Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning Frost Art

      Merry Christmas morning to all.  It has gotten cold again, so when I went to check on the cold frames, I was greeted with a present left from the Elves last night.

Christmas morning Elf Art,  December 25th, 2013

      This is the uncropped version to see what the whole glass looks like.  The crystals are on the inside of the glass, and will melt off as soon as the sun warms the glass.  So enjoy for the moment.

Flipped exposure
Second glass in partial shadow
      And a Happy New Year to All.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Third Annual Stocking Night

      We have not hosted Christmas morning at our house since the grand children started to arrive for the fun.  Much easier to move Gramma and Pop Pop on Christmas morn rather than the little ones.  They have their morning at home, then extended family meet at Barb's house for the Christmas Feast.  And even though no one would come here for Christmas, Gramma would still decorate inside and out.  We still had stockings some years, though they might be empty.
      Two years ago I suggested to Cindy that we have the girls and families here for dinner shortly before Christmas so everyone could see the tree and decorations.  And the best part is that I would be able to go to the dollar store to buy gobs and gobs of stuff to pack the stockings.  To my utter surprise, the idea was warmly embraced, and a tradition born.  The first year we had Gramma's delicious beef stew.  The second year Gramma's delicious beef stew was even requested by the wee ones, and yes, Gramma's now Delicious Beef Stew is on the menu for tomorrow.  Even though the forecast is for a high of 73 degrees.  Don't mess with a good thing.

Stocking Night Eve, December 21,  2013

      Now we are ready for the crew to arrive late this afternoon.  Ah; kids, noise, waste paper thrown everywhere.  What more could one ask for?  Well, maybe the Redskins and the Eagles to both win today. Come on Santa, fill Pop Pop's stockings with those goodies.

Ready and waiting, well mostly ready

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Garlic, and Next Year More Garlic

Two heads of Garlic,  November 16th, 2012
      Last year a neighbor gave me two heads of named garlic, a first for me.  The head on the left was Red Russian, and the head on the right was Music.

      The Red Russian divided into eleven cloves, nearly 50% more than the seven cloves I got from the Music bulb.  The cloves were planted on November 16th of last year.  The bulbs were harvested in July of this year, with one bulb of Music lost to the wet early summer.  Many of the Red Russian bulbs felt a little spongy, also because of the wet soil.  The bulbs were dried for a couple of weeks on a rack in the porch, then bagged and forgotten in the garage.

      Hoping it is not too late to plant garlic, I rescued the bulbs from their stay in the garage.  The Music bulbs felt pretty firm, and split up nicely into 37 cloves that would be planted.

      These are the biggest, plumpest cloves of garlic I have ever seen!  Look at that one monster to the left of my thumb.  And from the taste test back in July, quite tasty too.

      The Music cloves were planted at the east end of bed number two in the back yard garden.  The more numerous but smaller cloves of Red Russian were planted in a group near the middle of bed number two.  Two of the Red Russian bulbs had dried to essentially dust, and many of the small cloves were just discarded.  Music certainly won the first year competition, though Red Russian may just have disliked the wet spring and early summer.  Next year could be completely different.

      The cloves were pushed down into the soil in three shallow trenches, then lightly covered.  From just one head each last year, I should have a monster haul next year.  And then..... the numbers get mind boggling.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Frost on the Cold Frame

      Three of the grand kids spent the night.  Had to bundle them up early to show them the frost art before the sun melts it off the glass.

Frost art, November 30th,  2013
Reverse direction

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Picking in the Freezing Rain

      Tis Thanksgiving Eve, and a fresh salad is on the menu for tomorrow.  So although it is spitting frozen rain outside, I need to pick greens now rather than face freezing the greens by picking them in the colder morning temperatures.  My fingers are still cold and stiff because gloves are too cumbersome for picking greens.

Cold Frame, November 27th, 2013
      This is the salad cold frame over at the park.  The two wooden beams are to help hold down the glass against the wind.  I have been pleasantly surprised that the wind across the park seems to flow right over the frames without pulling off the unattached glass panels.  A deep snow breaking single pane glass is a far different story.  With disappointing results.

      Here is the cold frame with the glass covers off.  One morning so far was down to 18 degrees, and another to 19 degrees.  Froze a lot of veggies, but not the covered lettuce.  Even the collards those mornings looked really stressed and limp.  After this noreaster and at least three inches of rain, the cold hardy crops have perked up quite a bit.  Including this patch of ice encrusted kale that is going to be partially harvested for dinner tonight.

      The greens after washing and then spinning in their high tech pillow case spinner.  Neighbors wonder we we are doing twirling pillow cases on the deck.  Filled the gallon bag beautifully to transport to the Turkey Day feast.

Beautiful curly kale crop, November 27th, 2013

Saute with oil, garlic and onion, simply scrumptious

Friday, November 8, 2013

Last of the Podded Peas?

      We have already had three frosts, with tender things like beans and squash turning to mush.  I was surprised to see both snow peas and podded peas suffering from the frost.  Thought they were okay with the cold.  Maybe as seeds and small plants.  Although some of the plants have died and been pulled, I did save the fuller pods to see if the peas were still edible.  See for yourself:

Shelled Peas,  November 8th,  2013

      Preparation instructions: Shell peas, admire their beauty.  Open mouth, insert some raw peas.  Simply scrumptious.  Or sprinkle raw on a salad or raw on a stir fry.

      These two peas and a few others were trying to get the jump on next year's garden.  Alas, the winter would get them.  I am going to pot up these and similar peas on the porch.  Not to try to save for next year, but to eat the tender young pea shoots and sprouts on a salad.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall Gardening Update

Two Park Beds,  September 27th, 2013
      Many of the cold weather crops planted back in August are coming along quite well.  Some of the older seeds used were a complete bust.  Having tried to use up old packets, I will be forced to use fresher seed next year.

      At the left end of this bed are a few plants of Pak Choi (Livingstone for 2013) that were planted by seed on August 31, to replace the completely failed sewing of Heirloom Seeds (for 2010) De Cicco Broccoli.  Only one Fedco Winter Wonderland Romaine Lettuce (for 2012) sprouted, I will try the paper towel method next.  The second bunch of plants are red cabbage, planted 8/7/2013, as was all of this bed.  The little open spot was where I had planted a row of Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans from Hart's Seeds for the year 2009.  Only one plant came up, and it was lost during the transplant stage.  The next solid row is Fedco Plum Purple Radish for 2012.  Have picked some and they are pretty hot.  Tucked in next are some Fedco Beedy'a Camden Kale for 2009.  So far it is tough to find those plants between two rows of radishes.  Next comes sparkler radishes for 2013.  They are still short of harvest stage.  Finally, on the right side are Thick Stem Chinese Mustard plants from my own seed picked 6/4/11 (originally from Fedco).

      This box has done poorly.  On the left is the single chinese cabbage from an unknown source of seed.  The few little plants in the middle are Fedco Star Champion Collards for 2010, not exactly robust for collards.  To the right are Agway Early Purple Kohlrabi for 2009.  The Rouge D'Hivre Lettuce seeds planted in the middle were a total no show.  I then seeded this bed with Cook's Garden Mesclun Mix for 2009, also a complete bust.  Birds getting the seed may be an issue, but using old seed has probably been the bigger culprit.

      This box was planted on just September 10th!  On the left is Lake Valley Mizuna Japanese Mustard for planting in 2010.  The second planting is Red Sails Lettuce from my saved seeds for planting in 2011.  The darker red lettuce is Fedco Oscarde Oak Leaf Lettuce for 2011.  A nice dark red Oak Leaf.  Not a one of the Burpee Black Seeded Simpson for 2008 germinated, duh.

      All the plants in this picture were broadcast as seed on August 8th.  I had to check my plant notes to see that the bushy stuff on the left is Meyers Broccoli raab for 2012.  Many times have I tried to grow raab, never have I succeeded.  This year looks like it might just make it.  Tucked underneath the raab is a very beautiful stand of Fedco Winter Density Bibb/Romaine lettuce for 2011.  It is ready for picking now, we just need to make our next salad.  Next to that is Burpee's Bright Lights Swiss Chard for 2011.  I have already made two harvests of the chard from last month's sewing.  The last bushy stand on the right is Fedco Rainbow Lacinto Kale for 2010.  Fairly old seed, but a good result.  To the right side is spinach coming up, as shown in the next picture.

      On the left are three short rows of Fedco Giant Winter Spinach for 2011.  It looks to have a decent germination rate.  An earlier planting of maybe four year old bulk Bloomsberg Spinach seed was a total failure.  I will try some of that seed with the paper towel method.  The plants to the right are arugula which self seeded from an earlier self seeded patch.  If you let some go to seed, maybe you can have an ongoing arugula supply with little to no effort.
      Wow, after all that writing, I am hankering to get out to the garden.  I have mentioned lots of seed failures, but the pictures point to lots of success as well.  Next I have to figure out where to transplant a lot of these starts, and to figure what other seeds can still be started for my cold frame gardening.

      To check on my paper towel method:

Friday, September 27, 2013

End of Summer Season

Friday September 27th,  2013
      You know it is the near the end of the summer growing season when even the tomatoes on the vine start wearing sad faces.

Boo, I am ready for Halloween

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Morning Visitors

      I had heard that hummingbirds like wild salvia, and I have both hummers and salvia in the garden.  Just had not seen the hummers feeding till this morning.

Salvia coccinea
      There is a good shot of the rampant volunteer salvia this year.  There is a hummer at the top border of the salvia.  I did not expect to get him on film,  And yet,

      There he is at the top, proof positive that they do like the salvia.  It is good to have plants in the garden that they like, as it is a battle to keep the feeders always full.
      And another visitor this morning was this pretty butterfly,

       Any help in identifying this butterfly would be appreciated.  It does not have the little swallow tails on the bottom of its wings.  The white spots at the wing tips would probably be a distinguishing mark.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Tomato

      An absolutely full flavored cherry tomato.  Not sweet like most cherries.  Full flavored like the big boys.  Seeds breed true.  Totally scrumptious.  And pretty to boot.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Saunter

Butternut To Be,  August 25th, 2013
Early morning sunflower
Look at the way the seeds swirl
Double the fun
Red salvia spike above an Okra leaf
Butterfly weed
More butterfly weed, red salvia in background

Friday, August 23, 2013

Leaning Tower of Sunflower

      Oops, this monster volunteer sunflower has been tilting more and more everyday.  I have been trying to decide whether to prop it up or chop it up.  Since I would like it to self seed again for next year, I decided on the prop it up route.  So with a rope and a lot of push and shove, we got to this point.

      Ah, that is a bit better.  Yet I would not be the least bit surprised if it pulls down my whole trellis.  That would be a bit worse.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wonderful Pickings

Harvest, morning of August 20, 2013
      What a nice way to start off an August morning.  Yellow squash and zucchini are still producing.  To the right of the zucchini are Purple Cherokee tomatoes that have just started decent production.  The fall veggie starts are doing well, but that is a different story.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Morning Harvest

      I went out to the garden this morning before breakfast.  Was not even planning on a harvest.  Yet I had to get these before they got too big or some critter found them.

Pre Breakfast Harvest,  August 11,  2013
      The sight of the two sweet banana peppers spurred me to make my favorite summer breakfast.  Rye toast or English muffins with sliced tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers.  Then slice some cheese for on top.  Pop in the microwave for twenty seconds to slightly melt the cheese, then enjoy.  Ah, summertime fresh food.  Right from the garden.

Add some cheese, heat slightly.  Simply Scrumptious.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Walk in the Back Garden

Approaching the Garden

      It is Saturday morning, at about 6:30 AM, and I am itching to take my first stroll of the day in the garden.  Tis nice to sometimes just walk the garden, rather than have to work the garden.  Will be another hot one, as you can see the haze of the morning sky.

      It has been a great year for the volunteer salvia, the red flowers in the left corner.  Some of the salvia plants are pink, though fewer in number.  The Joe Pye Weed at the right, has been magnificent this year, a great magnet for bees and butterflies.

      The squash have now overgrown the neglected leaf pile.  I never got around to chopping up the leaves with the riding mower this spring, so why not just plant through them?  The bush at the right is green patty pan, and the monster in back is butternut squash.  The acorn squash died as infants, boo hoo.

Pole Lima Beans,  8-10-13

Tomato Alley
Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and volunteer Hibiscus
View to Opposite Direction
Pepper row in cut off buckets 
Malabar Spinach loves the heat

Finally, the walk is done