Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Little Seed Saving

A little goes a long way! 

I started seed saving when gifted field pea seeds a few years ago. The seed, Celia's Peas, has been lovingly kept for generations by a Robeson County woman. I have had them a about a decade, the woman who gave them to me was in her 70's. Celia was her grandmother. I'm guessing they have been grown locally for at least 100 years. I read once that plants adapt to their local ecological system when grown there for a long period. Wonder if that is true? They grow upward climbing an old 9 foot wooden ladder beyond it's top. Covered with flowers that change from butter yellow buds to two toned lavender they then produce long pods with up to thirteen peas. Easy peasy to shell, I love them.

A pretty little flower! 

Okra, mustard, lettuce, parsley, fennel, Contender Beans, marigolds and zinnia's are among those I save-and do my best to give them away because Nature is quite generous. An example: just a few okra pods will yield enough seeds to grow enough for our entire county.
Seed saving has the added benefit of adding flowers for bees in the garden. Bees especially love simple (not frilly) flowers It seems that herbs are especially attractive to them. So save some seeds and help the bees. Remember, unless you buy organically grown seeds all seeds have been treated with pesticides and those pesticides persist in the flowers and the soil. No bueno for the insects.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Summer's Over

With the harvest of the last few peppers, the summer garden season came to a close today. Imagine a door slowly, quietly, clicking to. Of course I have regrets. I wish I had planted more, more often, and more varieties. Laughable. Our small kitchen beds put out lots of food, all of it interesting and truly good. More? Is it me or is it all gardeners?
The next sunny day, I will pull out the broccoli because freeze is predicted.  Lettuce, cabbage and carrots will get covered to protect from the cold, cold night temperatures. The temperature change will be abrupt, one of those "Who left the fridge door open?" events so best to play it safe. We somehow manage to eat from our kitchen garden every day, still. Here are pictures of where we are now...

Savoy cabbages are starting to form heads. Ah, the sweet sound of the crunch when sliced open. Now that's something to look forward to on tacos! 

Last of the broccoli on the chopping block. Ready to be steamed with a squeeze of lemon. 

Roasted Red Core Chantenay were for supper last night. Tres bon! 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bush Beans and Mustard Greens

A pretty pot of beans! 
We are really pleased with the way our fall beans turned out. The beans (Contender and Cherokee wax) planted late July are almost finished bearing, the ones planted early August are just coming on. Contender beans take 50 days from germination to harvest and are perfect for short bean seasons. Our season is short on both ends. Self pollinating, bean pollen becomes sterile at about 85-87 degrees and are obviously not cold hardy. Mustard came on strong too.
The broccoli I planted in August is forming heads! The savoy cabbage I grew from seed will do the same. Because I grew it and it did well we are going to have a lot of cabbage this year...Lettuce planted a week ago is up! Rutabagas planted from seeds look great and we are beginning to pull turnips. The beets are a mess. Just pitiful. But I persist. We planted leeks and are hoping they will be as good as last year. Tuscan kale looks great. Russian kale has not taken off. We are still getting peppers! Yay! Carrots look strong and all herbs are on go. A regret: I still haven't planted sun chokes. What is that about. Gotta make that happen next year. TTFN gardening friends!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

W and L' s

There's no denying gardening is work. I like to think of it as my daily work-out not requiring treadmills and such. This past week I took down field peas which is major. Bending, pulling, lifting, carrying, raking-all motor planning tasks that took a few hours. Scott joined in and dug in compost. Then I finished off with new seed beds of lettuce, beets, and carrots. Succession planting works here in the South. I have become more skilled at planning for ongoing lettuce and such with time and experience. It just happened but the key to success is to plant before you think you should. This is a win.

Now that Summer crops are out (mostly), a review of wins and losses. I have theories on why the beans failed, lima and green. Limas failed because the person in charge of watering does not get that lots of water, more than you think is required for a big plant producing a big crop. They flowered but never produced. Green beans suffered from poor advisement. After Hurricane Matthew all the rules about fertilizer were wrong. Fifteen inches of rain with epic rains leading up to the storm washed away the rules and all the nutrients out of the soil. I am guessing microorganisms were absent also. Round two of all peas and beans were paired with good amounts of fertilizer and pea/bean inoculant. It worked. This fall I will get a new soil test even though it's only been a little over a year.

Okra is standing tall with pods maturing for seed harvesting, one lone tomato has fruit and sweet potatoes are fattening in the ground. The rest of the garden is devoted to Fall and Winter crops. Carry on, Y'all!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Late Summer - 2017

Summer, Southern Summer, is so long here that it seems to be three seasons, kinda like daffodils coming on early, mid and late. Crickets and cicadas sing their loudest late summer here in the coastal plains of Southeastern NC. It is satisfying bedtime music going on into early morning To cut okra to their accompaniment is quite nice. The okra will be cooked with onions and green peppers for supper tonight.
The past few days have been devoted to cleaning up and clearing out for Fall planting. In went cabbage (Savoy grown from seed), broccoli, lettuce seed, rutabaga, and radish. The beets are up and have been thinned. Carrots are just starting to show. Butternut squashes are starting to harden off. From just one plant we got six nice-enough ones.
Field peas are good this year. Okra carries on no matter the heat or dry weather. It is a generous, easy to care for plant. Roasted it's a great substitute for french fries. Peppers are steady producers this year and after the last hard rain sweet potatoes were exposed. We have a least two.
We planted Contender green beans at home and in the community garden. They are up! It's time to plant turnips, mustard and kale. Whew. That's it for now. Gotta go plant some seeds, right now!
It took about a month for these Contenders to bloom. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Transitioning to Fall

July was hot and dry. The twin evils of summer gardening. We watered a lot. Tomatoes crashed. Squash succumbed to borers. But, life persists. Peppers chugged along, all of them. Lima beans, taking forever to mature, are finally forming tags. Tags? Farmer term for emerging fruit of beans and peas. Okra is fabulous. About fifteen plants feeds us every other day. The first planting of field peas has started to bear enough to cook a small pot for dinner. Following the bell curve we'll have more than enough next week. The second planting, about three weeks behind, will carry us on into the first frost. I hope.
🍅Tomatoes. The hardest vegetable a Southern grows excepting squash. I pinch off suckers and keep planting in different spots. As Fall approaches we may get one that makes it. Nematodes and wilt diseases are the death of tomatoes.
Savoy cabbages are almost ready to transplant. Broccoli seed didn't germinate well so I'm giving them another go.
Today we will plant root vegetables. Some of each. We are still eating beets, rutabagas and carrots harvested in June.
Have I said it? I enjoy everything about growing our food from seed to plate. Except watering.
So it goes. Down South. There is no end. An unbroken circle of gardening hope.
These babies do not often require watering. 💖

Friday, July 14, 2017

Seeds and Germination

Three days ago I planted two year old field peas. I hoped for the best as I watered them in. Today they are almost all up with true leaves about to unfold! What?!