Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Cooking

Tomatoes Okra and Corn, a time honored Southern vegetable stew, is brewing this morning! They are as seasonal and local as it gets.
Ratatouille. Southern style.
There are many recipes online but the most important thing about any stew, in my opinion, is to cook it and let it sit for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors blend together. This will be eaten with fried pork chops and corn bread. A fine Southern tradition. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tomatoes

Oh my darlin'! Clementines. Mine.
I attended a class on how to grow tomatoes. It was free, taught by an agricultural extension agent in Cumberland County,  and lasted all afternoon.  A half day class?. Can you really lecture about growing tomatoes for 3 hours? Hell yeah! Here's what I learned about growing tomatoes in Southeastern NC:

1. Plant Clementine, Juliette, Mountain Magic, Mountain anything for success. They will grow here and make fruit that makes it to maturity.

2. Calcium. The kind used in hydroponic agriculture, bought online, and sprayed on the leaves of plants. If you just are not into this, and I'm not…

3. …fertilize generously throughout the season. Tomatoes are heavy feeders requiring generous supplements to continue producing and to stay healthy. It will help prevent blossom end rot which is heartbreaking.

4. Water. Almost as important as fertilizer because it is the vehicle by which the plant gets the fertilizer that prevents blossom end rot.

5. If you are going to water by wetting the leaves, DO IT IN THE MORNING. Give the plants a fighting chance by allowing them to dry out during the day.

6. Mulch. Generously. To prevent the wet-dry cycle that stresses the plants. Tomatoes are sensitive ya know.

7. Do not overplant. Crowding leads to poor air circulation which leads to air borne diseases.

8. Watch for stink bugs and stink bug's nasty cousin is the tomato hornworm. They are the dementors of tomatoes.

9. Know that you can pick tomatoes when they change from dark green to light green, yellow or pinkish. They will ripen, safely, on your windowsill and still taste great.

10. Heat, humidity and our long growing season causes almost all tomatoes to die off in late July and early August. It happens to the best gardeners. Pick suckers in early July, put them in water, let them root and then them late July or early August for a Fall harvest of tomatoes.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Beautiful!

There is a time in the life of every garden when all comes together and it's just beautiful. This is that time for our garden beds. All the work and care is worth it to come to this time in the garden. Behold.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Brain spasm

It happens. You know stuff but it doesn't bubble up into your conscious mind until you've made the mistake. No biggie. I just pulled out green (snap) bean spouts because, this is really im-por-tant, they will not self-pollinate when temperatures get over 95 degrees F. I knew that. From experience. So out came the shoots and in went field peas. They love heat! They don't care at all if it is hot. They are from Africa! They don't mind at all that it's 104 degrees for the rest of the month. Neither does the okra. I will replant green beans in late July, early August, when I can start sowing all kinds of interesting things like pumpkins and winter squash and beets and carrots and collars and kale and even more cucumbers if I liked them. Or I could plant another round of field peas which I do love so much!
Question. How long does it take field peas to germinate and send up a sprout? 48 hours tops!
In no time at all we'll have peas this big! 


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

prop 'em ups

If ten year old boy scouts can do it, so can I. 

A few years back I resolved to learn how to lash long poles into a tripod for peas. Using Google as my guide I found a source for all manner of lashings. Every summer I take up the tripod, store it in our makeshift garden shed, and pull it out the next year. The rope lashing allows it to be folded flat you see. I feel so satisfied and happy when I do this. Made of scavenged poles, saved cord and my own two hands my tripod is perfect for growing field peas. The tripod is up, rain is predicted, and I will plant peas of the Southern variety today. Having one of those Life Is Good days so I am going to stay home and keep it that way. Even got my LIG T-shirt on to go with it. Putter, putter, putter, around the house and garden, I will.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

4x4

They grow together like peas and carrots. 
Our yellow wax beans are planted in a raised 4'x4' bed . Intensively planted. I cannot see the bed for the bean plants. They are so thick the weeds get no light. No light, no weed. They have been very prolific this year with just right temperatures, soaking rains becoming the prettiest beans I have ever grown. French beans and early potatoes with just a bit of bacon (I am talking one slice) is early summer food of the gods. Oh my! So I made a big 'ole pot of beans and we have eaten them for days. This is a good thing. Blessed with beans, I may experiment with canning. That'll keep me busy for a day or two.

In a bed further back in our yard is a 4' by 4' bed of broccoli. They too are lovely. We will be fine in the brassica category for a while which is a another good thing. I've harvested six good sized heads this week with more coming. That time for sweet, homegrown, steamed broccoli with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice we love has arrived. 

Snow peas are out. All lettuce has been harvested. Planting it under the broccoli was just brilliant! Potatoes are on the down side of their growing curve soon to be harvested. Two tomatoes have been pulled due to wilt but others are healthy, for now. I dream of canning my own marinara. Herbs are on go. In fact, to say they are grand is to describe their size and vigor. Onions are coming out as needed. Okra has formed true leaves. Squash is a we'll see.

Yesterday, I popped in to Whole Foods-Raleigh, following a 2 hour drive there, and bought lemongrass and herbaceous hibiscus (flowers for teas). I was really hoping for bay tree. Reckon I'll have to try Raleigh Farmers Market next. Need a rest before I make the pilgrimage again, though. It's a four hour haul with hours in my feet to get everything done. Patience, Grasshopper.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tater Friends

Potatoes like it cool. It has been cool, mostly, this spring and our potatoes are just gorgeous. This scares me. What if they are beautiful up top but forming no spuds? I am a fearful woman.

Our potatoes are from three sources; four varieties. 2015 is the year of the potato experiment. First, I ordered seed potatoes from Territorial Seed Company. German butterballs and Norland Reds because they are supposed to be good keepers. (I have a problem with the keeping of potatoes.) Then I panicked and bought a $5.00 bag of Yukon Gold seed potatoes from Walmart because it was March and I still hadn't gotten my order from TSC. I also planted my own chitted seed tubers from last year. If they all make, I will be seeking tater friends. I am a hopeful.

I harvested garlic this week. It is so fragrant! Much better than the store bought stuff I'd had to fall back on for the last month. I will make more garlic salt this year so I won't have to buy next spring.

It has been warm enough this week to dry herbs in the car. Below is a picture of car cured oregano. Folks. Oregano is a weed here in southeastern NC. I need oregano friends...