Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plant Rescue 101

      The cloning experiments written about earlier were mostly failures.  Those folks who suggested compost would hold too much water were absolutely correct.  Most stuff turned to mush, yet the good news is that the compost is still usable.  None of the pieces of thick stem chinese mustard rooted.  Even the stem of savoy cabbage expired, though probably aided greatly in death by sap sucking aphids.
      On the positive side, cuttings of Malabar Spinach have rooted, and some of those were repotted today.  New to plant rescue today were four mustard plants dug from a common path at the park:

Rescued and transplanted mustard greens, 12/31/11

Who can name it greens?    12/28/11
      These greens were growing at the park in a dump area where gardeners throw their weeds and discarded plants.  Interesting volunteers can often be found in such spots.  These little greens hopefully are a cos lettuce, but the little striations on the leaves leads me to think they are probably a chicory, much less exciting in my opinion.  But they were put in cell packs anyway, so as to develop a good root system before being planted in a cold frame:

Cos or chicory?
       There was a nice little bunch of beet volunteers growing in this spoils area.  Upon closer inspection, they were leafed out from beets that were partially eaten by voles rather than being beets from seed.  They still might grow on to provide beet tops in the early spring.  Which would be a great freebee.

Sprouting beets, 12/28/11

Rescued beets, 12/31/11

      Note particularly the two beets on the right that have been chewed on by voles.  Yet the beets are trying to regrow.  Next I timmed them up a bit:

Beet plugs for potting, 12/31/11
      These trimmed up beet plugs were potted in cell packs, and will move on to the cool porch to get some strong roots started.  Then they will go in a cold frame.  But don't give up on the beets.  They were repotted in good garden soil to see if they will start even more sprouts.  I just find it fun to see what will happen.

Beet roots repotted, 12/31/11

Last Harvest of 2011

      This morning I had my last harvest of the year over at the park garden.  It was the last harvest only because the year gave out on the garden, the garden did not give up for the year.  Should I choose to, I can make tomorrow the first harvest of 2012.  That is pretty much a done deal with the temperature forecast to be in the 50's.  A pleasant start to the year, followed by a predicted low of 18 degrees on Tuesday.  That should pretty much wipe out all but the hardiest non protected veggies, that being collards, kale and leeks.

Last Harvest of 2011
      On the bottom left is blue curled scotch kale, with Beedy's Camden kale on the right.  At the top is a savoy cabbage I picked today simply to grab it before the deer or the voles got it.  It will store very well in the fridge for awhile.  Both kales are already chopped and added to the pot along with olive oil, onions and garlic.  The beginnings of delicious kale and white bean soup.  Simply scrumptious.

Saute first, soup next, 12/31/11

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Tatsoi snowflakes for Christmas Day

No Wasted Space

      It's cold, 43 degrees.  It's windy, gusting to 15 mph.  And it's wet and muddy.  My hands are cold, wet, and muddy.  All to be expected when trying to garden in late December in Delaware.  Why bother you wonder?
      Because there is an empty space in a cold frame and it is supposed to drop to 23 degrees tonight.  Not quite comfy temps for lettuce out in the open.

Hark, a no no.  Open space!  12/28/11
Free range lettuce, 12/28/11

Filled cold frame, 12/28/11
      Problem solved.  While the green frilly Tango Lettuce could take tonight's cold temperatures, I was not sure about the red lettuce.  So those plants are now tucked in safely.  Knock on wood, the voles don't seem to cater to this frame.  Maybe after they wipe out everything else, they will move over.  We'll see.

Cold Frame Clean Up

Before clean up, 12/27/11
      I was surprised that one cold frame had a lot of die off.  It was the Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, which I think died of old age rather than cold weather.  When Simpson is ready to bolt or die, it is pretty quick to do so.  Luckily I had dug some of the lettuce from a bed from a fellow gardener who has given up gardening for the season.  What a blessing to have replacement plants on hand.
      Yesterday there was a married couple walking around the park looking at their garden and touring others.  They stopped by to chat about the cold frames.  They mentioned they had put in lettuce late that had not matured.  Of course I made the pitch to adopt it for a community garden down town with a new high tunnel that is begging for plant starts.  I must have done so well talking about winter salad greens, that instead of giving me permission to dig, they left in search of some garden fabric they had in the garage to make their own protection for the lettuce.  She seemed delighted by the outcome; he rolled his eyes, being quite happy to see the lettuce succumb to the cold.  Isn't that what usually happens?

After clean up, 12/27/11
      There, looks much better.  I left the frame open last night as it was supposed to rain and have a low of only 38 degrees.  Tonight is forecast to go to 23 degrees, so I need to remember to cover it again.  Note the Mizuna mustard at the top left that I dug from my park garden.  I wanted to have some of those pretty greens near at hand.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Salads

      *** Happy Holidays ***

      Here it is Christmas Eve!  Getting ready for the good eating tomorrow.  Emily is in charge of making a salad for Christmas and the day after.  She asked good old Pop Pop to be in charge of the basic salad greens.  Gasp, I actually picked them yesterday as, one, they will still be plenty fresh tomorrow, and two, yesterday had a forecast high of 50 degrees rather than today's forecast of only 40 degrees.  Yesterday easily won out.  Even though we will not have snow for Christmas, we will still have snowflakes, as I cut some yesterday.

Tatsoi, also called Tah Tsoi
      Tatsoi makes such pretty little rosettes.  It grows close to the ground when crowded, and makes these great green snowflakes.  If grown on 6 inch centers, it will get a little taller and less dense.  I like it crowded.  These were grown unprotected, and may be just as ready to be picked a month from now.  The next picture shows them before trimming.  As you can see, very little needs to be thrown away.

Tatsoi, cut 12/23/11
Various lettuce types, picked 12/23/11
      Em, here are the lettuce pickings for the salads.  I can pick some more if we need them for the second get together on the 26th.  Below are the thick stem Chinese mustard and arugula if you want to spice things up a bit.  If not, we can put the arugula on the veggie plate.  Barb will make it magically disappear.
      Happy Holidays!

Thick stem chinese mustard, tatsoi, and arugula

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stocking Night

      With the addition of grand children to our family eight years ago, we have given up hosting Christmas Day celebrations at our house and instead go where the kids are.  And yet, Cindy still decorates the house and outside, and we still go cut a tree every year.  So rather than than going to all the effort that doesn't get seen, I proposed a new idea last year of having Stocking Night at Gramma's and Pop Pop's house so everyone could see the decorations.  Lo and behold, everyone liked the idea!
      And I get to go wild at the dollar store.  I just spent $32 there, got lots of neat little things for the kiddies, and had a fun time to boot.  This morning we stuffed all the stockings, and tonight we will have Gramma's great and beloved beef stew, another growing family tradition.  So if you can't host the big Christmas event, I highly recommend Stocking Night shortly before Christmas.

Christmas is near, 12/22/11
      Oh, and I have already wrapped all of these gifts under the tree.  Maybe Christmas Eve won't be so hectic this year.

Stockings all set

Happy Holidays to All
      When I saw the flash go off, I knew it would reflect off the painting, so I took the shot from the side that is the second photo.  Yet when I saw the above shot, I immediately liked the Christmas Star.  So let it Shine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bird of Paradise

on Wordless Wednesday:

My Bird of Paradise, 12/21/25

Bird of Paradise starting to bloom, 10/29/11

Saturday, December 17, 2011

La Boqueria

      Six months ago, Cindy and I took a wonderful trip to Spain and France.  We flew into Barcelona and spent two nights there in a little family run hotel, the Hosteria Grau, in the newer of the old sections of Barcelona.  We walked, and walked, and walked some more.  Totally by accident, we found La Boqueria, just off La Rambla, an amazing market right in the heart of Barcelona, and now in our hearts.  As per the Wikipedia piece at the end, the market was at this location 20 years before Columbus discovered the Americas.  Unbelievable.  Very Barcelona.

La Boqueria
      Housed in a high ceilinged open warehouse, the place is huge!  And the vendors many.  Any fresh food item you want, they probably have it.  But not for cheap, as many items were quite expensive.  But the browsing was free, and a treat.

A market has to have fresh produce
And fresh breads and pastries
And in Spain, gorgeous olives

Mushrooms, fresh and dried

Dried mushrooms, even by the bushel

      I was most impressed with the seafood vendors.  Everything fresh, or better yet, alive.  Not a trace of an ammonia odor.  Stuff I had never seen.  Stuff I have never eaten.  Like...

Live Percebe
      Percebe.  Goose neck barnacles.  Very interesting to look at.  I should have found some on a restaurant menu just to try.  That price of 28.99 euros works out to $19.75 a pound!  And the little part you eat, or suck out, is in the tube.  The tube and neat looking top are just very expensive waste.

More live seafood
      The cigar looking thingies are what we call razor clams.  Live and slippery.  The pinkish prawns that have the color of cooked crustaceans were actually alive!  I think that color is indicative of them being caught at great depths, where color pigments are not of any biologic value.  So caught at depth, put on ice, and brought to the market live.  Obviously the norm at this market.
      There were butcher stalls of beef and pork.  Beautiful and expensive huge hanging hams.  Candies, coffees, and yet more.  A very magical place.
The website for the market is:

      And interesting historical info was found at Wikipedia:

      The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470 onwards, a pig market was held at this site; at this time it was known as Mercat Bornet. Later, until 1794, it was known simply as Mercat de la Palla, or straw market. In the beginning, the market was not enclosed and had no official status, being regarded simply as an extension of the Placa Nova market, which extended to the Placa del Pi.
      Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla, housing mainly fishmongers and butchers. It was not until 1826 that the market was legally recognized, and a convention held in 1835 decided to build an official structure. Construction began on March 19, 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vila. The market officially opened in the same year, but the plans for the building were modified many times. The inauguration of the structure finally took place in 1853. A new fish market opened in 1911, and the metal roof that still exists today was constructed in 1914.

Last of the Radishes

      One of the main reasons I keep this blog is for my own garden record keeping.  Being able to include pictures is a huge additional bonus.  I had recently read that radishes will go pithy when exposed to hard frosts, so this morning I picked all of the remaining mature radishes.  Scanning back through September blogs, I see that I planted the seed on September 12th.  There, actual proof of the value of the blog.  The planting worked out perfectly, as I have harvested the best radishes I have ever grown.  They certainly do well growing into the cool weather as they mature, rather than growing into hot weather with a spring crop.  Three plantings a week apart starting on September 1st would probably be perfect.  

The end of the radish crop, 12/17/11
Trying to be a twofer
      I will really appreciate this end of the crop, knowing that a spring crop is months away.  But to have radishes well into December has been great.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lunch Visitor

      As I sat down for lunch today, I saw a blur of activity out the window.  There, taking advantage of a rotted Casper pumpkin on its way to compost ville, was a fat and happy squirrel.  He was not the least bit concerned about the bright lights popping off in his eyes from the kitchen windows, as there were more important things to do.

Wow, what a great place.  Totally organic, man.

Maybe if I am quiet, my friends won't discover the goodies

The bigger seeds had to have drifted to the bottom

Further, deeper

Yes, that's good
Yep, real good.  How late is this place open?

Park Garden, 12/15/11

      This is the bunch of pictures for the park garden update.  I have not checked them for growth against the December 1st photos, but the park is in full sun, so I should compare.

       The collards are on the left, and should survive pretty much any weather we get over the winter.  The savoy cabbage to the right is also supposedly quite cold hardy.  If the hose at the top would grow just a few more feet over the winter, it would be a perfect length.  Actually garlic plants are to the left of the collards.  They should do fine over the winter with a little leaf mulch.

       The shot above is of the cold frame with the cardoon recovering after being hacked to the ground by voles.  The discolored leaves in the middle are where the plant touched the glass and froze.  The little popcorn thingies are the garlic bulblets.  Some are just starting to root, and all are changing to a lighter color.  A one inch layer of mushroom soil certainly would not hurt.

      From left to right are pak choi, radishes, beets, Beedy's Camden kale, and thick stemmed chinese mustard.  I suspect that the radishes and beets are being chomped on by the voles.

      These two frilly plants are artichokes.  They did not produce in their first year, and I am torn between digging them up for winter protection or trying to protect them somehow in the garden.  If protected, the voles would think they were a Christmas present.  There are two nice frisees and an oriental green that could be moved to a cold frame.

       This is the stand of Egyptian walking onions.  These are ready for thinning and eating, but watch out, these babies are potent.

       On the other side of the onions are one volunteer arugula plant surrounded by newly sprouted garlic.  The garlic cloves were of decent size, so I am hoping for an edible harvest from this bed.

       These little green pop ups are French shallots from last year that were just a tad too small to fool with for cooking.  They should yield edible bulbs next year, as well as provide some bulbs to plant in the fall.

       This shot is of the base of the compost pile, where lots of volunteers get started.  The light green leaves just left of center are escarole plants, and to the right of them is a nice cole crop volunteer.

       This bed of tatsoi has done extremely well.  I only wish that I had thinned it even more to let the rosettes get a little larger.  I have moved quite a bit to cold frames, but it should survive the winter on its own.

       More volunteers.  Some darker leaved lettuces on the left interspersed among the small baby celery starts.  More oriental greens, and mizuna mustard and garlic off to the right.

       Celery to the left, garlic in the middle, and mixed greens and lettuce to the right.

       The "New Supply" of lettuces still to be planted.   Since things don't seem to be growing much anymore, I may actually dig up the rest of the lettuce plants from the neighbor's garden.

       Leeks and kale growing in the bed at the top of the picture.  Lots of various greens and lettuces in the cold frame.

      Mixed oriental greens at the bottom of this shot.  Much vole damage at the top.

Mostly celery

       Various green volunteer lettuce plants to the left.  A lush carpet of chick weed in the middle with some dark lettuce tucked in, and the leeks to the right.

Radishes on left, mixed lettuce on right
Fall planted onions starting to sprout

Beautiful cold frame lettuce

Ah, that arugula
All volunteer cole plants
A cold frame with room to transplant!
Pak Choi still in bloom brings in lots of bees