Monthly Archives: November 2010

Life Under the Row Covers

I put the heavier row covers on the garden Wednesday afternoon. The Spinach/Lettuce bed got the heavier fabric cover and the Root Vegetables/Some Greens bed got the plastic cover. Since it was still warm and sunny on Wednesday, I left the ends open on the plastic tunnel.

You can see that the plastic tunnel started getting steamy almost immediately. I also started recording the temperatures outside and under each tunnel. Each morning (except most weekends), I’ll be recording the previous day’s maximum temperature and the overnight minimum temperature.

So far, this is what we’ve seen:

Wed. 11/10 (Sunny, windy)

Outdoors: Min = 38, Max = 67

Fabric: Min = 45, Max = 78

Plastic: Min = 40, Max = 86 (with the ends open)

Thurs. 11/11 (Cloudy, rainy, windy)

Outdoors: Min = 46, Max = 60

Fabric: Min = 49, Max = 62

Plastic: Min = 50, Max = 65

It will be really interesting to see what the minimums are  for the next few days when we don’t have much sun to warm things up during the day.

Carrots!

I was out watering the garden this afternoon, preparing to put on the row cover again. Everything is extremely dry, and with the row covers on, any rain we get tomorrow will not make a lot of difference in the extremely dry soil. When I checked on the carrots, I found that there were a few carrots that were a nice size for snacking.

The bigger, orangier carrots are ‘Napoli’ and the more pink/salmon colored carrots are ‘Atomic Red’. Yum!

Using Up the Last Tomatoes of the Season

We had a bunch of green tomatoes after we pulled the plants from the Demo Garden, as well as a few red tomatoes. (The red tomatoes were red, but they weren’t the luscious summer red – more like a grocery store tomato might be.)

This seemed like a great opportunity to try out one or two green tomato recipes. I narrowed my search for recipes down to two options – green tomato pickles and green tomato jam. After some discussion, I settled on a batch of green tomato jam, specifically Green Tomato Jam with Ginger and Vanilla Bean.

Here’s what the jam looked like near the end of the cooking process. We did end up using the immersion blender to get rid of the worst of the chunks and tomato skin, since I felt that peeling small, green tomatoes was not worth my time. The jam seems to be a little bit too sweet for my taste. If I made it again, I’d be tempted to reduce the amount of sugar.

There’s the final product after the water-bath canning process. If you don’t like the seeds, you can always take the seeds out before cooking the jam. From this small picture, you can’t see the tiny specks of vanilla bean, but it kind of lends a gourmet feel to the jam.

Then the question became, what to do with the remaining, semi-anemic tomatoes? Oh yeah, and I also have some kale from cleaning up the garden. And some ground lamb kicking around the freezer. And some semi-ratty looking carrots in the refrigerator. Soup it is! Specifically, I ended up making Lamb, White Bean, and Kale Soup, which happened to use tomatoes and carrots as well.

You can kinda see what I mean about the anemic-looking tomatoes, can’t you? But hey, cook them down with some ground lamb, onion, carrot, celery, and spices, and you’re good to go!

Of course, the kale goes into the soup right at the end, so that it doesn’t get cooked into oblivion. The recipe also calls for a garnish of feta cheese on top, which really tops off the yum factor!

Friday PhotoEssay

It’s about 32 degrees out in the garden right now. Finally!

I did end up covering one of our two raised beds, but I only used the very lightest row cover fabric. A quick peak at the thermometer inside the cover shows that it is about the same temperature under the cover as outside, so apparently it isn’t doing much good. I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t put it on until noon yesterday or because it isn’t very airtight. After all, bricks and duct tape don’t make for a very tight row cover.

Yes, I said duct tape. I realized when I started putting the row cover on that I had 3 pieces of the lightweight fabric and none of them were long enough for the whole bed. In order to get it to stay on, I resorted to duct tape. Most of the tape is inside on the hoops, but I had to put a couple pieces on the outside. I may have to buy new row cover now, after the duct tape adventure. I’ll also have to put the heavier cover on before next weekend, when it looks like the forecast is predicting more seasonably cool/cold temperatures.

The Bachelor Buttons started blooming just in time for it to freeze. Luckily, they don’t really care about 30 degrees. They will probably still bloom for another couple weeks. Oh yeah, and they’re edible too!

Our compost committee was busy this week, as we had a full bin of plants that we’d pulled out of the garden, as well as some leaves from around the grounds and the straw mulch from several of the beds. The three big bins are full, as well as 3 smaller bins. We’ll have lots of great compost come spring!

Here’s a sneak peek inside the row cover after I put it on yesterday. You can see that we have some bare spots. For some reason, we didn’t have great germination on things this fall. I don’t know if that’s due to the seed, the generally dry weather, or just not enough TLC. I’m suspicious that we didn’t keep the beds moist enough when the seeds were trying to germinate.

It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend! Get outside and enjoy it!

Daikon Radish Pickles

I did make the Daikon/Watermelon Radish Pickles for our Master Gardener Potluck today.

I sliced up Green Meat radish, regular daikon radish, and a bunch of Mantanghong/Watermelon radishes. Then I threw in some salt, sugar, pepper, coriander, dill, allspice, garlic salt, onion powder, rice wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. You really don’t need 3 different vinegars, but I didn’t have enough of any one type. If I were doing it again, I think I’d use straight rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, a little bit of thinly sliced onion, and a couple cloves of minced garlic rather than using all the spices. It was late last night, and I didn’t feel like slicing an onion!