotographed bunching onions and parsley for the quiche I made last week.

On Friday it was time to pick the peas again. Actually it was past time to pick the peas. I would have done it Thursday but the rain last week kept me out of the garden a lot. Friday morning it drizzled a bit, but didn't pour on me while I was out. And as you might notice I also picked my first beets. A lot of those peas went to my friends' CSA share. I think I put too much in there though. The week before I weighted it so I wouldn't put more than two pounds in. I mean really how many peas can one person eat? I had no trouble with my portion though. I ate the last in my fridge yesterday grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper. I've snacked on them too. But the bulk of my peas went into pickled peas. I now have enough in the fridge to get me partway through the summer. If I get a lot more this week, I'll make one more batch. I really need to get some quart canning jars to put them in. I have a couple random containers, but they are awkward. The one jar I have that is a quart is the perfect size.

Saturday's harvest was picked early in the morning. As soon as I got inside it started to pour. Sadly I had to go out into that to the hardware store to spend money on the garden. I bought a bottle of Seranade. I'll talk about why in a future post. Maybe on the last of the month in the tradition of Garden Bloggers Death Day.

  • Alliums 1.06 lbs
  • Fava Beans 0.72 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.27 lbs
  • Cucurbits 0.46
  • Greens 3.28 lbs
  • Herbs 1.24 lbs
  • Peas 9.16 lbs
  • Root veggies 1.21 lbs
  • Weekly Total 17.40 lbs
  • Weekly Spent $21
  • Yearly Total 87.44 lbs
  • Still in the hole $-185.00

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, June 25, 2011

Almost Summer Food

Kentucky Wonder has reached the top of the trellis

The abundance of spring is finally winding down. The greens are getting more scarce. Other things are starting to take their place, but the summer crops really haven't started yet. The signs are there. I have flowers on my melons and cukes. One of my butternut squashes has started to run. The zucchini have put out female blossoms that I've had to pick due to lack of males. But today the first males opened. There are small tomatoes covering the vines. The onions are getting bigger. The sunflowers are showing the first signs of buds. The carrots are sizing up.

But there aren't huge harvests (except pounds and pounds of peas). Lots of little harvests of other things, but not huge. Not "oh my god how am I going to eat all this" kinds of harvests. Which in a way is a relief. I've gotten close to using up my stockpile of greens. I've got mizuna, a couple of baby choys, and a few stems of choy sum. Oh and one Chinese cabbage. OK so I still have a lot to eat, but I'm getting there.

I love to use up the odds and ends in one thing or another. I made another lemon scallop stir fry. Above are unfertilized zucchini (think gourmet baby zukes with the blossoms on), tatsoi, choy sum, snowpeas, Japanese turnips. and kohlrabi (and mushrooms from the store).

The finished product.

Then yesterday I made a quiche. Now a quiche can have just about anything in it, but most things are better cooked since what goes in can't be watery. This one had cooked chard and kohlrabi greens (squeeze out the water before adding to the pie shell), a good handful of chopped parsley, and some green onions. Then I sprinkled it with salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano. And no I don't measure anything here I just toss it in to fill up the shell.

Then I grate on some good Vermont cheddar. The custard part I mix it up in a ratio of one egg to 1/4c soy milk (regular milk is of course fine, but I'm lactose intolerant so we don't have real milk in the house). For a small pie pan I'll use three eggs, for a large one I'll use four. Or how many you need to fill it up. I like not having a real recipe because I can make them small, or large. Whatever I want. I don't even have to use a pie pan. My favorite topping is sliced Cherokee Purple tomatoes, but I had to settle for a quick grating of Parmesan cheese.

And the crust? Well it is a full butter crust. I don't even own shortening. I hate the stuff. It tastes bad to me and it is bad for me. If I'm going to eat something bad for me I'm going to do it with butter and indulge.

Now I thought I'd show you this meal. Not for its veggie content. But just for your amusement. I've half eaten it already, but it has my peas grilled with a small bit of melted butter, salt and pepper, home made rosemary and olive oil bread, and terriyaki roadkill. Yes you heard me. Roadkill. I got a couple of pounds of deer from my trusty farmer. She butchered the undamaged parts. I hope I get more. My townhouse mates and I were going to split it, but she has so many mouths to feed this summer that I had her keep most. I do love my venison. I partially grew up on it and miss eating it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Helpers Moving In

Borage in the rain

I have a lot of aphids in the garden. At my last house I had a nice balance of aphids and predators. At this house not yet. I hope eventually to develop that equilibrium, but for now I have an aphid problem. I let them run rampant on my favas and nasturtiums in hopes of attracting more predators. Without food the ladybugs won't show up. So I give them a feast.

And they have come. I've only seen a few so far. But the one above has taken up residence on my zucchini. It has been there for days munching away. I hope it is a she and she lays eggs. The larvae eat a lot more than the adults do.

I've yet to see an adult lacewing in the garden, but their eggs are all over. Usually I find their eggs on the dill, so I have to be careful when I pick not to pick those plants. But I found this one when I was weeding. I've never seen their eggs on crab grass before. But to be fair there is a dill plant not far from it.

And do you see what I see (right side and a bit down)? YES! An eggplant bud. I wonder how long it will be before the eggplants start. A long time if we don't get out of this cold wet spell, but it ought to break in a couple of days and then we can get back into the 70s.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fava Beans

I confess. I was a fava bean virgin. I'd never eaten them before and this is the first time growing them for me. But the other day I had my first small harvest. Fava beans aren't like peas or beans. I got the hint from reading blogs of people who do grow them. They cryptically mention that you shell them not once but twice.

So I shelled them the first time. Favas have a very cool texture on the inside. Almost like cold foam. The shell is time consuming to get off, like any shelling procedure, but not too bad.

Then I was faced with a pile of the beans. I knew I was supposed to shell the bean too, but when I tried to take it off with my fingernail, it just didn't want to come. The trusty internet saved me here. I found out I'm supposed to blanch them for 30 seconds to loosen the skin. So I did that.

With a bit of trial and error I found if I snipped off the end with my fingernails on the far side of where the bean attaches to the pod, the bean will squirt right out. Above left is the pile of bean shells and to the right are the beans themselves. Fava beans have a lot of waste in them. Of the seven ounces of bean I harvested, I maybe got an ounce at the end. Maybe. I didn't weigh it.

A normal bean you are supposed to cook. There is a toxin in beans that gets deactivated when you cook it. Favas have bean in their name, so I was assuming the same in them. But many recipes have them eaten raw. It is in a different genus than beans even if it is a legume. So to taste one I just popped one in my mouth right away.

And I fell in love. Fava beans are a pain in the butt to get to, but let me tell you, they taste divine. They are a mix of tastes. I can taste pea in them and maybe a touch of bean. But the reason they are so good is the buttery flavor of them. When I was looking for how to peel them, one person described them as tasting like mozzarella. Now I don't taste that, but they taste and feel rich like something full of fat even though they don't contain much.

So all you fava bean lovers out there. What are your favorite recipes? I could just saute them plain and eat them. And they would make a fabulous hummus. They really don't require anything to make them taste good, but I can see they would add to other things.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Harvest Monday - June 20 2011

Since I was traveling four days out of the week, my harvests are smaller this week. I still haven't gotten a chance to go out and pick since I've gotten back. I'll do that this morning as soon as I'm done writing this. But I still had harvests on Monday and Wednesday.

Monday's harvest was peas and chamomile. Expect to see this basket or something similar for the next few weeks. It is Pea Season (insert loud noises and confetti here). You have to love pea season. I'm finally getting snap peas. I love snap peas so much because I make refrigerator pickles out of them (if you follow the link, picked peas are done exactly the same way as pickled cukes). I anticipate these for weeks before the peas are ready. I've already eaten some in a tuna sandwich. Pickled peas are made for sandwiches and hamburgers. They are better I think than the pickled cukes for that. I tend to eat my pickled cukes on the side.

Wednesday I only picked things that I thought wouldn't make it well till Monday. The chamomile is going like gangbusters At my old house I used to have this self seed in my herb bed which had really crappy soil. They didn't flourish, but they grew and gave me good harvests. This year they are so happy with the rich soil. I'm going to have a lot of chamomile.

More peas. The ones on the left are Golden Sweet. In the middle is Cascadia. And on the right is Blizzard. I think next year I'll grow more snap peas and fewer snow peas. I want both, but I'm happier with the snaps.

The last little bits I harvested on Wednesday. Some broccoli, turnips, mizuna, and kohlrabi. The mizuna was bolting sadly.

Coming back after four days I feel so behind. I've currently got over 800 blog posts in my blog reader (like that will get done, I think a lot of quick scanning will have to happen to catch me up, but it can't happen until after I finish reading the Harvest Monday posts). And now I've really, really got to get out to the garden. It is calling me.

  • Broccoli 0.48 lbs
  • Greens 0.63 lbs
  • Herbs 0.06 lbs
  • Peas 2.64 lbs
  • Turnips 0.31 lbs
  • Weekly Total 4.11 lbs
  • Yearly Total 68.48 lbs
  • Weekly spent $0
  • Still in the hole $-258.00

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, June 17, 2011


I took these aerials of the garden a week ago and never got them up as I kept wanting to talk about other things. So I scheduled this post while I"m away from my garden.

Beds 1-3

Beds 3-5

Beds 5-8

Circle garden

The last was taken through a screen. My husband helpfully put up all the screens in the house. But I can't take good photos through a screen. So they came off two of the windows. I can keep the screen off the hallway one, but if we get guests, the guestroom screen will have to go back on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Signs of Things to Come

We are in a slight veggie lull. Thank goodness. I'm leaving on a trip and won't be picking anything while I'm gone. Allie who is living here for the summer might pick a few things, but mostly she will be keeping my plants where they belong. Like inside their cages, or up the correct string. It is nice to have someone who loves plants so much to look after the garden.

I still have to pick today though. I'll be picking chamomile, peas and any broccoli that is even close to being ready. I might pick some bok choy too, or I might wait until I get home. It depends if it looks like it is bolting. Luckily if I mess up and leave them a bit too long, they will still be fine. Unlike the bolting lettuce that gets so bitter, Asian greens are still good when they bolt and usually the flower stem is delicious.

I have a few Asian greens that are heat resistant that will grow over the summer, but the big stars are not the spring and fall crops you force to perform when they don't want to. It is the summer crops. I am impatiently waiting for them to start, and they are showing signs.

The cucumbers and melons are both putting out male blossoms. It can't be long before the females start to come out. Melons take forever to ripen, but the cukes are so fast once they start. The melons in particular are covered in male blossoms. They still seem to be happy even though we are in a cold spell right now.

The zucchini though has started to put out females. They aren't open yet. I wonder if it will open when I'm gone. I like to be around for the earliest ones. That way I can hand pollinate or just pick if there are no males around.

The solanum crops are getting bigger. The peppers just sat there looking sad for weeks - I'm hoping they were busy putting down good roots. They have perked up a bit and started to grow. The cayennes are the only one blossoming right now, but I see buds on others.

The tomatoes are growing like the weeds they are. They are all getting tall and bushy. And they have started to set tomatoes. Above are the first of the Cherokee Purples.

They are racing the Sungolds for the first ones to produce. I think Sungold will win though as it is just a cherry.

And the eight Heinz plants are wildly blooming. They have just started setting. These are classic determinants. They bloom all at once and produce over a short time. They put every ounce of energy into the fruit then die. They were the best tasting of all my paste tomatoes in the paste trial last year. So if I'm actually home during their brief spurt I'll be in major canning mode then. If not I'll get Alli to pick them and toss them on the counter or in the freezer for me.

And then there are my favas. Technically they aren't a summer crop, but I won't get to pick them until summer. I've never tasted a fava before. I hope I like them Not all of my favas will produce. I decided to let the aphids have at them. They seem to like certain plants more. I did see a lady bug the other day. So I'm hoping this feast of aphids will bring more.