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.


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.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Disaster Averted!

I forgot, not for the first time, about cutworms. They are the scourge of sprouting seeds and seedlings. How could I? How many times have we had a seed germination "fail' only to discover they had been cut off just below the ground? Uh, duh!
This time it was okra. At first I declared it was my saved seed. Then, looking closely, there was the amputated stem of a seedling. Then another. Digging, I found more. Curses!
Pre-emptive strike includes wood ashes or diatomaceous earth (DE) dug into and sprinkled on the seed bed. Sow the seeds and put tiny twigs, three or four, around the seed before covering with soil. Look for them when digging the bed. The are 1/2 inch long, brown little caterpillar looking critters. Smush with your fingers. 
I sowed generously because they were saved seed and I had not tested for germination rate. Good thing. There were enough survivors to fill in to make for a good crop. And yes, I stuck in twigs to thwart the cutworms. This evening I'll sprinkle the whole area with DE. 
Okra seeds anyone? The germination rate is fine.
itty bitty sticks all around seedlings...it's organic...it's a pain...wood ash and diatomaceous earth work too...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Potato Time!

Along about mid-May here in Southeastern NC, in the great state of Robeson, we begin poaching potatoes. It is fun until harvest time and one is perplexed by the paucity of tubers. No matter. I will do it today and add them to a pot of green beans for one of my favorite vegetable combos. Another local combo is cabbage and potatoes. Our cabbage is not quite ready for harvest but is forming heads. These dishes friends, you will never find in a restaurant, not even the ones that declare themselves to be Southern. But, these regional combos are as Southern as Southern gets. Beware. They both involve bacon. You may leave out the bacon but it's just not the same. I add, not much, just enough to season the pot and enjoy!
Ciao bella!

Monday, May 8, 2017

2017 Garlic Harvest

By way of explanation, I had a crop failure one year and have over planted garlic every year since. Not necessarily a bad thing. But golly, eighty means I'm gonna have to step up my garlic salt game and maybe make more roasted garlic this year.
Green beans are starting to come off. If they follow the Bell Curve Principle, which most summer vegetables do, we will be canning them and giving them away soon.
Last night's dinner was a combo of spring vegetables cooked into a yummy stir fry. We have reached the who-needs-meat stage of late spring/early summer already.
Let the good times roll...
All but the mushrooms were home grown! Never did I think this would happen when I started.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reprieve

Following a week of temperatures in the mid eighties to 90 degrees, we got a break last night with lower temperatures accompanied by rain. Relief. Most of our plants will do better with lower temperatures. Whew.
Peas are forming in pods and soon we will have a bumper crop. Broccoli has formed beautiful heads. Turnips are being harvested daily with some to be the bed on which our whole roasted chicken will bake for supper tonight. Spring onions harvested this morning will go in with garlic scapes and a few store bought potatoes. I'll sprinkle it all with herb salt and we eat like royalty.
Lettuce had started to bolt and was also looking parched so this rain saves it.  Garlic will soon be separating into cloves and will be coming out of the garden. All plants including weeds were doubling in size over night.
Beans are up everywhere! Um. What was I thinking? Where to plant corn? In the front yard? Maybe. I've had worse ideas and acted on them. We are good to the neighbors, so I really might be able to get away with it. And then there is amaranth and okra. What's a gardener to do?!?
Merveilles de Quartre Saisons
A most delicate, mild lettuce of French heritage.
You are so pretty on my plate! 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Green Beans

Green Beans! Planted three weeks ago, they are making flowers! And the seeds planted a week ago are already up! What! Warm soil is a magic elixir.
I have two pot experiments. One carrots, the other Swiss Chard. There is a control of the Swiss Chard. The control is in a 4x4 bed. The pot is next to the same bed ensuring the same sun and water. I have harvested from the bed twice. Not at all from the pot. Which is not to say the pot is not thriving, but the plants are different. I am going to attribute it to close, crowded plantings. The carrots are a very much a wait and see.
We have had very warm days here. Midwesterners call it summer. It is the way of our springs. In the next few days the temps will be in the mid 80's. Spinach and lettuce will bolt, some has already. Bolt is a funny word for the send up a flower shoot over night, like a colt of the the barn. Bye, bye spinach. Toodles lettuce. Make way for a pepper!
This little tidbit I learned on my Master Gardner trip to the NC State soil lab: marigolds really do kill nematodes, the bane of tomato plants. They really do. Also, we all have nematodes to some degree so our goal is to control the population. So...plant marigolds. I bought many from St Pauls High School plant sale. They are interspersed throughout the garden beds. Biology at it's finest, right there.
Swiss Chard can take the heat and is a great stand in for spinach.