Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Little More Cold Frame Progress

Morning at the park, 11/30/11
      This morning started out bright and clear, with a predicted high of 50 degrees.  A day that would be fine for finishing the cold frame at the top.  The left end was still open, something that needs to be fixed before the sub 25 degree weather in ten days.  So I looked, and measured, and pondered about how to close off the end, which was uneven lengths.  And had the 6 x 6 beams at the bottom to work around.  Back to the house to saw.

All boxed in, 11/30/11

      With some persuasion from the maul and lots of 3 inch screws, I had the left end in place.  Now I could lay out my glass panels accurately, and decided to switch out a 31 inch panel for one that was more narrow.  That gave me enough room to add two 2 x 3 boards to the top.  That will give me some support to lean on, or more importantly to grab should I trip or lose my balance around all that glass.

      I put some more wood chips in the rows along the cold frames.  Spruces it up a bit, and will give some insulation value at the bottom of the frames.

More planting, 11/30/11

      I planted the thick stemmed chinese mustard near the back, as it will want to get taller.  The roots had filled out nicely in the cell packs after transplanting them from another spot in the garden.

      All closed up for the night.  Yep, the window in the middle needs repair work.  As do some others.  What can I expect for free?  Probably why these old windows became available.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Colder is Coming

      This season has spoiled gardeners in Delaware, where we are still able to harvest copious amounts of kale, collards, cabbage and even some of the less cold hardy salad greens.  But a look at the 15 day forecast by Accuweather suggests that we will have a turn to the colder weather in two weeks.  Nights as low as 20 or 23 degrees will spell doom for unprotected lettuce.  While a lot can change in a 15 day forecast, I still find it helpful to look at the overall trend.  Here is a great website, just put in your location or zip code:

The site also keeps historical data, so you can go back and see just how miserable the summer heat was, or brag about how little rain you had in the drought in so many areas.
      So I have been duly warned by the weather gurus.  Any new cold frame activity must be done in a little over ten days.  Ditto any plants to be moved.  Winter will soon settle in.
      The next three pictures are of plants that are not protected currently, and would not like 20 degrees.  So some are looking for new homes for the winter.  And I am getting kind of tired of making cold frames, so feel free to put in a request.

Mizuna, arugula, mustard, and tatsoi - 11/28/11

Various lettuces and mustards, 11/28/11

Various lettuces and chickweed, 11/28/11

      I had not thought about using the chickweed as a living mulch in the cold frames, till now.  Hmm, might work.  The bees would love it on days the frames are open, as the chickweed is just now starting its fall bloom cycle.  This next picture is of plots maintained by Bob King.  Lots of fall veggies.

Collards, turnips, onions, mustard and lettuce

      I will be interested to see what survives in Bob's unprotected plots.  Kale and collards should, turnips maybe, lettuce will be mush.  So be prepared soon to button up your overcoat, at least if you live in this area.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Carving of the Thanksgiving Cabbage

      Bear with me for one more story about the chinese cabbage.  You will be thrilled to know that with Barb and Em taking some home, there is very little evidence left.  But back to the carving...

Thanksgiving morning, 2011

      This beauty was a volunteer from some plants from the spring season.  Those were less than spectacular, and I never had a harvest, though they were pretty to see in bloom.  I really wasn't expecting volunteers for a fall harvest, but there are several, and boy were they champs.  Illustrates the benefits of fall gardening.

Breaking off the outer leaves

      I am after the tender leaves of the "head" of the cabbage.  The outer leaves are kept for stir fry, saute, or a baked casserole.  Those inner leaves are used for dipping in the sour cream dip.  Calories don't count on Thanksgiving, right?

Finally on the table, 11/24/11

Veggie plate

      Fresh from the garden to the veggie plate were radishes, broccoli, green onions, and celery leaves as a garnish.  Garnish nothing, grand son Wesley asked if he could eat it.  And did.
      A good time had by all.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Bounty

      Our Thanksgiving will be celebrated early tomorrow at noon, so that Emily and family may move on to a second glutinous sitting in the late afternoon.  Whoops, I meant to say gourmandish.  Well what can we come up with from the garden for the Thanksgiving feast?

      Oh no, where did the chinese cabbage go?  I am happy to say It went home with me, foiling the deer and the voles for maybe the first time.  So to the young buck who was waiting till Thanksgiving to share this delicacy with Dosey Doe, I got there first.  The outer leaves will be saved for making a delicious baked cabbage dish, and the smaller inner leaves are going on the veggie platter.  The chinese cabbage has a much milder flavor than regular cabbage, and it is crispier too.  Can be used raw, stir fried, or baked.

Safely cut and ready to transport, 11/23/11

Ready to pick, 11/23/11
Egyptian Walking Onions, 11/23/11
      Emily is in charge of the salad, but I was in charge of the salad greens.  The green onions may go either in the salad or on the veggie and dip platter.

Salad greens and green onions, 11/23/11

Rogue radish patch, 11/23/11

      And remember that little patch of spilled radish seeds?  The ones that had the audacity to grow right in the wood chip path?  Well they continue to provide the nicest radishes that I have ever had.

Radishes from wood chip path, 11/23/11

       Together with a more familiar red radish volunteer and three beautiful young heads of broccoli, we have a fine addition for the veggie platter.

Broccoli and radishes, 11/23/11

      And lest we forget the days of summer, we harvested one of the white Casper pumpkins from our stash on the porch.  We are actually going to have pumpkin as a side dish, but there is so much that I think we will freeze some for muffins or pies.

Casper Pumpkin, 11/23/11 but picked months ago

George and Casper trying to find out who is bigger and badder, 11/23/11

George won that battle

      So preparations are being made for the feast tomorrow.  Had I talked with Barb and Em, we could have pooled our supplies of swiss chard for Cindy's spanekopeta.  But instead, we will have to settle for using frozen spinach.  Bummer.
      I am thankful for the opportunity to have family together for Thanksgiving, and I am happy to have so much fresh organic produce from my garden.  I am thankful for Moira Sheridan and Bob King showing me the possibilities of fall gardening.  Way beyond just the tomatoes and cucumbers of the summer.  Maybe you can have your own Thanksgiving goodies next year.
      Gobble gobble, have a great turkey day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Walk in the Park

      Today has been down right miserable, rainy and dreary all day.  I can usually find a break to get outside and play in the dirt, but not today.  Makes me happy that I got out yesterday, even though it too was overcast and called for rain.  I worked on improving one of the cold frames that had basically been a leaner last year.

Cold frame for rebuild, 11/21/11

      This frame was made of 6 by 6 timbers laid in the ground front and back.  The back timber then had an additional 2 x 6 to elevate the glass panels.  The ends were just boards leaned loosely against the glass.  The improved frame will have an additional layer of 2 x 4's front and back, as well as fixed ends.

Volunteer dill, 11/21/11

      This volunteer dill was getting quite smashed whenever I had to put the glass on.  I think I will pot up the dill, and keep it on the porch.  Anybody want a dill plant?
      The following pictures are just for record keeping.

Lettuces, 11/21/11

Bellevue garden. 11/21/11
      The frame at the bottom is the one I was working on last week.  It still needs the left end piece built before cold weather sets in.  The upper frame is the current project.  When finished, a lot of the stuff in the upper bed can be transplanted to the completed frame.  A heck of a lot of activity still going on in the Thanksgiving week.

Tango lettuce and others for transplanting, 11/21/11

Oft mentioned Chinese Cabbage, 11/21/11

      I have been planning to cut the chinese cabbage for Thanksgiving, even if it doesn't get on the menu.  Well, Cindy is planning on having veggies and dip for Thursday.  Those inner leaves should be pretty darn scrumptious with a little dip.  So, I am hoping it is not on the deer's menu for Thanksgiving Eve.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Walk in the Park

      I was itching to get out the door and over to the park garden, but delayed my visit after seeing the frost on the back yard leaf pile and cold frames.  Used some time to tidy up my seed packets.  Still more time needed to finish that project, but it was then 9AM and safe to go to the park.  Well, the little frost was actually a pretty hard freeze, so doing more work on the cold frames with bare hands wasn't so appealing.

Frost on the Chinese Cabbage, 11/19/11

Frost on the Tango Lettuce, 11/19/11

      Since it wouldn't be much fun working in this frosty patch, I decided to get some exercise and take a walk instead of gardening.  So although it was chilly, the sun was shining and the sky oh so blue.

So a walk it was

The blue sky I mentioned

Reflections off the pond

The geese perfectly happy with the chill

Finishing the walk

      Then back to the garden.  What a difference an hour makes.  The frost was gone, yet so was my desire to work in the dirt.  But an enjoyable morning nonetheless.

Frost was gone, 11/19/11
And the Chinese Cabbage was happy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waste Not

      One thing that I find fun and challenging about gardening is the ability to often recycle things, such as pots, poles, boards, leaves,and oh yes, plants.

Leaf pile, as of 11/15/11

      The leaves are almost finished falling from my trees, and the neighbors trees.  Several neighbors bring over their leaves, and yesterday I mowed my next door neighbor's back yard leaves into my flowerbed.  I will shred the above pile with the mower, so next spring I will have lots of beautiful leaf mold.  The leafy greens in front are swiss chard.  This clump is ready for a last harvest, then I hope to move the plants to a cold frame to hopefully overwinter them.  Although swiss chard is quite cold hardy, I have not had much luck, maybe one in ten plants, with it overwintering unprotected.

Red onions, 11/15/11

White and yellow onions, 11/15/11

      The onions above are the last of my onions from the summer crop.  Some were too small to bother with trying to use.  Some were sprouting, and some were gasp, mushy.  So back in the ground they go.  I expect all to sprout usable scallion type onions, and hope some will develop bulbs.  All should overwinter without protection.  The green sprouts in the red onion picture are peas that sprouted from pods that fell from plants in the summer.  They will not produce peas before the winter kill, but the sprout tops and tendrils are delicious and pretty on a salad.

Ruby lettuce, 11/15/11

      One of my park gardening neighbors is about to put his plot to bed for the winter, and was not interested in these Ruby Lettuce volunteers in his garden.  Well I was!  What a bounty.  I potted them all up for a few days, hopefully to allow them to develop nice roots.  Remember those straw bales for my daughter's new cold frame, well here is some beautiful lettuce for a start.  And below are some starts of Tatsoi and thick stem chinese mustard getting ready for transplant to some cold frame.

Tatsoi on the left, chinese mustard on the right

      And lastly, pictured below, are some baby lettuce volunteers on the park compost pile.  Don't rush over there to get them, as they have already decided to move on.  They appear to be a green romaine lettuce, a very welcome addition to my lettuce collection.  So all of these plants have been saved from ending up on the compost pile, and some had actually started out there!

Compost pile lettuce

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Traveling Gardener, Again

      I drove down to my Daughter Barb's house yesterday to help plant the third and last cold frame.  We did that, apparently too quickly, as we had some time to discuss the timbers that had been collected in anticipation of the greenhouse project.  Though the greenhouse isn't about to happen yet, those timbers and the stored glass might just come in handy.
      We started lining up the timbers as support, and Barb and Rob grabbed the tiller to chew up a new garden bed.

A new project, 11/12/11

Making progress

All that is needed is a couple of end pieces

And at Em's house, guess what

      This sure looks like more raw material for a cold frame, a straw bale cold frame.  There are nine good straw bales.  We will need one at each end, leaving seven.  The bales are about three feet long.  Looks like another twenty foot cold frame in the making.  But it is a project for another day.  Actually another week as we won't get around to it till Thanksgiving week.  In the meantime, I am digging some of the small veggies from my park garden to develop good root systems in anticipation of a new cold frame project.