Sunday, February 19, 2017

Community Gardening

We participate in a sweet little community garden in St Pauls, NC. Our winter that isn't a winter had us out seeding turnips, beets, rutabagas, carrots and radishes. Six days later, all are up except carrots.  Tiny seed leaves are just above the ground. We protected one bed of our three 4'x12'  beds with Agribon for a few days because we had some cold nights and didn't want the broccoli plants to get hurt. Our only difficulty there is that we have to transport water until the threat of frost passes. It is a pain in the main but so far our experiement worked. Stay tuned, folks!                                                            

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Potatoes

Ours has been a warm winter with a few very cold days. The ground is warm. The ground is dry. So in went the chitted potatoes on Valentine's Day. We planted Pontiac Red, Yukon Gold and a generic white varieties. Nothing fancy but awfully good when newly dug. Looking forward, weather reports show  unseasonably warm days ahead. Perfect weather for potatoes to begin putting down roots and sending up shoots. When the new shoots are six inches high we'll start piling on wheat straw to keep the ground cool, potatoes like that. They also like to be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart 3 to 5 inches deep. Do it. Resist the urge to plant closely. They will make more tubers.

You may be wondering, 'What is chitting?" It is pictured below. A month or so before you plant seed potatoes bought not a the grocery store put them in an egg container in a room with bright sunlight and they will begin to sprout. The sprouting is said to give the potatoes a head start. Is is true? I don't know but I do it. Read up on this. Bottom line most have been sprayed with growth retardant.

Some people cut and divide my seed potatoes leaving three "eyes" on each piece for planting. The pieces are left to air dry and dry out the cut. I do not do that because if we get lots of rain it increases the changes of rot. It's a personal preference thing. Also, all my seed potatoes are small this year. Not enough eyes on each to make it worth it.

As always, I hope for a nice yield. Happy gardening, y'all!
Chitted potatoes planted on Valentine's Day 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Warm days to cold

     We had a weeklong spell of warm days so I  planted more mesclun lettuce and peas. The first row of "Alaska" shelling peas have germinated! Yay! I planted another row of "Alaska" and a row of "Wando" yesterday because more is more and can always be shared. The timing was perfect. We had rain last night and more is predicted for the coming days. I did not grow up eating these peas, Scott did, but I sure do love them. A poem:
PEAS

Raw they are,
 Sweet candy.
Cooked they are, 
 Sweet candy.
After a long winter,
 Eating bitter greens.
Peas, 
They are,
 Just dandy.
     A compost update: There are fire ants in my compost. I reached in to reposition some of the dry leaves on top of kitchen waste and had three almost simultaneous impressions.
A. Gosh, it's warm in there.
 B. Why would my compost make my hand tingle?
 C. Fire ants!
Getting rid of them is so much trouble. Diatomaceous earth and Neem oil applied several times, paired with some really cold nights to come that should do it. I hope.
   
Did I mention the carrots? This year I think I planted enough. 
     In other news, I picked side shoots off broccoli this week and it is time to harvest kale again. Row covers work for both. Swiss chard seed planted 1/24 germinated by 1/27 and are about to push out true leaves. I'll separate and plant individually then. Altogether it has been a great winter to garden.
     Oh! One last delight to pass on. I gave rutabagas a second chance. I pulled a few and am now a great fan of them. Sweet, nutty and a nice crunch raw, I forgive them for making me gag when I was a child. The cook, not they, are to blame.
The End.
Peas out!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spinach

One of the hardest things to get right is spinach germination in my down South garden. Breaking the rules however...The rulebooks do not advise planting in January here.  But the rule book is based on averages. Tossing a Hail Mary during the warm spell we just had I went outside with my packet of spinach seeds found a sunny spot and sprinkled away. Date of sprinkling 1/15/17. Date of seed leaf appearance 1/23/17. What?! It worked. They are now doubled covered with Agribon19 until it warms up a bit. Incubating.
Purchased at a local big box they are chitting in a warm spot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Big Reveal! Elliot Rocks!

Ye of little faith! Me of little faith! Elliot was right! All double covered plants survived! I peeled back the covers expecting mushy, collapsed plants. Instead, all is well! One happy winter gardener, I am! One thing I learned: lettuce seedlings handle extreme cold better than mature plants. I have also learned I can eat broccoli everyday. Steam in the microwave for three minutes then squeeze half a lemon when uncovered, it is the best ever!

Tiny lettuces survived under their double layer of Agribon19


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Windy And Cold

My favorite! Windy AND cold! It is really cold down South. In the teens at night. This bright, sunny, Carolina-blue-skied, Sunday morning it is 23 degrees Fahrenheit AND it is so blowy I can here every note of my windchimes when it gusts. We were slatted for inches and inches of snow but got a not generous dusting of powder. It's not as cold as predicted but cold enough that I am glad I double covered my broccoli, cabbage and new lettuces. I'm hoping the kale, rutabagas and carrots are warm enough under a single layer. We left the garlic and onions to fend for themselves. Ahead of this cold front I harvested all the broccoli, mustard, kale and mature lettuce I could. The fridge is full. Now there is nothing to do but wait and see if Elliot Coleman's method works in my modified row covered structures. In a few days, we'll see...

Pulled 1/19/2017 they were magnificent roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays

There's been a lot, a lot, of cooking this year for me. Lots. Thanksgiving dinner we had collard greens from our garden and sweet potato pudding. Today we included kale salad with our Christmas dinner. Tuscan herb salts were used on our pork roast and parsley on the mashed potatoes. Our garden enriches our meals almost every day. This year the garden made our holiday meals just a little nicer.

We had a few really cold days spaced out over a week. Knowing nights in the 20s were coming we cover all our plants with Agribon and left it for several weeks. Last week I turned back the cover on our 4x4 beds. Amazing! Everything had grown exponentially! Lettuce, carrots, rutabagas, kale and mustard-beautiful! Today I peeled back the cover on the broccoli and there are some ready to eat! Yay! Cabbages have a ways to go but they will be nice if we continue to cover when really cold. Once again, the things newly planted just before Hurricane Matthew survived and thrive...Still amazed they survived the thrashing they took.