THE SECOND SEASON IS HERE

THE SECOND SEASON IS HERE

It is hard to believe, but the second half of the gardening season is happening right now.  It seems that the older I get, the faster the time goes.

My usual indicator is the garlic patch.  We harvest the garlic scapes in June.  When the leaves of the garlic plants start browning in late July, it’s time to pull those suckers.

THE GARLIC PATCH READY TO HARVEST

I typically harvest the plants and give them a few days to dry out.  Then I cut off the stems and roots and polish off the dirt on the garlic heads with a towel.  It is slow work, best done with some good music in the background, a cold beer within reach and the company (and help) of friends and loved ones.

HARVESTED GARLIC DRYING OUT

GARLIC ALL CLEANED UP AND READY TO STORE

Why do I call this the “Second Season”?  Good question.  Harvesting the garlic sets in motion a new round of gardening activity.  Now that the garlic is harvested, it is time to plant the fall carrots in that plot.  Harvesting and replanting will be repeated several more times as the various onion varieties come to harvest.  I will start seeds of red beet and golden beet, many more carrots, and more green onions.

As this is happening, some of my hot weather crops are beginning to bear fruit.  We have recently harvested three zucchini and two eggplants.  In addition, we now have some lovely jalapeno peppers.  The cool weather crops are now giving way to the sexier hot weather crops.  The happiness factor is trending upwards.

A SHOT OF ONE OF MY FRUIT CROP BEDS. ZUCCHINI ON THE LEFT WITH EGGPLANT AND SWEET PEPPERS TO THE RIGHT. INDETERMINATE TOMATOES IN THE REAR.

HERE IS A CLOSEUP SHOT OF THE ZUCCHINI PLANTS.

CHECK OUT THESE BAD BOYS. THE VARIETY IS CALLED “MEATBALL.” EACH CLOCKED IN AT ONE POUND..

So far, it has been a pretty good gardening year.  Here’s hoping the “Second Season” is just as satisfying.

All the best in life and gardening,

Greg Garnache                                                                                                                         gcgarnache@gmail.com

 

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of July

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of July

It’s hard to believe that nearly two weeks have passed since my last post.  We’ve been in travel mode; first to New Orleans to see our new grandson Theo and then out to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts for some culture.  Needless to say, I came home to a vegetable garden in need of some love.  Thankfully, most of the love involved harvesting.

Garlic Ready for Harvest

Before we left for New Orleans, the garlic plants were beginning to look like they were ready to be pulled.  I noticed traces of browning on the leaf tips.  When we returned from our trip the garlic patch was definitely ready for harvest.

BROWN TIPS ON GARLIC PLANTS

THE GARLIC PATCH READY FOR HARVEST. NOTICE ALL THE BROWN TIPS.

One of the first things I did when we returned from our trip was to pull the plants and let them dry out a bit in the sunshine.  After a couple of days I cut the garlic heads from the stems with a pair of pruners and trimmed the roots off with kitchen scissors.  I then wiped off the dirt with a towel and separated the heads by the number of cloves in each.  Most of the heads had five or six cloves.

My ultimate goal is to set aside the largest heads with the largest number of cloves to use as my seed stock this Fall.  The smallest heads of garlic will be used first for cooking.

RECENTLY HARVESTED GARLIC

NEWLY HARVESTED GARLIC SEPARATED INTO 4, 5 AND 6 CLOVE HEADS

The Hot Weather Crops are Starting to Rock

We came home to cucumbers, peppers (both sweet and hot), zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant.  Some of our heirloom tomatoes are beginning to produce.  As expected, “Black Krim” is one of the early arrivals, as well as “Black Ethiopian” and an early “Rose” tomato.

OUR HARVEST BASKET ON THE FIRST DAY OF OUR  RETURN FROM VACATION

OUR HARVEST BASKET ON THE FIRST DAY OF OUR RETURN FROM VACATION

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES ON THE VINE

Last year, I received some eggplant seeds from Italy as a gift.  We are growing the same variety this year with great results.

ITALIAN EGGPLANTS

ITALIAN EGGPLANTS

Walla Walla Onions Ready for Harvest

After three months in the ground, the Walla Walla onions were finally ready for harvest, just in time for making salsa.  These mild white onions have been a favorite around our house for the last ten years or so.  We are talking “Vadalia” mild.  Do you want to add some “rock-n-roll” to your burger?  Try a nice thick slice of Walla Walla.  They are also great in salads.  Walla Walla onions don’t store well so we will try to use all of our harvest before the end of the summer.  I also enjoy making a simple cucumber and onion salad  using the Walla Walla onions.  In addition to the Walla Walla’s, we also grow red onions and a yellow storage onion which both need a couple more weeks in the ground before harvest.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS

OUR WALLA WALLA ONION HARVEST DRYING IN THE SUN

The Tomatoes are Doing Fine

One of the advantages of being away for a week was the impact of a week’s worth of growth of our tomatoes.  Many of the plants grew at least a foot with some growing 18″ or more.  Some varieties are just beginning to produce ripe fruit.  We are three weeks away from our annual “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner”, which we offer as an auction item at our church.  I’ve lined up a professional photographer to shoot this year’s event and will devote a couple of posts to this event.  We start off with a tomato tasting.  This is the adult version of kids in a candy store.  Doing a tomato tasting is a blast.  People love trying new tomatoes and are surprised at the different taste notes that each variety displays.  If you grow a variety of  tomatoes, especially heirlooms, think about doing a tomato tasting for your friends.  Trust me, you will become a hero.

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES GROWING ON THE BACK OF THE SUNSHED

I would love to hear from you.  How are your tomatoes doing?  What varieties do you have?  Have you seen any signs of disease or the dreaded tomato horn worm?

All the best,

Greg

 

 

 

 

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of June

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of June

It was another wonderful week of gardening.  I can safely state that the vegetable garden is now fully planted.  Some holes in the pepper patch were filled with seedlings that got a late start thanks to some lack of attention on my part.   I neglected to check the viability dates on a couple of seed packets and was rewarded with total failure.  New seeds were ordered, planted and coaxed along, but I lost a couple of weeks in the process.

Let this be a lesson.  Every Winter, check the dates of issue for all of your seed packets to make sure that the seeds are sill viable.  There are plenty of viability charts available on the Internet and many gardening books contain them as well. I won’t make that mistake again.  I’m reminded of the expression, “There’s no fool like an old fool”.

Garlic Scape Harvest

The biggest news from “Greg’s Garden Party” this week was the harvesting of over 100 garlic scapes.  Because we grow a type of garlic known as “hard neck” garlic, we have the advantage of a double harvest from the garlic patch; scapes in June and garlic in July.  Luckily, scapes will keep well in the fridge for a month which will give us time to research new and interesting ways to use our scapes.  My friend, Vicki Dyer, is also a scape advocate and has promised me a recipe that I can share with you.

This week, we made scape compound butter, fresh pea soup with scapes, a white bean and scape dip  and a premavera with peas, broccoli and scapes.  Noodling around the Net, I found a recipe for savory Japanese pancakes that uses scapes.  Can’t wait to try that.  I also noticed that there are quite a few references for grilled scapes.  Gotta try that.

Garden Maintenance

Weeding, weeding, more weeding.  Plant supports for late plantings of peas, supports for peppers, feeding leaf crops, harvesting, harvesting, harvesting.  All in a gardening weeks’ work.  Our second and third plantings of peas are starting to come into production.   I put up side supports to keep the plants upright.  Nothing special, just using resources that I had hanging around.

PEAS

ROW OF PEAS WITH SUPPORT

Protecting the Glacier Tomatoes

Last year,  I harvested my first “Glacier” tomato on June 8.  It’s June 22 and I have yet to enjoy the first real tomato of the year.  In addition to the cat bird incident reported on this blog recently, we have been visited by a larger, four legged creature who also has an appetite for fresh tomatoes.  I discovered plastic poultry fencing at one of the “Big Box” hardware suppliers.  It is three feet tall, easy to cut and easy to apply.  I just made a surround to  enclose my three plants and attached it with large plastic clothes pins.   I have three tomatoes ripening as I type and I am going to enjoy the heck out of those “bad boys”.

A SIMPLE SOLUTPION

PLASTIC CHICKEN FENCING USED TO PROTECT TOMATOES

GLACIER TOMATO

NEARLY RIPE GLACIER TOMATO

Nurturing the Next Batch of Leaf Crops

This week I transplanted lettuce, cabbage and broccoli seedlings from 3/4″ soil blocks to 2″ soil blocks.  So that we can enjoy these crops over a long season, I start seeds every three weeks or so.  I also pay attention to the recommended season for the seeds I select.  For instance, “Bay Meadows” broccoli is recommended for Summer Planting whereas “Amadeus” broccoli is recommended for Spring and Fall.

Speaking of lettuce, I harvested the last of the “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce which was started in early Spring.  We now have “Nancy” and  “Truchas” lettuce almost ready for “prime time”.  “Allstar Mix” mesclun direct seeded in May will be ready to harvest next week.

What I Harvested this week

Garlic Scapes

3 Full colanders of Peas

Broccoli

lettuce

Kale for juicing

Asparagus

Tomato Plant Maintenance

Every week, I spend some time pruning and clipping my tomato plants.  Otherwise, they will quickly get out of control.  We don’t allow that here at Greg’s  Garden Party.  Seriously,  a little time spent each week caring for your tomato plants is time well spent.

This past week I also sprayed my tomato plants with “Oxidate” fungicide to prevent early blight.  Next week I will spray with Copper fungicide and continue this alternating strategy right through the season into late September.

Welcome to the new subscribers who have signed up recently.  Greg’s Garden Party now has 61 subscribers and growing.  I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions.  That’s what I’m here for.

All the best,

Greg  Garnache

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S TIME TO PLANT GARLIC

IT’S TIME TO PLANT GARLIC

One of my favorite crops to grow is garlic.  Home grown  garlic is much better than store bought
in taste and is easier  to peel and process.  We grow German Hardneck garlic and as a result we
enjoy two harvests; scapes in the month of June and full heads of delicious garlic in July.

THE GARLIC PATCH IN EARLY MAY

Garlic is relatively trouble free.  There are no insect pests to speak of and there don’t appear to be
any animals that like garlic.  It does involve an investment of time.  Garlic planted in October is
not ready for harvest until the following July.  An initial modest investment in seed garlic can
over a few years mushroom into a self-sufficient supply.  I started with 18 cloves the first year.
I saved twice that many closes after the first harvest for replanting in the Fall.  Now, I plant
120 cloves, more than enough to satisfy our needs.

GARLIC SCAPES IN JUNE

I had never heard of garlic scapes before I started growing my own garlic.  We now look
forward to scape season.  We make pesto, scape butter, scape spread and share scapes with
our friends and family.  I have also given heads of garlic to many gardening friends so that
they can grow their own.

HARVESTED GARLIC IN JULY

I plant my garlic cloves in mid to late October.  I will start by clearing one of last season’s
fruit crop beds.  I will then add some limestone and compost to the bed and till the soil.
After raking the soil into a level bed I plant the cloves in two inch (2″) deep furrows that
have been lined with a well balanced organic fertilizer such as Espoma Plant Tone.


The cloves are planted six (6) inches apart in rows that are six (6) inches apart.  This compact
alignment allows you to get a lot of production out of a modest square footage of real estate.
I just planted 120 cloves in 32 square feet of space.

A ROW OF GARLIC CLOVES

After the garlic bed is planted I surround it with a simple fence.  I then fill this space with
a bed of leaves approximately 8″ thick to insulate the the soil to prevent the cloves from
being heaved by the frost.  The fence also keeps out skunks attracted by the fertilizer.

THE GARLIC PATCH READY FOR WINTER

A sure sign that Spring has arrived is the site of garlic shoots popping up through the
bed of leaves.  Once that happens, I remove the fence and the leaves.  People who see
my garden in late April and May always inquire about that lush looking bed and are
surprised to learn that it is the garlic patch.

As I mentioned previously, we harvest garlic scapes in June.  Over the  last couple of
years we have had dinner parties in June with a garlic scape theme.  In July, I harvest
the garlic heads.  I pick the thickest stocks first, giving the thinner stocks some room
to grow.  After a couple of weeks, I pick the remaining garlic.  The heads will be
trimmed of roots and the stocks will be removed.  The heads will then spend a week in the
sun to dry out a bit.  I will then wipe the garlic heads clean and store in porous containers
in a dark, well ventilated space.

At some point after the garlic heads have been in storage for a while I will then choose the
heads which will be used for  next season’s garlic crop.  I look for large six clove heads as
my seed garlic.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to send me an email.
All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com