Archive for July, 2016

Open Raised Bed Garden

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
South Garden Area

South Garden Area

I advocate the use of open raised beds for home gardening.  I’ve been working with open beds for over 30 years.  There are lots of advantages over both conventional planting in rows, and also over assembled, boxed in beds.  I’ve got two plots with open beds.  The area I call the south beds is a very geometric layout of 18 beds, each about 5 feet wide by 20 feet long.

North Garden Area

North Garden Area

The north bed area is a lot more haphazard.  It borders on a weedy, woody area “where the wild things are”.  Most of the beds in the north area are 10 feet long and five feet wide.  I thought an interesting post for July might be to show what’s going on in each of the beds.

Coles, Sweet Potatoes, Empty Garlic Bed

Coles, Sweet Potatoes, Empty Garlic Bed

The bed in the foreground has cabbages, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbages, Pac Choi, fennel, nasturtiums and some volunteer mustard.   The next bed with the black plastic has sweet potatoes.  The third bed is where I just harvested garlic.  It still has a few lettuces in it.  I’ll harvest those, level off the bed and plant a fall crop of beets and carrots. Open beds make succession planting easy.

Potatoes, More Potatoes, Rhubarb and Raspberries

Potatoes, More Potatoes, Rhubarb and Raspberries

Next we have two beds of potatoes and a more perennial bed of rhubarb and raspberries.  I’ll probably relocate the rhubarb and raspberries this fall.  They’ve been in that spot since 2004.  It’s time for a change.

Peas, Onions, Strawberries

Peas, Onions, Strawberries

The trellised bed has peas, which are just about finished producing.  I’ll rip all the structure out and plant a fall crop of green beans and other greens in that bed.  In front of that are red and yellow storage onions.  The closest bed is a three year old bed of strawberries, from which any baby  plants will be used to start a bed this fall or early next spring.  I recently bought that green wheeled cart with a tractor seat.  I’m liking it and using it a lot.

Strawberries, More Strawberries, Squash and Cukes

Strawberries, More Strawberries, Squash and Cukes

Here are two beds of strawberries, new this year, and a bed of squash and cucumbers.  The big hubbard and kuri squash are sprawling on the ground.  The smaller squash and cukes are trellised.

Coles, Herbs, Zukes and Melons

Coles, Herbs, Zukes and Melons

The furthest bed is zucchini, and melons, along with some mustard and cilantro that I’m letting go to seed, a rather unkempt but very productive herb bed, and a bed of coles – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Tomatoes and Two Beds of Corn

Tomatoes and Two Beds of Corn

Lastly on the south side are tomatoes and two beds of corn.  I have to fence the corn in, otherwise the thunderstorm winds easily topple the stalks over.

Potatoes, Shallots

Potatoes, Shallots

The far more shaggy north garden area contains my compost pile. It’s barely visible, but capped by two buckets in the upper left side.  In front of that is a bed of potatoes.  Directly in front is a half bed of shallots and I’ve got a couple blackberry starts doing pretty well in front of those.  I’ve got a huge crop of girasole (Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke, Helianthus tuberosus,) growing in several areas on the north side.  We don’t use them as much as we should.  Once you’ve got them, they are here to stay.

Candy Onions

Candy Onions

Behind the shallots I’ve got a bed of candy onions, bordering next to the wild lands.  Fortunately, the critters, so far, don’t seem to have a penchant for onions.

Asparagus, Peppers, Tomatoes, Okra and Leeks, Comfrey

Asparagus, Peppers, Tomatoes, Okra and Leeks, Comfrey

Rounding out the garden tour is more girasole.  Next to that, okra and leeks (which are past due for transplanting to a larger space).  Behind the leeks is a bed of comfrey, which is spreading well outside its borders, but I’m encouraging it, as it is a miraculous plant that I’m using a lot as a mulch and compost.  Next to this are beds of peppers and eggplants and more trellised tomatoes.  And finally on the left, our almost 30 year old bed of asparagus.

Open beds offer more flexibility than other systems.  They are relatively easy to maintain, and they truly do produce a heck of a lot of food in a pretty small area.

 

Garlic Harvest

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
Harvesting Garlic

Harvesting Garlic

We harvested our 100 garlic plants yesterday.  The bulbs were almost all quite large and firm.  We didn’t wait for the stalks (on the soft necks) to fall over, the traditional sign that it’s time to harvest.  We were expecting some extended rains and we didn’t want to harvest wet bulbs, nor did we want the outer skin layers to start splitting.  The time was right.

Lettuce and Garlic

Lettuce and Garlic

We planted two rows of hard necks and one row of soft necks.  I started out using the broad fork to lift out several bulbs at a time, but I quickly switched to using a small fork and a CobraHead Weeder to pull out each bulb individually.  That was because I still have a lot of young lettuce plants that I had planted between the rows and I want to keep them going until I clean up the bed and do a late summer planting of beets and carrots.

Drying Garlic

Drying Garlic

We’ll dry the garlic for about two weeks on tables in the garage, but if it gets too hot we’ll bring them into the house to finish drying slowly.  High heat can overdry the garlic and practically cause them to disintegrate.

When the leaves turn brown we’ll cut them off leaving a 2″ stalk and store in the basement in mesh hanging baskets for good air circulation.

Garlic Bulbs

Garlic Bulbs

Snow Peas A’Plenty

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

This has been a great year for peas and we didn’t even have to share any with the roaming neighborhood deer.  (Noel will tell you about his new electronic deer detractors in another post.)  We have been eating snow peas and a couple varieties of sugar snap peas (edible pods) every day for the past 3 weeks.

We have served them plain right out of the garden, as an appetizer with a dollop of  soft feta/cream mix or hummus on one end, and with various stir fries, fried rice and salads.

Here’s a picture of my latest fried rice:

Snow Pea Fried Rice

Snow Pea Fried Rice

Here’s a picture of a sugar snap pea pod salad taken to a pot luck, followed by the recipe.

Sugar Pea Pod Salad

Sugar Pea Pod Salad

Recipe:

Sugar Snap Pea Pod Salad

4 cups sugar snap peas, cleaned and stringed

1 shallot, finely minced

1/4 cup feta cheese, finely chopped or crumbled

2-4 cups garden lettuce

vinaigrette salad dressing

Blanch sugar snap peas (edible pods and all) for 1 minute in boiling water.  Drain and immediately chill in cold water to stop the cooking and keep the peas crunchy.  Gently dry with a towel.

Toss peas and shallots with 2 T. vinaigrette or Italian style dressing.  (May chill in refrigerator at this point.)  Arrange on a bed of lettuce and sprinkle with feta cheese.  Serve with freshly ground pepper and extra dressing on the side.

Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, squeezed or mashed with 1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. stone ground or Dijon mustard

2 T. white wine vinegar

4 T. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

Mix mustard into the garlic mash.  Stir in vinegar and beat in olive oil with a small fork.  May double the recipe for a larger serving.

Have a pea pickin’ good day!

Good Year for Peas

Thursday, July 7th, 2016
Trellised Peas

Trellised Peas

We’re having a bountiful pea harvest this year.  The trellising system I’ve employed for the past few years works very well in allowing the peas to climb tall.  The picture above, taken a few weeks ago shows, from left to right, snow peas, capucijner soup peas and two stands of sugar peas.

Both varieties of sugar peas are types where you can eat the whole pod, or let them grow larger to eat the peas inside.  We usually forgo any attempt to get loose peas and we’ve been eating the whole pod.  They taste great and you get more for your money.  You just have to pick them before the pod starts to get stringy and tough.

Capucijner Peas

Capucijner Peas

The capucijner peas could be eaten as a fresh pea, but that would be wasting the best soup pea we’ve come across.  We’ve been growing capucijners with our own saved seed for over twenty years.  As you can see in the top picture, they are exceptionally vigorous.  We pick the pods when they are nearly dry.  If allowed to completely dry on the vine, the pods split and peas start to fall out onto the ground.

The trellis system we use is great in that it puts the peas right up at eye level for harvesting and it makes it easy to reach in to get all the peas.  Here’s an old post that shows how It’s done.

Judy posted some of the ways she is using up our great pea harvest.  You can read about them here