Winter Gardening

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Honey built these wonderful garden tunnels/greenhouses for me before we went to NC on vacation in Oct. I was anxious to see if the seed that I’d sown was up when we arrived home. Sure enough it was. Of course all the plants including the lettuce are cold hardy. The lettuce is more beautiful than what I grow in the spring. I found a few of the harlequin bugs and smashed them on the spot. Then I sprayed well with Neem.

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I’m really glad that my Rosemary will not be killed by the freezing temps and my German Chamomile looks gorgeous!

In this bed we have Purple Mustard Greens, Winter Kale, Rosemary, Chamomile, Lettuce and Carrots.

It seems as if the moisture from the ground is coming up in the boxes and it’s nice and humid inside. I still need to rig up some black painted containers of water to retain the daytime heat for the cold winter months to come.

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In the other bed we have beets and spinach.

We had some Kansas winds blow through Maryland yesterday and as Dorothy & Toto were flying by the window, I looked out to see one plastic sheet come off. It mostly stayed in tact,and was only pulled half way off. After the front pushed though, Honey rigged it better with some cinder blocks and hopefully it will hold up this winter. I’ll have to be sure to brush the snow off when I go out to milk Butter Cupp and pick-up eggs! I’m really not a lover of the cold months but it looks like I’m gonna have to get used to it.

It’s looking more and more like we will soon be on the 100 Yard Diet. More than 80% of our food will come from our backyard! Our footprints will be from the house to the barnyard and the garden! It’s a good feeling to know that we can raise our own food and to know what went into producing it.

I’m so grateful to the Lord that He provides for all of our needs.

Isaiah 55:2

“Listen, listen, eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

I recommend “Four-Season Harvest” by Eliot Coleman

Garden Tunnels

Look what I finally got!!! Wahoo! I’m so excited about growing greens this winter. Honey and I got this done in a matter of minutes, even though with Honey working we spread it out over a few days. But it was so super easy. We used 10 foot PVC pipes (uncut-easy), spaced 2 ft apart and he attached them to the sides of the boxes with some kind of simple plumbing bracket. Then he put a couple end posts on for support and used plumbers tape to hold it together. It’s finally raining and after it stops we’ll put the heavy plastic on that will be held around the bottom with split rails from our neighbors old fence.  The only thing that needed to be cut was the top ridge pole and the end posts.

We spaced our hoops 2 ft apart and made a center ridge due to the snow we get in the winter. The idea is to also have it held down tightly so our big winds don’t carry it off to Kansas!

I know there are many other ways to do this. But Honey and I are always thinking; SIMPLE!

I’ll be able to move the fence rails easily and pull the plastic up to reach inside. We’ll leave the PVC in place next summer since it won’t be a bother at all. The only thing that we’ll take up is the plastic.   I’ll use 5 gallon buckets painted black to hold water for condensation this winter.

Hopefully the seed I planted a week or so ago with germinate and come up in a few days!

Oh boy! This is going to be fun!

Planted Garlic

I ordered several garlic varieties from Johnny’s Selected Seed Co.

We should get our first frost tonight, so I got about 110 or so bulbs planted today.  They are about 2-3 inches deep and 6 inches apart.  I’ll mulch them with straw after they come up and before winter sets in.

I forgot to get a total count but it was something like, 5-6 Organic Elephant-mild (those were HUGE), 36 Organic Red Russian-stiffneck, 45 Organic White New York-softneck, and25 Organic Extra Hardy German-stiffneck.

This is my first year growing garlic.  I sure hope they produce, cause after I spent the money on these bulbs….well, lets just say, I had second thoughts!  Man what was I thinking.  I guess I can sell them at the farmers market next year to recoup some of the money!

Fall Gardening

St Francis of Assisi

It is said that St Francis of Assisi preached to the birds of the air saying;

“My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you…you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore… always seek to praise God.”

This is not much different than what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:25-27:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

Scripture also reminds us that all of creation knows it’s Creator.

I find my time in the garden one of great peace and tranquility. I suppose it’s because I see the hand of my Creator God everywhere I look. To imagine that a tiny mustard seed can spring up out of the hard clods of dirt and produce a beautiful crop of greens, how can one not believe in Creator God? To see the earth worm wiggle his way into the soil and create for me a rich bed that I had no part in, how can one not believe in Creator God? To listen as the Canadian Geese migrate south every winter and sing choruses of praise to Creator God, how can one not believe?

I didn’t get the grass cut, but I did clean out my garden for a couple hours. My back is not happy about the pulling and tugging I did and it has given out on me again. I managed to plant several beds of fall crops that will be protected by my new winter tunnels.

I planted Winter Kale, Beets, Osaka Purple Mustard, and Perpetual Spinach. Our night time temps will remain above freezing for at least another week. I hope with some good sunny days these seeds will germinate and will grow with some protection. I’ll place 5 gallon buckets painted black inside the tunnels to help generate some heat especially during the cold winter months.

I cleared enough beds to plant my garlic crop. It will be ready to harvest in the spring. So, it’s my plan to use that space for a rotating crop. I’m not sure which one that will be right now. But I’ve got a lot of time to figure it out. I plan to start my tomatoes very early indoors for an earlier tomato season next year. And God willing, with my health holding out and improving over the winter, I’ll enlarge my borders!!!

That reminds me of a great prayer that has “infected” my life. The prayer of Jabez. “Lord, bless me indeed. Enlarge my borders and may Your hand always be with me. Keep me from evil so I do not cause pain.” And God granted Jabez’s request. I’ve been praying this prayer from II Chronicles for 9 years now and I’ve seen incredible miracles of God’s blessings and His enlarging my borders.

My kale that this little bug ate to nothin.

Anybody know what this bug is??? Mary????

Thankfully he didn’t eat my spinach. I planted 3 more rows.

And he didn’t eat my beet greens. I planted 2 more rows.

Nor my carrots.

Thank goodness not my lettuce! It’s these top two beds that will have tunnels to protect my winter greens.

I only planted a small row of green beans in August. I wish I’d planted 2 more. The pole beans are looking great, but I don’t think they have time to grow beans before winter.

Here’s a nice big leek. I pulled a bunch and used them in some chicken soup.

I got this bed cleaned out from the climbers. Cuc’s, melons and even a few onions. The onions remaining are heirlooms and I’m going to cover them with straw and hopefully they will winter over just fine.

My sweet Italian and Hungarian peppers are still turning red. I’ll leave them until the first threat of frost.

Plus lots of Jalapeño that have turned red. I’m not sure what to do with all of them.

It was pulling the corn stalks that did my back in…but it looks nice now and I’ll probably put my garlic here.

The leeks are suppose to winter over in the garden. Some of them are rotting, so I’ll just pull them up and cover the rest with straw.

The biggest mess in my book is cleaning up the tomatoes. I saved seeds from all of them. So I can just compost the mess and be done with it. And then next year, just like this year, I’ll have a lovely crop in my compost bins!

I can’t wait to harvest my sweet potatoes out of the compost boxes. They are amazing. And to think that I threw the left over slips in there and the ones I lovingly planted in the garden died.

Again, it points to Creator God!!!!

20 Tips for Companion Planting

Louise Riotte is the author of Carrots Love Tomatoes Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.

It’s a wonderful little book filled with invaluable information, pertaining to vegetables, herbs, and trees. I thought I’d post the ones that are of interest to me. I recommend this book to gardeners of all types.

This was one mistake I made this year.

#1 Beans are inhibited by any member of the onion family.

(no wonder my beans died after I planted the onions right next door!)

#2 Beans love carrots

#3 Beets like bush beans, onions and kohlrabi

#4 Beets are turned off by Pole Beans

#5 Lettuce & members of the cabbage family “like” beets

#6 Cabbage family is helped by hyssop, thyme, wormwood, and southernwood as they are helpful in repelling the white cabbage butterfly

#7 Good companions to the cabbage family are: celery, dill, camomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, onions and potatoes.

#8 Cabbage dislike strawberries, tomatoes and pole beans

#9 Carrots companions are rosemary, wormwood and sage-they act as repellants to the carrot fly

#10 Sweet Corn does well with potatoes, peas, beans, cuc’s, pumpkins and squash.

#11 Don’t plant tomatoes near corn, the tomato fruitworm and corn earworm are identical

#12 Plant marigolds near the corn to deter Japanese beetles from chewing the corn silk

#13 Cuc’s like beans, peas, radishes and sunflowers and prefer some shade

#14 Sow 2-3 radish seeds in the cuc hills to prevent the cuc beetle

#15 Cuc’s dislike potatoes, but potatoes grown near cuc’s are more likely to be affected by phytophthora blight, so keep them apart

#16 Lettuce grows well with strawberries, cuc’s, and carrots

#17 Onions and all members of the cabbage family like each other, they also like beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory, and camomile.

#18 Onions do not like peas and beans

#19 Sweet Peppers like basil and okra

#20 Tomatoes-everyones favorite!

They dislike potaotes and fennel and don’t plant near potatoes since tomatoes will make potatoes more susceptible to potato blight. They like chives, onions, parsley, marigolds, nasturtiums, and carrots. Planting garlic between plants can protect them from red spider. Planting your tomatoes with asparagus after the young shoots have been harvested will benefit your asparagus.

Unlike other vegetables tomatoes prefer to grow in the same place every year. They are heavy feeders so make sure you give them plenty of compost and mulch especially during dry seasons to avoid wilt disease and blossom end rot.

Reference: Carrots Love Tomatoes

Of course the book has so much more info, so pick up a copy for your own reference.

Future posts will include tips for herbs and trees from Carrots Love Tomatoes.

I did plant marigolds heavily this year in the garden and I haven’t had a single Japanese Beetle. I’m not sure if the marigolds are the reason, but they sure looked pretty anyway.

Gardening in August~Zone 7

I was reading in the magazine Organic Gardening that when the hot summer temps are over 85 it’s hard for the plants to produce fruit and so they start to peter out. One suggestion was to place old screens over them to provide shade and to help cool things down a bit. So, I found some old screens in the basement and they are being put to some very good use.

We’ve had a remarkable wet spring and summer until a week ago. I had to water yesterday and today, hoping to get my new seeds up.

These are my Indian Eggplant which are really doing great and I just love them. These are the little kind I would eat in India. I fix them the way that they did for us. Heat a skillet with EVOO and add bite size pieces of eggplant, a chopped up tomato, onion, and lots and lots of garlic. Throw in salt, cayenne and some brown mustard seed.

YUM!

This is especially good with Dahl and rice.

Today, I finished planting my seeds for a fall harvest.

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Beets, Red Skin Potatoes, Pole Beans

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Osaka Purple Mustard, Perpetual Spinach, Kuroda Organic Carrots, Kale Winterbor Hyrbid, Fall & Winter Lettuce Mix

Today:

I harvested the remainder Carrots, Beets & Tops, Cut the Kale back, Butter Beans, tiny handful of Green Beans, and Pulled 5 leeks for soup-leeks can winter over in garden.

The watermelon are spreading all over, even climbing up the corn. I have about 6 on the vine with babies popping up everyday. The lopes are also doing great. I think I counted 6.

The idea of growing vertical was a good one, it’s just the idea of using pantyhose to hang the melons wasn’t!

Those tangbum things are like girdles and the melons wouldn’t even fit in a leg….how on earth did I at one time wear them???? I was trying to hang a bowling ball size melon and it fell off…I nearly cried. What a waste, so no more torturing my melons with pantyhose.

One of my Growing Challenges was the pepper plants. I started them from seed which took several tries. Once they started they only grew about 2 inches and then wouldn’t grow anymore. I thought putting them in the ground would help, but I think I discovered that they need pretty warm soil. I was scared that they wouldn’t make it so I bought one Jalepeno plant. As you can see they are ALL the same size now as the bought Jalepeno.

Good Job.

I lost count of the Sweet Italian and Sweet Hungarian. From the looks of it they are all Sweet Hungarian.

The volunteer Zinnia’s have taken over the front corner as usual. I just can’t bring myself to pull a volunteer and throw it away.

I love it when the Butterflies & Bumble Bees grace my garden. It makes me want to open shop right there and then.

I’ve decided that as long as my health holds up, I need to double my garden next year.

Shhhh, don’t let Honey here that….I’ll spring it on him next spring!


Fewee!

My garden is busting at the seams! Today I made a batch of fermented salsa. Now, I’m truly not a salsa gal, but when I tasted this stuff….well, I ate a bowlful before I put the lid on to ferment! It is absolutely great! See the recipe at the end of this post. I ate it with these marvelous chips that Mother Linda brought to my attention. My family loves these chips now and refuses to eat anything else. They are prepared using the ancient Aztec method of stone ground corn soaked in lime made into a dough called Nixtamal. Then they are baked thin and crispy and using no hydrogentated oils! See everything that’s good for us is worth the wait.

Tomatillos, tomatoes and Jalepeno for salsa

They carry them in our local health food store! Lucky us.

I also made my first batch of brine sour pickles from Sandor Katz book, Wild Fermentation. The jar was pretty packed and I didn’t have anything to weight the cucs down….Sandor suggests using a rock….I asked my Honey if he had any ideas and he said, “how about a rock”! So, I got the rock that I brought home from VA that Ben used to sharpen his knife before he went out on his adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail for 4 days. I washed it well and then boiled it for 10 min’s…then I popped it in the freezer to cool it down. I pushed it on the top of the cucs and covered it with a paper towel held in place by a rubber band. Now to check them daily and let them sit for a couple 2-4 weeks! Can’t wait!

I also made up the last fresh batch of blackberry cobbler! I froze several quarts of berries for cobbler later this winter….oh won’t that be good in Dec or Jan! It will taste like summer and hopefully give us something to look forward to during the long winter.

Now a batch of blueberry muffins as per the request of my daughter Becca! Since she’s leaving for Germany in 1.5 months I am trying to meet all her little requests. After all she’s going to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with us, and her 24th birthday. Besides that, I really do love serving my family and bringing them simple joys even if it is food. I never rewarded my kids with food when they were young and they’ve never had weight problems. Becca has been a part time athlete this summer and dropped to a size 2!!!!!!!! Make me sick. I think I was a 2 when I was 2! Period. Never again in my life!!!!

I just came in from pulling my onions….2 bushel!!! My first onions ever and I am so tickled! Thank you Melinda over at The Growing Challenge!!! By this little challenge she presented I was motivated to try new things and to push myself to the limits. I think I did. With this came motivation that I needed to come out of this “coma” I’ve been in with the Chronic Lyme Disease. I found a great quote embroidered on a sampler and could kick myself for not buying it…

“When I awoke, life was dusty.”

That so describes my life during this battle. But I am living proof that there is life after Lyme! Never, never, never give up!

The onions are drying this afternoon and then will cure for a few weeks. I’ll keep them in the basement when it rains, then I’ll put them back out under a shade tree. Here’s a good reference on curing onions.

I also blanched a batch of green beans to freeze.

I love the emerald green color when they are blanched. They are so pretty.

Sandy’s Fermented Salsa

(don’t ask me who Sandy is I have NO earthly idea, but it’s her recipe!)

2# Tomatillos or Tomatoes

1/2# onion

8-10 cloves of garlic

4 Jalepeno (2 seeded)

1/2 C cilantro

1/4 tsp cumin

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp Celtic Sea Salt

1/4 C whey

Process in food processor and pack in canning jar. Leave on counter for 2 days. Then refrigerate and enjoy!

Makes approx. 1.5 Qts