Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Late February Harvest

      Usually I try to write a paragraph first to open a post before using any pictures.  Well I was so pleased with my leek harvest that I just had to share it first thing.  And the little turnip.  The bag on the right is mixed salad greens, and the bag on the left is tatsoi with immature flower stalks.  Talk about delicious.

       You can see a dark hole in the photo above, that is where I just picked the leek.  Fortunately this year there are more than just the one.  The red russian kale at the bottom of the photo is bouncing back nicely after overwintering unprotected.  All the short stuff is chick weed.  As it is edible, I left it alone to grow.  Now it looks like a good source of green stuff for the compost pile.

New leeks at top in plastic packs
      Pretty uplifting pickings for February.  Garden on. Or maybe soon to begin.  There is green at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring Blooms

Purple Crocus,  2/26/2012

Yellow Crocus,  2/26/2012

Primrose,  2/26/2012
Snow Drops, 2/26/2012

The Vigor of Plants


   The dill and chinese cabbage plants that I moved to the porch for the winter just don't want to give up the ghost yet.  As a matter of fact, they are trying to go to seed to produce the next generation.  The seeding efforts are certainly fun to watch here near the early spring.  I would expect that the dill will be pretty scraggly by the time it could survive outside, and the chinese cabbage looks like it will be done in a couple of weeks.  Out of pure curiosity, I will probably cut off the cabbage seed stalk and leaves, and plant the stump one more time in the garden to see what happens.

Chinese cabbage flowering,  2/26/2012
Dill about to flower,  2/26/2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Something New Growing at the Park

      This will be the start of my fourth year of gardening at the park gardens.  It was in my second year that I started to make some basic lean to cold frames.  Bob King has had plots at the park since the gardens were started thirty years ago.  This will be his first year to do this:

      He borrowed a couple of pieces of glass from me, and I saw this new addition to one of his plots today.  The seed packets at the top left corner indicate that he has started this frame as a way to get early seed germination.  And another garden in the opposite direction:

      Eileen had this raised bed in a different spot in her garden, surrounding her asparagus bed.  I suggested that the asparagus really didn't care if it was in a raised bed or not, and that she could have a very quick cold frame by moving the box and adding a top.  Voila, another cold frame gardener.
      So this spring new cold frames will be sprouting in gardens at the park.  Move over Johnnie Appleseed, here comes Georgie Cold Frame.  It was Charles Caleb Colton who said:  "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".  And right he is.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flats to the Cold Frames

      With all of the sprouts coming along from the recent paper towel seed starting, I have quickly run out of room for flats on the porch.  This morning I was forced to start moving some flats out to cold frames to free up some porch room for newer flats.  In the Trex cold frame out back, the pak choi had not fared so well, whereas the tatsoi did wonderfully.

      I pulled all of the pak choi from the top right corner, and weeded some of the dead leaves of the minutina in the bottom right corner.  A flat of Walla Walla onion starts and chinese cabbage starts was put into the frame.  Should have enough room to get a second flat in there, as well as maybe planting a couple of lettuce.

      A couple of years ago I moved a large fish tank (5 feet long) out of the basement by myself.  All sorts of physics involved.  Used ladders, ramps, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.  Pushed and pulled it up the basement stairs.  Got it up onto a wheeled butcher block table, through the garage, and out to the driveway.  When trying to shift from the driveway to the grass, my good luck physics ran out.  I had one end, and the other rested on the wheeled table.  The wheeled table then decided to roll out from under the tank, and in slow motion, I watched the far end of the tank fall to the driveway.  Was thankful not to be hurt, embarrassed to be so dumb, and amazed that only a piece of about 1/3 of the bottom broke out.  The tank has since been waiting for a new duty out in the garden.  That new duty started this morning.   


      All of the plants above went in the tank with the exception of the onions that went previously into the cold frame.  These little lettuce and cabbage starts should do fine in the tank.  And now I can pot up some more seedlings to go out to my new found room on the porch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plant Rescue 105 - Chinese Cabbage

      Back in November after the harvest of The Chinese Cabbage, it was my thought that that plant had gone to plant heaven, never to be heard from again.  And you were hoping the saga was over, too.

Chinese Cabbage, 11/23/2012
      This magnificent plant had grown as a volunteer, and I constantly feared for its life against the appetite of deer or rabbits.  But it survived, only to be mowed down by my blade for the Thanksgiving harvest.

Picked for Thanksgiving, 2011
      End of story, right?  Wrong.  There still was a stump, promising all sorts of possible rescue plans:

      I cut off all the little leaflets except the one shown in the middle of this shot.  Put the rest of those leaf thingies in my compost:

      Where they promptly rotted from too much moisture.  End of story, right?  Not so fast.  The old root with the one attached leaflet went back into a pot.  And did well:

Coming back strong, 12/28/2011
      I have some chinese cabbage started now from purchased seed, so I should let this poor survivor alone to live out its life and produce seed.  As it is trying to do:

Still growing, 2/17/2012

      Or I could cut it back another time and use these leaves for a salad.  It has a nice seed head forming, yet the cole crops are notorious for cross pollinating, meaning I might not get chinese cabbage from the seed.  Maybe I will cut it up for trying to clone some of the pieces.  Yes, that might extend its life a little bit more. Long live the Chinese Cabbage.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tatsoi Salad

      I have often looked at various greens and thought they would make a nice salad when spruced up with some cherry or grape tomatoes.  Tatsoi and tomatoes or even just chickweed and tomatoes.  Well the original bed of tatsoi in one of the frames at the park was forming seed heads, so I figured it was now or never.

Tatsoi,  2/19/2012
      The tatsoi is just about to burst out into full bloom.  You can see a couple of yellow flowers just getting started.  I cut off the emerging seed stalks that I could find.  This bed is going to seed early because it was too crowded and the plants must feel stressed.  The plants that I transplanted to a cold frame with more room in the back yard garden have retained most of their rosette growth habit:

Tatsoi with more room to spread
Just about to flower,  2/19/2012
      So I will go add some cherry tomatoes to my little stash of tatsoi stalks.  And some Greek Salad Dressing on top.

Simply scrumptious!
      It was wonderful.  And fresh.  Right from my winter garden an hour before.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hardy Greens

      It certainly has been a mild winter so far.  Our low temperature locally has been 13 degrees, with a couple of 15 degree mornings also thrown in.  And those cold temperatures did not come in a long stretch, rather as interspersed single day cold snaps.  Here we are more than half way through February, so hopefully the coldest lows are behind us.  Many different cold hardy greens have not only survived, but are harvestable.

Mild mustard, 2/18/2012
      This mustard plant is growing right at the base of the compost pile.  Not only does it get a little wind break, it gets some good nutrients from the compost.

Similar mustard, completely unprotected,  2/18/2012

      These three plants are all volunteers.  The one on the left is another mustard, the one on the right looks like bak choi, and the one at the top is probably senposai, which is a hybrid of cabbage and Komatsuna.  Just don't ask me what Komatsuna is.

Also senposai?
      I harvested leaves from the mustard, the bak choi, and the senposai.  My thought is to shred all three and add some carrot shavings and onions to make a winter cole slaw.  Wish me luck.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Swiss Chard Germination

      I have grown Swiss Chard for many years because it is an attractive plant, has few bug problems, stands up to the summer heat, and is quite easy to grow.  Just this year, we started using it for Spanakopita, so now we even eat what I grow.  I started the Bright Lights variety on February 3rd with the paper towel germination method, and got very good results.

      It is neat that even as seedlings, the stem color has already developed.  There are reds, pinks, yellows, and oranges.  They will keep these beautiful stem colors as they grow.

      The bumpy "seeds" of Swiss Chard are actually seed pods containing multiple seeds.  The pod in the middle of the photo has two yellow stem plants emerging.

      I transplanted two pods per cell, but you can see additional plants that have now sprouted from the pods.  I will have to try to tease the plants apart as they get bigger.

Fordhook Swiss Chard, back yard garden, 11/15/11
      This green form, Fordhook Giant, is supposed to be a bigger producer than the colored rib varieties.  Chard tries to overwinter here, but I usually lose a very high percentage of the plants.  Last fall after we cut the chard back to near the ground, I mounded the stumps with shredded leaves.  Several of the plants are trying to grow through the leaves now.

Overwintered chard stumps, 2/17/2012

      I would expect these plants to put on a growth spurt within the next month.  Should be able to get a harvest out of them before they go to seed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Animal Kingdom Safari

      It is raining and in the forties here today.  A day to stay inside, or to look at the pictures from our Disney World trip and relive the trek through the Safari at the Animal Kingdom.  It was January 28th, the sun was shining, and the temperature was in the mid 70's.  We loaded our crew of eleven onto one of the open safari trucks.  Our guide went through the routine of stay in your seats and keep your hands in.  Advice well taken.  And he suggested to put our camera into "sports" or "action" mode, as he would not be able to stop for perfect picture moments.  And let me tell you, the ride is none too smooth, jostling over creekbeds, rocks and washouts.  I was sitting in the back, and usually had to take pictures as we were driving away from the animals.  So we headed off:

     The first part of our journey was past some water holes and heavily shrubbed areas.  Here is one of those shots from the back of the bouncing truck.  Encouraging that it came out mostly centered and not blurry.

      And no, I was not taking notes, so this is just a beautiful bird.

      These guys look like pelicans to me.  As we drove around the next bend, we prayed the truck would not get stuck.

      We did make it past, with no one falling out.  After a bit more driving, we came to the open savannah, far different than the enclosed jungle.

You want to leave these guys alone
Look Pop Pop, a giraffe
Pop Pop, two giraffes!
This guy had his own racing stripe
And Dumbo!  Almost like he was posing.  Yet we drove right on by.
Was he waving good bye?
Luckily the rhinos were sleeping

      Overall, I was quite pleased with the "sports" mode on the little camera.  And amazed that most of the shots were centered and presentable.  But there is always an exception.  This one of the hippo speaks for itself:

The End!!