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Storage and Seeds

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment
Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes

While the warm season harvest may be over, there is lots of work pertaining to the warm season left to do. One of the biggest challenges is organizing all of the food that was packed away. The canned items should be stored in a way that allows the cans to be inspected from time to time.  A few cans will not properly seal, and if left to sit unsealed they are capable of making a real mess. You can tell the cans are no longer sealed when the center portion of the lid pops to the up position, as opposed to the downward position created by an internal vacuum. When the lids pop up, the contents should be discarded either in a compost pile or in the garbage. Out of over 100 jars of canned tomatoes only three have become unsealed.

Giant Speckled Lima Beans After Drying

Giant Speckled Lima Beans After Drying

The harvest may be over but it’s now time to collect seeds for future planting. I’ve found that the hot greenhouse makes harvesting and storing dry beans pretty easy. I start by collecting the bean pods and spreading them out on my tables in the greenhouse. The sun will then dry out the outer husk making the process of removing beans fairly easy, simply apply pressure to the outer husk and watch the pod crack along the seems. The dry beans inside can then be stored in a glass jar for planting next spring.

Lettuce Seed Pods

Lettuce Seed Pods

Lettuce seeds are also pretty easy to collect if they are allowed to dry in the sun. The plants will grow to about three feet in height, and will grow tiny seed pods after setting small flowers. I’ve been experimenting with the quickest way to harvest the seeds, but for now the best advice I can give is to collect each pod individually, and press the pods between your fingers to release the seeds within. You will then need to separate the seeds from the pods, or simply plant the pods with the seeds in the spring.

Pak Choi Seeds Not Ready

Pak Choi Seeds Not Ready

It’s nearly time to collect Pak Choi seeds as well. I didn’t get a large enough harvest to cook with this Asian vegetable, but I did try it raw, and it wasn’t bad, so I plan to save lots of seeds for next year. The plants seemed to put all of their effort into seed pods, so I may have planted them late in the season, but there will be plenty of seeds for next year.

Pak Choi Seeds Ready

Pak Choi Seeds Ready

Before collecting the seeds, wait till the pods turn a brownish color, and crack open easily.  A few of the pods have already turned brown, but the majority are not yet mature.

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Back on Track

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Zucchini Plants

Zucchini Plants

The zucchini patch is doing much better these days. It seems the ground hog that I have yet to eliminate has decided to munch on only one of my zucchini patches, and leave the other alone. While I’m happy for something of a compromise for now, I will not loose to this beast, and I’ve got a long term mentality in mind. I realize this will be the location for my garden for years to come, and this family of rodents must be eliminated before all of my plants are as worn out as my aging checkbook.

Striped Zucchini

Striped Zucchini

The plants are still a bit small, but their ambitions must be appreciated. Most of them have three inch sized zucchini, pretty impressive for a plant which is less then two feet tall. One of these plants is sporting a double growth of produce.

I think the biggest reason for this turn around in my plants growth is directly related to the Miracle Grow I’ve been using to encourage life in these plants. I’ve sprayed a few gallons of the water/crystal mix on both patches of zucchini. It seems both areas are growing faster, and one will produce enough to keep the ground hogs away from the other. These rodents are also munching on the zucchini alone, and leaving the recovering cucumber plants alone as well.

Waltham Butternut - Winter Squash

Waltham Butternut - Winter Squash

Some of the first seeds I sowed in the garden were Waltham Butternut Squash, which are my second favorite winter treat, second only to Yukon Gold potatoes. I wanted to give these plants plenty of time to get growing well, but it didn’t seem to work. They have been popular snacks for deer and ground hogs, and most plants are shorter then the kitten that runs in my house every time I open the door. I’m going to make them a priority for side dressing and the blue water miracle grow mixture I’m using,  as soon as I get some time.

Tomatoes and Potatoes

Tomatoes and Potatoes

Although the ground hog had trimmed my zucchini and with that action also trimmed my pride, I still have a good deal left. The front portion of the garden is growing very well. Here you will find two tomato patches, 7 rows of Yukon Gold potatoes, beans, celery, and onions. I’ve side dressed the celery and onions in an effort to kick start their growth, and I’ve applied lots of water on these brutally hot days. At least one day a week, I will cover the whole garden with four hours of sprinkler time.

Chard, Broccoli, Lettuce, Kohlrabi, Mesclun and Beans

Chard, Broccoli, Lettuce, Kohlrabi, Mesclun and Beans

The other end of the front row is also looking pretty great. My broccoli are slowly beginning to form heads, the colorful chard and lettuce are growing faster then I imagined and the beans are doing well enough considering the local deer populations appetite. My kohlrabi plants are still low to the ground at about 5 inches tall. These are cool weather compatible, so I’ve got plenty of time to get bushels of space cabbage.  I’ve also planted a few pak choi plants near the kohlrabi, but they are still too small to see in the picture.

Just to note, the camera was about 15 feet in the air when I took these pictures, so the garden looks much smaller then it really is. The total length is about 250 feet long, and about 60 feet wide. I do tend to get carried away some times.

New Beans and Colorful Chard

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment
Brown Crowder Pole Bean

Brown Crowder Pole Bean

I’m always trying new things in the garden, and I’ve been surprised and disappointed in the past. The pole bean above has surprised me already with it’s very cool looking leaves. They are more compact, and smoother then most bean plants, and the glossy leaves carry a darker green then others.

Lima Bean - Giant Speckled Pole

Lima Bean - Giant Speckled Pole

Another new bean variety that I’m growing is the Giant Speckled Pole Lima Bean. The leaves on this plant are more similar to other beans then the Brown Crowder above, but just like the Crowder, they are smooth and glossy. I’ve planted these two types far away from the rest of the beans I’m growing since they are both of the climbing pole habit.

Brown Crowder and Giant Speckled Pole

Brown Crowder and Giant Speckled Pole

If the beans grow well, I should have a small zip lock bag full for each 15 foot row I’ve planted. I did this last year with some Ying Yang beans, and rather then making chilli, I saved the beans till this spring and planted nearly ten rows.

Colorful Chard

Colorful Chard

I couldn’t wait any longer before trying out some colorful chard I’ve planted this spring, so I picked a leaf of each variety. The yellow and red shard were planted in the greenhouse this spring, and the white stalk leaves are from last years chard plants. I continue to be very impressed with chard, not only how it can grow in the cold of PA winters, but also in how it makes me feel so much better after eating it. The plant carries a great deal of vitamins, especially vitamin K, so I imagine they are the reason for my change in mood.

Sauteed Chard and Onions

Sauteed Chard and Onions

I chopped the chard up, and prepared a pan with a 1/6 stick of butter. I placed the heat on about medium and threw in some Stuttgarter and Red Onions frozen from last year. I added the chopped chard and cooked it until it carried brown highlights. The small bowl shown in the picture was about four inches across, so those large leaves don’t go very far once cooked, but they were o-so-good, and I’m in a very positive mindset today.

Preparing for Frost

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Beets, Turnips, Carrots, Kohlrabi & String Beans

Beets, Turnips, Carrots, Kohlrabi & String Beans

The garden has begun it’s slow transformation from a land of plenty, with rapidly growing plants to a shadow of it’s height in summer. Most of the plants are showing their fatigue for the year, and many have withered completely. Few plants flourish this time of year, and it seemed prudent to pick these root crops before the first frost. I picked a bag each of Turnips and Beets, a few nice size kohlrabies and some carrots. My niece picked the string beans, as she seems to be the only one who is not yet sick of them for the year.

String Bean Kid

String Bean Kid

As I was pulling up the turnips, I kept hearing comments about the beans. Some where shaped like funny letters, a J here, an I there. I’m surprised she didn’t lay them out in the soil and spell funny words.

Large Pepper Plant

Large Pepper Plant

Last year I took a pepper plant out of the greenhouse, and planted it in a small pot in my kitchen. The plant grew enough in the winter to set one pepper. This year, I’m trying a different approach. I found the largest Chablis Pepper plant in the garden, and planted it in a 5 gallon bucket. The stem on this giant plant was about an inch in width, and is starting to get a hardened bark on the stem, just like a tree. The plant is at least three feet tall, bucket and all, and looked pretty cool when it was moved indoors. There are at least ten small peppers on this plant, so I’m hopeful for fresh peppers after the frost descends on the garden.

Weekend Roundup 8/29/10

August 30, 2010 1 comment
Morning View of the Valley

Morning View of the Valley

I’ll admit it, Saturday, I slept in, and really didn’t do much of anything other then take pictures for my sister. So when I awoke Sunday, I was rearing to go, and not in the mood to sit around. I got up and out early enough to catch the morning sun, finishing up with it’s daily burn off of the nights fog. You can still see some of the once all-encompassing cloud by the foot of the hills.  

Weekend Harvest

Weekend Harvest

In the afternoon Sandy and Davie came over, and we finished harvesting the onions, and learned it’s a bit late in the season for them. Some of the Onion bulbs had begun to rot. Next year I’ll make it a point to finish picking them by the beginning or middle of August.

 The string beans have collapsed half of the stick constructed trellis I made for them, and the beans shown are only about a third of the crop. Also shown are Okra, my least favorite garden food.  The plants grew very well, and produced a healthy offering of seed pods.

Watermelon

Watermelon

The little Gardener’s Watermelons are just starting to ripen up. My sister Sandy discovered a great rule of thumb to tell when a melon is ripe: It’s ripe when the little worms and bugs just start to nibble a bit at the outer shell. Once they know it’s ripe, we should know it’s ripe. I also made it a point to show the 4 year old gardener that started these plants what he accomplished. When I asked him if he would do it again next year he said “No”, I replied “Why not ?”, to which he said “It takes tooooo long”. I guess the lack of instant gratification is a symbol of ones age.  

Garlic Planted Early

Garlic Planted Early

At the end of the day, I decided to plant the Garlic a few weeks early. Garlic should be started early enough to give the plants time to build a basic set of roots before freezing temps set in. I’m hoping the early planting helps them grow nice big cloves. I’ve added several things to this soil to help out the plants, including bio-char and peat moss.

Zen Harvest

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment
Ying Yang Beans

Ying Yang Beans

Here are some of the beans I harvested today. They are dry beans, with a distinctive Ying – Yang looking pattern on the bean itself. I planted these in the hopes of getting my neices excited about the garden, and they have harvested a bunch even before I had. The bean pod looks like any other string bean, green in color, yellowing when they are ripe.

Winter Squashes, and Corn

Winter Squashes, and Corn

At the end of the garden, we’ve planted Winter Squashes of many varieties. When the plants first started growing from seed, they were way behind schedule, so I watered them daily, and also side dressed them with rabbit manure. After a few days of slow growth, I added goat manure on top of the already potent rabbit dung. I would soak the plants till water began pooling, and with a few degress of slope, it took a while to completely douse them. The sun co-operated very nicely in those days, and the heat really got those little plants growing. I took the tripod out to the garden, and took this picture. Keep in mind the tripod is nearly four feet tall. Those little plants have turned into winter squash warriors with huge green leaves. They grew so fast that I lost my sprinkler under the leaves, and there is no way to walk through the rows between plant varieties.

Things that make me say “Wow”.

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment
Kentucky Pole Beans

Kentucky Pole Beans

I’ve seen a very high trellis on a back road, in a far removed garden, and always thought the owner got carried away when constructing it. I guess the beans are the actor getting carried away thought. These beans have been crowding out weeds, shooting skyward, and I’ve just noticed that they are bending the trellis that supports them. In earlier photos, you may remember how the top beams of this trellis were straight across, they’re not anymore. The vines have been acting like little hydralic jacks, and in there upward growth, as they pull themselves up the trellis, they are compressing the space between cross-members. I will need a much taller support in future gardens.

62 day Corn and 75 days Corn

62 day Corn and 75 days Corn

I wanted to show the difference in two types of corn. The corn on the left is Early Sunglow: 62 day, and on the right is Butter and Sugar: 75 day. I’ve grown five types of corn this year adding Peaches and Cream: 85 day, Blue Dent, and a small corn cob producer to the mentioned varieties above. Notice how the tassles are different colors on these type varieties ? The plants on the left are starting to set small corn cobs… I can’t wait, neither can Michelle, a co-worker who loves Sweet Corn.

Okra Setting a Flower

Okra Setting a Flower

Above is an Okra plant, setting what appears to be a flower, which should be followed with… something. I’m not sure what the produce this plant grows will be. This is a whole new plant to me, and I’m happy to see it make it this far. I’ve been told it will only grow when the tempurature is above 80 F, so it has been a good year to try it out.

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee

Finally, after being stung by several wasps just a few minutes earlier, I almost walked right into this bumble bee. I was amazed to see the vast amount of what I believe is pollen on it’s hind legs. I took a picture of this not so aggressive bug, and also a video. He worked very fast over this flower, taking care to hit eat pollen producing center, with a speed I wasn’t aware of. He had all of the pollen collected in no time at all.

Categories: Beans, Corn, Wild Animals Tags: , , , , ,