• Last spring my garden is alive after along winter sleep. Plenty of work to be done. Planted many vegetable seedlings grown in the greenhouse. Lettuce, carrot (sowed direct into the ground), collard, kale, Swiss chard, corn, pumpkin, potato, beet, summer squash, tomato and leek. The garden is doing great. Just yesterday I harvested several zuccinni. Right away I made zuccinni chocolate cake. It is always a joy to be able to harvest from your own garden and cook with the vegetable that you grow yourself. Gardening is an excellent exercise for body and mind. Regardless how big or small your garden is.
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Summer Gardening Tips

Mid-summer my garden still thriving in spite of the heat.  Usually in the month of August here in the McKenzie valley, Oregon warm not overly hot without humidity.  Since late spring when all seedlings are in the ground, I have been faithfully weeding, watering, and fertilizing to keep them healthy until harvest day.

Next summer, if you want to keep your garden growing and being able to harvest a bountiful vegetables from your garden, you might want to consider this.

In addition using well-known water wise techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching, try grouping your vegetables according to their water needs when you plant them.  That way you can vary their amount of water you give different plants of your garden.  In general try giving your crops no more water than they need, rather than as much as they can withstand.

Mulching the plants is also beneficial suppressing the weeds and keep the moisture in.  Use chemical free grass clippings this is important because you do not want toxic substance in your vegetables.  They also can kill your plants.    Compost as well as shredded leaves are good for mulching and an added benefit for the vegetables.

To fertilize  I use a combination or compost tea and 2 tablespoons of fish powder per gallon diluted with water.  I make my own compost tea, you can get them in the nursery, but, do ask how they make their compost.  You do not want to feed your plants with unknown ingredients.

Happy gardening………

Autumn Harvest and October Gardening Calendar

Autumn Harvest

Late August through October is my hectic time in  the garden.  Harvesting every other day before frost arrive.  From the garden, juicy tomatoes, carrot, pumpkins, digging the potatoes, kale, mustard, chard, etc.  The orchard, apples, pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries and last month blueberries.

So far this year has been excellent, over abundance of everything.  That is good for my hard work.  (smile broadly)

October is the month to start preparing the garden for winter and next year planting.

  • Spade or till available organic matter such as tree leaves, into the empty spaces in the vegetable garden.
  • Mass plantings of one type or color of spring bulbs masses a more effective display than mixing them.  I’ve place an order for next hear bulbs.  Waiting with excitement.
  • Scrape loose bark from trunks, forks and main limbs of apple trees to eliminate sites where insects could winter.
  • Save seeds from vegetable and flower garden.  I have gathered cosmos and marigold.
  • Plant evergreens now and winter rains will do the watering.
  • Dig and divide rhubab (should be done about every four years).
  • Rake and destroy disease infested leaves. apple, cherry and rose., etc.
  • Harvest squash and pumpkins.  Store in dry area 55F. to 60F.
  • Dig and store potatoes in a cool, dry and dark location so they don’t turn green,
  • Clean and oil gardening tools, coat with handles with raw linseed oil to prevent cracking.
  • Mulching around azaleas, rhododendrons and roses will keep weeds from invading and will protect the roots that are close to the surface from severe cold.
  • Correct any drainage problems in the yard before the winter rains begin.
  • Devide crowded perennials.
  • Harvest sunflower heads and hang them in a warm dry area to dry the seeds.
  • Shake off dead rose petals, allowing hips to form.  Plants will then wind down and go dormant.
  • Early October begin manipulating light to force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December,
  • Store garden supplies, fertilizers in safe, dry place out of reach of children.
  • Ripen green tomatoes indoor.
  • Clean and paint greenhouses and cold frames for plant storage and winter growth.

 Happy Ggardening……

 

For the compost and vegetable garden

 

 

Mustard Greens and a recipe

 

 

Mustard greens a botanical family from Brassicaceae, a staple in my garden.  Packed with vitamin A and C are very good source of folic acid.  Plus, they are rich in calcium.  This nutritious vegetable also contain chemicals called indoles that may protect against breast and colon cancers as well as heart healthy antioxidants.

Green Wave Mustard, (Brassica Juncea) is my favorite, with a hint of horseradish or wasabi.  Use tender leaves for salad, stir fries or steaming.  It may also be place into a blender and blended with fruit juices for a nutritious drink.  It makes excellent addition to soups.

Broad green leaves with ruffle edge.  Slow to bolt (seed).  The mustardy taste mellows when cooked.  It will come back when cut.   They survived winter under row cover here in Pacific Northwest.  In spring they will blossoms then go to seed.   Birds,  especially Chickadee enjoys their seeds.

Here is a  recipe using mustard greens.  shredded cooked chicken or canned beans make nice additions to this substantial soup.

ITALIAN GREENS, TOMATO & PASTA SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1cup frozen chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2  14 1/2-ounce cans fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

1  14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

2 cups fresh mustard greens, coarsely chopped or frozen, or one 10-ounce box frozen leaf or chopped spinach

1/2 cup small pasta shape, such as orzo, tiny bow ties or tiny shells

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic and stir until the onions begin to color, about 4 minutes.

  Add broth, tomatoes, mustard greens or spinach, pasta, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, about 6 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with cheese.

Prep. time 8 minutes   Cooking time 15 minutes   Makes 4 servings

183 calories per serving

Enjoy !

Buying Seeds by Mail

By November through the end of December seed catalogs arrived in my mailbox.   I usually put them aside until I am ready to look at leisurely. 

Seed catalogs is like a magical place to visit.  Some are cleverly written, some show beautiful picture, while others offer gardening information and recipes. 

Seed companies realize how winter can make our life miserable.   So they mail us their magical catalogs to a frustrated gardener like me to peruse in their vast treasure troves.   Dreaming how our garden will look like in the summer.  

Today seeds pricing seem to be a little high.   Although if one search around, there are catalogs offering reasonable price with good quality seeds.  For me who enjoy gardening buying seeds by mail is still the best way.  They offer much more variety than buying plants from the nursery.

General catalogs offer a mixed bags of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and standbys such as corn, tomatoes, lettuce, marigolds, cosmos and sunflowers.  Compare prices carefully not all seed packets price are the same. 

I found certain company are more generous than others.  Some packets stuffed generously, while others mighty stingy.  When I opened the seed packet,  looked inside  “gosh is that all”  what a disappointment.  In spite of this I still buy seeds by mail.  They are prompt with shipping, hardly any back order.  I suggest  order early so you will not have any out of stock items.    

The joy of seeing one’s own work flourish in those growing trays and seeing them thrive in the garden, to me is an achievement.

Nichols Garden     in Albany, Oregon offering herbs, heirloom, vegetable seeds.

Territorial Seed     in Cottage Grove, Oregon, offering variety of seeds and gardening supply.

Pine Tree       in New Gloucester, ME  offering variety of seeds, vegetables, flowers and gardening supply.

Turtle Tree  a biodynamic seed initiative in Copake, NY flower, vegetable and herb seeds.

Fedco  in Waterville, ME  flower, herb, vegetable and gardening supply.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds Wainslow, Maine, flower, herb, vegetable and gardening supply.

Vermont Bean Seed Randolph, WI, vegetable, flower, and gardening supply.

Happy Gardening !

Backyard Harvest

Summer of 2010 was not a good gardening year here in McKenzie valley, Oregon.  Long wet spring weather, delayed planting, not enough warm temperature.  Tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers all suffered except those cool weather variety vegetables did well.  Such as carrot, lettuce, collard, beetroot, potatoes, leeks.   I harvested a basketful of each vegetables which was not bad at all.  Here are the list of vegetables variety that I grow in 2010.

Shelling peas – green arrow, so prolific with a good pea taste.  Excellent for freezing.

Carrot – Chantenay red color, good flavor with deep orange color.  Good for freezing.  Avoid sowing carrot in wet soil, it will not make straight smooth roots.  Use excess nitrogen will cause splits, forks and hairy roots.

Leeks – a staple in my garden.  Kilimia leek, a summer leek fast growing and tolerates light frost.

Broccoli –  a big disappointment.  The reason was the growing site did not get enough morning sunlight, hence small broccoli head.  Next time a different area with lots of sun.

Lettuce were the best, thrive in cool temperature.  My favorite are, Red Deer Tongue, slow to bolt, mild flavor, tender has red tinged leaves.  Tom Thumb small plants 3″-4″ ball.  A perfect single serving.  I grow this in the greenhouse slow to grow but at least fresh lettuce available through winter.

Collard – also a staple in my garden.  champion variety, dark green and large, have a cabbage like leaves.  Delicious flavor.  I left these growing in the garden through winter.  They survived snow, frost, cold and rain and still growing until spring where they will produce yellow dainty flower which will turn into seed when left alone.

Beetroot – like rich soil, moist and deep.  Use compost or well-rotted manure several days before planting.  Harvest them when reach their desired size.  Ruby Queen variety bought in gardening center, germinated well, good flavor.  I tried many other beetroot, this variety grow well in my garden.

I hope 2011 will be a succesful growing season.

Happy Gardening……

Harvesting Peas

Several days ago, finally, harvesting day at the pea patch.  The pea plants are robust with lots of pea pods hanging on the vine ready to be harvested. 

Thanks to the cool, wet weather which peas thrive on made this summer a bumper crop.  Peas need to be harvested early, if not, it will be tough with bitter-tasting.  Especially when temperature start to reach in the 80’s and beyond.  Peas could not tolerate heat eventually they quit producing peas, then the plants began to  turn brown.   So  keep harvesting while they are at their best.

Green Arrow is my preference in shelling peas.  Sweet with pea taste,  just wonderful,  also easy to shell.  A prolific producer with 10 to 12 peas in the pod.  Green peas have been known to have nutrition value that is good for you.  Vitamins A, B, C, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron,  phosphorous, potassium.  Sprinkle fresh peas on salad, steamed, mashed or mix with other ingredients, anyway you use them they are good for you.

A recipe I have used for a long time.  Delicious with home-baked rolls.

 

CREAMY GREEN PEA SOUP

Remove the peas from the freezer just before starting the soup so that when you are ready to process them, as the stock simmers, they will be only partially thawed.  To preserve its delicate flavor and color, this soup is best served immediately.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 medium shallots (about 5 ounces), minced

(about 1 cup) or 1 medium leek, white and light green parts chopped fine (about 1 1/3 cups)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups canned low sodium chicken broth

1  1/2 pounds frozen peas (about 4  1/2 cups), partially thawed at room temperature for 10 minutes (see note above)

12 small leaves  lettuce,  (about 3 ounces) leaves washed and dried

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and ground black pepper

Heat butter in large saucepan over low heat until foaming;  add shallots leeks and cook, covered until softened, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until throughly combined, about 30 seconds.  Stirring constantly, gradually add chicken broth.  Increase heat to high and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process partially thawed peas until coarsely chopped, about 20 seconds.  Add peas and lettuce to simmering broth.  Increase heat to medium high, cover and return to simmer, simmer 3 minutes.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to simmer 2 minutes longer.

Working in 2 batches, puree soup in food processor until smooth; strain into large bowl.  Rinse out and wipe saucepan;  return puree mixture to saucepan and stir in cream.  Heat mixture over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve immediately.

Serving 4 to 6   Makes about 6  1/2 cups

Enjoy !

Recipe source:  The Cook Magazine

Gardening Calendar In The Month Of June

Woo hoo, finally the rain stopped.  I thought spring will never leave Oregon and today is the first day of summer.  The long-range forecast is for good weather, so I will take the opportunity to do some yard work.  More transplanting vegetable seedlings,  pruning the flower shrubs, mowing the lawn, etc.  I found by following a to do list is quite helpful.  Here it is…..

  • Apply fertilizer to lawns
  • Control root weevils in rhododendrons, azaleas, primroses, and other ornamentals.  Use beneficial nematodes if soil temperature is above 55F.
  • Remove seed pods after blooms have dropped from rhododendron, azaleas.
  • Prune lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, and azaleas after blooming.
  • Use an inch or two of organic mulches or sawdust or composted leaves to conserve soil moisture.
  • Pick ripe strawberries regularly to avoid fruit rotting diseases.
  • Control garden weeds by pulling, hoeing or mulching.
  • Thin apples, pears, and peaches when fruit is as big around as nickle.  Expect normal June drop of fruit not pollinated.
  • Late this month, began to monitor for late blight on tomatoes.
  • If  indicated, spray cherries at a weekly intervals for fruit fly.
  • Move houseplants outside for cleaning, grooming, repotting and summer growth.
  • Make sure raised beds receive enough water for plants to stay free of drought stress.
  • Learn to identify beneficial insects such as, ladybugs, ground beetles, rove beetles, spiders and wasps.
  • Blossoms on squash and cucumbers begin to drop, nothing to worry about.

Happy Gardening