Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Basement Salads

I'm experimenting with what I can grow in the basement (to eat) overwinter. Already some things haven't worked out and others have proven successful.

What hasn't worked: I bought some of that moisture retaining potting mix because it was dirt cheap on sale. Seeds rotted in it. Stuff that wouldn't germinate: beans, peas, cucumbers, squash. I have 1 bean, 1 pea and 1 squash seed (by another method). *Might be good for houseplants, but not for starting seeds.

What has worked: Greens continue to do well and we are eating regular salads. I'm hoping to get to the point where daily salads are an option. It looks like I can cut from the same pots about every 5-10 days. I'm leaf-pruning, rather than topping plants off. Growing: Red Russian Kale, Lettuces, Frilly Mustard. Other happy plants- cilantro, oregano, parsley, jalapeno, a volunteer tomato plant, eggplant, alpine strawberry (no fruit yet, but coming).

The New Experiment
This one is set up with 3 shop lights fairly high over plants.
This is working out fine for already established plants, but
seedlings aren't loving it. In this picture- jalapeno, calendula, violas,
brugmansia, oregano, parsley, green onions, chard, alpine strawberries,
1 squash, 1 pea, 1 bean, alyssum, turnips, eggplant, 1 fig, stocks,
pomegranate in foreground.

Greens doing well

frilly mustards- my fav
 Mixed Greens

I was swooned by the internet powers to order this LED light.
It may significantly reduce energy deman, but it is not proving to grow
better or faster plants. Plus, it's really hard to look at or be near it.

How to overwinter a Jalapeno to eat from
Yank Jalapeno from pot it was in.
Wow, that's a small root ball.
 Line bottom of pot with leaves. 
Adds fiber, minerals, beneficial microbes.

Stake it. Harvest all peppers to help
adjust from transplant shock. Energy to go to
new root making.

New peppers already forming. No new flowers yet.

Happy Oregano & Parsley

Alpine Strawberry & Green Onions

From front to back: 1 pea, 1 bean, 1 tomato

Back row: Stock, Eggplant
Middle: Stock, Violas
Front: Chard transplants, Dill, Alpine Strawberry

Other set up. Much closer to lights.

Overwintering Non-Edibles

 Coleus cuttings have already rooted (from Oct 4)
 Various houseplants in the basement...

And Houseplants in the windows...
Spider plant, Meyer Lemon, Fragrant Olive, Fern

Outdoor Activities
Fall Blooming Speciosus Crocus- bloomed w/o leaves Row 2
Saffron Crocus is sending up leaves.
Had 2 blooms. Rows 1 & 3

 Planted to the right of the East side Orchard entrance

I've been planted Darwin Tulips & Purple Sensation Alliums on the streets.
Still need to plant the spring crocuses in the new 2016 bed.

Critters (in the basement garden)

Food stuff
Cauliflower Patties- from the Cauliflower Tot recipe
So good.

Crap I need to do when the Queen is done napping
Put away laundry.

Happy (if possible) Election Day and Late Fall!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Early October

The daytime temps finally took a turn a week ago. It had just been too hot for too long. The days are now in the 70s and nights in the 60s. We've plenty of rain, the skeeters are still abundant and the fall peepers are peeping. The almanac says we will have a warm October, perhaps a late frost, but I don't want to pretend it isn't coming. I need to start pack-ratting it all away.
Today I began taking cuttings. A few big leaf hydrangea cuttings I made this summer did very well, so I've decided to try some semi-hardwood cuttings from the native Hydrangea arborescens.
I haven't decided where I will overwinter these- indoors or in the coldframe nursery. I'll have to do some research. I can't recall how many years ago I first bought this Alabama Sunset Coleus, but I've been taking annual cuttings from it for years. It's my favorite coleus. It is such a different looking plant in full sun. 

These cuttings are just placed in plain water for the winter. 
Occasionally, I change the water, but that's it. Doesn't get easier than that.

New Bed/New attempt
I've been wanting to redo the strawberry beds and the time finally came. I didn't know there was such a thing as fall planted strawberries, but the reviews were better than spring planting so I thought I'd give it a go. Finding fall plants isn't as easy as spring ones, but they are suppose to produce more than spring planted and have better health due to less bugs and disease over winter. I ordered two varieties from Indiana Berry and they arrived in the mail THE VERY NEXT DAY! Holy cow, I wasn't ready so I had to store the bare roots a few days in the fridge while I built and compost loaded the beds. 

Every single plant has leafed out. I'm already impressed!
Below: The new beds made from Cedar fenceposts.
And planted between the rows of strawberries are another first: 
Fall blooming Crocuses including Saffron Crocus! 

Natives in Bloom
Gray Goldenrod Solidago nemoralis

 Aromatic Aster Symphtricum oblongifolium

 Hackberry berries and a Question Mark Butterfly

Went to the Native Plant Sale at Schlafly Bottleworks 
last weekend and got some more and new natives, including:
Wild Oregano, Fame Flower, Pussytoes, Sedum, P. Poppy Mallow,
Common Milkweeds (for the prairie), a Phlox and more

A new (first) Sassafras
Sean got some Paw Paws, Elderberry & Serviceberry for
his folk's place.

Do again/successes to repeat next year: Impatiens
I was happy with each of these, although we did get a lot of rain this summer and it helped that I hardly watered them. Next time use all light pink in these as it shows best in the shade.

White bread flour mixed with 7 grain hot cereal
Very good
 Roasted cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes
and garbanzo bean pilaf
 Veg fajitas
 Chicken of the Woods in a cream sauce over polenta
and a pepper potato soup

Basement Foodstuff
The winter greens have begun. Seeded more yesterday- cilantro, frilly mustard, lettuce mix, dwarf siberian kale.

Hoophouse update: Seedlings are coming up- kales and frilly mustard. Leeks returning. 
Orchard raised beds: lots of seedlings of greens coming up in these. I've also been working on the new house for the old ladies. I think they will be safer and warmer in a new house, plus I want to work on the woodland garden and be chicken-free in that area. 

Chuy Sanchez says
The End.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August Hate- An Annual Tradition

I've noticed a theme developing. I hate my garden come late August. I looked back to last year's August post and I have the very same thoughts today. Synopsis: the garden was fine and then we got a lot of rain and the weeds and mosquitoes took over and I don't want to be in it. (3rd wettest July in recorded history btw)

I wore long pants, a flannel shirt with collar up and clogs to do a wee bit of gardening in this morning and still got swarmed in the face. I asked the hubs if I could borrow his bee veil yesterday. He asked why- to garden in, of course. This is a note to you, dear Laura, to lower your expectations of August. In fact, have none.
All this being said, the maters, peppers and eggplant are still producing, but the smartweed is smarter than I and conquers my world.

So, when August hell comes I turn to garden indoors. I have to get excited about something and that something is going to be Fall & Winter gardening. Each year I think I become more in love with Winter gardening. There are no weeds and no bugs and a lot fewer other yard chores to distract me. It's just simple. However, everything grows at a much slower pace, but the veggies are much sweeter. Trade-offs.

I need to keep better notes on when I start seeds for fall/winter plants. I thought I wrote something down when I started the first ones for this year, but now I can't seem to find the date. I believe it was the last week in July or first week in August. Regardless, the first flats have moved outside and under bug cloth.

From R to L: Bunching Onions, Nero Kale, Bright Lights Chard, 
Frilly Mustard (my fav), a lettuce mix and more frilly mustard. 

I started another couple of flats last night and ran out of potting mix. Ran to the store. Then I decided to do some more indoor-garden greens, as I remember having success with them in year's past. I used some old containers, fresh potting mix. The three below are: 2 lettuce mixes and 1 Siberian Dwarf Kale. Want to fill this entire shelf with fresh winter indoor greens.

Indoor winter green beds started today
Outdoor Prep
The spring/summer beds in the orchard were pretty much done. The perpetual chard had gone to seed, the kale had been eaten back to nubs, the ruby orach (don't grow again-same as Lamb's Quarter) seeded, so I weeded what needed and opened the bird netting to let the chickens do the rest of the work, which they got to scratching in no time. The free garden prep is nice considering the skeeter hell. I believe I have about 48 square feet to fill in orchard beds. The Minutina/ Erba Stella (a perennial, info here) has grown well all summer and now the leaves are a bit hairy, so I've decided to not eat it until winter. I tried it this summer and it was ok. Hoping it will sweeten with lowering temps. There is also some very small Good King Henry (also a perennial green) that made it under the shade of the Ruby Orach and 4 alpine strawberries in one bed. The soil needs to be raised a bit and then I will plant transplants in all of the beds once they are ready and the bugs and heat have subsided. Ideally I would like each of these beds to hold some perennial food that the chickens and I can enjoy. 

Garden inspired food stuff
Spinach, caramelized onion, brie
and roasted tom, basil, brie pizzas

 Chinese Eggplant, Frying Pepper and Tofu stir fry.
 Tomato, Red Onion, Olive, Mint over Polenta cubes
 Left: Roasted beans over polenta cubes

Putting Up or By
I haven't canned anything yet. Only froze a couple of bags of maters. Bought a dozen ears of corn from the local farm yesterday. Froze 6 ears. Peaches in at the farm- fresh eating only.
I really need to get on canning some tomatoes and freezing eggplant before things get away from me. Oh, and clean out the freezer from last year's put ups. 

Loathing and embracing August hell. Happy Gardening, L