Monthly Archives: October 2013

What’s a Frost? What’s a Freeze?

I saw this posted on Facebook this morning and thought it was really interesting!

Here is an excerpt from the Manhattan Community Garden Newsletter, written by Dr. Chuck Marr:

“You have often heard these 2 terms used interchangeably. However, for horticultural purposes there is something of a difference. This is forever etched in my brain since a former professor quizzed me about this in one of my final oral examinations. I think he wanted to demonstrate that he knew more about this topic than I did (and he won). A frost refers to ice crystals that form on various surfaces. This traditionally happens when a ‘radiational freeze’ occurs. As the night goes on, heat is lost from near the ground. Some plant tissues can be frozen at the outside edges while others areas inside the plant can be spared when heat gets trapped. It is easy to protect from this type of damage with some kind of insulating cover for 2-5 degrees below the freezing point. These radiational freezes often are difficult to predict and there will be some variation in locations from heat emitted from surrounding structures and cold air moving to low lying areas. A freeze usually refers to an ‘advective freeze’ when a large cold air mass moves into the area and freezing plant tissues happens. Old-timers often called this a ‘black freeze’ since there my not be any white colored frost but a lot of blackened plant tissue. In this case, there is generally a freezing of tissues equally all over the plant. These are harder to protect by covering although some protection may be gained. Forecasters can more accurately predict and estimate temperatures from this type of freeze so the temperatures are usually close to what is predicted everywhere. So, when you hear the weather forecast predicting a ‘frost warning’ or a ‘freeze warning’ this is what they are talking about. Both can damage plants but a frost is a lot easier to deal with than a freeze.”

Friday PhotoEssay

We are almost at the end of October! I think that next Friday (November 1st) I will do a long post showing the “Whole Garden” pictures from May through October. I think it will be pretty neat to see the garden change over the whole season, because sometimes the difference isn’t very noticeable from week to week.

As you can see, the sweet potatoes are gone. From this picture, you can’t really see the open places where many of the flowers were removed as well.

Speaking of digging sweet potatoes – here is the dig in progress. It’s a little bit different than using the tractor and harvest machine down at the Pair Center! It looks like we managed to grow some nice sweet potatoes.

The sweet potato harvest looks good, although not particularly spectacular. I am wondering if we should have planted more slips, if we needed to fertilize/water more, or if this is actually a reasonable harvest from a 16 sq. ft. area? Now that I think about it, it may very well be reasonable.

This was supposed to be part of the fall salad greens planting, and while I suppose you could still use them for a salad, they are much more the size of braising or cooking greens now. The colors were pretty this morning in the sun.

Speaking of greens, the spinach plant that survived from the first planting has some huge leaves! They are pretty pointy, which I’m not usually a fan of (sign of bolting), but the flavor was very sweet and good on this leaf. Yes, I picked it, took a picture, and then ate it.

The turnips and fall radishes keep growing and growing. Some of them are nearing harvest stage, while others are lingering at a smaller size. Mmm….turnips!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

Yikes that rain is cold this morning! It looks like there’s a chance of frost this evening as well, although the forecasts are for about 34 degrees. Looking at the long range forecast, it seems like there’s a chance for below-freezing temperatures around Halloween. BUT, since we are down to cool season vegetables in the Demo Garden, it doesn’t make much difference to us what the weather forecast is at this point!

Okay, I forgot about the sweet potatoes. Those are coming out this next Tuesday though, so after that we are left with our perennial herbs and cool season vegetables. I braved the cold rain to get a few more pictures this morning as well.

Do you see it? This is the ‘Purple Peacock’ sprouting broccoli in the Kids’ Snack Garden. There’s the beginning of one tiny head of purple broccoli. From looking online, it seems like it should get bigger than this before we harvest it.

One of the ‘Rattail’ radishes has bolted and started to flower. Yay! We should have a rattail or two to try later on.

These salad greens have long since overgrown the “salad” stage, but they do still look beautiful and tasty! Mostly they are kales and mustard greens, shading the endives/escarole/chicories in between them.

In the spinach section, there is one big plant sporting pointy leaves (not usually a good sign), and a bunch of small plants.

This heirloom ‘Purple of Sicily’ cauliflower is still just thinking about starting a head, but the veins, leaf petioles (stems), and main stem are such a pretty light lavender color that I wanted to share anyway.

One of our Master Gardeners took a few of the ‘Scarlet Queen’ turnips to try a recipe for Pink Turnip Soup. The turnips had a nice red skin and a little pink in the centers. Unfortunately, she said the the color wasn’t strong enough to make the soup pink and it turned out to be an ugly brown. Oh well…at least the before picture is nice!

Have a great weekend!

Looking at the Broccoli

I promised at least one non-Friday PhotoEssay post this week, so I guess I had better get on that! I thought about delaying because a couple of the pictures I wanted to include are on my camera at home, but I decided that was likely a recipe for not getting the post written.

Last Friday, I harvested a couple heads of broccoli from the garden. One was a huge, beautiful, dark green head of ‘Imperial’ broccoli. The others were small, oddly shaped, slightly yellowish-brown heads of ‘Apollo’ Sprouting broccoli.

This is the ‘Imperial’ broccoli. Isn’t that a nice head? Gorgeous!

Compare that to these three smaller heads of the ‘Apollo.’ Now, to be fair, the ‘Apollo’ is billed as a sprouting broccoli, which means that it isn’t intended to grow large central heads. In fact, I probably should have cut these small heads off sooner to encourage more side branching. Still, the color isn’t as nice either.

This is the side view of one of the ‘Apollo’ heads. Not a very nice specimen, is it? Again, it isn’t unexpected for a sprouting broccoli, but it is very different!

What I had hoped to show with the pictures from my camera at home is the process of getting the broccoli ready to use when you have had an onslaught of cabbage loopers and cabbageworms. If you’ve never had the experience of harvesting broccoli from the garden, well…let’s just say that if there were caterpillars on the leaves, they are probably in the head of broccoli too. What I did is cut all the broccoli up into pieces, and then I soaked it in a bowl of warm salt water for about 30 minutes. Given the caterpillar challenges of this fall, I was expecting to see a whole bunch of caterpillars floating on the top of the water that I could photograph…but there weren’t any! Once I put the broccoli in the pot for cooking, I could see half a dozen tiny to small caterpillars in the bottom of the bowl, and I found one more in the pot after cooking. But…it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting! I guess we did a pretty good job keeping the caterpillar population under control after all.

The other thing that I’m going to keep watching now that we’ve harvested some of the broccoli (the Master Gardeners harvested 2 more heads of ‘Imperial’ yesterday), is if the supposed sprouting broccoli produces more shoots than the ‘Imperial.’ Most broccoli will produce some side shoots after you harvest the main head, so we’ll have to see if there’s a noticeable difference between quantity and quality of side shoots.

Friday PhotoEssay

I had every intention of posting more than once this week, but apparently it wasn’t to be. I’ll have at least one additional post next week, (I hope!), although things are slowing down a lot in the garden.

Oh yeah, major change in the landscape this week! Our vegetable arbor is gone, so we can see the rest of the garden a bit better. All the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, vine crops, and basil are gone. All we have left are the flowers, the brassicas, root vegetables, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes. And a bunch of herbs.

After a particularly crazy September, our tomato harvests were slowing way down. We picked all the ripe tomatoes and the good sized green tomatoes when we took the plants out. This isn’t quite all of them, but we wouldn’t have gotten many more tomatoes this fall even if we had left the vines in place.

I’ve seen several good sized grasshoppers around the garden today. This one is hanging out on a cauliflower plant. I saw a particularly big green one in the parsnips, but didn’t have my camera at the moment. We aren’t going to do anything about them. At this stage, not much is going to kill them other than a heavy boot.

When we pull out our tomatoes and peppers, I always like to take a look at the roots. All our plants had nice healthy roots this year, with no signs of nematodes. The roots are nice and smooth, have good color, lots of root hairs, and no knobby distorted growths. Hurray! Before we redid the garden, we almost always had some bad nematode problems on the tomatoes.

While almost all the broccoli is well on its way to forming heads, the cauliflower is still just thinking about it. But, the fact that they haven’t bolted (sent up flower/seed stalks) is a good sign and the weather forecast for the next couple weeks looks ideal for producing great quality cauliflower. I’m excited to share pictures of all the different colors!

Have a great weekend!