Archive

Archive for the ‘Cauliflower’ Category

A Year of Growth: 2011

December 31, 2011 1 comment
New Equipment on the Farm

New Equipment on the Farm

Another year has passed on the farm, and as the old year passes by, it leaves changes much like a glacier grinding and pushing its way to the sea. 2011 brought lots of new equipment and experiences to the farm, including a new John Deere tractor, and a much older yet still very effective 8n Ford tractor. The two tractors work great in tandam, making the hard work of yester-years into play time on full sized toys. The two tractors share lots of interchangable attachments including a back blade, brush hog, finish mower and more.  Once we got up to speed on how the tractors worked and what we could do with them, everything changed. Tasks that were difficult became easy, and what was once impossible is now do-able.

Improvements to the Land

Improvements to the Land

With the power of many horses under our feet, we began to transform the land directly in front of my home from a thicket of brush into a smooth flowing lawn, complete with a meandering stream which runs through the center. This will be the land where I continue planting cherries, berries and fruit trees, as I’ve nearly run out of space close to the house. I’ve also found time to build a herb garden with lot’s of old field stones.

New Shed and Workshop

New Shed and Workshop

The year has also been shaped a great deal by the construction of a new shed. The idea began as a chicken coop, but as soon as I began construction of the shed in my minds eye I envisioned a work shop and extra storage for many of my tools. The shed demanded a good deal of my time, and I’ve had lots of help with the design and general construction. That project is now complete for the year, and the workshop is quickly being stocked and organized. I’ve built a study building that should last for decades, and its large enough that I have extra room for future use.

First Book

First Book

While the sun was hidden from view I put together my first book, which expands upon my first few years in the garden. After returning from work, and putting away my shed construction tools, I would edit, layout and revise my story,  producing a 70 + page tale of trials and some errors on my path to master gardening. You can read more about the book by clicking here.

Battling Late Blight

Battling Late Blight

In 2009 and 2010 I had well over 100 tomato plants die due to late blight, and I lost the majority of the tomato harvest to this pest. It’s a difficult thing to loose so much hard work to something which is hard to see, but in 2011 I fought back with the conviction of a four star general. I drew up “battle plans” and stuck to the program, using Epson Salt and “Dragoon Dust” to protect the plants and destroy the enemy.

The blight managed to kill a plant or two, but I treated the outbreak much like the CDC would treat a case of SARS. I carefully covered the infected plants with a garbage bag, then ripped the roots from the soil, being carefull to isolate the infected plant. After torching the exposed plant matter, I redoubled my efforts in blight prevention. I took a doctor’s approach towards treatment, and gave the plants a heavy dose of Miracle Grow to keep them strong, while dusting the area exposed with an extra serving of anti-fungal agents.

At the end of the season it was clear that the blight had not succeded in robbing my harvest yet again. The tomatoes flowed from the garden like water spraying from a badly leaking hose.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes

With the endless bounty that streamed in from the garden, we all learned the fine points of food preservation, including canning, freezing and even vacuum sealing veggies. 2011 has been a great year for the garden, with two exceptions: Cucumbers and Zucchini.

I only managed to grow a few cucumbers, unlike past years when I would require a back pack in order to pick a row of cucks. The zucchini wasn’t nearly as bad, but it also suffered due to a thousand bites from pesky ground hogs. Overall, I’m very happy to see so much progress in hind sight. I’ve grown a great deal this year, perhaps more then the last five years combined. I’ve extended my garden season into the winter with Broccolli, Cualiflower and Brussels Sprouts, and I’ve demonstrated stubborn commitment towards shed construction.

Everyone on the farm has been learning and working together very well, and I think the outcome of this years labor is a testement to that effort. I hope to redouble my planning in 2012, and deliver even better results in the new year.

Happy New Year !

– I.T. Farmer

You may also like:

Advertisements

Halloween; A Transition to Cool Crops

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Bright Lights Swiss Chard

Bright Lights Swiss Chard

As I observe more and more of the subtle hints of seasonal change, I’m starting to find dates on the calendar where changes become permanent transition points. Halloween has become my new marker on the calendar for the absolute end to warm season crops, and the transition point to the cool season.

I’ve made a conscious effort to extend my growing season by incorporating new plants which can tolerate cool and downright cold weather. The most cold hardy plant I’ve got in my arsenal thus far is Swiss Chard. These colorful leaves are willing to grow straight through our harsh winter months if given a simple plastic cover to keep the snow from burying the leaves.

Lettuce Under Snow

Lettuce Under Snow

I was surprised to see some lettuce also growing through the snow. The lettuce above is from my sister’s garden, as my lettuce is not very photogenic due to a recent pass through the garden with the finish mower. Even thought the tops of the plants were chopped off, the base began to grow new leaves pretty quickly.

Cool Season Salad

Cool Season Salad

I wasn’t sure how long this collection of greens would last, so I decided to pick a good deal of the lettuce, chard and endive and enjoy a cool season salad before these greens turn to brown.

Cauliflower Under Snow

Cauliflower Under Snow

While I was looking around, I noticed that one of the cauliflower plants had grown a very large white head, so I made an attempt to pick it. I tried using scissors without much luck, then I moved onto some hand pruning sheers, also without luck. I finally decided to pull the whole plant out of the ground, and found that a hammer was needed to break the stalk. I then cut off all of the leaves, and brought it indoors.

Cauliflower Ready to Cook

Cauliflower Ready to Cook

Cauliflower has never been my favorite vegetable, but I decided that since I grew it, I might as well give it a try. The process of cooking it was very easy. Start by cutting the large head into many smaller pieces, then place them into a microwave safe bowl, with water nearly covering them. The total cooking time is around 15 minutes, but they will need to be stirred every few minutes in order to cook evenly. When they were done, this single plant provided a cheese covered snack for about 10 people. I actually liked it !

Jennifer's Pumpkin

Jennifer's Pumpkin

Later that same day the kids decided it was time to carve their pumpkins.  I should note these were not grown in my garden, as I decided not to plant them this year.

Little Gardener's Pumpking

Little Gardener's Pumpking

Maybe next year I’ll plant a few pumpkins from the seeds I gathered while carving. Either way, I know I will see a few, as the pumpkin guts harvested while cutting found their way to the compost pile.

Jessica's Pumpkin

Jessica's Pumpkin

You may also like:

 


Broccoli and Cauliflower

August 26, 2011 2 comments
Broccoli

Broccoli

I’ve finally gotten my first cool Broccoli and Cauliflower that I’ve grown from seed this year. I usually don’t like broccoli, but I did enjoy the few small pieces shown above. Next year I’ll make it a point to grow more of these plants.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I haven’t yet tried the cauliflower, and I’ve been told I need to place a rubber band around the white flower on this plant. I’m not sure why the rubber band is needed, but I’d be willing to bet someone will tell me = ) It can’t be a deal breaker if I forget to place one, since I imagine this crop was around long before man discovered how to turn trees into tires and springy projectiles.

Timing and Progress

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Broccoli

Broccoli

I’ve been trying to expand my gardening skills to include cooler weather crops, or in other words the items that I didn’t like to eat as a child. I’ve had to adjust my thinking about the growing season to get the plants going, but I think I’m on the right track. I planted my broccoli weeks before the garden was roto-tilled, using a pick axe to turn over and smash up the soil. The plants were tiny then, and after a few visits from some ravenous critters, I wasn’t sure if they would make it, but here they are, growing quite well.

Zucchini

Zucchini

I’ve found a few peas that are ready to be tossed in salad even though they were planted late. I’ve also found that the squash plants that have invaded my strawberry patch are quite good, although they don’t seem to taste like zucchini. They carry a nutty flavor, and light colored stripes. I’m going to assume they are a cross over mix of many of the squashes I grew last year.  Either way these plants must have gotten a very good jump on the season, as the  rest of my zucchini plants are shorter then the veggie shown.

Winter Seedlings

Winter Seedlings

I’m not the only gardener thinking about the late season possibilities. Over the Fourth of July weekend, while visiting the whole family and enjoying my birthday cake, my Mother and I began conspiring to plant cooler weather crops, and so we planted seeds for broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. I hope to add cool season kohlrabi to the mix if I can locate seeds soon. We decided to leave the seedlings on the steps to allow them to grow up in full sun.

Peppers

Peppers

The peppers and tomatoes seem to be right on track now, after some heavy watering with my new water cannon. The peppers shown still need some help from the compost pile, but in due time they will be growing like the bean in the fabled jack in the bean stock story.

Honey Berries

Honey Berries

The honey berries that I planted in the field are doing really well. They have begun their vertical reach, and are nearly 8 inches tall. I wasn’t sure how well they would do in my neck of the woods, but daily trips out to the edge of my yard with a gallon of water have paid off very well.

Goji with Shading

Goji with Shading

I’ve finally taken the plunge and moved out my tiny goji berry plants. I’ve added a layer of safety just to be sure the sun would not cook them while they were taking root. I placed a green mesh over the plants to block out about half of the sun’s day time rays. I was mainly trying to block the hot rays the sun beams down during the middle of the day, as they seem to be the most damaging. I moved one of the plants out to the field last week using the same setup, and recently added the second. The shade will be in place for about a week just to be sure the plant gets a good grip on it’s new soil.

I’m still waiting for my paw-paw tree, which won’t be shipped until September or October. I find the timing of shipping to be odd, as most plants arrive in spring, but when it comes to paw-paw trees, I’m the still the amateur.

Breaking Ground for Cold Weather Crops

May 24, 2011 Leave a comment
Working The Soil by Hand

Working The Soil by Hand

I still need to call the Rototiller guy and schedule and appointment, so for now I need to work the soil the old fashioned way: By hand. I was using my garden hoe to level dirt as part of my chicken coop project, and couldn’t find it when I was ready to get started, so I used the rock pick in the photo above. I am so impressed with how well this pick works that I will be using it from now on to work the soil in the first pass. The tool is somewhat heavy, so once you lift it off of the ground, gravity kicks in and propels it deep into the soil, much easier they a hoe.

De Cicco Broccolli

De Cicco Broccoli

I planted some De Cicco Broccoli right next to my already thriving Swiss Chard. This is my first year growing broccoli from seed, and with all of the spring rains, I’ve just now gotten it planted outside. Hopefully I haven’t ruined the taste of the produce by exposing these young plants to temperatures above 90F in the greenhouse. I guess it really doesn’t matter, as I’m not a big fan of most cold weather veggies. I’ll just smother these broccoli heads in cheese, or chop them up real small and add them to macaroni and cheese or spaghetti for nutritional value.

Cold Weather Crops Plot

Cold Weather Crops Plot

So here’s the progression of my cold weather crops plot, with Peas on the far left, Cabbage and Cauliflower in the second row, Swiss Chard growing like mad in row three, and Broccoli on the right. The Chard is doing so well, that I’ve had to use a plastic barrel to hold my sprinkler high enough off the ground to hit all the transplanted seedlings.

Strawberries

Strawberries

There is one cool weather crop that I have a fond taste for: Strawberries. I used to spend hours in the fields of Sullivan County, PA collecting the smaller wild versions of these. I would return home at a young age with my shirt held out holding a large collection of berries witch surely stained my shirt. I couldn’t return without enough to share with the rest of my family, and my father would usually look at my filthy stained shirt, smile while shaking his head and hand me a large bowl, to which I’d return once again filled. This was once my favorite activity, with Blackberries and Raspberries also in abundance. Now that I’m older, I hope to build a more complete collection of edibles on the farm for my nieces and nephews to pick. I’ve got everything from Gooseberries and Apache Blackberries to Honey-berries, Strawberries, Grapes and Cherries so far…. I guess if I’m not conning myself these berries are as much for me as the children.