Archive for the ‘raised boxes’ Category

Weekly Garden Update 2/13/2011

February 13, 2011

Today was the type of pre-Spring day that beckons you to the outdoors and tempts you to start planting.  We tried to hold out on much planting, knowing that weather is unpredictable but the favorable 10-day weather forecast on weather.com caused us to give in.

 

Mustard Box

We uncovered all of the covered boxes so they could bask in the sunshine today and gave everything a good, long drink.  We cleared out the mustard plants that obviously weren’t going to make it.  Three of the Southern Giant Curled Mustard had put out new growth with the better weather we’ve had lately so they received a reprieve from being ripped out.  In the box, we planted Chinese Mustard Greens from http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/, two types of kale from http://cordarogarden.blogspot.com/, and more Southern Giant Curled Mustard.

 

 

Spinach Box

Three spinach plants survived the over-wintering so we planted a few more Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach to hopefully have a few more plants.  We also planted French Heirloom Breakfast radishes from http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/ in this box.

 

 

Carrot Box

One of our boxes had become overrun with a creeping weed so we pulled out the weeds, trying not to damage the carrots that had been overrun.  Since relatively few carrots were able to out-compete the weed, we planted Shin Kuroda Carrot seeds from http://sweetpeahill.blogspot.com/ here and some butter crunch lettuce seeds.

 

 

Mache Box

 

 

Lettuce Box

Our over-wintered leaf lettuces and mache are doing pretty well.  We cleared away the leaves from around the plants to help everything breathe a bit more.  Hopefully the leaves weren’t an integral part of the lettuce’s survival!

 

 

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Broccoli

Cauliflower

More Cauliflower

Various over-wintered brassica seem to have made it.  We’ll see if they actually produce anything.  Of these plants, the broccoli seem the least likely to produce something, but time will tell.  Over-wintered brassicas include brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and one cabbage that survived the voles.  We also started more cabbages indoors this week.

 

The over-wintered kales are doing well enough that we could have harvested some this week, but we put together the week’s menu on Friday (for Saturday shopping) and didn’t realize they were chuggin’ away under the row cover as well as they are.  We know we have harvestable carrots as well, but they’re not part of this week’s menu either.  We’ve been eating a lot of our canned foods from last year’s harvests (tomato sauce, green beans, haricots vert), another butternut squash this week, and the frozen pesto has made an appearance in several lunches lately.

Waiting for Spring with excited anticipation!

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Weekly Garden Update: 2/6/2011

February 6, 2011

Gardening season begins in earnest.  Our onions and other seeds which we discussed in the last update are germinating.

Seedlings

Onions

We were a bit slow in seeing that the broccoli and cauliflower was up and growing so they were in the dark a couple of days more then they should have been which has made them a bit leggy.  Hopefully that will be fixed as they’re now growing under lights.  We also germinated our snow peas and our sugar snap peas inside this year, and today we planted them all in two boxes.  We decided to do this because the soil temps (as they were last year) are too low to germinate them, but not too low to allow them to grow (we hope).

Pea Peas

In the pan

Today we seeded the celery.

Celery

I cooked venison steaks this past week, attached the recipe in a post just prior to this one.  Last night we had the smothered quail again, and it was great.  No I mean it was *GRREAT*.

The Kale seems to have survived the winter, as have bizarrely, the lettuces.  We have carrots still.  The Garlic is sprouting up through the mulch all over, and seem to be saying, “Ok, Winter did it’s thing, now let the Spring come in Early”.

February Garden

February Garden

Box for Peas

Carrots

Lettuces

Kale

Garlic!

Weekly Garden Update: August 15

August 15, 2010

Today the post is late, because we got up this morning, and after coffee and an egg-white frittata with dill, cheddar, country ham, sweet sautéed peppers, and some leftover cornflake chicken (served on English muffin), we went out to the garden and started the Fall planting.

We just cut into the Charentais melon, and wow it is delicious.  It is sweet and has an excellent flavor, and the flesh is firm and crisp!

Covered Box

We put in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, Red Winter Kale, and Italian Lacinato Nero Toscana Kale.  We set up the piping, and covered 3 boxes with ground cover to protect new seeds coming up.  This Wednesday we already had seeds coming up from our plantings last weekend.

Boxes 2

Boxes 1

Boxes 3

The Tabasco peppers are finally coming in, and we have bunches of little pimentos as well.  The jalapenos and serranos look like they’ll never quit; I plan to make whole pickled Jalapenos this week.  Later I’ll probably dry some serranos and cayennes and make powders out of them.

Tabascos

Pimentos

We have plenty of other peppers as well; ancho, bell, Anaheim, and Italian rellenos, as well as some Italian red marconis.

Peppers

Ancho

Harvest

We got 4 cucumbers this week, and are pleased by the progress of the 2nd succession of cucumbers.

Volunteer Tomatoes

I trellised the volunteer tomatoes, since it looks like they’re gonna produce.  We sprayed fish emulsion on the tomatoes and melons, and kaolin clay on the cucumbers, eggplants, and squash.

Butternut

The butternut squash is determined to make up for every squash or melon plant we’ve ever failed to grow.  It has spread the width of almost 3 box areas and is half way into the next column, with oodles of female blossoms, and little butternuts growing.

Some Tomatoes

Other harvest items for the week include another big crop of tomatoes (I am making tomato sauce again today), about 3.5 lbs of green beans (I’ll be canning more green beans this week), and our first harvests of field peas and butter beans.  We also got 2 tomatillos and another eggplant, and harvested the very last celery.

Butter beans

The last Celery

Harvest 2

Lemongrass

Field PeasGreen beans

Weekly Garden Update: August 8th

August 8, 2010

Wow, it’s August already!

In addition to the seedlings we’ve been developing, we did more fall planting yesterday:  Cabbage seeds were started inside, but we direct seeded a box of Cauliflower and Broccoli, and a box comprised of Chinese Mustard, Ruby Red Swiss Chard, and Southern Giant Curled Mustard.

The Chinese Mustard is courtesy of http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/.  Thanks!

Our Yukon Gold potatoes are flowering, perhaps we can harvest them by September.

Potato Flower

We harvested the last set of beans from the Haricot Vert, and pulled them up, thanking them all the while.  We got over 7 weeks of incredible production from these green beans, and are thrilled.  The dutch half-runner beans are hitting a production peak, and the blue lakes continue to give us a handful or so every week.  Hopefully I can put up some more beans soon.

Haricot Vert box

Tomatoes have slacked off a bit, but we still got half a box this weekend after I pulled everything red and did more tomato sauce this past Monday.

Boxes 1

Boxes 2

Boxes 3

Peppers continue to roll in.  We are getting red Marconi peppers now, and some of our jalapenos are turning red as well.  The only peppers not doing well are the El Chaco’s, which did superbly last year (helpless shrug).  Here are some Serranos.

Serranos

Butternut squash are getting female blossoms, and the second succession of cucumbers and squash seem to be doing well so far (keeping fingers crossed).

Butternut Blossom

We got 6 cups of Kaolin clay powder this week from our biodynamic farmer and we plant to spray it this week, if it will ever stop raining every other day.

Basil in Harvest Basket

Basil in Box

BASIL.  Yes, the BASIL is coming at us with a vengeance.  We made pesto yesterday, and have 2 trays to dry, and dried basil in the drawer, and oodles more in the garden.  We’re thinking of ramping down to half a dozen basil plants, or even less, next year.

The weather has been almost daily thunderstorms (which our dog hates), with 0 to 0.25 inches of rain almost every day.  Thank goodness it didn’t rain yesterday, and I was able to start mowing the hated grass.  I also mowed back our Kentucky Colonel mint.  The lime mint I planted last year has propagated this year an amazing amount, but I’m about to pull it all up and plant something else.  It tastes nothing like mint or lime, and it’s had plenty of time to develop, flower, or whatever else it wanted to do.  I felt like an idiot standing there chewing nasty leaves from several plants, for all the world like a Koala.

Harvest!

We harvested another eggplant along with all the other stuff this week.  We cooked the one we got last week.  I sliced it thin, salted it and let it sit for a couple of hours, washed the salt off, and dipped each one into milk, then into a cornmeal and bread crumb mix seasoned with sweet paprika, black pepper, dill, ground parmesan, and ground romano.  Then I cooked them in ¼ cup of olive oil spread out over my 16” skillet.  They were yummy, and we spooned our own tomato sauce over them on the plate right before eating.  I’ll probably do something similar this week.

Charentais Melon

Last, but not least, we harvest a charentais melon.  We are very excited, we just hope it’s ripe!

Green Beans!

Butternut

Field Peas

Cucumbers blooming

Butter beans

Weekly Garden Update: July 31st

August 1, 2010

July 31, Weekly Garden Update:

My son in a Tree when he was Younger

To start with, I want to express my extreme pleasure that my son just matriculated from high school a year early!  I’m so very proud of him.  He got his test scores back yesterday and consistently scored in the top 1-3% in the nation for high school students.  When he was 16 I thought we might have to kill him to get any peace, but a year and a half later he has finalized this period of his life by reverting to form, which is that of an extremely bright and thoughtful individual.

*                                                               *                                                             *

Apple in the Tree

We have blueberries, but the two blueberry pictures I took didn’t come out.  But look, here is an apple!  No figs this year, but the fig trees are growing on schedule, and are six feet tall.  In two years we should have 12’ fig trees and figs galore.

Black Jack Fig Tree

Our Yukon gold potatoes appear to be happy, and the russets are really springing up now.  This is our second succession of potatoes this year.

Russetts

Yukons

The Harvest has been good this week.  We have harvested cucumbers, Haricot Verts, Blue Lake green beans, Dutch-Half runner green beans, oodles of Tomatoes, Italian Sweet Relleno peppers, Ancho peppers, Anaheim peppers, Green bell peppers, Jalapenos, and Cayennes.  In addition, I dried an entire crop of basil, which doesn’t seem to have dented the production of same.  We got a lovely eggplant, which we’ll be eating this week.

Harvest 1

More harvest, different day

The whole garden is looking lush this week.  The melons and butternut squash are breaking free of their boxes and trellises and running wild.

Squash gone Wild!

Melons

The field peas are blooming, and the butter beans are too.

Field Peas

Butter Beans

Dutch Half-runners

Image if these dutch half-runners were full on pole beans…they’re already more than 8-9 feet long in places.

Fresh ground Cayenne Powder

I took all those cayenne peppers that you’ve been seeing pictures of and dried them for about 16 hours in a 170 degree oven.  Then this morning I put them all in my spice grinder and made some lovely cayenne powder that smells sweet like honeysuckle and then bites like moonshine.

An Eggplant in the Garden

We’ve been eating on the hot pepper jelly I made last week, and it seems to have addictive qualities.

A local biodynamic farmer is gonna give us some kaolin clay powder to spray on our plants and try out.  I’ll be going up to his farm this week to pick it up and deliver him a jar of the watermelon rind pickle from the watermelon he sold us.

Reach for the Sky!

Haricot Verts

Mycorrhizal Fungi - visible evidence

Flowers in the Apple Orchard

Weekly Garden Update: July 25!

July 25, 2010

Weekly Garden Update, July 25:

Eggplant

Wow, we’re having some record heat around here these days!  Yesterday we got up and were outside at 6:30 am harvesting the box of Kennebec potatoes, and doing weekly maintenance in the garden because it was only 77 degrees then.  Later it got up to 100 degrees, but we were comfortably ensconced inside by then.

Harvest

We pulled up the last of our yellow squash yesterday, the squash vine-borers got them.  We have enough yellow squash to eat this week, but as of August we’ll be out of them.  Strangely we have 2 volunteer squash of unknown variety coming up, so we’ll see if they live long enough.  And the cucumber plants we planted in June may do something as well.  Several older cucumber plants were removed yesterday as well, and we got the last of those cucumbers as well.

Harvest2

The Kennebecs produced the best of all our potatoes this year.  We got as much out of this one box as we did the other 1.75 boxes of potatoes we harvested.  And they were the largest as well.  Last night we boiled some of the smaller ones, and served them with parsley and butter at dinner, and they were delicious.

Some Kennebecs

Kennebecs

Our first butter bean pods are setting up!  Blue Lake green beans seem to be waiting for something, but the Dutch Half-runner green beans are trying to catch up with the Haricot Verts.

Butterbeans

This brings me to the 3.5 lbs of Haricot Verts I harvested on Thursday.  There were so many I just had to weigh them.  We strung them, and then I canned 5 pints of green beans and 2 pints of Dilly Beans.  There were beans left over, but not a lot.  Then we picked another double handful yesterday.

Peppers

Cayennes

Along with the haricot verts, we picked about 40 tomatoes this week, several dozen jalapenos, cayenne, Anaheim, and sweet Italian relleno peppers.  We’re even starting to get some small bell peppers, and harvested one of them.

Haricot Verts

Either today or tomorrow I’ll be making Hot Pepper Jelly out of the jalapenos, sweet Italians, and 18 Habaneros we bought.  Next year I’m gonna be growing either Habaneros or Scotch Bonnets – I just can’t see buying them in the future.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Melons

Tomatoes

tomatoes

Cayenne Peppers

July 18 Weekly Garden Update:

July 18, 2010

Inspired by the excellent post on composting 101 by Engineered Garden, I decided to include a blurb on our own composting set up.

I’m going to try not to repeat anything he said.  There are a variety of compost piles you can make, and not all of them need to be “efficient”, if you don’t need them to be.   I’ll even go so far as to say that when it comes to composting we are downright lazy.

Hardwire cloth compost

First I cut a length of 4’ hardware cloth fencing, and wired it into a circle.  Put that on the ground at the edge of the woods.  We fill this with grass cuttings, leaves, leafy branches, dead lawn and forest stuff, and rip-outs of pea vines, etc.  We never turn it, but it still cuts its own volume in half every 3rd of a year or so and I just keep packing stuff on top.

Earth Machina

We got an “earth machine” plastic composter from our county services cheap.  The thing itself was made of recycled this and that.  It has a little door at the bottom and a twist off lid on the top.  Dump kitchen compost garbage, and/or other dead or dying things whenever you please.  Shovel compost out of the bottom door.   We mostly use this as overflow for the worm farm now.

Early Picture of the Wormfarm

I built us a worm farm out of concrete blocks and a plywood sheet.   We are on very hard clay here in the piedmont of North Carolina, so I just dug a wee bit down to level the site and then I placed the concrete blocks in a rectangle the size I wanted it.  Our friendly county worm-farmer has something like this about 100’ long – we decided we’d start smaller (laughs).  You can feed the worms all the kitchen compostable stuff, wet newspaper, cardboard, leaf and grass cuttings – whatever you have.  They don’t like too much citrus, but they love your coffee grounds.  You never have to worry about ratios, they do all the work, and you don’t need one of those multi-level fruit-fly generators in your kitchen either.  I hinged the plywood lid in the middle so that I can open either half, and when one half gets full we dump stuff in the other half for a few months.  About once a quarter she harvests parts of it that are ready, checks on the worms, and that’s it.  If you want more volume of compost you can put in more worms, make it deeper or cover more area.  There is no mortar and the blocks are loosely jointed – it has plenty of ventilation and drainage.  The only thing I’d like to do at this point is paint the cover so it looks nice and lasts longer.  We get enough compost at this point to feed  our boxes, and that’s all we really need.

HARVEST update –

Haricot Verts

This week we were engulfed by haricot verts, and I canned 5 pints of same while we ate others.  I canned 6 pints of tomato sauce and we are eating tomatoes daily.  We got more cucumbers, in fact I’m in the process of canning 4 more pints of pickles at this moment.  Yellow squash, anaheims, Italian sweet rellenos, cayennes, jalapenos are plentiful.

More harvest

We have pimentos, bell peppers, and several others making rapidly now.  And we have an actual purple eggplant – something that evaded us last year.

Cayennes

Pimento

Bell

There is a charentais melon growing along with our moon and starts watermelons.

Melons

Melons

The kennebecs are definitely ready to harvest now, and the new Yukon golds and russests are springing up nicely.

Yukons

New russets

Our seedlings in the basement germinated this week and are happy under their lights – fall broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

We sprayed fish emulsion this morning.

Blue Lakes

The blue lakes and the dutch half-runner beans are making — we should be harvesting both this week.

This week we lost our 2 zucchini plants and the rest of our acorn squash plants.  One of our farmer friends told us that he starts his squash early inside, then sets them out by April 20th in order to get production before the plants are gone, so we will try this next year.  And we’ll be picking up that kaolin clay this next week and will report on results when we have them.

Eggplant!

As I write this it is 94 degrees and 98% humidity outside.  We’ve gotten enough thunder storms in the past couple of weeks to keep us from having to irrigate from the well, which is very nice.

Field Peas

Weekly Garden Update 7/11

July 11, 2010

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My stepbrother got married yesterday in Missouri, so if you read this,

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BOTH OF YOU!

Have a great honeymoon, and we look forward to seeing you two later!

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Kennebec Potatoes

In garden news, I just saw a squirrel make off with one of our san marzano tomatoes.  I don’t know if it picked it off the plant, or if the tomato was on the ground, or what, but the little devil ran across the yard with it and then up a big oak tree.  My word to the squirrels is, “…don’t make me put you on the same list with the voles….”.

Pimento Pepper

We ended up with more celery than we could eat, store, freeze, etc.  So we sold 14 heads we had left to A Southern Season, who paid us a premium for the non-conventional celery.  Feedback from them is that it has a lot of flavor, and they are pleased with it.  No, it wasn’t much money, but it was exciting to pick up some seed cash.

Eggplants

Speaking of seeds, we have several varieties of things we’ve tried to grow here that haven’t grown well or produced in this zone.  Once we catalog what we want to get rid of, we’d be pleased if anyone wants to do a seed swap.

Dying Acorn Squash 1

Dying Acorn Squash 2

Most things are growing well, but we are losing our second acorn squash plant.  Our biodynamic farmer friend at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market had the (informed) opinion that it is the cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and stink bugs.  Some small percentage of the insects carries bacterial wilt which subsequently can infect the plant.  The proximity of a community garden less than a thousand yards from us may be a contributing factor since apparently the range of these insects is fairly large.  We are attempting to pick up some kaolin clay powder as a natural deterrent for these plants and others in the garden.

Field Peas & More

We started our fall broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts seeds down in the basement.  “One of us” likes Brussels sprouts, and they look funny to grow, so we’re gonna try them out.

Tall Tomatoes on 8' Trellis

Even after I topped and suckered the tallest tomato plants, they just keep trying to kiss the sky.  We now have fruits ripening above the 8’ mark and I hate having to get a ladder out just to harvest.  Oh well.

Above the Trellis

We’ve been harvesting cucumbers, yellow squash, tomatoes galore, and more haricot vert.  And now the blue lake green beans are starting to produce.  We harvested more Italian relleno, cayenne, basil, and Anaheim peppers.  We have California wonder peppers which are making.

Tomato Harvest

Harvest of Plenty

Our watermelons are growing!  We are planning on slinging them this week.  One of the places we read up on slinging was Engineering Garden, one of the other gardening blogs we keep a link to here – he posted a small video on the melon slinging process.

Watermelons

Watermelons

Haricot Vert

Tomatillos

Tomato 6

Tomato 3

Butternuts

Yellow Squash

New Cucumbers

Dutch Half-runners Over the Trellis

Little House on the Piedmont

June 27, 2010

On the vine

We’re feeling like we live in Little House on the Prairie this week, as we bought canning supplies, wide-mouth canning jars, and a small (16-qt) Presto Pressure Canner.

New Canner

Canned Green Beans!

Our first experiment today was 3 pints of haricot vert, and we’re surprisingly excited.  We are already developing a list of things to can, and gathering treasured recipes (like Peach Pickles!) from family.  Watermelon rind pickles, cucumber pickles, radish pickles, HOT pepper jelly, etc.  Next thing you know I’m going to seriously need a pickling crock and grape leaves.

The voles have been absent – no losses on our part, no vole sign or dead voles in traps.  Is this just a cease-fire, or have we won ….until next time?

Tomatoes 1

Tomatoes 3

Tomatoes 6

We are harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers and haricot vert and yellow summer squash daily.  I just haven’t been able to get myself worked up about weighing any of it so far, though I think about it sometimes.  There are really only two of us, and we measure our success more by what we end up buying (or the lack of) than what we are producing, since she keeps excellent records on what we buy as part of the budget process.

Ready to Eat

Little onions

Squash

New Potatoes

From now on we can harvest celery whenever we please, until we run out or the frost comes.

Celery box

Eggplants are blossoming, as are the Blue Lake green beans.  Dutch half-runners and butter beans are putting out tendrils.

Eggplant blossom

Blue Lakes

The sage, tarragon, and rosemary have completely restored themselves since the last harvesting, and the dill is out-growing my efforts to use it.  Basil is setting up nicely, and we have 2 different mints that I just mow back whenever we have to mow.

Sage

Basil

Potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers are still growing.  I am topping and suckering each tomato plant as it reaches 8’.  We got some new potatoes this week, and plan to harvest the rest of the box most affected by the voles, then replant organic russets, like we already replanted the organic Yukon golds, which are growing nicely.

Potatoes

Potatoes

Recent Yukon Golds

We have some really large cayenne peppers growing, as well as pimento, Serrano, anaheims (harvested 2 more this week), anchos, jalapenos (harvested 3 for another round of the muffins)…well we have a lot of peppers.

Peppers

The Japanese beetle season is here, and it is open season on them.  We have beetle bag traps up, and they’re filling nicely.  No significant damage from them yet except for a few apple trees leaves, so far.

Happy Cucumber

We had to pull up a box of cucumbers and zucchini, which is always frustrating and disappointing.  We replanted in another open box, and the plants are already leaping up.  We’re not sure, but we *think* they were hit hard by an unidentified (so far) brown bug that were all over them.  We squished them, and have been squishing any signs of them, and no replication of the problem yet.  If anyone had a clue about this vague problem, we’d be pleased to consider any theories.

Flower

Weekly Garden Update: Summer Solstice 2010

June 20, 2010

8' Tomato

Tomatoes have once again outgrown our 8’ trellis.  Last year they grew up and then started back down, with the longest one having a total length of approximately 14 feet.  This year I’m topping them as they hit the 8’ mark, and plan to sucker more of them as well.

Tomatoes

San Marzanos

The war of attrition against the vole menace seems to be tilting our way.  In the last 2 weeks we’ve only lost 1 celery plant and 1 eggplant, and we have racked up 2 voles in traps, and a total lack of new vole hole activity.  (I started humming the Ballad of Roger Young while I wrote this (chuckle)).

We took another step this week away from the mainstream:  we bought canning supply implements and wide-mouth pint Mason jars.  With our large metal pots, this will allow us to do water-bath canning.  We’re seriously considering splurging on a pressure canner at some point as well.

Haricot Verts

We harvested haricot vert at least 4 days out of the past 6!  Oh, snap beans galore to be steamed and gobbled.  We’ve been harvesting a few yellow squash which were promptly sautéed in butter and devoured.  We got our first Anaheim pepper off the vine, and we have jalapenos, cayenne, and Italian Rellenos growing.  At least one tomato is coming off the vines daily.

Squash!

Harvest

Today we harvested our first cucumber, and more celery.  More cucumbers will be harvestable tomorrow or the next day.

Cucumber

Celery

It has been 15 days since we racked the garlic, and this morning I cleaned and polished the bulbs after trimming down the stems and the roots.  I separated damaged bulbs or bulbs with little or no paper covering to be eaten sooner.  I smell like garlic.

We pulled up all the snow peas this morning, and reworked the bed.  And we weeded and tidied up and picked squash bugs, etc.

Field Peas (Cow Peas)

Butter Beans

Dutch Half-Runners

The butter beans, field peas, and Dutch half-runners are growing nicely, as you can see here.

Here is our butternut squash growing up the trellis, and in the background are the tomatillos.

Butternut Squash

Last but not least, this is a color of day lily of which I am particularly fond, and a couple of extra photos from the garden.

Day Lily

Melons

Yukon Gold Potatoes - Planted recently

Haricot Vert