Thursday, December 18, 2014

Garden Gifts

Mountain Magic
Mid-summer we traded tomato shoots with a friend. He gave us a baby Roma, Juliet, we, a rooted Mountain Magic cherry. Jim took his home and put it in a pot. Ours went in the garden. Our Juliet did OK. Jim's Mountain Magic did great! When the days cooled, he brought it inside and it continued to bloom and bear fruit. Two days ago these vine ripened beauties were left on our porch. Rarely do we, in Southeastern NC, have tomatoes in our fresh salad but this week we did! Aside from being beautiful, they were delicious in our salad. Gifts from the garden are the best filling the tummy and warming the heart. It has been a good year that way.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Let It Grow...

December 2010

Fabric row covers are keeping the lettuce just warm enough to save them from freezing. This morning we had a hard frost, but there 'neath the covers, were brilliant green greens. Tonight's salad was harvested minutes before dinner. Lovely Amish lettuce on the menu with locally grown sweet potatoes.

I have read row covers can add up to 10 degrees in warmth. With ambient daytime temps near 60, the covers make cozy growing spaces! Neatly held down, the low tunnels I have made make snug mini-greenhouses for our lettuce and broccoli beds. Turnips and kale can take whatever Mother Nature dishes out and are doing just fine. I am a happy winter gardener today.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Nights have been really cold Down South. Temperatures in the 20-ties. I knew it! I just knew it would happen again. Gloom. Despair. Agony. Except. Last Spring I determined we would not have a blown up, blown out winter garden again. I broke down, bought a brand new, really big, long bolt of Agribon agricultural fabric from Johnny's Seeds. Capital was invested yo.
Fast forward through summer and a lovely, temperate, early fall. But! My Daddy, consummate cynic, taught me the ways of a doomsdayer. Weeks ahead I put in place all the metal row covers. I unfurled afore mentioned fabric and gently placed it over each bed making sure we had enough coverage. Then I hauled bricks to make sure we could snuggle it down tight.  And I waited. Boom! Just as I had predicted, cold arctic air pushed it's way South and (thanks to the Weather Channel) I was ready. I hoped. This morning I peeled back the Agribon, hope in my heart, and found this:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Salad days are here again, happy days are here again...

Rain paired with temps in the 80's have led to salad days. And, because the gods love us and want us to be happy, we even have late season, vine-ripened, tomatoes. "Great gravy!",as Nana Augenstein used to say! Here it is November down South and we are eating the All American salad! What next?

 Leaves are still on the trees, some only just beginning to turn. Our pin oak seems to know the calendar, shedding her leaves slowly, predictably, semi-deciduous beauty that she is. I've saved her from the saw more than once. Guessing, I'd say she is my age. A grand ole gal in my very own backyard. Standing alone, uncrowded, she has taken on a perfect form her canopy spanning fifty feet.  I'd say she is in her prime with many more years of service.
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Other garden news: 
Alliums are in. They are to be 30" tall. We'll see, Spring 2015. I had a most pleasurable morning digging, composting, chatting with neighbor Suzy while poking bulbs in the ground. This retirement business is working out just fine. It is really fun to be off the clock. Really. Fun. No more wistfully wishing I could be home on pretty days. 

All brassica's are on go. Garlic is up. Asparagus is dying back. Mustard is waning but we have had satisfying dinners with them. Potted beets are looking good and don't you know I'll be posting pictures if they make it. We've had the thinnings in salad. Yum. 

Note to self: 
Plant arugula. 
Transplant evergreen onion seedlings. 
Water something. We are headed into a dry spell. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cole days are coming...

What a lovely Fall day down South! Abundant sun shining down through a Carolina blue sky, perfect humidity, a gentle breeze, and 70 degrees following two days of rain. Wow. Money cannot buy this. This is great skipping school weather! I'd skip two in a row if I were still doing school.
In the spirit of enjoying the weather, yes I am a ram. Walked both dogs, chatted  with a neighbor along the way, took some pictures of...

my fairy garden,

and cooked up a mess of turnip greens.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Field peas are on tonight's dinner menu. With not enough sun or heat they had slowed down so much there is no point in going on so I picked them all and will cut off the tops leaving the roots to provided nitrogen for the lettuce I'll plant there.
Cool thing:
I am taking a class at the Ag Extension office on sustainable agriculture. Tuesday we were instructed on how to read our soil reports. I just checked online and mine report is not completed. I am so excited to know what our soil needs to produce optimally. My money is on lime and boron. 
Bad thing: 
Fire ants moved in under our wheat straw mulch and took over a corner of the broccoli, kale and cabbage patch. The quest for organic pesticides yielded a three prong approach. Boiling water, lawn mower on top of the mound, and two chemicals, spinosid and perethrins. A check of the nest this morning shows...NO ANTS! and that was with boiling water and lawn mower. 
Good thing: 
All cool weather crops are on go. Lettuce looks loverly. Cole crops look loverly. Mustard is loverly. I've brought out the wire to cover the beds for the frosty days ahead and have started another round of seedlings of Amish lettuce, Swiss Chard and Butternut. 
Next thing: 
Garlic of all varieties will go in when we have had a few more cool days and nights. Still in the 80's during the day. That's summer in some places. 
Crunchy Summer Crisp lettuce
Ciao for now. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Eighty percent of the time vegetable gardens are pretty. Twenty percent they are a hot mess. The sunflowers say it best. In the inverse relationship category, the garden requires tons of work to transition from summer to fall. Seed packets are all all around the computer in piles to indicate what will be sown. Seedlings cover the garden table and potting bench. I am preoccupied with watering them, moving  from shady to sunnier spots to acclimate for the open garden, and then transplanting. New mulch (wheat straw) has been bought waiting for plants to get a little bigger. We spent most of the day Sunday pulling out, weeding, digging, composting, putting in broccoli and resowing seed that fried in the hot, dry weeks we had. My cabbage seeds failed so I will cave and pay for hot house seedlings.

On the up side, we have Oakleaf, Romaine, Summer Crisp, Red Sails, and Waldmann's lettuce seedling. Kale, Russian and Ragged Jack, are getting true leaves. Curly mustard is ready for picking and eating. Turnips are small but healthy. Behold.

I see salad in our future...