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Showing posts from 2017

A salute to garden volunteers

In every garden, there are two types of plants: the ones you planted and the ones that just jump out of the dirt and yell, “Surprise!”

The latter leave you wondering, “What IS that?” It might be a weed, a tree seedling, or something that fell into the dirt from last season’s plantings and germinated. It might have been dropped in via wild bird poop, carried on the fur of a rabbit, a possum, a cat or a mouse — or blown in on the wind.

Tomato cages for determined vines

Last summer’s tumbling tower of tomatoes has made me rethink the standard tomato cage.  They are great for determinate tomatoes that grow like shrubs. They are useless for indeterminant tomatoes that spread out like a thoroughbred on the home stretch.

A search for alternatives led me to discover these ideas:

Planting Summer Flowers

Nothing spells summer to me like f-l-o-w-e-r-s.

Next to sprouting carrot tops and growing sweet potatoes in a jar of water, few garden plants are as rewarding as zinnias, marigolds and cosmos. They don't have many requirements to thrive and they produce such glorious blossoms.

The jewel in the garden: red chard

Swiss chard are the only vegetables that have the same color P-O-W as flowers. I just love the brilliance of red chard.

Our chard was a slow starter. While the cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts jumped up from the ground, the chard barely grew for the longest time.  Now we're nearing harvest and the question is what can we do with it?

I get stymied about how to fix it. I just found a wonderful sounding "New York Times Cooking" recipe for Swiss Chard Slab Pie. Essentially, it's two layers of dough with a chard, onion, white wine and sour cream layer between.  The edges are crimped, the top slitted and washed with egg whites, then baked for 50 to 55 minutes.

Finding our lost Brussels sprouts

We're city girls.  We'll admit it.

We've progressed beyond bagging our Brussels sprouts from the bin at the local chain grocery store. We've been to the local farmers market. We know Brussels sprouts grow on a long stalk. And that's what we expected when we planted them last November.

My new favorite cauliflower recipe

We've had a couple of glorious weeks of sunshine that caused the cauliflowers to race right into the bolting stage. They've all been harvested and eaten.  We're just waiting for some spare time to take out the leaves and stems to make room for something new in the garden.

Karen and I have slightly different perspectives on what to plant: she likes novelty -- rainbow or watermelon radishes or purple or gold cauliflower; I'm more of a traditionalist; the novelty varieties never seem to turn out as well as the originals.

Our first cauliflower of the season

We have purple and gold cauliflower blossoming in our garden this week. (We got the color pack when we planted in November.)
Nearly a week of sunshine has made everything grow big. Besides the cauliflower, the lettuces are thriving along with the spinach.  The brussels sprout plants keep getting larger and larger -- keeping pace with the cauliflower plants -- but there's no signs of sprout stems.
The red Swiss chard is coming along.  It's still small and slow, but seems healthy.
There's not much work to be done at this point. Mother Nature has kept a nice pace of rain so there's no watering to be done. The break in the rain and the arrival of sun means that weeds are starting to thrive, but not so much that we can't easily keep them under control.  There are bug holes in the lower leaves of our lettuces, but not so severe that we're inclined to break out the organic bug spray.
The basil plants are no longer thriving.  We've had temperatures in the low 30s,…

Reveling in a rainy garden

We'e been so starved for rain these past five or six years, I was starting to forget what it was like.
The past two months, we've had a series of nice, durable, gentle rains.  Heavy enough to soak but not to wash out. Frequent enough to foster growth, but not so frequent as to drown the seedlings. For us farmers, it's like having a self-gardening plot: we just have to go out every week or so and ooh and ahh over how fast everything is getting big.
Of all the gardens we've ever planted, I think this one has been the most rewarding.  The conditions -- timing, moisture, sun and season -- have come together perfectly.  We have plenty of mulch down so the weeds aren't even raising their heads.
We grew cabbage one summer (probably not the best season for that) and it seemed to take forever to see anything cabbage like. It's too early to see any embryonic cauliflowers, but the transformation from one week to the next is dramatic.
The lettuce is growing so well that we…