Ease of gardening, Love of eating….

Last Monday, I wrote about some resolutions. I wanted to further post about some new additions that I’ve learned about from reading an excellent book (so excellent that I racked up some library fines because I didn’t want to return it!)

I greatly enjoyed this book. I really don’t buy many books, because our local library is so great, but I would seriously consider buying this one. The text and pictures were beautiful!

The Food Lover’s Garden, by Mark Diacomo

Mark walks us through categories of easy, mostly perennial, fruits, veggies and herbs – that are pretty to look at, but mostly, great to eat! I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to preserve – so,  I ‘ate up’ every word of the book, and took notes on future resolutions for my garden.

I think, in the grand plan of my garden, several of the raised beds will, in the next few years, turn into perennial beds. I already have asparagus, which is featured in the book, and I added walking or, Egyptian onions to my garden as well! Several, a gift from a friend’s mother, and some more, a gift from a new blogger-friend (Thanks, Provident Home Companion!)

If I could plant some trees in my yard, I would plant:

Fruit Tree: Quince

Nuts tree: Pecans

Fruits I would like to plant:

Blue Honeysuckle

New Herbs and Spices:

Carolina Allspice and Szechuan Pepper

Under the ‘Beans and Greens’ category: Globe Artichokes

Leaves and Flowers: Nasturtiums. (I enjoyed reading about some things that are already growing in my garden. Made me feel kinda cool.)

Buried Treasure:  Jerusalem Artichokes (this chapter also mentioned the Egyptian walking onions).

 

Are you curious? Which of these will you Google first?

Fall garden wrap up – resolutions!

SNOW!

We had snow on the ground when I woke up yesterday!

Lovely, fluffy snow.

And, because my hoop house hasn’t worked out this year (the pic below shows stage 1 of collapse. During recent straight-line winds, the whole structure twisted and nearly blew away), that means it effectively the end of my gardening season.

the hoop house pvc was not sturdy enough. Bummer. Back to the drawing board.

 

Its usually around Aug. 1 that I start making resolutions of what I’d like to do next year – try something different, a new variety of such-and-such, plan that I don’t need as many of one thing, or need lots more of another.

The list has changed and solidified since the beginning of August, and I also ended up adding some plants later in the season than I am usually able to. In fact, I changed about half of my front yard into flower beds (but don’t get toooo excited. Remember, I live on an 18th of an acre? Have I mentioned that? So, I basically have about 6 ft. of lawn in front that is grass/weeds in the grass now. … It was small to begin with.)

I added some astilbe, a Bleeding Heart plant, added two huchera varities, and some tulips and daffodils, as well as a neat grass that I’m blanking on the name of right now….um….yeah. Not going to get up from the computer chair to find my little tag. I think it turned out great. You can look forward to a picture of that in the spring! 😉

How about a list of things I didn’t grow, but wished I would have?

Broccoli! The kids love it. Its their favorite, and mine.

Chard! We did get some in the CSA, but kale far overwhelmed the chard, and chard is my preference.

Spinach! Again, last CSA year, we were so inundated, and this year – not so much.

Green/bunching onions. I planted some, but the horseradish “crop” smothered them.

Things I wished I would have grown MORE of?

Tomatoes. Always tomatoes. When I taste the first salsa, the first tomato sauce – I wish I would have a whole freezer just for tomatoes. Not to mention fresh slicing in sandwiches during the height of the season.

Garlic. That one will have to wait another season. I don’t think I’ll get any in the ground at this point. But…maybe.

Corn. Actually, I don’t grow corn, but I should have bought another couple of dozen ears and frozen them. I don’t use a whole lot of corn, but its kind of a special treat.

Green peppers. Love em. They freeze so well. And so easily.

Things I wished I would have had less of?

Cucumbers. I don’t mind them, and I did really like the lacto-fermented pickling cukes, but honestly, I really do get tired of cucumbers, and yet I feel like a bad steward when I don’t use them….so. Its a perennial dilemma.

Jalapenos. Yes, I pickled them, I roasted them. But, holy smokes – the roasted ones are SOOO hot! I don’t think I’ll be able to use them for my family. The pickled ones can be tolerated in small doses by my husband, but I don’t care to eat them.

Things that seemed just right?

Green beans! I did get a whole bunch from a friend, and preserved quite a few batches.

Basil. The CSA provided a great abundance, and I have a lot of pesto for use this winter! Yum!

 

I am hoping, next year, to try straw bale gardening. This sounds fun, and will also allow me to grow a few more things.

Here’s a link to check it out, but, quite simply, you procure a straw bale or two, turn it with the cut side facing up, and water (and perhaps add some organic fertilizers) over a period of days, until it starts heating up – its starting to become compost! At that point, you stop, and let it dry out some, though it will stay damp in the very middle, and continue to decompose. When it has cooled down, you add a bit of compost or dirt, and either seeds or a veggie/herb start, and voila! You do need to keep these moist, but the decomposing strawbale with shelter and nurture the plant (or plants – you can have more than one, depending on size, plant spacing, etc) until harvest.

Plants I’d like to grow from a straw bale garden?  Broccoli! Pumpkins and squash! Summer squash! Tomatoes! Peppers! Then, I’ll put my leafy crops, beans, peas, and maybe ONE cutting cucumber plant, and one pickling variety in my garden boxes.

 

Have you made any resolutions for next year? 

A fall garden project – in progress

As I was putting my garden boxes to bed a couple weeks back and harvesting the last of everything, I just wanted to prolong the magic somehow. Enter a fall garden. And a raised bed mini-hoop-house.

It is a work in progress. As in, I put it up (actually, I shopped for the stuff, then Hub’band kindly ran the drill, and I was thankful) after putting in kale, collards (two kinds! I love collards!), beets, peas, chard, and spinach. Then put plastic over it. Then the next day, the plastic blew off.

But, I am undeterred. This could work. I has worked for others. I would like to make it work for me.

Updates when available. But until then, any ideas?

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What’s Up Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Behold – there are baby peppers in my garden! I also would have had a picture of three ripe strawberries, but they needed to be sneakily eaten, by me, before the kids found them. There will be more strawberries for them next year. 😉 Beans are growing, raspberries are starting to show hints of pink, and some of the tomatoes are flowering. Also included is a picture of the weeding I accomplished today. Sigh of relief – and joy. With raised beds, weeds are fewer, and when you mulch between your boxes, its even fewer!

That’s What’s Up this Wednesday!

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Thousands and Thousands of Words….

Please enjoy this slideshow of what’s going on in my backyarden — veggie starts plants, herbs growing, a single strawberry (or maybe 3 to harvest this year!), raspberries forming aplenty, new perennials, and of course, the Three Sisters. They are oh-so-photogenic…

Consider this post many thousands of words long!

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What’s Up Wednesday: Homemade Garden Markers

I entreated my friend to go on Pinterest and send me some pictures of garden markers. Because I’m afraid if I go on Pinterest, I may never be seen again.

With her help, and some visual aids, I crafted what I think are some pretty darn nifty garden markers. I used Sculpey clay (original kind), worked it until soft, and then used acrylic rubber stamps to push into the clay. You can also use wood-mounted stamps, and I did try this, but did not like the clean, clear results as much as with the acrylic ones. Bad news, I think that I might have wrecked the stamps that I used for the project. But, considering that I nearly never use them, they should get used! And used up! And I really like my new garden markers!

I put some glaze, two coats, over them. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what will happen when they get wet – because there is no doubt they will get wet.  After a very half-hearted attempt to use the internet to give me an answer on what kind of glaze I should use, I just bought one on Amazon that looked Ok. If anyone has any insight, I’d appreciate it.

I bought some electric fence wire on a small spool for $5, the clay was $12 (including shipping) and the glaze was $6. I made 13 markers in all, and you can check out their snazzy appearance in the garden. While I think they turned out great, one of the things I appreciate is that they’re all different, and they all have some imperfections. They are not mass-produced junky things. Even if they only last a season (see “glaze issue” above) I think the time I spent creating them was worth it. It was invigorating to do something I’d never done before, and also to have done it myself. For more things you *can* do yourself, see you next week! Sorry the pictures didn’t make it onto this post – please watch for them in a ‘weekend special’ of some neat garden photos, ok, folks?

What’s Up Wednesday for May 23rd

Oh, MAN! I am SO, SO excited!

Our first Lakes and Valley CSA delivery is tomorrow!

Also with the delivery will come the bedding plants I ordered. So, what’s up for my Wednesday? Deciding, finally, where these plant-babies will go. I’ve got a few things coming that I need to settle a home for. I’ll also be picking up my order from Azure standard, which will include some perennial herbs. I like the idea of a perennial herb bed – as I made a list late in the winter of ‘what I missed’ that my garden didn’t have, or I couldn’t buy at a local farmer’s market last summer: sage. rosemary. thyme. (Just need parsley, and we can cue Simon and Garfunkel).

Here is what’s up:

Already in the garden (most just newly planted last Satuday, some planted as long as last November…ok, just one thing, the garlic):

– two varieties of beans. One green, one violet (new thing!)

– transplanted chives, rhubarb, and the ever-present-no-matter-how-much-I-try-to-get-rid-of horseradish. Good thing we like it.

– beets – detroit dark red, chioggia, and golden

– snap peas – sugar daddy

– raspberries (which you can see above)

– 4 developing strawberries!

– parsnips

– quinoa (a small experimental row, the seeds of which were a gracious gift for my birthday)

– Cuban oregano, san Marzano tomato, Best boy tomato (stolen by squirrel, rabbit, or child. Not sure which), genovese basil, sugar baby watermelon (fried crisply. Too bad) (all of which I bought at an awesome plant sale at the Northern Plains Botanical Garden society! Most were $1!)

– garlic (which you can see above as well)

To be planted when delivered — tomorrow!!!! – Did I mention I’m excited?????

– brussels sprouts – Churchill

– zucchini – Elite

– tomatoes – brandywine, gilbertie, new girl and Matt’s wild cherry, and container tomatoes (oregon spring)

– bell peppers – ace and revolution

– hot peppers – jalapeno

– cucumbers – marketmore

– cabbage – kaitlin

– sage, lavender, thyme, rosemary

It should be an interesting plant shuffle.   I think I’ll harvest the garlic fairly soon (I’ve never grown garlic before, but apparently I’m supposed to wait to pull it until the first 3 leaves die back and wither…1 of the three has withered on several of the plants. Once that’s out, I’ll just have peas there, which won’t be a forever thing — so there’ll be some space. ) I have one raised bed for the herbs, and possible a cucumber or zucchini, and then one additional completely empty raised bed. There are 4 others, but they are mostly spoken for.  My other option is to put a few things in the strawberry bed. I had two surviving plants after winter, but hey — that’s a start. My lush raspberry crop was started with a gift from a friend of canes from her parent’s place, which I neglected to plant for…oh…about 4 – 6 weeks, after which 6 were plants, 4 survived. Now, I have thinned twice in 4 seasons! Strawberries, follow your fruity cousins and multiply – multiply I say! *I heart strawberries.

Anything up in your garden? On your patio? in your Terrarium?