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.


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!