Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Why I Quit Buying Seeds for My Garden 3 Years Ago



I save seeds for heirloom tomatoes, several herbs, beans and corn. It’s a very easy and convenient way to free yourself from having to spend a lot of money every spring when it’s time to plant the garden.

Almost three years ago, I also signed myself up for a membership for the Seeds of The Month Club. It was the only thing I bought on Black Friday that year. The idea was so fun, old-fashioned and low-tech! You get actual seed packets, mailed to your house, every month! Who doesn’t love getting things in the mail? I still get so excited when (read more on this blog’s new location…)

Carrots Pulled last weekend

I pulled up my carrots Sunday morning.  They were the best I have ever grown, and probably the best I could have done with my shady location.  Not a single one of them would have been supermarket-acceptable.  They were either worm bitten, cracked open, too small, tapered too fast, split rooted, etc, etc.  They’re good enough for me.  I got probably 6 or 8 pounds of edible carrot from six 8-foot rows, but I didn’t pick anything in the last 4 feet of the last 3 rows because they just didn’t grow in the shade there.

I washed them outside with the hose and broke off the green tops.

Then I washed them better inside.  After the picture above I cut off the bottoms and tops of each one.  They are in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator awaiting their date with multiple freezer bags.

As I said, this was definitely the best I can do with my dirt, my skills, my location right now.  I won’t give carrots a serious try again  next year.

Tiny Mini Cabbage Heads

A couple weeks ago I harvested one of my heads of cabbage for a coleslaw recipe my wife was making.  Actually, I harvested two, but this post only has picture of the purple one.

Anyway, what you are seeing above, and you might have to look closely at the full sized version, is a group of 5 cabbage sprouts that have regrown on the cut stalk after I harvested the main head.

I am going to leave these for a couple more weeks just to see what they turn into.  Maybe they’ll be like brussels sprouts by the time I pick them.  Maybe they’ll be worthless, but it’s fun to try.

Late June 2012 Garden Overview

Not much has changed.  If you look closely you’ll see that the cucumbers are just starting to grow, the squashes and melons are sprawling across the lawn, the cabbages and carrots are ready to be picked and processed, the garlic is gone, and the sweet potatoes are leafing out nicely.  The strawberries are alive and sending out runners, and I still need to get out there and plant a bunch of fall green beans for my wife.

Weak Potato Harvest in 2012

The white potato plants (the part above-ground) died back early this year, so I was forced to harvest whatever was down there.  I ended up with about  twice as much weight in harvested potatoes as I used for seed potatoes.  Meh.

I definitely have a lot to learn about growing white potatoes, but I can blame the drought this year.

Beets Harvested and Canned 2012

I harvested my beets a few days ago.  I didn’t get any pictures of them with their tops still attached, but they filled two half-bushel baskets.  I planted six 8-foot rows, and my root harvest is shown below.

Cut off the tops!  Eat them if you like greens.

Wash off the dirt!

Put the washed beets in a pot (or two) and boil them for about 20 minutes to make the skin really lose and easy to peel.

The skin will slip right off, along with the stem stubs.

Peeling in a messy step.

Get your recipe book and spices together!

Combine the beets with the vinegar, sugar, spices, whatever is in your canning recipe and boil them again.

Get your canning jars and lids simmering, and then fill the jars with the hot beet mixture.

Process your beets for 20 minutes (for pints) in a boiling water bath.

From six 8-foot rows of beet seeds I canned 1 gallon of beet roots.

The last time I canned beets I skimmed off the spices. This time I canned the spices into the jar. I want to see which way I like better. I keep notes in my cook books.

Cucumbers started late in 2012

An experiment that ended up happening this year was to start cucumbers from seed outdoors in late May instead of early May. When I read what I just wrote it just sounds like no big deal…a couple weeks difference…”so what?”, right?

Well, it has me nervous because by this date I usually have fruit set and instead I have baby plants that haven’t even reached the trellis yet.

I’m also trying a row of bush-type cucumbers. Supposedly these set a good amount of fruit without getting over 2 feet in vine length.

The main problem with my Beets

I mentioned about a month ago that this year I have grown the best beets I have ever grown, by far.  That was pretty easy to say, because in other years the greens grew about 6 inches high, if that, and I got almost no size to the roots.

This year, my beet greens are much bigger and healthier looking, thanks to thorough, deep digging, purchased organic fertilizers, proper weeding and thinning and frequent watering.  But I’m not growing these beets for their greens…I don’t even enjoy the greens.

I want BEET ROOTS!  Wednesday I picked the biggest beet that was out there:

The beet seed was sown on around March 29th.  I took this photo 69 days later.  The packet claimed that I could harvest these in 55-65 days and even this one isn’t big enough to cook and peel!

I have to face facts now.  At some point, if I want to have better luck in the garden, I’m going to have to move it….

I took this photo of my garden at 11 a.m.  No part of the garden has yet been touched by the sun this day.  30 or 40 minutes later the far right (west) side starts to get sun, and 90 or more minutes later the back corner finally gets illuminated.

Ultimately, this is my beet problem, and this was my tomato problem until I moved them into the sunlight this year.

I spent many, many hours making that garden be “just right” down there…but now I see that the grass is sunnier on the other side of the yard.  Hopefully I will be able to live with the current situation and put off the big move for a long time.  Many parts of the garden get 6 or more hours of sunlight.

For now, I’ll let these beets grow for several more days.  I’ll add some more “K” fertilizer, which is supposed to help out roots. The longer I leave the beets growing, the more I risk them turning into fibrous, woody roots that are inedible.  Hopefully that won’t happen too soon.

Garlic Scapes have arrived

My 32 square feet of hardneck garlic (approximately 100 plants) have sent up flower stalks, or scapes.

I removed most of them, and we’ll eat as many as we can. They have a taste somewhere between garlic and an onion and are a nice treat in a salad or stir fry.

Huge cast iron skillet full of stir fry with garlic scapes

The Tomatoes are putting on size

Giant Syrian Tomato, May 2012

Big Boy Tomato, May 2012

The tomatoes are starting to grow well for me in their new boxes.  As you might be able to see I have planted each one with two basil friends to keep it company, and nature has planted several annoying wanna-be friends in there too.

The wire tomato cages are only there to steady the plant long enough for it to grow strong outdoors.  I expect these tomatoes will end up 8 feet tall, up and over the roof by August.

The boards are warping a bit, so I think I’ll have to hit them with some sand paper on a nice dry day to even things up again.

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