Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Harvest Tips

I realized after I wrote last time that I had forgotten to talk about harvesting garlic. Garlic is planted in the fall. It is generally ready to harvest the end of July. The head develops a seed pod and the leaves curl and the tips turn brown. Quit watering a few days before digging so the ground will dry out, making it easier to pull out. If you have soft stem garlic you can braid your garlic and hang it from the ceiling in your storage room. I always plant firm stem. We lay our garlic out on the picnic table for several days to completely dry out. Then we cut the stems and store the cloves in onion bags so air gets to the cloves. I add garlic to most everything I cook.
I'm the biggest loser with my fall garden. I planted snap peas the first week of July. They came up but the minute they were out of the ground some bug stripped them to the stem. I have a few coming out of it, but there won't be much of a harvest. I started my lettuce, spinach, and Chinese cabbage in the house the first of August. They were getting very stringy so Tanner and I spent a couple of hours carefully planting them. They were all dead by the end of the day. I'm going to have to think about this fall planting a little more. You can not expect small plants to survive transplanting when it is hot out. I've reseeded, but I have little hope of getting anything now. Fall planting is challenging because I am preoccupied with harvesting and canning.
Speaking of canning, I wanted to encourage everyone to add beets to their diet. When you cut beets, make sure you leave about an inch of stem on top and do not cut the root off. Cutting the top too short and the root off will allow the beet to bleed out while cooking. You want to keep in all that beautiful red color, it is what is good for you. Also the leaves are higher in nutritional value than the root. We add them to our green drink. I boil the root for about 15 mins. and then place in cold water. I peel them and cut them into wedges, freeze them on a cookie sheet and then transfer them to freezer bags, laid in single layer. I can easily grab one slice for our green drink each morning. Beets are cheap now even if you didn't grow them. Find someone who is willing to share, because beets cost a dollar a beet throughout the winter.
We are almost done harvesting our corn. It has been wonderful. If you want to do yourself a favor add kale to your green drink. I have enough to feed the town of Bluffdale. Come by any time and cut some, it just grows back. Vegetables are ranked by a test determining their antioxidant capacity. Foods are given what's called an ORAC rating; ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. The best known test has kale as number one among the vegetables, with an ORAC value of 1770 (the next best vegetable is spinach, with an ORAC value of 1260). Google Kale and read about it, it is worth eating.
My peaches are falling off the tree before they are ready. That happens when it is too cold during pollination. The pit inside, which is attached to the stem, splits, causing the stem to release from the branch. Down falls the unripe peach.
We are picking tomatoes this morning. I'm all out of whole stewed tomatoes, so I'm anxious to start canning them. Remember to cut back your watering of tomatoes. Brother Wells says to water deeply every 10-15 days.
There is so much to talk about and share concerning gardening and the nutrition in the foods we eat. My time is limited to write, but if ever you want to know more, come on over and I will share my resources. Christy

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1, 2011
Family and Friends,
We've been busy watering, weeding and harvesting. Hope the rest of you are enjoying the fruits of your labors. We have been putting up green beans for the past two weeks. The cucumbers are coming on slowly, but there have been enough to to seven jars of pickles. I use beets raw in our green drink and they are very expensive during the winter. I googled how to freeze beets. I blanched them in boiling water for about 15 minutes. Make sure you leave at least one inch of top on and the root while boiling. You want to retain the color of the beet, because it is loaded with nutrients. From the boiling water you immediately put the beets into ice water. Ideally the skins will slide off. I didn't cook mine long enough, so I had to peel the skins off. Depending on the size of the beet, I quartered them or halved them. Then I laid them on a cookie sheet and froze them for about half and hour. Then I placed them in freezer bags, laying flat and sucked the air out of the bag before closing. Now I will have beets for the rest of the year.
Our broccoli didn't do very well. I didn't get any big heads, but they are producing lots of smaller heads continually. If yours bolted, cut the bolted part off and see if the plant won't start producing smaller shoots. The cabbage grew quickly and we have had beautiful heads. The cauliflower was pathetic. The tight heads we grew were very bitter (too hot). I'm trying a fall crop, but I have no faith in them at all. We are harvesting beautiful egg plants. The fruit is so gorgeous and I have a wonderful eggplant dip recipe and eggplant Parmesan recipe.
I'm sorry I missed posting at the first of July. If you want to plant a fall garden, you should put it in the first of July, except for lettuce, which should go in the first of August. Lettuce will only germinate in temperatures of 80 degrees or less. So you need to germinate the seeds in the house and then move them to the garden. I am also growing spinach, cilantro and a few Chinese cabbage. The lettuce and spinach were fabulous this early summer. It looks like the first planting of corn will be ready in a couple of days. My red potato plants are starting to die back because of the heat. My refuse from canning I'm laying right on my empty rows
I had one tomato plant wilt on me. I pulled it and removed it from the garden in case it is verticillium wilt. My basil has never done so well. I have had enough to make pesto with. While in England we enjoyed pesto made with rocket (arugula). It is a new favorite. It has a nice nip.
Remember to always add organic matter back into your garden throughout the year, or compost it and add it in the fall. Organic material is your soil's favorite friend. Christy

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8, 2011
We worked all day yesterday in the garden, trying to beat the storm. We planted seed for the summer garden. We planted corn, beans, squash and pumpkins. When you plant green beans it is good to sprinkle diazinon in with the seeds. Every bug loves to eat beans when they come up. The diazinon at least gives the bean a chance to get its head above the ground. While I was checking plants, I found ants eating the stalks of my kale. I put seven dust on it but you could spray with malathion or use the diazion granules. Sometimes you have to spray one time early like this to save a whole crop. Seven dust and Malathion break down in the sun to a non-toxic material. We had several of our small plants from our earlier planting not survive. We replanted, cauliflower and broccoli. We lost several lettuce plants also, but I haven't bought new starts. We chose not to plant our small plants of tomatoes, peppers, squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe, because the weather is suppose to be very cold the next couple of nights. We will plant later in the week after the storm passes. I have been hardening (setting the plants outside the greenhouse) all week. They will be adjusted to the sun and wind and larger change in temperature. The plants are getting big and it is more difficult to keep them wet enough. Several times I have found many plants all wilted before I watered them. I will still cover every plant I have covers for when we plant. I do not trust the weather at all. We may still have frost and you hate to lose everything at this point. Brother Wells suggests using the hot caps,(little domes made of something like wax paper) to cover the tomatoes and peppers with. As the plant gets big and starts pushing against the top, you cut and x in the top to allow the plant to start getting use to the change in weather, the sun and the wind. Gradually you cut the cap all the way down. This keeps the plant from getting sunburned. We've used milk jugs for years, but always have to deal with the sunburning when we pull the jug off. Remember, when you plant tomato plants, pinch off the bottom leaves and plant the plant very deep. You can even lay the plant sideways and gently bend the top of the plant up. This gives you more stem to develop roots off of, creating a much stronger plant. When planting plants, don't forget the mycorrhizal fungi. It will help your plant to grow thousands of tiny root arms off the main root. Because our soil has so much clay, we always put potting soil around the plants as we are planting. We are harvesting asparagus. The first pickings were killed by the frost.
Last week David rigged up a covering for one of our grow boxes. Using pvc pipe he created receiving pockets for slightly smaller pvc pipe that arches about 2 feet above the box. Then he put clear, 0.4 ml, plastic sheeting over the pipe, creating a little green house. The spinach responded well and we cut two bags full. We are growing greens in that box. We are hoping next year we will be able to eat greens in March.
Of course there was lots of weeding to do yesterday. Staying on top of the weeding makes it not so overwhelming. When ever I go into the garden I take a poker and weed for a while. David sprayed round up around the perimeter of the garden and in between the fruit trees. I think that is about everything for now. We are giving thanks for the rain, since it provides the water the seeds need. Christy

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm a little behind on my post, because I went up to Idaho for a week to enjoy Richie, Rachel, Miles and Gwen. Before I left David and I planted the early garden: peas, onions, carrots, beets, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, kale (the last 5 plants were starts from the green house). When getting carrots to germinate, you must water them twice a day, can even put wet newspapers over them. I also finished planting all my starts in the green house. They are slow germinating because we haven't had much sun. I'm praying for sun. We were grateful to find our lettuce plants survived the 26 degree morning we had. If things dry out enough, we will plant potatoes this weekend over conference. David is still pruning, (big job) and will soon need to spray. Dormant spray is applied right before the blossoms open. When you see the buds getting white, it is time to spray. It is a challenge in spring to catch the windows mother nature provides to get things tilled, fertilized, pruned, sprayed and planted. Make sure your soil is dried out fairly well before tilling, otherwise you will end up with clods for the rest of the year. Also, when we plant seedlings, we take out the potting soil and fill the hole with potting soil. We also purchased mycorrhizal fungi, mixed 1/8 th teaspoon with 1 quart of water and soaked the roots in it before planting. The fungi stimulates thousands of tiny roots to develop. Really helps establish healthy, strong plants. Christy

Friday, March 11, 2011

We did a few things on our garden this past week. I fertilized my perennials. This needs to be done once a year, preferably when snow will dissolve it. Mix 30-10-10 (Miracle Grow) 1/3 quart, with 1/3 quart of ammonia sulfate and 1/3 Ironite. Covers 180 square feet per 1 quart. We also started our cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach inside. I used peat pellets, because these plants will be transplanted outside fairly soon. Starting these plants inside gives you a great jump start. As soon as the garden dries out we will form our rows and plant the rest of the early garden. Christy

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Beginings

Dear Family and Friends,
I know I have not used this medium, but thought it would be a good way to share our gardening efforts through out the year. Many of you have asked about when to do things in the garden. So I thought every time we do something I will share it on the blog. This is a big stretch for me, but I thought I would make a commitment to make it happen.
Last week David and I sat down and figured out where we would be planting things in our garden. To help you with this and other home gardening questions, we highly recommend the book, Successful Home Gardening, by E. Gordon Wells, Jr. Costco carries his book at least in Utah. This is a fabulous resource for gardening. The most important factor in determining where to plant things is their water need. Cool season shallow rooted plants like lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, peas, broccoli and berries need water twice a week. Intermediate rooting depth plants such as beans, corn peppers, eggplant zucchini cucumbers onions pumpkins need water once a week. Warm season deep rooted plants like tomatoes, watermelons butternut squash fruit trees need water every 10 days to 2 weeks. We also pulled out our seeds and took an inventory of what we had and what we wanted to order. We made our list and I will be placing the order this week. This year we will also be trying peat pellets for starting our plants in. We have never used them before, but Brother Wells suggested using them. We also learned about mycorrhizal fungi from Brother Wells. This product helps your plant develop tiny roots off of main roots so the plant can absorb more water and nutrients. It can be ordered through www.fungi.com or Cooks nursery in Lindon carries it. It doesn't require very much. Where we live the soil is very alkaline making it hard to grow somethings. We learned about adding sulfur in the fall. As the sulfur breaks down over the winter it turns into sulfuric acid and lowers the ph of the soil. Most plants grow well in soil with ph between 6 - 7. Unfortunately we range closer to 7.5 -8. If you haven't added fertilizer, now would be a good time. If you will use 16-16-8 you will need 1 quart per 180 sq. feet. In the quart jar place 4/5 16-16-8 and 1/5 Ironite. Shake the ingredients to mix and then spread evenly over the 180 sq. feet. You need to put down 2 qts of sulfur over the same area. Purchase Martin's brand sulfur, it breaks down much better. Once you fertilize you need to till it in. We also added large amounts of organic material last fall, leaves, grass clippings and composted material. If you use grass clippings they need to be free of weed and feed. I hope this helps. We plan on planting the early spring crops mid March. I will be planting by seeds in the green house in March also. Always prune stone fruit after March 1st. Seed fruit can be pruned after December. Also if you are treating trees, grapes or berries for chlorosis you need to apply the chelated iron in March. You apply fertilizer to perennials once a year. You use soluble fertilizer that you add to the snow and let in leach down into the plant. Use: 30-10-10 (Miracle Grow) 1/3 quart, mix with 1/3 quart of ammonia sulfate and 1/3 quart Ironite. Again you apply 1 quart to 180 sq. feet This is applied late Feb. or early March.
This is probably more than you wanted to know. But hopefully it will get some of you jump started with your garden. Happy Gardening Christy

Thursday, May 7, 2009

We are alive!

Hopefully, you all know we are alive just because we don't take time to blog. Most of you are receiving our letter to Ross and Ross's letters, so you know what it going on with us. We had a great, intense trip to Zions to hike the subway. It didn't feel like a big deal the day we hiked, but I had serious repercussions for 3 days after wards. I was thankful when all the lactic acid was out of my thighs. The harvesting and canning is done! We filled every bottle in our house this year. We probably only have one more time to mow lawns, so I am feeling a ton of relief these days. My big project now is trying to get my Grandpa Ewing's life history into a book with pictures. Grandpa remains positive and upbeat despite the intrusive kidney cancer. Jacob just finished a season of cross country running and Jeff is right there beside him running with him daily. Tanner is finishing up his last Webelos activity pin. Then he will come into my 11 year old patrol. Life is good and the Garners are happy.

Subway tirp September 20-21 2009

This trip was a blast with repelling, hiking, and swimming through freezing cold water. It took us about 9 hours and was 10 miles long.