Posts Tagged ‘noel valdes’

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

 

 

 

 

Onions Planted

Thursday, May 26th, 2016
Candy Onions

Candy Onions

This small bed has 90 Candy hybrid onion starts that I planted today.  I took advantage of a morning rain that dampened the soil.  Planting in wet soil made the transplanting shock minimal.  This is the first time I’ve planted Candy.  They are supposed to be big and sweet.  I planted on 6 inch spacing to give them plenty of growing room.  After I got  them into the ground I gave them a good soak. They are looking happy, so far.

Copra and Red Wing Onions

Copra and Red Wing Onions

This large bed has 152 Copra yellow hybrid onions and 152 Red Wing hybrid red storage onions, planted on 5 inch spacing.  I’ve grown both these varieties numerous times with good success.

Growing onions from seed is not difficult and most years we have a good crop.

Garlic Flags in the Straw

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
Garlic in the Straw

Garlic in the Straw

It looks as though about all of the 100 plus cloves I planted last October have sprouted and are showing their flags through the protective straw.

Garlic Flags

Garlic Flags

Garlic flags are a sure sign of spring. I‘m impressed by the strength of the leaves that push up through the wet and still icy straw blanket.

A Late Start For Onions

Monday, March 21st, 2016
Onion Flats

Onion Flats

I finally got my onion seeds into flats, yesterday. I had purposely held off planting because Judy and I were on the road for nearly two weeks. I didn’t want to enlist anyone to look after my newly sprouted seedlings. I normally target late January or early February to plant onion seeds, but I’m pretty sure my late March start will work out fine.

The flats from bottom to top contain: Copra yellow onion – 500 seeds; Red Wing red onion – 500 seeds; Candy – white onion – 250 seeds; Lancelot leek – 250 seeds.

I’ve grown Copra and Red Wing onions and Lancelot leeks before with good success. The Candy onion was recommended to me by Bruce Frazier, of Dixondale Farms, when I questioned him about the best northern variety for big and sweet white onions. The popular Vidalia types don’t do well in northern latitudes.

I planted my seeds into a mix of commercial growing medium blended with a little potting soil and compost, all screened through a ¼” screen.

The soil in the flats is sprayed with water to start the wetting and I’ll cover the tops with cardboard sheets to slow down evaporation. I’ve moved them all to the heat mat and grow light table in the basement.  If all goes well, I’ll have plenty of onions to set out when it warms up outside.

Here are two previous posts that cover my onion starting method in more detail, but I’ve opened up my seed spacing to 1/2″, not the one centimeter indicated in the older post.:

http://blog.cobrahead.com/2015/02/17/starting-onions-indoors/

http://blog.cobrahead.com/2009/02/11/onion-obsession/

2015 Garden Review

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
Potato Blossoms

Potato Blossoms

The 2015 CobraHead Home Garden was a great success. The garden is never the same from year to year. Weather, seed and plant inputs, labor, luck, and a lot of other variables make each garden season a new experience. That’s an advantage for home gardeners. They don’t need perfection to be successful, and last year’s errors are only lessons for the future. I like to tell beginning gardeners not to worry. Plant enough different stuff and some of it will turn out great in spite of your mistakes or misfortunes.  We had some pretty miserable failures this year, but overall most plants did fine and we harvested as much as we could hope for.

Potatoes in Open Raised Bed

Potatoes in Open Raised Bed

200 Pounds of Potatoes

200 Pounds of Potatoes

We had our largest potato harvest ever.  We’re storing them in a straw bale cold storage structure I set up in the barn.

One Potato - Over Four Pounds

One Potato – Over Four Pounds

Sweet Potato Starts in Flat

Sweet Potato Starts in Flat

Sweet potatoes are a crop we are famous for, and this year’s harvest was among our best ever.  I’m continuing to start my sweet potatoes from sprouted old roots.  It’s really easy.

Peas Interplanted with Greens in Open Raised Bed

Peas Interplanted with Greens in Open Raised Bed

T-Post and Bamboo Tomato Trellis.

T-Post and Bamboo Tomato Trellis.

Squash Trellises

Squash Trellises

We continue to use T-posts as our primary trellis structure supports.  I like them because they are cheap, nearly indestructible, and they can handle huge loads.

Low Hoop Tunnels

Low Hoop Tunnels

Cabbages

Cabbages

We’re getting better at transplanting seedlings directly from indoor spouting to a low tunnel hoop house.  This eliminates time consuming “hardening off”  and gives us some really vigorous starts.

Giant Swiss Snow Pea

Giant Swiss Snow Pea

Radishes and Peas in the Pan

Radishes and Peas in the Pan

We grew a new (for us) snow pea called Giant Swiss.  It was prolific and delicious.  Here’s a frying pan with peas and radishes, the first time we’ve ever cooked radishes, which is something we should have been doing  a long time ago.

Harvest of Smaller Squash

Harvest of Smaller Squash

Boston Marrow Squash

Boston Marrow Squash

Our trellised smaller winter squash and our larger trailing vine squash were both super productive.  We are trying to figure out what to do with it all.

Mustard in the Pea Patch

Mustard in the Pea Patch

We’re getting more and more vegetables and herbs to be perennials or volunteers.  It’s our sort of stab at permaculture.  Mustard is now a weed in the garden, along with cilantro and kale, and several types of onions and garlic.

Comfrey

Comfrey

Big Yields

Big Yields

An inedible weed, but one I’m encouraging for its properties as a compost plant is comfrey.  I just have to be careful it doesn’t take over everything.  It’s too easy to grow.

Celery

Celery

One of our miserable failures this year was celery.  It’s looking great here in the picture, but I didn’t pay attention to its watering needs and ended up with a mostly unusable batch of hollow stems.

Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea

Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea

Leatherwing beetles on tansy

Leatherwing beetles on tansy

We write about our garden and show pictures on our blog, so I thought I needed a macro lens to help give us some cool photos.  I’m not into insect sex life, but the macro really gives some nice detail.

We’re still harvesting leeks, Brussels sprouts, and various greens as our unusually mild December draws to a close.  I would have to rate the 2015 garden one of the best ever.  Now we’ll see what the new year brings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic Planting in Open Raised Beds

Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Garlic

Garlic

Our target for planting garlic is the end of October. We hit it this year and I’m always happier when the cloves are set for their winter sprouting. Yesterday, I planted 76 saved seeds and added 38 new seeds, Lorz Italian, a softneck variety we purchased last week from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, our neighbors across the aisle at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka.

Open Raised Bed

Open Raised Bed

I had a bed nearly ready to go. Potatoes had been harvested from it, earlier.  It was clean and shaped.  Neither garlic nor any other onions had been planted there for a long time.

Tools for Making Ridges

Tools for Making Ridges

I used these tools to make three tall ridges in the bed. I softened the soil with my old five-tined cultivating hoe. I made deep troughs and tamped the soil with an old square hoe, which I’m guessing was originally sold as a cement hoe. And I used a steel rake to make everything smooth.

Bed Ridged for Garlic Planting

Bed Ridged for Garlic Planting

After I ridged up the bed, I planted the garlic. It likes to grow up high on the top of the ridge and I can use the rest of the bed, the slopes and the trough bottoms, to plant lettuces and other greens in the spring.

Garlic Seed Covered with Straw

Garlic Seed Covered with Straw

The garlic was planted along the ridges, six inches apart. I put the softneck seed in the middle row. After the cloves were planted I covered the bed using two small straw bales, fluffed up to be as loose as possible.

We can report excellent results with this method. Every year we supply ourselves with a lot of garlic. The softneck variety are supposed to be better keepers than the hardnecks which we’ve grown for many years, so we’ll see if we can develop a good Wisconsin strain from our southern bred seed.

2015 Sweet Potato Harvest

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Over Four Pounds

Over Four Pounds

As the garden season winds down, we’re happy to report that we’ve had another great sweet potato harvest.  I like to remind people that it’s easy to grow sweet potatoes even up north, here in Wisconsin.

Sweet Potato Bed

Sweet Potato Bed

Here are the potato vines, about two weeks ago.

Frost and Beetle Damage

Frost and Beetle Damage

We already had a light frost  and the leaves were pretty moth eaten from Japanese beetles.  I decided not to wait longer to get them out of the ground.

Vines Ready to Prune

Vines Ready to Prune

I stacked all the vines up in the center of the bed so I could easily prune them off using pruning lopers.

A Pile of Vines

A Pile of Vines

Here’s the bed with all the vines trimmed off.

Harvested Plants

Harvested Plants

Of the seventeen plants, most were quite robust, but three or four were on the puny side.

A Good Sized Plant

A Good Sized Plant

This one plant weighed over seven pounds.

Drying on the Kitchen Table

Drying on the Kitchen Table

Sweet potatoes need to be cured or allowed to dry out at a relatively warm temperature before being put into storage.  Here’s most of the harvest curing on the kitchen table.

Wrapped and Stored

Wrapped and Stored

After a two week curing, we wrap the larger potatoes in newspaper and store them in our heated basement.  They’ll keep a year in storage and maybe even a little longer.  Left too long, they’ll start to sprout, which is okay, because the sprouts are a good source for sweet potato starts to plant again next season.

We grow a variety named Jewel or Jewell.  It has consistently delivered good yields.  It produces a lot of nice fat potatoes with very few stringy unusable roots.  We harvested about 74 pounds of sweet potatoes.  Not our biggest ever harvest from a single bed, but still pretty good.

 

 

Trellised Squash Harvest

Monday, September 28th, 2015
Trellised Squash

Trellised Squash

We harvested about 40 small winter squash yesterday. They were trellised using T-posts and concrete reinforcing grid. The trellis is discussed here.

The advantage of trellising is space saving. These squash only took up about 60 square feet of garden space, grown in one 10 foot raised bed.

Harvest of Smaller Squash

Harvest of Smaller Squash

The big Australian Butter Squash in the back of the picture did fine, but it was really too big for the trellis. It should have been trailing along the ground with the Hubbard’s, large pumpkins and the monster Boston Marrow that we’ll be harvesting in the next couple days.

Eggplants Bounce Back

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Three Good Looking Eggs

Three Good Looking Eggs

Here are three beautiful eggplants. We’ve already enjoyed some of my favorite eggplant Parmesan and our eggplant harvest is going to be very good.

Leaf Damage from Flea Beetles

Leaf Damage from Flea Beetles

Our eggplants are looking pretty good and giving us some beautiful fruit, but six weeks ago, I really thought the crop was lost. The plants were infested with flea beetles and the leaves riddled with holes. I was pretty sure they would die, but I put out some sticky traps to try to slow down the beetle activity and hoped for the best.

Eggplant

Eggplant

A few of traces of the damaged leaves are visible near the bottom of the plants, but the new growth is thick and damage free. Even the Japanese beetles, which are really bad here this year, seem to be leaving the eggplant alone.

As often happens with plants, if they can survive an initial insect onslaught and start putting out some healthy new growth, they can overcome the damage. That’s what happened here. Just a month ago Judy said that it looked like we wouldn’t have much in the way of eggplant this year, but they are back strong and we will have all we need.

Onion Harvest

Friday, August 14th, 2015
Harvested Onion Bed

Harvested Onion Bed

Here are about 300 onions we harvested from one of our 5 feet wide by 20 feet long open raised beds.  The red onions are Red Bull, which performed extremely well.  The yellow onions are Copra, a reliable storage onion that we’ve grown for many years.  Both are hybrids.

Grown on 5 inch centers and spaced in a block across the bed, these onions would have required a single row 125 feet long, which is one reason we really like growing in a bed versus rows – many more plants in far less space.

Buckets of Onions

Buckets of Onions

Here, loaded into buckets, the onions will be spread out single layer on tables in the garage to dry. We let them dry a week to two weeks, then we trim the stems down to about two inches.

After drying the onions are stored in the basement in open airy containers. We easily get about nine months good storage with our system. Last year’s crop lasted almost a year before the new green sprouting overwhelmed the usable onions. We know a root cellar and cooler temperatures would improve storage, but right now, that’s a luxury we don’t have.

Red Bull and Cipollini Onions

Red Bull and Cipollini Onions

These are Red Bull and heirloom Cipollini onions we grew in a different bed and harvested two weeks ago.  We find onions easy to grow and store.