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.
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 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.
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.
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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The garden is so very big that I often don’t get to see whats growing in the different area everyday, and sometimes I may miss a portion for weeks at a time. I was having a pretty bad week for a number of reasons, but after spending some quality time checking out what I had been missing in the garden, I’m back to my normal calm self. I’ve found a single pumpkin growing in a abandoned compost pile beside the garden. It’s not the biggest, nor smallest pumpkin, but it was planted with no effort of my own, and I’m sure the kids will have fun with it.
I haven’t been paying much attention to the cabbage plants that I put in long ago, but while taking a look at the garlic I planted, I noticed that three of these plants look very promising, and I may just get some sauerkraut from them.
One of the first things I planted this spring was a row of directly seeded cabbage. It was supposed to be a mix of different cabbage plants that would grow and form heads at different rates. Unfortunately, only one of those seeds would grow into a plant, and there it is, the first plant of 2011.
Some time ago, my favorite cat “Boots” quit arriving for his nightly meal. Since he was a wild cat, and a male, I’m hoping he simply decided to “rough-it” and live off the land in the woods. Since he has been gone for about a month, I’m contemplating keeping this black and white kitten that has been following me around in the garden. His name is joker, and he really likes chicken and cheese.
Above, Joker navigates the space between a Swiss chard plant, and my now 4 inch tall Pak Choi plants. He didn’t stray further then a foot from my feet the whole time I was taking pictures.
In total, I think I’m doing pretty good for the season, with unexpected cabbage, broccoli, and even some potential Pak Choi soon to be on the menu.
I finally got some Pak Choi to grow, and I’ve very excited to try it out. This Asian crop can be planted either in early spring or in the summer for a fall crop. Since I was quite busy with all the other spring work, I missed the early growth cycle, but I’m happy to see any seedlings at all. I’ve tried to plant this crop directly into the garden as seeds two years in a row, with no luck, so I thought I would try to get it started in some cups then transplant it once they got going.
I was not expecting the seeds to germinate, nor grow, so I placed about ten seeds in each cup. I’ll select the strongest plants when they get older, and transplant them into the garden. I’m planning to start some more seeds as I have a whole additional packet left. When I sow these seeds, I’ll try not to place more then three per cup, so I’m may just have a pile of Pak Choi on my hands in the fall.