• 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……

In My Garden this Year

Every year I would gathered seed catalogs searching for new vegetable seeds to experiment in my organic garden.   I have a soft spot for everything in the vegetable world,  then, I have to remind myself not to go overboard.   In 20+ years of gardening I have tried many varieties  organic and regular seeds.  Some were succesful and some failed, either I did not do the right thing or simply was not suitable for my area.  Nevertheless, I found few that thrived successfully in my garden.  Here are the list of seeds that I grow every year and some new one. 

  

CARROTS – Chantenay red core, 70 days, full flavor, crunchy, absolutely wonderful  (nichols

Health Master, F1 Hybrid, 130 days, chunky carrot, great in soups, stews or just eating fresh.  (nichols

Purple Haze (F 1), 73 days, this is new have to wait whether this will be keeper or not.  (nichols

CORN – Bodacious, hybrid SE 75 days, wonderful taste, sweet, crunchy, this is my favorite a true keeper.  SE (sugar enhance) will slow conversion of sugar to starch.  This means, it will stay fresh for at least 10 days. ( fedco

  

 

TOMATOES – Oregon Spring, 58 days, (determinate) mature in August, mild flavor, almost seedless fruits.  Performing best in cool summer, which Oregon gets most of the time.  (fedco

Cosmonaut Volkov, 65 days (indeterminate) full, rich and mild flavoring.  Great for salads or filled tomatoes.  Named after the famous Russian cosmonaut Vladislav Volkov.  (fedco). 

Brandywine, 90 days, (indeterminate), excellent flavor, flattened fruit, unique I should say.  A potato leaf variety.  (turtleseed

Sungold, cherry tomato, 57 days, sweet with a hint of tartness, deep yellow color.  Delicious eating straight picked from the vine.  Small fruit, borne in clusters.  (fedco). 

 

  

PEAS – Green Arrow, 65 days, great tasting shell peas a true keeper for my garden.  (fedcoseeds or nichols). 

  

 LETTUCE – Simpson elite, 45 days, favorite, easy to grow, delicate taste and tender leaves.   Will last several days in the fridge crisper.  (nichols). 

Buttercrunch, organic, 65 days, another of my favorite.  Buttery taste, heat resistant and slow to bolt.   (nichols). 

Red Deer Tounge, 60 days, favorite, tender, delicate, succulent heads, with reddish tinge on leaves.  (nichols

Royal Oak Leaf, 40 days, another favorite,  leaf resemblance to an oak leaf wonderful tasting.  (nichols

 

PUMPKIN –  Winter squash, winter luxury, 105 days, excellent for pies, light orange color with netted skin, slightly sweet orange flesh.  A long keeper and  will grace your Thanksgiving table. (johnyseeds

Accorn Carnival, 85 days, unique mix colors, green, white, yellow, small size, sweet flavor.  I use a lot in soups or made into puree vegetable side dish. (fedco

 

SUMMER SQUASH – Lebanese white bush, 50 days, new  this year, I don’t know what to expect.  (fedco

Cocozelle, 50 days, light green stripes, rich flavored, prolific producer was last year.  I still have some left in the freezer. 

Golden zucchini, 57 days golden-yellow color, mild flavor.  Fair producer, dependable. 

KALE – Tuscan, 65 days, narrow, strappy leaves deep green color.  Good for steaming or stir fry.  

SWISS CHARD – Fordhook giant, 50 days, broad white stems, leaves dark green, savoyed with white veins.  Excellent flavor.  Good for steaming and stir fries.  (fedco

 

GREEN BEANS – Provider, 50 days, my favorite.  I have grown these for a long time.  dependable, prolific and rich beany taste.  (fedco

  

  

 

PEPPERS – Sweet spot Banana, hybrid 70 days, another favorite, easy to grow, prolific,  they are 8″ long and 2″ wide.  mature from pale green to bright banana yellow.  Use in stir fries or salads.  nichols 

Gypsy,  hybrid,  70 days vigorous plants, large, ripen yellow-green to bright sweet red.  prolific producer in my garden.   (nichols

 

MUSTARD – Green Wave, 60 days dark green, frilled and curled leaves.  Green wave has a delightful, hot and spicy taste.  About 2 feet tall and resist bolting in warm weather.  Add to stir fries or mature leave into stew.  nichols 

  

 
 

Jacob's Cattle

  

DRY BEANS – Jacob’s cattle, 85 days, also known as trout bean,anazasi bean, coach dog bean.  Favorite of mine, good tasting, use in soups, baked beans recipes and vegetarian dish.  Pure white beans with deep maroon splash on 24″ plants.  (VermontBean

Bumble Bee

  

Bumble Bee, 98 days,  large white beans with a black spot.  Another favorite of mine.  Named bumble bee  becauase of its large size.  (VermontBean

Garden Peas

Home grown peas always taste better than store-bought.  Growing your own is easy and you do not need a  large garden to grow this nutritious vegetable.

Pisum Saticum the botanical name for garden peas.  Loaded with vitamin A, B, C, Riboflavin, Protein, Carbohydrate, calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Adding peas to your diet also has health benefit.  They are excellent nourishment and strength restoring.  Peas contain nicotinic acid reportedly recommended for reducing cholesterol in the blood.  Steam diced carrot and   peas,  mix with meat, or sprinkle on salad.  Anyway you use peas they are healthy and nutritious.  

Garden peas was discovered at all place in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand by an archeological expedition at approximately 9750 B.C.  This is a much earlier finding than the peas found in bronze age (approximately 3000 B.C.) lake dwellings in Switzerland and Savoy.  The Greeks also cultivate peas and they were brought to Britain by the Romans.  Peas were the first vegetable to be canned and later deep frozen.

Peas are cold weather crop, so plant them early.  I started mine in the greenhouse in flats early February, then,  transplanted outdoors in early spring depending weather condition.  Green Arrow variety is my first choice shelling peas, they are prolific producer, long pods up to 10 peas per pod, excellent pea taste.  Pick them early when they are still tender.  You can find green arrow here  www.nicholsgardennursery.com or www.fedcoseeds.com.

Many diseases affect peas.  The most common is pea root rot (Fusarium or aphanomyces Euteiches), which causes browning and dying of the foliage from the ground up.  This is what happen to my pea crop last year.  Unfortunately not all peas were effected,  probably, in my opinion, some part of the growing area not well-drained.  This year the pea crop growing in a different site of the garden.  Another pea disease to watch is the powdery mildew, those white powdery mold on the leaves, stems and pods in hot weather.  Choose resistant variety. 

When done with harvesting,  pull the stalks and spread them on the ground in a sunny area of the property to dry.  When they all look brown and brittle use your gas driven mower and mow the stalks into shredded particles.  Dried pea stalks have nitrogen content that is beneficial for compost and the garden. 

Peas are good for freezing too.  Shell the peas, spread on a cookie sheet then put in the freezer for several hours or until peas are frozen.  Fill  one gallon plastic bag with the frozen peas, depending how often you use,  it will last until your next planting or longer.  

The recipe below use fresh peas and home-grown potatoes.  Serve this side dish with fish, meat or chicken.  Delicious.

CREAMED POTATOES AND PEAS

3 pound steamed or boiled potatoes, 1/2 cup cooked peas, 1/2 cup sautéed chopped mushrooms, 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon butter.

Thicken the milk and cream with flour, braided with a little milk saved out for the purpose, add the butter.  Cook fifteen minutes, put the peas, mushrooms in and pour over the steamed potatoes.  Enjoy !

Happy Gardening.