September Garden Harvest

Just a quick post to show you what I picked out of the vegetable garden today:

We’ve had glorious hot weather for a bit now, and everything is ripening rather nicely.  I’ve got pictured a bunch of bush and runner beans.  This year I grew ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans, which are lovely and prolific, as well as ‘Scarlet Emperor’ and ‘Violet Podded Stringless’ runner beans (excellent hummingbird flowers, and then you get the beans, too!).  I planted them as seed outdoors on June 21st, and I finally picked them today and froze several bags.  Very easy to do–after you clean and cut the tips off, you boil them for 3 minutes at a rolling boil, and then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the beans from cooking any further.  Put in zip lock bags, being careful to remove as much air from the bag as possible (I take a straw and suck the extra air out of the bag–be careful when you do this so you don’t get lightheaded), and then label and pop them in the freezer.  If you want to learn more about preserving foods, I highly recommend the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving–a slim volume that gives clear instructions for safely canning and freezing just about anything you can imagine.  Also pictured are some ‘Harmonie’ pickling cukes, and a few ‘Green Slam’ slicing cukes.  Tomatoes are ‘Costoluto Genovese’, a ‘Gardeners’ Delight’ cherry tomato and the very first of the ‘Super San Marzano,’ which look like a larger Roma tomato.  Also the last handful of the ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ snow peas.  In the background of this picture is a yellow-cupped ‘Bill MacKenzie’ clematis, as well as some bright orange nasturtiums and a white fuschia.

I kept a small batch of the green beans out for dinner tonight.  Made a simple recipe that I got out of an old Bon Appetit magazine:  steam the beans, then rinse with cold water, drain and put in a large bowl.  Add a couple of chopped fresh tomatoes, some fresh basil, some feta to your taste, and then season with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Mix and enjoy as a salad–so easy and wonderful with homegrown produce.

Hope you are enjoying a great harvest this year from your own garden, or are taking advantage of all the wonderful produce at your farmers’ markets now.  What are you cooking with your fresh veggis–I’d love to hear about it in the comments.  And visit the Garden Party.


Flowers and Food

A quick post to show you a bit of what we got done over the warm and wonderful (and dry) weekend:

First the food part (future food, I should add) of the gardening weekend:

We prepared and planted a Swiss Chard, Beet and Spinach bed.  My earlier hardy salad greens bed that I put in back in March is about ready to start picking greens at the baby stage, and the lettuce bed I put in last week is looking good and starting to put down some roots.  We also put in some peas and I am trying this pea trellis I saw in Fine Gardening magazine, made out of some sticks and twine:

The peas are not super heavy, so hopefully this will be enough support for them–we’ll see how it works.

And now the flowers:

These are some tough English Daisies that I started inside from seed several years ago.  They are growing in a container, and I didn’t cover the container or anything over the winter, and when it starts to warm up, there they are.  I love the rings and gradiations of color in these.

‘Queen of the Night” tulips are some of my favorite.  (Always reminds me of her solo in The Magic Flute.)  I like the contrast in color with the silvery-grey lamb’s ears.  Anthriscus silvestris “Ravenswing’ is the dark foliage on the left, and behind the tulips are some blue irises that are putting out some flower buds.

And I guess this last one could be considered both flowers and future food:

Our crabapple treee is blooming now, as is the ‘Barlett’ pear tree and several other apples about to bloom.  Along with the crabapple blossoms is a sea of blue Forget-me-nots, and a couple of parrot tulips–pink ‘Angelique’ and a purply-blue double.  I discovered that the late parrot tulips bloom at the same time as the apple and pear trees, and so they make a nice plant combination together in the garden.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend out in your garden–let me know in the comments if you wish!  And please visit the Garden Party.

Chit Sugar Snap Pea Seeds Anytime Now

I wrote a post last year on chitting seeds, which is a method developed by Steve Solomon and described in his excellent book Gardening When It Counts, of presprouting the seed prior to planting it in the ground, in order to achieve better germination rates.  Here is a link to the post if you’d like to learn how to do it.

I put my seeds to be chitted in damp paper towel pieces, and then put them in sealed plastic bags in a warm spot–my germination box–see this link for a description of what a germ box is.  We will see how many days it takes for them to develop a sprout, after which time I can plant them outside.  This Saturday is supposed to be nice weather, so I will get a spot ready in the garden for planting them out when it’s time.

Here is a picture from last year of the peas:

Fresh peas from the garden are so very good, and not very hard to grow.  I have had better luck growing them in the spring, because eventually the rainfall will taper off when they are starting to produce peas, and thus the conditions are less right for pea problems, such as powdery mildew, to occur, as has happened often in trying to grow them in the fall.

I’d love to hear from you–please leave a comment and tell me what are your favorite pea seed choices, and do you have any great space-saving ideas for trellising them?

Planting Snow Peas

Today was a great day to get Snow pea seeds into the ground. Here’s what I did:

First, I had a bed that I weeded and dug up. The bed is roughly four feet wide by about six feet long. Next, I worked in about a quart of complete organic fertilizer, from a recipe I got out of Steve Solomon’s wonderful book Gardening When It Counts, that I made myself out of cottonseed meal, bone meal, dolomite lime and kelp meal–it works very well for fertilizing all vegetables, and I use it on my flowers, roses and clematis as well. So I dug in the fertilizer and raked the surface smooth, breaking up any little clumps with the rake and my hands to get a really smooth surface. Last night, I had put my seeds into a cup and filled it with water. Today, I carefully dumped out the water, and used these seeds for planting. The outer coating of the seed need to be soaked to help them germinate easier and get off to a quicker start. The variety of seed I used was organic Snow Pea ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’. I made short rows across the bed about one inch deep, planted the seeds approximately two inches apart, and covered them with soil. Afterward, I carefully watered with a watering can with a large rose to give a soft, light sprinkling so as not to dislodge my newly planted seeds, and that’s it. We should be eating stir-fried snow peas in about sixty days! It needs to be at least forty degrees at night for the peas to germinate, and in looking at the weather reports I may luck out. If not, I can always put three PVC hoops over the bed and cover it with plastic until the chilly weather passes. I will put some sticks in for the peas to grow up after they germinate, just in case I need to cover them, which is hard to do with sticks in place.