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.
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.
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.
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 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 !
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.
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.
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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.
This spring, I started some white pumpkins hoping to grow enough for the kids to carve them for Halloween. However, In the shuffle of over a thousand plants out of the greenhouse, I lost track of them, and they found their way to my sisters farm. The vines grew out of Sandy’s garden into a berry patch where no one noticed them, and the chickens couldn’t see the light colored snacks. When Sandy found these pumpkins she brought them over to my house so I could save the seeds from them. I had them sitting outside on my lawn mower as decorations when I snapped this shot with the moon included.
Next year, I hope to grow them again, maybe then I’ll get enough of these spooky pumpkins for the kids to carve them.
My nephew has an amazing ability to take photos, and after a short illness, he’s back on track, and out snapping pictures. Above he captured a Sunflower in mid bloom. The flowers have just started emerging in the last few days, and the colors are amazing.
These sunflowers are somewhat unique in that they set multiple flowers that are smaller then most plants. Last year the flowers grew out to about five inches across, and there were about 3 per plant. This plant has eight flowers forming.
The plants have skyrocketed in growth to about ten foot tall, I guess this garden’s soil is much better then that of my walkway, which only provided the plants an oppurtunity for six feet of growth. Gotta love my styling cut off garden jeans….
The pumpkins are just about ready, and I’m wondering if they will last until Halloween. One of the still green pumpkins is about a foot and a half in diameter.
I planted sunflowers in both my garden and the late garden, but my plants are no where to be found. Since I used the same package of seeds that I saved from last year, I can rule out lack of germination as the cause. This leaves few possibilities, one of which could be the seeds being eaten, or another, the small plants became rodent salad. There are a great deal more animals that pilfer my garden then the late one, and I tend to think it’s the horse pasture which borders the late garden which protects it. The pasture is ringed with electric fence, which pulses every few seconds. Deer rarely trespass into the pasture, and the horses chase many other animals out as well. So, I’m quite happy Becky and I planted the sunflowers shown. Soon they will set large flowers containing dozens of seeds.
I find it odd how pumpkins grow. The edible portion starts out as a green ball, as shown, and when they are ripe, then turn the distinctive orange we all associate with Halloween. The bottom portion is where a flower once grew, you may notice it withered into mush at this point. I planted a few white pumpkins at the very end of my garden, but they did not receive the vast amount of nutrients needed for pumpkin production, I’ll try them again next year.
To sum it all up, if we didn’t plant the late garden, their would be no sunflower seeds this fall, and we would have to purchase pumpkins for Halloween.