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 – 1st Week of August

Garden Journal – 1st Week of August

It was another busy week in the garden as more onions came to harvest, the weeds seemed to accelerate their invasion of the garden, yet more seeds were planted and the tomatoes got some TLC a week prior to our annual “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner”.

RED ONIONS READY FOR HARVEST

RED ONIONS WITH THEIR TOPS BENT OVER – THEIR WAY OF SAYING “I’M DONE. GET ME OUT OF HERE

“Red Zeppelin” Onions Ready for Prime Time

The gardening week started with another onion harvest.  I pulled the “Red Zeppelin” onions, set them out to dry and then cleaned them up so they could join the Walla Walla onions in our kitchen pantry.  I love red onions; in salsa, in salads and cooked dishes like roasted beets and red onions with balsamic vinegar.  For some reason, this year’s harvest has been fantastic.  Most of the onions are in the 3″ diameter range with very few small ones.  I will end up giving away two thirds of the harvest because my wife is not a fan.  That’s OK.  I can make a lot of people happy.

HARVESTED RED ZEPPELIN ONIONS

RED ZEPPELIN ONIONS – CLEANED UP AND READY FOR THE PARTY

SHALLOTS READY FOR STORAGE

I CLEANED UP THE SHALLOTS WHILE I WAS AT IT.

Planting More of My Wife’s Favorite Radish – French Breakfast/Radish d’Auvignon

I can’t believe how fast we burn through each planting of French Breakfast radishes.  Yes, they are mild, but they seem to evaporate in the fridge.  We are quite fond of slicing them thin and putting them on top of a piece of baguette slathered with Kerry Gold butter.  Works for breakfast, works as an hors d’oeuvre with wine or cocktails, works as a snack with a beer.

I planted two rows, 8″ inches apart.   I planted the seeds 2″ apart in the rows.  In about 25 days we will begin to harvest.

SOME FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISHES HARVESTED EARLIER IN THE YEAR

SOME FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISHES HARVESTED EARLIER IN THE YEAR

This Time of Year, the Tomato Plants Need Love

With one week to go before our annual ”Tomato Lovers’ Dinner” I have been spending a lot of time watering, fertilizing, pruning and spraying fungicide on the tomato plants.  This year, I will be offering eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes during the tomato tasting portion of the dinner.  The dinner itself will feature marinara sauce made with our own plum tomatoes.  The salad will feature yet another tomato; Matt’s Wild Cherry.  All together, we are talking about 40 plants.  I know what your thinking,  Greg’s a little crazy.  OK, you might be right.  I’ve actually started thinking that it might be time to dial it back little.

That said, this week I found evidence of early blight on at least six of my tomato plants.  I sprayed OXIDATE fungicide using a curative concentration (1 oz. to a gallon of water).  Hopefully, that will slow down the disease long enough for me to harvest the ripe fruit I will need.

EARLY BLIGHT ON TOMATOES

EARLY BLIGHT ON MY GREEN ZEBRA TOMATO PLANTS

Despite the Blight, Tomato Season is Upon Us

This week we have enjoyed the following tomato varieties:

Black Ethiopian

Green Zebra

Rose

Nebraska Wedding

Matt’s wild Cherry

Margherita Plum

Roma II Plum

NEBRASKA WEDDING AND ROSE TOMATOE3SW

TWO OF OUR FAVORITE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES – NEBRASKA WEDDING AND ROSE

PLUM TOMATOES

RIPE PLUM TOMATOES

Processing Plum Tomatoes

I picked some plum tomatoes every day last week.  By week’s end we had enough fruit to process.  We use two different methods of processing.  The first one involves setting up a line consisting of a boiling pot of water, an ice bath, a cooling bin, a cutting board, a discard bucket and a clean bowl for the finished product which is either diced tomatoes or tomato halves.  We the  put the tomatoes in plastic bags, vacuum seal and freeze them.

FROM RIGHT TO LEFT - TOMATOES, BOILING WATER, ICE BATH

FROM RIGHT TO LEFT – TOMATOES, BOILING WATER, ICE BATH

The tomatoes are placed in boiling water for one minute and then removed and placed in the ice bath to make removing the skins easier.  One of us man’s this station.

PROCESSING TOMATOES, STATION 2

THE SECOND PROCESSING STATION RIGHT TO LEFT – COOLING RACK, CUTTING BOARD, DISCARD BOWL AND BOWL FOR FINISHED PRODUCT

AFTER REMOVING THE SKIN, I CUT THE TOMATO IN HALF LENGTHWISE AND REMOVE THE GREEN PORTION OF THE STEM AND THEN REMOVE THE SEEDS

After seeding I will either dice the tomatoes or leave them in halves for freezing.

VACUUM SEALING TOMAOTES

WE VACUUM SEAL THE TOMATOES USING OUR “FOOD SAVER” MACHINE.

It took Catherine and I approximately and hour to process our first batch of plum tomatoes, including vacuum bagging and clean up.  We froze 5 pounds of diced and 3 pounds of tomato halves.  Next time, we will use method number 2; roasting tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes, cooling and then running them through a food mill.  The end product is puree.

Here’s wishing you all a great harvest and good times sharing with friends and family.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

 

 

Garden Journal – 2nd Week of May

Garden Journal – 2nd Week of May

The First Radishes of the Season

Finally, something crunchy to go with the lettuce. Radishes are one of our mainstay crops here at Greg’s Garden Party.   My strategy is to plant
two four foot rows every three weeks until the middle of September. We
like to have a steady supply of “French Breakfast” radishes, so I plant
a row of those every three weeks. In addition, I will plant a row of
radishes suited to the season. “Crunchy Royale” in the Spring, “Reggae”
and “Watermelon” radishes in late Spring/early Summer, “Rover” and
“Red Satin” in Summer and back to “Crunchy Royale” in the Fall.

MAY HARVEST BASKET

FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISHES IN UPPER LEFT NEXT TO CRUNCHY ROYALE

We especially love the “French Breakfast” radishes (also known as “Radish d’Avignon”). Our dear friend, Vicki Dyer returned from a trip to France a few years ago with stories about enjoying these radishes on a slice of artisan bread slathered with butter. Can we say “party time”? Yeah, this is a marriage made in heaven. OK, France. This makes a great appetizer, goes well with a glass of crisp, dry white wine and I’ve even had this with breakfast. Radishes for breakfast – that’s how we roll here at Greg’s Garden Party.

Weeding, Cultivating and Thinning

Now that Spring is here and we have had a string of pleasant days,
the weeds are popping up everywhere. There is a Zen to weeding. To
me, this is the real meaning of cultivation; eliminating the competition
so that what you really want to eat can thrive. Do you choose, or does
Mother Nature choose. You decide. Again, great music makes any job
easier. I especially like Debussy or Ravel when I’m weeding. It puts
me in the right frame of mind.

Over the years, I’ve invested in several tools to help make the job easier. Highly recommended are the following; a stirrup hoe, a collinear hoe with a small blade and a small hand circle cultivator.   The stirrup hoe can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. I use it to weed my paths as well. The collinear hoe comes in handy for weeding in tight places such as the allium crops (garlic, onions, shallots and leeks). You hold it upright with both hands and dance it around the vegetables: very effective when you get the hang of it. The circle weeder is used in close to plants. The circle shape keeps the roots of your vegetables safe while you weed around them.

THREE OF MY FAVORITE TOOLS,  STIRRUP HOE,  COLLINEAR HOE AND CIRCLE WEEDER

THREE OF MY FAVORITE TOOLS, STIRRUP HOE, COLLINEAR HOE AND CIRCLE WEEDER

Speaking of tools, my wonderful wife got me a new rake for my birthday.
I never liked the rake that I bought fifteen years ago. The rake is jammed
into a hole at the end of the handle. There is no positive fastening of rake
to handle; just pressure. I can’t tell you how many times the handle and
rake have parted company. When Catherine asked me what I wanted, I gave it some thought and asked for a really good rake – no, the best rake available. We found THE rake online, special ordered it from a local dealer and finally received it a month later. It is a “DeWit” bow rake from Holland made from boron steel. The best part is that the rake is attached to the ash handle with a through bolt. That sucker’s not coming apart without a fight. Check it out.

MY NEW DeWIT  RAKE

MY NEW DeWIT RAKE

Beets are one  of my favorite vegetables.  However, I’m not fond
of beet seeds.  They actually contain multiple seeds which sprout
multiple seedlings in close proximity.  Not fun.  I get into my
Zen master frame of mind and try to do the best job of thinning
that I can.  It’s all worth it  when the beets are ready to harvest.
One of my favorite ways to prepare beets is to parboil them,
remove the outer skin and finish them off on the grill to impart
a bit of smokey flavor. Some butter, salt and pepper is all that
is needed. Beets are especially good with a steak and a good
bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or old vine zinfandel.

Transplanting Flower Seedlings to the Garden

This week I found homes for 140 flower seedlings, mostly
zinnias, in the garden.  Following the lead of French gardeners
who use flowers profusely in their vegetable gardens, I decorate
my garden with patches of color.  This year, I grew eight
different varieties of zinnia.  As they begin to flower, I will
flood my blog posts with photos.  Stay tuned.  In addition,
we have two varieties of marigolds planted around the garden.
The marigolds have a side benefit of repelling various insects
like aphids and white flies.  I am also growing nasturtiums
which deter squash bugs and calendula which deters
asparagus beetles.

I’m thinking that I might do a blog post devoted to flowers in the garden
when everything is in bloom maybe in July. Almost forgot to mention that I have started several varieties of sunflowers for a mass planting in the “sundial” garden. Last Summer, we grew squashes in that space and we thought it might be fun to do something with flowers this year. Stay tuned.

I am going to sign off with a photo of peach blossoms on one of our two
peach trees. Until next time. Your questions and comments are welcome and encouraged. Let’s start a conversation.
All the best,
Greg
gcgarnache@gmail.com

 

PEACH BLOSSOMS IN SPRING

BLOSSOMS ON ONE OF OUR PEACH TREES – ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MAKES SPRING SO SPECIAL

 

 

 

 

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of April

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of April

What a busy week. I have been asking myself all week, “How did I ever do all this and hold down a full time job?”. Yard work,  burning brush, garden clean up, transplanting indoors, starting seeds out in the garden, harvesting mache and spinach, caring for my elderly mother, baby sitting my grand daughter, cooking for my busy wife. Never a dull moment. I’m not complaining. It’s all good. The pace will eventually slow down after Memorial Day Weekend.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Transplanting Tomatoes and Peppers

The tomatoes and peppers are showing their first real leaves and that means that they need to be transplanted to 4 packs. I make sure that each 4 pack is properly labeled, that soil is gently compacted around the seedling and that the soil level is almost level with the top of the 4 pack. I water from the bottom by placing the 4 pack in a tray with fertilized water. I then top off each cell in the 4 pack with vermiculite to reduce the  possibility of the seedlings developing “damping off disease”.  I will place
a fan beside the plant stand to create some air flow to further reduce the
chances of developing “damping off disease”.

SEEDLINGS IN WATERBATH

SEEDLINGS IN WATERBATH

SEEDLINGS  TOPPED OFF WITH LAYER OF VERMICULITE

SEEDLINGS TOPPED OFF WITH LAYER OF VERMICULITE

 

Starting Root Crop Seeds in the Garden

This has also been a big week for seed starting in the garden, especially
for root crops like radishes, beets, scallions and carrots. I planted two four foot long rows of radishes, one each of “French Breakfast” and “Crunchy Royale”. I then covered the two rows with a mini tunnel I built with strapping, chicken wire and fabric row cover to protect against root maggots. Nature has a way of making life difficult. One must be vigilant and inventive. For more info and some photos, please check out my blog post “How to Beat Root Maggots on Radishes and Beets” from my October 2014 archive. I planted my radish seeds at 2″ intervals with the rows
spaced 8″ apart.

Three rows of beets were planted with the same spacing as the radishes. I planted two varieties, “Red Ace” and “Touchstone Gold”. Watering every day until seedlings emerge is very important.

Planting the Carrot Box

In order to grow straight and attractive carrots it is helpful to have
deeply cultivated soil that has a high content of organic matter with some sand. Toward that end, I use a couple of 4″ high frames that I made out of old pallets. I set them in the garden, fill them with compost, sand and some lime; and then use my little one horse tiller to mix all of the ingredients together. After smoothing out the soil with a rake, I plant seeds 1″ apart in rows 8″ apart.

Over the years, I have been trying to garden smarter. One change that I have made for the better is using pelleted carrot seeds. They are much easier to handle, easier to see in the furrow and thus, completely repay their higher cost over conventional seed. Yeah, I’m done with conventional carrot seeds.

HERE'S THE CARROT BOX SHOWING  MY PLANTING BOARD FOR MAKING THE SHALLOW FURROW, MY TRUSTY SHEET ROCK SQUARE FOR HANDY SPACING AND MY MASON'S TROWEL FOR COVERING THE ROWS,  AND SMOOTHING THINGS OUT.

HERE’S THE CARROT BOX SHOWING MY PLANTING BOARD FOR MAKING THE SHALLOW FURROW, MY TRUSTY SHEET ROCK SQUARE FOR HANDY SPACING AND MY MASON’S TROWEL FOR COVERING THE ROWS, AND SMOOTHING THINGS OUT.

In addition to all of the above, I started more lettuce seeds indoors in 3/4″ soil blocks. I try to start new greens every three weeks into mid-Fall. Gotta have a steady supply of greens. I also added another planting of peas to the garden, planted some shallots, moved some lettuce, kale and broccoli seedlings out to the garden, and cleaned up a couple of other beds. All in all, a very satisfying week in the garden.

All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com

QUESTION: Does anyone have an easy technique for prepping shallot cloves? I’m not quite getting it. Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO BEAT ROOT MAGGOTS ON RADISHES AND BEETS

HOW TO BEAT ROOT MAGGOTS ON RADISHES AND BEETS

Beginning in 2013, I experienced problems growing radishes.  This year, I noticed that the
beets were under-performing.  A little reading revealed that the cause was most likely root
maggots.  The suggested solution was to cover the crop with fabric row cover.  I came up
with the following solution:

First, I built 1′ x 4′ frames  out of strapping  with chicken wire domes covered with fabric
row cover.  I planted beet seeds in  two rows 8″ apart.  I then planted a row of radishes between
the two rows of beets.  Here is what that all looked like.

Beet/Radish enclosures from a distance

Planting beets and radishes

The bed two weeks later

As you can see from the last photo, this method works very well with no insecticides
needed.  Please let me know what is going on in your garden.

All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com