Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I know you must be wondering...how does parsley fit into all of this? Well, parsley happens to be one of the only garnishes allowed for presentation purposes in many barbecue competitions. So guess who has to grow enough parsley to make it through the grilling season? If you have grown parsley, you know it takes a long time to mature so I started early in hopes that I will not run out before the season is over.
The pic above is what our yard typically looks like on any given day...it's smokey but hey it always smells great... And yes...as you can see...Bent wasn't satisfied with just one grill....he needs many and he hopes to win yet another one at an upcoming competition. With so many charcoal grills going at once we of course had to have a stoker in order to control several grill temps at one time...(basically the stoker is a computer controlled device that will turn on blowers to increase the charcoal temps)
I give Bent a bad time about his barbecue obsession but it's all in fun.....I mean what more could I ask for?? I get dinner cooked for me nearly every night : )
But for heaven's sake where do I draw the line? Eggs on the grill??? Even the pups look on in disbelief : )
Monday, March 29, 2010
This variety is called Amazing and it was purchased from Park Seed...and well... it had a truly amazing taste so I went with it again this year.
Where's the vegetable trivia/history you say? Okay...if I must...cauliflower originates from Asia Minor and the Mediterranean area. It is a member of the Cruciferae family which includes broccoli, cabbage, horseradish, collards, radish and turnips.....oh and Mark Twain once said that cauliflower is "nothing but a cabbage with a college education." : )
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Peas have apparently been around for a long time....during archeaological digs they have been discovered in Egyptian tombs. No one knows for certain where the pea originated, but according to Chinese mythology, peas were discovered by emperor Shu Nung in 3000 BC. Shu Nung would scour the countryside in search of new plants in which to use for food or medicine. Shu Nung was considered the father of agriculture. Upon discovering a new plant, he would feed it to a dog first and then a servant. If they both lived then the emperor would eat it as well. (Sounds like russian roulette garden style.)
Did you know the garden pea has been used in genetic testing? I seem to remember studying about a certain fellow named Gregory Mendel in science class. Mendel is often referred to as the "Father of Genetics" for discovering the outcome of cross breeding different types of pea plants.
As for human genetics...you guessed it...the hippy chick photo is my darling granddaughter (Abby) She loves to peas out in the garden with her grandma :)
Monday, March 22, 2010
I'm guessing the first guinea pigs were from India since that is where eggplant originated. Shortly after, it made its appearance in Asia, China and the Middle East around 500B.C. eventually making its way to Italy around the 14th century. Europeans considered the plant mala insana~ the mad apple or bad egg until about the 1600's when Louis XIV introduced it to the country and still it was not well received. It wasn't until the 1800's that our third president, Mr. Thomas Jefferson introduced the eggplant to the United States. Apparently, Jefferson was an avid gardener and was always trying to bring new vegetables and flowers to his huge gardens. Even with Jefferson's approval, the eggplant was slow to gain popularity in the states for years to come.
What is your favorite eggplant variety to grow and to eat and how do you like to cook it?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
My dad rototilled the grass area for the new garden addition this week and put the electric fence around it...(lots of deer would love to munch on our hard work) he was supposed to call me and I was going to come over and help but noooo....he did it all himself...only took him 4 hours he said......grrrrr...I love my dad but he should listen to me and let me help........ :) The new area is around 24' x 90. Now we just need to rake it out and remove the grass clumps and it will be ready to plant! With that said...I know I have my day cut out for me... .. I'm off to chill out :)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The biggest challenge I have encountered in growing broccoli is keeping the aphids off. The first year we grew it the heads were covered with them. Who wants to eat that??....yuck...Last year we tried something new: we grew broccoli exclusively in the raised beds with marigolds surrounding them and had very little problems with bugs. I don't know if it was the marigolds or the raised beds that did the trick but I guess I'll go with the old saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it".
I'll leave you with a bit of broccoli facts: the name broccoli comes from the Latin word brachium which means arm or branch and broccoli was first commercially grown in New York. Did you know that on March 18, 1990 broccoli was banned from Air Force One by U.S. President George H.W. Bush....wow he set a great example for our kids....no wonder he didn't get reelected :)
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
According to many pumpkin growing experts there are 5 key issues that determine the success of growing these giants: They are variety, space, water, food, selection, and even shade. There are several large pumpkin varieties on the market but Dill's Atlantic Giant consistently wins many competitions. Pumpkins need lots of space to spread out....most experts suggest 25 feet in all directions. Pumpkins need lots of water....at least 1 inch of water per week. When you water is just as critical. It's never a good idea to water in the evening and this is true for all vegetables....you invite the possibility of mildew and bugs. Instead, early morning watering is the best time. Regular doses of fertilizer are also needed to get these guys pumped up...the experts often use a compost tea made of cow manure. They should be fed weekly as pumpkins are very heavy feeders. This part is hard for me: you must choose to keep only 1 or 2 pumpkins on the vine and the rest must go...decisions, decisions.....You will also have to keep plucking new blossoms as they will take away energy from the main pumpkin. One thing I did not realize is that the actual pumpkin should be shaded from direct sunlight to prevent premature hardening of the outer skin. We can't have a blemished pumpkin after all....I guess the bigger dilemma will be how to actually move the pumpkin once it gets to be 500 lbs....
Monday, March 8, 2010
The second pic is some of what was transfered to the greenhouse from my home last week. I was a bit worried that the temps in the greenhouse would shock my plants as they have been used to a constant 70F for quite some time. So far, they have been doing very well and the temps are staying between 56F and 68F for the most part. The next step will be to complete my pepper and herb planting and then move on to the cukes and squash. Oh...I forgot to mention....dad approved another growing bed for berries and a couple fruit trees! Soon we will have taken over the entire property...Lol...just kidding dad.
On the home front, I have also been preparing my home garden for more compost. I spent about 3 days hand digging it and getting all the weeds out. I have some garden debris to burn and then it's compost time! I feel like I am actually ahead of the game this year and it feels good...hopefully that trend holds. :)
Saturday, March 6, 2010
To make the pots, you take a sheet of the newspaper....actually I'm not going to try and explain this ...Instead, here is a link to an instructional video we made last year: Click Here
In the first pic is lovely sis-in-law Melanie and daughter Daisy Girl (notice which newspaper they are holding up.) The second pic shows all the fruits of our labor today....nearly 200 pots were made...all of which will be planted with seed tomorrow. We will start approximately 100 tomato plants of different varieties and purple tomatillos.
Other garden accomplishments...Bent and my bro finished putting up the plastic on the 3rd raised bed. Sis-in law and myself decided to plant broccoli and cabbage in the hoops....temps are supposed to go down to the 40's next week but I think they will be fine with the covers.....(calling on my gardening angels of course)
Lastly, is sis-in-law and myself making our pots on the makeshift table my dad made just so we could be in the beautiful sun....and yes that's Daisy Girl to the left lounging in the chair....she made a few pots but eventually bailed on us. Okay she made more than a few...we wore her out obviously :)
All in all....what a wonderful, productive day....we came, we potted, we conquered and we will be back at it tomorrow!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
As you can see from the pictures, we (I actually take full responsibility) crammed a lot of veggies into our garden space last year. This year (actually every year) I vow to be better about it. I have promised my family each growing season that they will be able to walk down the corn and tomato rows with ease...but every year I overdo it and we have to squeeze between the rows on our hands and knees and harvest the best we can....it is very jungle-like.....
Each January I draw a preliminary sketch of the garden layout and then when I am done purchasing all my seed (if ever....ha ha ha) I finalize the layout according to companion planting and crop rotation. I haven't been exactly precise with it...but I try my best. This gets a little tricky when you have a relatively small garden and lots of crops. And this is especially difficult if you want to grow several types of the same veggie as some will cross pollinate. I have not had problems with this in the past but I typically only save a small percentage of seed for the next season anyway.
To understand crop rotation you first need to understand vegetable plant families....from all my gardening books, classes, magazines and Internet research over the years, I have learned that there are basically 9 main vegetable family groups. They are: Nightshade, Mustard, Legume, Squash, Onion, Parsley, Spinach, Lettuce, Mint, and then there's a misc group. Some veggies from the Nightshade family are tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant. Some from the Mustard family are broccoli, boc choy, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, and turnip. The legume family includes beans and peas as well as clover and alfalfa. Cucumber, melons, and gourds come from the squash family. Garlic, leeks and chives come from the onion family and carrot, celery, dill and cilantro from the parsley family. The spinach family includes swiss chard and beets and the lettuce family includes...um...lettuce and believe it or not...sunflowers. Lastly, the mint family includes thyme, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, lavender and marjoram. The misc category is pretty much everything else.
The idea behind crop rotation is to relocate plant families from one season to the next and thus minimize pests and disease common to each family. Also, rotation helps minimize micronutrient deficiencies in the soil as some plants are heavy feeders and deplete the soil of nutrients. Of course, if you amend the soil with compost every season you probably don't need to worry about it as much. I add compost to the garden every year so it's not a problem for me. My main concern in crop rotation is pest management which really goes hand in hand with companion planting. Companion planting is based on the idea that certain plants benefit from being planted next to one another. The benefits can include pest control, nutrient intake or pollination. For instance, in my garden I grow marigolds between my tomatoes as they deter the bad nematodes. (In other words... yes they smell bad!)....Mint deters flies, cabbage moth, ants and rodents. Be careful with mint however as it will spread like crazy. (I usually plant my mint in containers to keep it from spreading.) There are many resources available on both crop rotation and companion planting..... these are just a few of which we have had success with so far.