Friday, August 30, 2013

Garden Musings: August 30, 2013

Last Saturday I began my morning outside making more soil blocks to try to start additional lettuce seedlings. The first batch of lettuce and spinach that was started a few weeks ago and was transplanted into the garden:

Once I was finished seeding the soil blocks, I placed the chickens in the tractor to let them forage safely on some green grass in the shade while I raked out their pen and cleaned their coop.

They are 13 weeks old and going through their second juvenile mini-molt. Feathers were everywhere. Also their pen was littered with the stems from the greens I have been feeding them all week. The rakings were all added to the compost pile.

Speaking of the compost pile...

I needed some compost for a few beds in the garden for fall crops. The bins are on the edge of the yard and have been pretty much ignored all summer except to toss things in. In only a few short months the weeds had taken over the area. Mostly Jewelweed, which is shallow rooted and pulls out without difficulty. There were a few blackberry or raspberry canes mixed in so I had to be careful how I grabbed and pulled the weeds. Even with gloves on, I found a few thorns the hard way.

Once the weeds were cleared, I was able to shovel out some of the oldest compost for the garden.

While I was at it, I turned the newest bin by raking it into a second bin right beside it. This will be the majority of the compost for next spring’s garden.

I think I am going to like the newly expanded composting system. I have four bins, one for new, one for finished (or almost finished in this case), and two to hold fall leaves to be layered in with the new bin.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Now This is More Like It!

I've been harvesting a small handful of beans each day until today:

It looks like I will be happily preserving beans this weekend.

Fresh Salsa

With fresh ingredients available from the garden and a food processor, it is easy to whip up a batch of fresh salsa. This is my simple go to recipe:
Fresh Salsa 
1 1/2 lbs Paste Tomatoes
1 Anaheim Chili Pepper
1-2 Jalapeno Chili Peppers
1/8 cup Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic
1/4 cup Cilantro
1 teaspoon Lime Juice
1/8 teaspoon Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cumin 
Blanch and skin tomatoes. Wear gloves and remove seeds and membrane from Anaheim Pepper. Keep Jalapeno seeds if you want a hot salsa. Give vegetables a rough chop, add all ingredients to food processer, and pulse until the consistency you like (I like mine smooth with no chunks). Test seasoning with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed. Refrigerate for a least an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips. Store extra in refrigerator. Makes about 3 cups. 

I usually fill one-pint jar and a small bowl and refrigerate. This will last for a while in the fridge although I have to say it doesn’t last very long in our house. But it is easy to make another fresh batch as needed.

This is not a recipe that can be canned safely. I use Ball's Zesty Salsa recipe when preserving a large batch of salsa.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Harvest Monday: August 26, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

Warmer temperatures returned this week and the garden responded. Deer are now coming into the garden and have eaten most of the bush bean foliage. The plants are still alive, so hopefully will continue to produce. Some of the Kentucky Wonder pole bean foliage was also eaten. I am hoping a strategic placement of a wheelbarrow will keep the trellis out of reach in the future.

Here are some of the harvests this past week:


Beans and Cukes

Dark Norland Potatoes

Mixed Paste Tomatoes

Kale, Summer Squash, and Beans

Yet More Summer Squash

Still waiting for the heavy harvests of beans and tomatoes. We've been eating fresh, but not enough has accumulated to begin canning yet. It looks like September will be busy.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Harvest Monday: August 19, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

August began with cooler than normal temperatures and garden production seems to have slowed as a result. Here are some of the harvest this week:

Basil Harvested to Make Pesto

Zucchini - The one in the middle was huge.

Pickling Cukes

Cukes that got away from me. Normal size on the bottom for reference. The Chickens loved them.

Dark Red Norland Potatoes

Juliet Tomatoes

Garlic cleaned and ready for storage

Mixed Bush Beans

Warmer temperatures are predicted for this week. This should kick the garden into high production mode. There are lots of tomatoes just beginning to turn red. The pole beans are in bloom and have little beans forming.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Garden Musings: August 16, 2013

It has been a weird August so far. Usually we experience the dog days of summer with warm and humid temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Instead, our weather has felt fall-like with cool nights and cooler and less humid days. As a result, the garden seems to be in suspended animation and production has slowed.

After only several weeks of generous harvest, the cucumbers and summer squash have slowed as well.

I took advantage of the lull and concentrated dealing with the zucchini squash harvested over the past few weeks. I baked several zucchini breads (Chocolate and Regular) and froze the extra loaves for later consumption. The rest of the zucchini was grated and frozen and sliced and frozen to add to soups later on.

We tried a small batch of Zucchini Parmesan last week and liked it very much. I added ground Italian sausage to the sauce. I think we will have it again soon.

I also pressure canned my first batch of beans for the season. Mostly yellow wax beans, but there was one jar of Royal Burgundy.

Deer visited the garden and ate a lot of the Royal Burgundy foliage last week. But the plants continue to grow. The pole beans are now blooming and will begin producing soon.

Some tomato foliage is also beginning to show symptoms of early blight. They are heavy with lots of green tomatoes. I hope they ripen soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Purple Blotch on Onions

The onions began to flop last week. Unfortunately, the foliage was showing signs of disease.

I recognized the symptoms from the MOFGA Pest Report as Purple Blotch. It seems the humid wet weather we had this summer was the perfect environment for the disease.

PURPLE BLOTCH ON ONION (Alternaria porri)

Purple blotch is a very common and sometime destructive disease that effects onions, garlic, shallots and leeks. Lesions begin as whitish sunken areas that elongate and develop purplish centers. Under favorable conditions (warm with wet leaves) the purple blotch lesions grow large and oval with concentric rings. The lesions may merge and take down whole leaves, and may become covered with brownish spores. The older leaves are more susceptible than the younger leaves.

Onion residue is the source of the disease in the spring. The fungal mycelium and conidia spores persist as long as the onion debris in the field or in cull piles. New conidia are produce on infected tissue in the spring and wind blown or carried in water to the new crop. The leaves have to have liquid water on them for the spores to germinate, but germination is very quick, less than an hour.

Symptoms may appear in less than a week after germination and new conidia spores are quickly produced.

Cultural Control

Sanitation is very important to limiting spread. Infected crop debris should be destroyed or buried after harvest. Cull piles should not be kept near the new onion field. Onions should be grown in rotation with non host crops.

I didn't want the infection to move down into the bulbs, so I harvested all the onions and hung from the fence to dry for a few days.

Once the roots were dry, I cut the tops of the foliage off leaving a few inches above the bulb so the neck can dry. Then they were spread out in the shed to cure further.

I have never had this disease before and keep a pretty clean garden. I suspect the disease blew in or was seed born. Either way, I am trying to make sure it doesn't reoccur. The diseased foliage was bagged up and disposed of with the household trash. I am going to keep these out of the basement so as not to infect my seed starting area.

Most of these onions will be used up quickly for canned sauce and salsa once the tomatoes begin ripening. I may slice and freeze the extras instead of storing them in the basement this year because Purple Blotch can affect the bulbs and cause them to rot.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Harvest Monday: August 12, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

This week's temperatures were much cooler than normal for August. The mid 70 days were nice, but nighttime temperatures in the 40s had the garden a bit confused. I am still waiting for the tomato glut to begin, but Juliet provided a few more this week:

Juliet Tomatoes

Bush beans continued to produce:

Indy Gold Wax Beans

Royal Burgundy and Indy Gold Wax

More cucumbers and zucchini came out of the garden than photographed. The Round Zucchini are new. They were in a mixed "Spanish Summer Mix." I was hoping for Yellow Crook Neck since my other seeds were duds. These round ones work well for stuffing:

Other harvests:

Copra and Spanish Onions

Dark Red Norland Potatoes

Kennebec Potatoes


Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Indy Gold Bush Wax Beans

"These are the BEST beans I have ever had!"

That is what K exclaimed after his first bite of freshly harvested Indy Gold Bush Wax Beans from Fedco. They were simply boiled and served as a side dish with a little bit of butter.

He was right. They were really good. Tender with a mild and almost sweet flavor. I will grow these again especially since K liked them so much.

They began producing almost a week before other bush beans planted at the same time and I have picked them every day since. I may need to begin canning beans this weekend.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Still Some Early Greens Growing

I think I chose my spring greens bed wisely this year. It is shaded part of the day by the pole bean trellis to the south. The spinach, Asian greens, and some varieties of lettuce have bolted or turned bitter long ago, but kale, chard, and a few lettuce plants are still growing. I pulled the mulching straw aside and gave the bed a good weeding this past week.

Simpson Elite and Rouge d’Hiver were the two lettuce varieties that lasted the longest. The Simpson Elite turned bitter just last week and was fed to the chickens.

Kale too is still going strong with relatively little pest damage other than a few slugs and snails on the lower leaves. The chickens seem to love Kale and the snail disappeared quickly.

I will allow the mature greens to produce as long as they can and will transplant some of the fall greens around them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Harvest Monday: August 5, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

One Juliet tomato was harvested this week. It is the first tomato of the season. The rest don’t seem to be in a hurry to ripen. K enjoyed this one in a salad. It doesn't happen often that lettuce and tomatoes are available at the same time in my garden. He said the tomato was good.

Juliet Tomato - First Tomato of the Season

A few young peppers and onions were harvested to make fajitas:

Anaheim, Marconi Rosso, and Jalapeno Peppers and Spanish Onions


Red Norland Potatoes

A lot of cucumbers are coming out of the garden. I had enough this week to make a half batch of Granny's Bread & Butter Pickles. We are not big pickle eaters (see "We were Picklers" post from 2011), but it is nice to have a few jars to share.

Pickling Cucumbers 

And Yet more Zucchini and Cucumbers (the extra large cucumber was fed to the chickens)

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.