Monday, July 21, 2014

Harvest Monday: Garlic!

On Friday night I decided I start digging up my garlic. I was extremely excited to find bulbs almost the size of my hand.

This particular variety is Music, and I purchased it from Territorial Seed. I'll have plenty of my own for seed this year. I harvested about 30 heads on Friday, and then decided to let the ground dry out just a bit more and finished on Saturday night. All in all, I got about 70 heads of garlic, and they're all hanging in a shady corner of my garage to cure. We won't have any vampires sneaking into the garage any time soon.

Green beans have been coming in just a bit every day, and I've gotten broccoli about every other day (either a head or a side shoot). They've made excellent side dishes for my burgers topped with peach salsa (made with garden jalapenos and cilantro). 

On Friday, I harvested the first zucchini just in time for lunch. It joined green beans as a side for a sloppy joe (which contains green peppers and onion from the garden).

While all these harvests look delicious, I've been battling Japanese beetles in the garden. First they were on my green beans, and within days they spread to the basil and zinnias. On the advice of a local CSA farmer, I've sprayed the affected plants with neem oil. Hopefully that takes care of them.

To see what other gardeners are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harvest Monday: Peas & Carrots

There were lots of harvests at Gross Farms 2.0 this week, but I was terrible at photography them (it doesn't help that my memory on my iPhone is full, so I have to delete photos before I can take more).

Monday - Thursday I picked the last of the sugar snap peas. They had terrible germination, but the plants that did grow produced well. I'll definitely grow them again next year (Sugar Lace), but I'll give them the support of a small bunny fence—even though the package says no support needed. It lies.

On Thursday I picked the first St. Valery carrots and two gorgeous fennel bulbs. I had my eye on this soup recipe to break in my new pressure canner, but I didn't have enough carrots for it yet. I used some of the fennel fronds to make fennel tea, which was quite delicious.

Sunday was a day of garden transition. We picked the last of the snow peas (an entire gallon bag full) and ripped them out. They'll be planted again next year as well (Mammoth Melting) but with a much taller fence to climb. I ripped out the fava beans that never produced (planted too late), and harvested the rest of my 5' x 3' bed of carrots, which included St. Valery, Cosmic Purple, Lunar White, and a rainbow mix. For some reason, the white carrots never really want to do their thing. I'd estimate I got about 10 pounds of carrots total. Plenty to make the soup, which made a delicious Sunday dinner.

I also got my first handful of green beans, and my second head of broccoli. I'm eagerly awaiting the first zucchini.

The snow peas were replaced with chiogga beets, the carrots were replaced with red bush beans, and the favas were replaced with more carrots.  If I can keep the soil wet so they germinate, this will be my first year with a semi-successful mid-summer plant rotation.

To see what other gardeners are harvesting this week, check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Preview Of (Canned) Things To Come

I've been traveling for work, so the blog has been neglected. The garden is busting at the seams though. I hope to have some updates this weekend.

In the meantime, I just ordered this. I'm so excited to can soups, stews, chili, stock, corn, beans, etc.

All American 21.5 Qt Pressure Canner

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Garden Is (Mostly) In!

If it wasn't for a bum ankle, we would have finished all the items on our garden to-do list this weekend. But, I severely sprained my ankle on Friday and couldn't put much weight on it Saturday. On Sunday, I puttered around the garden with a crutch, and today I could walk (slowly) with my foot in a brace.

Every bed that we planted first had to be weeded. Mom did a great job weeding the entire garden in April, but those stinking weeds grow fast! Here's what we accomplished (no pictures because were chased in my rain when it was all finished):

  • Weeded 6 8'x3' beds and 4 3'x3' beds
  • Planted 32 tomatoes, 41 peppers, 10 parsley, 4 dill, 12 cucumbers, 4 kale, lettuce bed, 5 cilantro, 5 fennel, 6 eggplant, miscellaneous zinnias, 1 brussel sprout, herb garden
  • Mulched all those beds
  • Dug 2-foot deep post holes for our gate
  • Anchored the arbor to the ground
  • Put up 21 tomato cages (need to get a few more, and stake the indeterminants with rebar.
Yup, that's a lot, but we still have to:
  • Plant 24 basil, 5 squash, 32 corn
  • Harvest the spinach and transition that bed to rutabaga
  • Build A-frame for the cucumbers
  • More weeding (never ending)
  • Plant flower containers for front of house.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Harvest Monday: First Spinach

This, my friends, is the first outdoor harvest of 2014. You're looking at twelve ounces of delicious spinach, overwintered from a September planting. I steamed it and added some white balsamic vinegar and salt, and it became a side for our garlic crostini topped with asparagus, morels, and parmesan.

The bread is a garlic sea salt sourdough from Water House Foods, which I love. I could easily eat an entire loaf of this bread in one day ... without butter. It's drizzled with some garlic olive oil, and topped with asparagus and morels from the farmers market and a sprinkling of shredded parmesan. This was absolutely amazing.

That's the extent of the Gross Farms harvest this week. To see what other gardeners are harvesting around the world, check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weekend Work: We Have Apple Trees!

I went to the local garden center to pick up two bags of potting mix on Saturday. That was all I needed. But then, beckoning to me from the row behind the potting soil, was a sign that read "Fruit Trees On Sale." I poked around, saw some stuff I liked, and then went to the cash register. And when I got there, I turned around and went back to the trees. They were a pretty good deal, and they had some interesting varieties. I called my husband (who was out of town), didn't get him, and left a message. I checked out with my two bags of potting soil and left the garden center.

After driving two blocks, he texted me. He said we should definitely buy two apple trees for the front yard. So I turned around, grabbed two trees, and managed to fit them in my car. I was highly motivated (and had to take the back roads home so I wouldn't damage the trees).

This isn't a great picture, but nothing was going to keep me from getting those trees home.

I ended up with a Snow Sweet and Honeycrisp. They're both planted in the front yard, which happens to meet our HOA requirement of having two trees in front. No one said they couldn't produce a crop! I've never grown apples, and haven't really done much research about them ... so if you have any advice, feel free to share in the comments!

Prior to going to the garden center, I accomplished another gardening task—I put together the large greenhouse my father in law gave us. We only had two small 3-shelf greenhouses, and I figured this would give us all the space we need. Well, it's already full! If I don't start seedlings for friends in future years, I think it will meet our needs.

I took some photos of the garden on Friday after work. Even though the majority of the garden isn't planted yet, there's still a lot going on!

The garlic is looking great! All but one clove came up this spring, and one shot up two stalks, so I got exactly what I planted (the extra stalk will be harvested as spring garlic so it can have sufficient space to form a head).

My mammoth peas are finally doing something! The second round that was seeded a few weeks after this one isn't far behind.

What a beautiful strawberry blossom! Unfortunately, I had to pluck it. We're not letting the strawberries form fruit this year, so all their energy will go into developing strong plants that will hopefully last for years (and produce even more berries next year).

Asparagus is "look but don't touch" this year. Thankfully, every crown has produced shoots, and some of them are a few feet tall already. We planted two-year crowns, so next year we can harvest them for a few weeks.

Other tasks: I pulled a few weeds, planted fava beans, transplanted celery for friends, made my first seedling sale to a friend, and Aaron planted two landscaping bushes in the front of the house (unfortunately, they will not produce a harvest). There was a harvest from the garden, but I'll save that for Harvest Monday.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Beans for Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, I planted the first of our beans—pole beans. This year I'm growing Purple Trionfino and Rattlesnake beans. I like these because they're purple, which makes them easy to pick. Every year that I've grown beans I've lost my trellis to severe thunderstorms, so this year I'm trying something different—bamboo teepees. Yup, I'm finally growing my pole beans on poles. The teepees have 6 poles each, and I planted 6 seeds per pole as the packet instructed. That sure seems like a lot of beans. Of course, less than 24 hours after planting a line of sever weather came marching through, and the teepees seem to be taking it well. Once it stops raining and it's a little less soggy outside, I'll plant the next round of beans—favas (first time growing those).

Yesterday I also transplanted four heads of red leaf lettuce, seeded three square feet of chard (4 seeds per foot), and planted nine square feet of beets (9 seeds per foot). I potted up about half of the pepper seedlings, and will do the rest later this week. The biggest task was to move a bunch of woodchips from the back of our lot line (where the landscaper got a little overzealous and encroached on our neighbor's lot) to the front of the garden to give the hedge some growing room. My job was easy—lay down newspaper 20" from the hedge line. Aaron actually hauled all the woodchips from back to front. He did an excellent job.

On Thursday, my father-in-law delivered the new arbor and gate he made for us. Isn't it gorgeous?
The gate (not pictured) will be attached to two 4 x 4's that need to be dug into the ground. They'll attach directly to the front of the gate. This year, I'm planning to grow Morning Glories up and over the arbor (I got some seeds for free with a Seed Savers order). Next year, perhaps beans, malabar spinach, or even some squash or melons. Once those posts are in the ground, nothing will pull this over.

Since I'm linking this to Daphne's Harvest Monday post, I should talk about what I harvested.
See that fresh basil on top of the chicken parmesan? I harvested the tops of three seedlings so I could garnish the dinner I made for me and my parents. It was a useful harvest, not just because it was DELICIOUS, but because I normally pick the top off the basil early to encourage it to branch out and form additional stems. For the record, the sauce was homemade, but from a local farmer's tomatoes because I didn't have a garden last year.