FIVE GREENS SALAD WITH RADISHES AND ASPARAGUS

FIVE GREENS SALAD WITH RADISHES AND ASPARAGUS

My favorite way of measuring the progress of the vegetable garden  this time of year is by making a salad for lunch every day and noting how many ingredients come directly from the garden.  Just a week ago, it was three.  Today, it is a total of eight.

Asparagus production is now in “full on” mode.  My small patch is pushing up 5 or 6 spears a day.  Yesterday morning, I picked a large bowl of greens that included “Red Kitten” spinach, a few leaves of Tuscan Kale, some Red Winter Kale, some “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce and two small heads of “Little Gem” romaine.

FIVE GREENS HARVESTED FRESH FROM THE GARDEN

This morning, I added “French Breakfast” radishes and their tops to the mix.  Pure rock-n-roll!  This is why I garden.  Fresh, nutritious food, as fresh as it gets.  We have a saying here at Greg’s Garden Party;  “Nobody eats better than us.”

THE FIRST RADISHES OF THE SEASON

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of March

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of March

Spring Comes Early This Year.

What a difference a year makes.  At this last season, we still had two feet of snow on the ground.  March in my corner of the Globe has been unusually mild this year.  I’ve already planted peas, mache, spinach, curly endive and gourmet baby lettuce seeds in the garden.  That’s right, IN THE GARDEN!  Last weekend I joked that I was embracing global warming because I could get things into the ground a whole month early.  Like many people, I am concerned about this phenomenon and thinking of ways that I can be a better steward of the acre and a half under our care.

A sure sign that we are experiencing an early Spring is that the garlic is up and poking through the bed of leaves I laid down in the Fall.  Time to take down the little fence surrounding the garlic patch and rake out those leaves.

GARLIC PLANTS POKING UP OUT OF THE GROUND

GARLIC PLANTS POKING UP OUT OF THE GROUND

We have been enjoying the “Red Kitten” spinach harvested from the garden.  It was planted last fall and grown under plastic.  My little two foot by four foot patch has produced a colander  full of spinach every other day for the last week plus.  Spinach is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can grow, especially if you eat it raw in salads.  “Red Kitten” is especially good in this regard.

RED KITTEN SPINACH WASHED AND READY TO EAT

RED KITTEN SPINACH WASHED AND READY TO EAT

Direct Seeding in the Garden

The mild conditions at the beginning of March provided a perfect opportunity to get and early start on the growing season.  I planted no to low risk vegetables that can withstand a  frost or even a light snow.  I planted peas, mache (corn salad), spinach, frisee and a gourmet lettuce mix.  The mache was planted due to the poor production of the crop that was planted last Fall.  How disappointing!  We have had great success in the past with our mache crop.  Not sure what the issue was, but I planted fresh seeds this time. We love mache and hope that this planting will produce for us by the end of April.  The variety we grow is “Vit 419” from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  I seeded a 2′ x 4′ patch.

GETTING AN EARLY START WITH DIRECT SEEDING

GETTING AN EARLY START WITH DIRECT SEEDING

We have had great success with “Tyee” spinach, another variety from Johnny’s.  It is an early season spinach, so I thought I would get’r goin’ real early.  Frisee is also a cool weather crop so I planted one row of seeds.  I like adding frisee to other salad greens for texture.

I rounded out the early planting with a 4″ wide band of “Allstar Mix” mesclun, one of our yearly favorites.  This versatile mix works well into early Summer.  I plant a band every three weeks until the hot weather arrives.  Then I switch to “Heatwave Blend”.  I will plant at least one more band of “Allstar Mix” in late Summer.  Love this stuff.  By the way, seeds are available from Johnny’s.

Starting Seeds Indoors – High Nutrition Greens

This was the week to get seeds started for transplant out to the garden in April.  With the exception of celeriac, all of the seed varieties started were high nutrition greens; three varieties of kale, broccoli raab, broccoli, cauliflower, frisee, and lettuce. This year, I am making a conscious effort to make sure that we always have nutritious greens available from the garden.  I planted the seeds into 3/4″ square soil blocks that I made with my 20 block press.  I then planted 10 seeds of each variety except the celeriac and the Black Seeded Simpson lettuce. For those I used 20 blocks.

 

SEED PACKETS READY TO GO AND THE 3/4" SOIL BLOCK MAKER SOAKING IN BETWEEN PRESSINGS

SEED PACKETS READY TO GO AND THE 3/4″ SOIL BLOCK MAKER SOAKING IN BETWEEN PRESSINGS

THE TOOLS I USE FOR SEEDING THE SOIL BLOCKS. THE TWEEZERS MAKE IT EASY TO CENTER THE SEEDS IN EACH BLOCK. I THEN PRESS THE SEEDS INTO THE BLOCK WITH THE POINTED TOOL.

THE TOOLS I USE FOR SEEDING THE SOIL BLOCKS. THE TWEEZERS MAKE IT EASY TO CENTER THE SEEDS IN EACH BLOCK. I THEN PRESS THE SEEDS INTO THE BLOCK WITH THE POINTED TOOL.

 

As we begin another gardening season I wish to express my best wishes to all of you who are reading this post.  May you all have the best gardening year of your life.  If I can be of service, please reach out.  My goal is to build a community of people who enjoy growing their own food and sharing that experience.

All the best,

Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com

 

 

Garden Journal – 1st Week of July

Garden Journal – 1st Week of July

Heading into the holiday weekend, I had another wonderful week of gardening, harvesting, and maintaining my crops.  At this time of year, each week brings the debut of some new crop.  This week brought the first harvest of cauliflower, our first carrots, the first golden beets and the first raspberries of the season.  We also continued to harvest peas, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, radishes and Glacier tomatoes.

Replacing the First Planting of Peas with Beans

It seems like only yesterday that I planted the first peas.  After giving us a couple of very productive weeks, it was time to pull those plants.  I was very careful to scrape off the nitrogen nodules on the roots of the pea plants so that they wouldn’t go to waste.  After all, that is one of the main reasons to grow peas and beans; they fix nitrogen in the soil so that next year’s leaf crops (lettuce, cabbage, spinach, mesclun, kale, corn, etc) can thrive.  They all love nitrogen.

A SECOND CROP FROM PEA PLANTS

THE ROOTS OF A PEA PLANT WITH NITROGEN NODULES ATTACHED

I replaced two rows of peas with two rows of “Vermont Cranberry” beans for drying.  We have been making more stews and soups as the years go by.  Dry beans are a great resource to have heading into the colder months.

Transplanting “Golden Treasure” Tomato Plants to the Garden

As I’ve mentioned in some of my earlier blog posts, I have been looking for ways to extend the gardening season, especially the harvest.  Regarding tomatoes, I start my season with “Glacier” ultra early tomatoes, which we have bee enjoying since the third week of June.  On the other end, I grow a storage tomato called “Golden Treasure” which actually ripens slowly in storage.  I start seeds about a month later than my main season tomatoes and put the seedlings in the ground about a month later as well.  We have enjoyed “Golden Treasure” tomatoes as late as Christmas Day.  This variety comes from “Territorial Seeds” in Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Tomato Maintenance

One of the things I take pride in is the attention I give to my tomato plants.  Aside from loving the taste of tomatoes, I spend time working with my plants to assure that there will be a good crop to support the many tomato tasting events we will be hosting in August.  For the last five years, we have offered a “Tomato Lover’s Dinner” as an auction item at our church.  The dinner has become quite popular.

We start the evening off with a tomato tasting, offering seven or eight heirloom varieties to our guests.  I really enjoy serving the slices of tomato along with stories about the origins of each variety.  We also do a series of tomato tasting potluck dinners for our friends.  At the moment, we have a total of six events planned.  I will keep you all informed as we get closer.  I have even lined up a professional photographer to shoot this year’s dinner.  I will host a dinner for him and his friends the following weekend.

At this time of year I concentrate on removing suckers and leaves that touch the ground.  Also, I keep securing the tomato plants as they continue growing to their full height.

A LARGE LEAF POINTING DOWN TO THE GROUND WITH A LARGE SUCKER  ABOVE.  BOTH NEED TO BE PRUNED

A LARGE LEAF POINTING DOWN TO THE GROUND WITH A LARGE SUCKER ABOVE. BOTH NEED TO BE PRUNED

TOMATO SUCKER

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF A SUCKER ON A TOMATO PLANT

After pruning, I sprayed all of my tomato plants with Copper fungicide to prevent “early blight”.  I take this precaution because my garden has been subjected to attacks of blight over the years.  Next week I will alternate my spraying with a product called “Oxidate” which works by oxidizing blight spores.

Transplanting Lettuce, Cabbage, broccoli and Fennel Seedlings to the Garden

The beat goes on.  In order to have a steady supply of crops throughout a long growing season I start seeds on a regular basis so that I can replace harvested crops with new stock.  This is especially true of leaf crops.  This will continue into early fall.  I can’t live without my cole slaw.

SEEDLINGS READY FOR THE GARDEN

LEAF CROPS READY FOR TRANSPLANTING OUT TO THE GARDEN

I find that using soil blocks to start the seeds makes the transition out to the garden easier for the seedlings.  The lettuce will be available for harvest in August.  The cabbage and broccoli will be ready in early September.

All the best,

Greg

 

 

 

 

GARDEN JOURNAL – 4th Week of March

GARDEN JOURNAL – 4th Week of March

FIRST MACHE OF THE SEASON

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Overwintered Mache under plastic in the garden

A couple of days ago, I harvested the first Mache of the season.  Seeds were planted last October in one of my low plastic tunnels.  The plants grew slowly over the winter; much of it in the dark because the tunnel was completely covered in snow.  Two weeks ago, on a rare sunny and mild day, I removed the snow on the south side of the tunnel so that the sun could warm up the soil.  This week, conditions were right for harvesting.   I love the texture and taste of Mache and especially love the fact that I have something green to eat from my own garden at this time of year.

PROGRESS REPORT

Leaf crop seedlings almost ready for the garden

Leaf crop seedlings almost ready for the garden

LEEK SEEDLINGS  LOOKING  GOOD UNDER THE LIGHTS

LEEK SEEDLINGS LOOKING GOOD UNDER THE LIGHTS

 

WORDS OF WISDOM:
“Nature speaks freely to the individual, but seldom harangues a crowd”
Charles C. Abbott – Naturalist (from “Days out of Doors”)

 

All the best,

Greg