Sunday, December 27, 2015

Delicious December

      It is quite unusual to be be able to pick many different veggies fresh from the garden in December.  But then again, not every winter has an El Nino believed to be the biggest in history.  Maybe harvests will continue awhile longer for the cold tolerant crops.  All pictures below are from today, 12/27/15.

Flat Leafed Kale

      Here are two more kale plants that volunteered from under a stack of flowered and seeded plants that were piled here in late spring.  It is actually surprising that there were not dozens of volunteers.  This strain seems to be very cold hardy.  I am hoping for them to survive this expectedly mild winter.

Lacinto Kale

      The darker kale in the middle of this picture is one of the kalette plants that I cloned earlier in the spring. The lighter kale surrounding the kalette is Red Russian kale.  From the similarities in the leaf form, I believe that Red Russian was the kale used in the cross with brussel sprouts to make kalettes.

      These plants are Florida Broadleaf Mustard that volunteered.  I even have some growing in the lawn where they seeded.  If only we would remember to harvest and eat it once in awhile.

The voles missed these two Swiss Chard plants

      These are Russian Red garlic plants that have sprouted from bulbs that never got harvested in July.  They will be needed to be transplanted in the spring to assure a crop for next summer.  Some will be eaten as green garlic over the winter.

Leeks, not garlic
Fresh mint still available

Smaller cold frame

      The cold frames have not been necessary so far because of the warmer weather.  However the deer have not figured out how to pull off the glass, so our lettuce is protected.  There are three tatsoi in the above frame.  Let's take a closer look.

They are beautiful

Bountiful Broccoli

      Sometimes pure dumb luck is just better than being smart or knowing what you were doing.  Last fall I bought a six pack of broccoli starts.  Good move.  Delaying the planting and leaving them unplanted was a dumb move.  Then dumber the longer I left them around.  I can't even remember when I finally planted them, but the garden police could not have been happy with my laziness.  I never expected that they would mature when I finally put them in, but I never expected that El Nino would come to my rescue.
      This morning I put on my brand new boots, then slogged my way to the garden.  And was thrilled that I took the trip.

      Look at that broccoli.  And a couple of days after Christmas!  Oh how lucky I am. Dumb lucky.

A different view
Never a better harvest
      I failed to mention that I got even dumber.  I had found more broccoli starts, and yes I bought them.  And admired them in their little container.  At some time they went into the garden with absolutely no chance of maturing.  But yet...

      Dumb, even dumber.  If you look real closely, you can see small heads developing.  I never thought these would make it.  El Nino, bring them on.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Smokin for Christmas

      About four years ago I joined a neighbor to do some smoking on his specially built grill smoker.  I made the mistake of smoking salmon, which was so delicious and well received, that Pop Pop can no longer attend Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners without providing a huge salmon slab.  So today, rain or shine, was to be smoking day for Christmas dinner.

      On the right is a 3 lb, 8 oz hunk of salmon smoked to perfection.  Grand son Wesley could easily eat half of it and would given the chance.  A pork loin is on the left, that will be for lunch on Christmas.  The little piece of meat in the middle is a small London Broil that had spent too long in the freezer.  Me and Mrs. Claus will take care of that tonight.
      Smokin buddy Rick had a log from a pecan tree that just happened to be in his garage.  We cut the log into one inch circles, and used those plus some oak for the fire.  For whatever reason, the pecan was great, giving us a long burning, slow smoking fire.
       Oh, the back splash in the photo above is the subway tile from our kitchen redo.  My wife used some stencils with "Glass Wax and food coloring" to decorate with totally removable seasonal touches.  Maybe pumpkins next fall and fireworks for the Fourth of July.  Makes a nice change of pace.
        Wishing you Happy Holidays.  The GPS for Christmas dinner is  "mx12ktsp"   Sorry, I am no good with that tech stuff.  I will stick to the smokin.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Digging Potatoes

      Our potato supply had dwindled to essentially nothing. I had planted lots of potatoes in March, but had not dug them as needed in July or August because it was too stinking hot. The tops then all died off, and it was very easy to forget about the potatoes. I threw in some leaves where the bed was, and hoped the vole damage wouldn't wipe out everything. In early fall, my grandson Wesley helped me dig a section of the bed and we did quite well with a harvest.
      Never having left potatoes this long in the garden, I was fearful when I invited Wesley for a potato hunting adventure when Barb and Emily and all the kids and hubbies were here yesterday. Wesman and I raked backed the leaves and I started to dig. Bingo, we soon had a hit. And then another. Some big, some small, some whoppers. Wesman was scooping up potatoes, and throwing them in a pile. As we moved along the bed and away from the pile, it made sense to bring the little green wagon into play. Then Wes took the wagon by the kitchen to show everyone. At that point Ella joined in the digging, so I had two eager helpers.
      The haul was much better than any of my expectations. Our supply has gone back up.

Potato haul, November 28, 2015
Wesman, the Potato Man
Do you think he had fun?
       Wesley and family did take some of the potatoes home, but I will move the rest to the basement for storage. And, did I mention that all of these potatoes were free? They were started from left overs from last year that sprouted and were then planted in March. These are scrumptious Kennebec potatoes. I will keep a bunch that have some vole damage for seed potatoes for next year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lettuce Bonus

      I have lost track of the last time I visited or tended my park gardens.  Weeks at the very least.  I got a call this morning from the gardener who tends the plot next to mine.  He told me there was harvestable lettuce at the back of my garden, and he wondered if he had thrown some seed back there.  This is part of what I found from my visit.

Park Lettuce, 11/10/15
      Wow, I was able to pick enough for a salad tonight, as this was just part of the plants. And no, he had not scattered the seed. Instead this is a result of my having been lazy and leaving in the spring crop. It went to seed, germinated, and now is providing me with a free surprise lettuce bonus.  I hope to transplant some to cold frames to extend the harvest even more.
      Instead of calling this lettuce by its name Black Seeded Simpson, I will prefer to think of it as Self Seeded Simpson.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mid October Update

      It is October 16th, 2015, and we have dodged the first frost bullet so far. Though early Monday morning is forecast for about freezing, so many things will be blitzed.  Till then we still have these pretties:

Mexican Butterflyweed
More Butterflyweed
Brown Eye Susan
And another two Brown Eyes
Cosmos Again
Cherry Tomatoes are still producing!
And they are oh so good

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fabulous Fall

      The new fall weather is delightful.  It is a joy to be out in the garden without sweat salting on my glasses.  Lots of flowers are in, and harvests of tomatoes and beans are still going strong.  The following pictures are all from September 23, 2015.

Cosmos with Striping
Beautiful Speckled Zinnia

      The shot above is of Mexican Butterflyweed.  It does indeed attract butterflies  And aphids, yuck. If you look very closely at this picture, there is a Soldier Beetle on the flower, near the top.  He is sitting horizontally with his head to the left. Thanks to the soldier, this plant is probably aphid free.

      Grapes?  Don't I wish.  This is American Beauty Bush, which get these pretty little purple berries.  When the winter is cold and long, the birds will strip the bushes.  Natural bird seed.

     Last winter was long and hard.  Killed the canna lily bulbs.  But not the seed.  So the canna lilies are back in full force, and attract hummingbirds all day long.  I would like too find more attractive canna flowers, but this variety has been with us for a long, long time.

      These cherry tomatoes are probably Sweet 100's.  Here is a closer shot:

      These are Sungold Cherry Tomatoes.  Beautiful mixed in with red cherries and Chocolate Cherries.  This plant is a volunteer growing up into the Dr. Martin Lima beans.
       Well, that is enough for now.  Every plant shown is a volunteer.  It is nice to have free plants, but you need to pull them where they start to takeover.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Light of its own

      Just after lunch today I looked out at the garden and saw this Gloriosa Daisy shining like a beacon through the shade of the Pin Oak tree.  This is the first shot of my new Nikon Coolpix camera.  The old one was having lens extension problems.  Hopefully I will be able to get back to some picture documentation for my blog.

    The gloriosa daisies have been a little prolific in their volunteer efforts this year.  Some of the plants have a definite orange tinge to the flower petals.

This plant has orange near the center

       And this last plant has far more orange/red to the flowers.  The flowers are about double the size of black eyed Susan, and are very light self seeders. So light,that I do not often offer them for adoption during my plant give aways.  Maybe next year will yield enough to give away.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Back Garden, July 24, 2015

      It was a good deal cooler this morning.  A comfortable time to stroll in the garden.

      It is early enough that the sun is casting the shadow of the white ash across the lawn.  The major flower players in the garden on this date are the white or pink phlox, the African daisies, and cleome.

Gloriosa daisy and phlox

       After suffering poor germination rates in the spring, the surviving beans have done quite well.  These are Blue Lake bush beans in the center, with Lacinto kale on the right.  The recent rains have drowned out most squash, but I am hoping the patty pan and zucchini in the back ground will make it.

      I first tried these rattlesnake pole beans last year and got only one plant to survive germination and plant out.  Pole beans are much harder for me to get started, but once they are going, they are prolific and easy to pick.  The rattlesnake beans are attractive, tasty and round like bush beans.  I much prefer them to the flat pole beans.  Four or five plants are producing this year, so there are plenty to eat and will also be plenty to save as next year's seed.

Swiss Chard and kale

      Our next door neighbor has always fed wild birds, but this is the first year that we have benefited in 10 to 15 volunteer plants from lost seed.  Growing from the top of this sunflower is a climbing Dr. Martin lima bean vine.  Those beans are heavily producing flowers, and some have started to pod.

Butternut Squash

And another

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fourth of July Tomato

      How often do you get something that is better than advertised?  I bought a Burbee's Fourth of July Tomato plant this spring.  I thought I would try one plant as August first or later is often my start of the tomato season.  Well when I checked on the progress of the plant last week, I was shocked and pleased to see a tomato ripening!  Not willing to let birds or slugs or deer get the first tomato of the year, I picked the little devil on June 26th.  Yes, in June.

First Tomato picked June 26, 2015
      And oh so scrumptious.  Not like a mid August Black Krim, but not like anything I have had in eight months.  The plant is a hybrid, so I won't try to save seed, but I will certainly look for the plants again next year.  As an indeterminate tomato, it has been said to produce well into October or November.  I am going to root some cuttings to aim for that late crop.  I may even try to bring in a late plant to try to have stems for rooting next year.