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?!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mid Summer Transition

Summer can be divided into thirds here in Zone 8. First the crops planted in the Fall and late winter come out (beets, rutabagas, potatoes, carrots) while early summer vegetables like green beans come on great guns a'firin'. Second the tomatoes, squash, Swiss chard, peppers and corn come on. Third, at least in my case, the okra, field peas, and lima beans produce. As plants wax and wane there are beets, rutabagas, carrots and potatoes in storage waiting to be finished off. Seasonal eating is a good gig in our Southern kitchen garden.
The potatoes wanted equal time. 
We have had enough surplus of some things to can and freeze this year. Just enough for that transitional time time late summer early fall and also late winter. Check out the potatoes and green beans, will ya!
You're so pretty!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Time Off

I took some time off for a trip and came home to dried up beans. Perfect. Just what I wanted. Yesterday I pulled them out of the ground, picked off the bean pods and they are inside drying on newspaper. The best of these Contenders will be next season's crop of green beans. As the British say, I'm chuffed.
Heirlooms, they will produce genetically true plants and become specialized to our particular place in the world over time. I also saved mustard seed this season for Fall and have Saison de Quatre heirloom lettuce setting seed in the garden.
Seeds marketed as heirloom cost more on the premise that one will save seeds. But there are many hiding in plain site that are heirloom, like mustard, okra ,many of the lettuces and the Contender beans. The sure way to know is search the name of the plant, check the year of it's pedigree and ta-da! you will know. Example: a seed bred in the early 1900's or before is heirloom.
It is nice if they dry on the plant but it is not required.