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Friday PhotoEssay – April 11th

We didn’t have a work day this week, although a few people did come plant a couple things. We were mostly watching things grow!

I guess there’s not much change from last week. There really is a big change, but you can’t see it from this level. Closer look next!

We trimmed up the thyme and planted a new grape vine this week. We are trying out ‘Himrod,’ which I was very impressed with when one of our Master Gardeners brought in a couple bunches of grapes last summer. This is a green/yellow seedless grape. Of course, it probably won’t have much fruit for a couple years.

One of the Master Gardeners also came and planted a rhubarb crown earlier in the week. Last year our rhubarb died after a cold night, so I hope that doesn’t happen again.

The radishes that were just coming up last week have been growing quickly. Most of them have two “true” leaves already, and with this nice warm weather, they are sure to grow faster.

The strawberries are also continuing to put on new leaves. It looks like there may have been a few casualties, but for the most part the plants are looking healthy!

Speaking of the thyme & grape bed from earlier, you can see that we had some real winners and losers coming through the winter. That vigorous green monolith in the middle is the Rose Scented Thyme. Buried under its left edge is the tiny Spicy Orange Thyme. Next to that, on the left edge of the picture is the dead middle of the Variegated Lemon Thyme. On the right of the Rose Scented Thyme is the plain Lemon Thyme, which also had quite a bit of dieback from the middle of the plant.

Have a great weekend!

Fall Root Vegetables

Ah, the best laid plans…! Obviously I didn’t get very many posts done this week, since a whole host of other things claimed my attention. I think that we are probably done with Friday PhotoEssays until next year unless we get some picturesque weather. In a month or so, we may do some catalog reviews/new variety reviews as those catalogs start rolling in. For now, I have a few more topics to blog about from the fall portion of the garden, starting with a look at some of the root vegetables.

Some of the radishes and turnips were looking ready to harvest, so I pulled the biggest ones and got some good pictures. (You may have guessed that from the Radish Salad recipe that Denise posted on Monday.) I also pulled a few of the parsnips, since some of them are supposed to be better for fall harvests and some are better for spring.

First up: Turnips!

We have 3 varieties of turnips. From the upper left, going clockwise: Golden Ball turnip, Early Flat White turnip, and Scarlet Queen turnip. There were some larger Scarlet Queen turnips a couple weeks ago that I gave to a Master Gardener to try a soup recipe. All of these varieties look good and productive. The Early Flat White turnips seem like they might be a little more difficult to deal with due to the shape. These turnips all went into a Turnip & Parsnip Gratin that we had at a Master Gardener class.

As you can see, there are some interesting things going on with the parsnips! Varieties, again from the top left, going counter-clockwise: Javelin, Albion, Cobham Marrow Improved. The 3 problems in evidence with these varieties are side-splitting, forked roots, and some type of canker. My As you can see, both of the Javelin parsnips are problematic (I had pulled a third earlier that was also split), one with a split and one with a canker. The Albion parsnips displayed two crazy forked roots and one small, nice root. The Cobham Marrow Improved had two nice roots and one split.

So what happened here? My suspicion is that the side splitting is probably due to moisture fluctuation, if you can imagine that! The canker could quite possible be Parsnip Canker or some other type of root rot/root damage. The forking roots is what has me really confused. Usually forking roots like that is indicative of one of two things: root knot nematodes (please, no!) or a physical obstruction that caused the roots to split (really, in a sand + compost soil?). I did see some references to excessive nutrients causing the forking, but there weren’t a lot of reliable sources for that. I didn’t see other signs of nematodes, so I guess something else happened with the Albion parsnips. When we pull the rest of them, we may see if I just had bad luck pulling those two or if there’s something about that variety that is problematic. Just form this sample, it would seem that the Cobham variety did the best. We’ll have to see what the final harvest brings!

When I was poking around the internet looking for parsnip information, I came across this blog post that seems like a novel way to grow parsnips – almost like mini-raised beds for your parsnips! I’m intrigued… http://ukveggardeners.com/profiles/blogs/side-splitting-parsnips

Ah, the fall radishes. Aren’t those daikons enormous? From the top left, clockwise: Watermelon radish, Alpine Daikon radish, Nero Tondo (Black Round) radish. Again, all of these varieties look great, and I’m particularly impressed with the daikons. They could be longer, but this variety isn’t one of the really long ones.

I’m really happy with the color on the Watermelon radishes this year. Sometimes the center color is much more faded or only in the very center. I wonder if it is due to the weather or to the seed source this year. We got our seeds from High Mowing, which is different from where I’ve purchased them in the past.

Watermelon, anyone? Okay, that would be just mean, wouldn’t it?

I think we are going to pull the remaining root vegetables and harvest some of the greens next Tuesday, since there is a forecast low of 22 on Tuesday night. (Yes, I know it will probably change. Yes, I know the roots probably won’t be damaged anyway. Yes, I know we could put on row covers.) I think most of the roots are just about as big as they are going to get for the year, so we might as well get them pulled out. Stay tuned!

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!

Friday PhotoEssay

Here we are on what is purported to be the last hot/warm day of the year, with a precipitous temperature drop coming this afternoon/evening as the front moves through. I’m ready for fall! I know that some people are even ready for a hard freeze to kill off some of their tomato vines.

There were some big changes in the Demo Garden this week. Can you tell? All the vines are gone from the vertical garden area as are all of the eggplant. I think we are probably going to pull out the tomatoes next week. No, they won’t be completely done and dead, but most of the tomatoes will be harvested and the remaining green ones probably won’t ripen quickly. Of course, all the things in the two fall garden beds are looking great and will probably appreciate the cooler weather!

The Swiss Chard and Arugula in the Pizza Garden are ready to start harvesting…I guess we’ll have to get on that and make some fancy pizza, huh?

In the category of “what a difference a month makes,” the spinach that we replanted a couple weeks ago is growing well, next to the sole plant that survived from the August planting.

Some of the root vegetables are starting to size up nicely. This is one of the Scarlet Red Stems turnips. You can see that some of the surrounding plants are still small, but this one looks nice. There are several that have started getting close to harvest size.

The ‘Nero Tondo’ radishes are also developing some nice roots. These still have a ways to go as far as reaching full size (think baseball sized), but it’s nice to see that they are starting to size up. It just occurred to me that some people might find the rather scaly-looking, grey-black skin off-putting. I wonder what it says about me that I just think it is cool and not the least bit distasteful? (It probably also helps that I’ve eaten them before.)

Ah, my friends the Watermelon Radishes. I’ll admit, this one is looking a bit like a purple top turnip at the moment. I’m sure it will turn out to be a nice pink radish though. I think the ones with pinker outer skins often have better interior color.

The ‘Rattail’ Radishes are getting some nice roots on them, but no “rattails” yet. I realized a couple days ago that planting a cool season vegetable that you harvest the seed pods from was probably not the right choice for a fall garden. I’ll be surprised if these actually develop the edible seed pods at this time of year, unless we get a hot week after a couple weeks of cold. (I’m thinking that’s not likely, but I guess I could be wrong.)

Have a great weekend!