Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fall 2017

Crickets and cicadas are their loudest this time of year in my Southern backyard garden. It is satisfying to cut okra to their song. 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 will get five or six nice ones.
Field peas are OK, not great this year. Okra carries on no matter the heat or dry weather. Peppers are steady producers again and who knows what the sweet potatoes are doing underground.
We planted Contender green beans at home and in the community garden. Some are up! It's time to plant turnips, mustard and kale. Whew. That's it for now. Gotta go plant some seeds, right now!

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. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Reliable Swiss Chard

We had creamed chard for dinner last night and I realized I mention this stalwart performer often but never really praise it. So, in honor of this humble but reliable leafy green here goes:
1. Planted and established in the spring Southern garden it will produce all summer long. Waning a bit during the hottest days it rewards again come Fall.
2. It is a great stand in for spinach in every case. In fact, I like it better than spinach.
3. Blanched and frozen it can be used like frozen spinach.
4. Chard is a fine substitute for lettuce on a cool summer sandwich.
5. It is beautiful.
It is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

May Into June

Late May and early June are always busy. Vegetables are coming out of the garden great guns, plants coming out, seeds going in. Water! Water! Water! Truth: June always has a dry spell any more in Southeastern NC.
We have had so many green beans this year I canned some, ate more and gave away plenty. The term "slammed" comes to mind. There are more coming though they are slowing down as it heats up. Green beans do not self-pollinate when temps go up into 90's. Timing is everything with green beans.  Feast or famine? We feast.
In the spirit of ,"A picture says it all.". Here goes!
Bright Lights Swiss Chard

Red Sails Lettuce 

Broccoli, turnips and oak leaf lettuce.

Ready for roasting. (The white veg is rutabagas not potatoes.)

Green beans about to climb.  

Strawberries picked for jam. 

Garlic. Ooo baby, you purdy! 

Contender green beans

Heirloom tomato. Lucky me. 

Detroit Red beets
Soon there will be corn, okra, lima beans and watermelon. Squash, we have squash. I will reveal the secret later.