Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fall Gardening in Kitchen Garden. 8.30.15

Garlic for planting.  8.30.15
 It may be early, but I planted the first of the garlic today.  These are cloves from this year.

Instead of 8 per row, they are 6 per row.  Instead of 10 rows, there are 8.  I did that to give them more room.

It might be too early.  Last year I planted late and they did not get in much growth before the first freeze.  I can plant more in a few weeks.

This bed has the following rotation:
First Garlic Planting.  8.30.15

2013: strawberries
2014: strawberries.
2015: beans
2015: now, garlic.

I used the largest garlic heads.

I also cleaned up the 1/2 of an 8x8 bed that had E.W. Onions.  That got topped of with some yard soil and planted with buckwheat for green manure.

I started the 4x4 cinderblock bed that I have been gradually building, for replenishing the Chinese Chives.   Will progressively replant them into this bed over the next few weeks.  The soil is enriched with aged chicken compost, and a sprinkling of Epson salts and lime.  Prior testing showed my soil is acidic, and a bit low in calcium and magnesium.  I mixed the additives into the soil and watered to get it ready.

Kitchen Garden Harvests. 8.30.15

Asian Pears.  8.30.15

Tomotoes and Peppers.  8.30.15
 Today I picked the first of the Asian pears.  The European pears were all bad, complete bust.  I can never figure out when to harvest them.  Asian pears are much easier.  These are Hosui, Shinseiki, and an unknown.

More veggies from the garden.

Some Daylilies.  These must be the last.  Stella de Oro is a champion bloomer.
Daylilies.  8.30.15

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kitchen Garden. 8.23.15

Late beans.  8.23.15

Onion Wells.  8.23.15
Beans growing ok.

Added well aged chicken compost to barrels, and more of the EWO scallion starts into those.

Tomatos, getting an excellent crop this year.  More than we can eat.  Time for some more salsa.
Tomato Cage.  8.23.15

First Main Crop Figs. 8.29.15

Smith Figs.  8.29.15

Hardy Chicago Figs.  8.29.15
 First of the main crop figs.  Main crop is the fall crop.  Rained last night, no splits this time.

Smith - in container.  There was one fig last week.  This one was broken from the rain, so I harvested it.  Excellent flavor even though not quite ripe.  The others will be left on a few more days.

Hardy Chicago - in ground.  Usually the first of main crop figs for me.  I was just going to pick one, but kept finding more. I pruned heavily this winter, to keep branching low.  Probably no loss of crop, since the brebas always fall off for my tree.

Not shown until I get to Battleground today - Sal's, while small, has several ripening figs.

Edit:   Added photos of Sal's figs and comparison with Hardy Chicago.  Maybe the Sal's were not quite as ripe.  I thought the Hardy Chicago had more flavor, sweeter, juicier.  But if not for tasting them side by side. I would have liked the Sal's very much.
Hardy Chicago Figs.  8.29.15

Hardy Chicago Fig Tree.  8.29.15
Sal's  Figs and Hardy Chicago Figs.  8.29.15

Sal's Figs on tree.  8.29.15

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Toka Plums. 8.23.15

Toka Plums.  8.23.15

Fully ripe, my Toka plums tend to fall off the tree with the slightest movement. I missed some, on the ground. These are incredibly sweet and juice, like honey on apricots. Wow.

Dividing a Daylily. Daylily seeds. 8.23.15

NOID Daylily before division.  8.23.15

Out of the ground.  There are 2 main clumps.  8.23.15
Today I divided my oldest daylily cluster.  Last year I moved this bunch from the old Vancouver yard to the Battleground yard.  I was anxious to get it intothe ground, so did not divide it.  There was grass growing deep into the cluster, which has been difficult to pull out.

It needed dividing.  There were only 2 flower scapes this year.  In the past, it had many.  It has been done blooming for a few weeks.

I wanted it to be in a more prominent location.  I am limited on good spots, so part of it went back into the original location, but with fresh garden soil.

Digging it up, two main sub-clumps were apparent.  I used shovel to slice through.  Some gardeners use 2 garden forks and pry them apart.  That results in less root loss.  I don't think that will be a problem.  I don't have 2 garden forks.

Two smaller divisions fell off when I split the big clumps.  So I have 2 good size, and 2 starter size clumps.

They are replanted, mulched, and watered.  One of the small ones is in container for TLC and maybe gift.

The Stella de'Oro was divided, I think, in Mid July.  Both halves regenerated new leaves and bloomed.  Very nice, and one of only three daylilies now blooming.  Happy Returns is also blooming.

The other was labeled as the variety "Frans Hals".  It looks semi-similar to the photo.  Either a mutant, possibly due to improper tissue culture technique, or a seedling.  I liked this photo with a bug in the nectar pocket.  I  cross pollinated the "not quite Frans Hals" with both Stella and Happy, both as pollen donor and recipient.
Split using shovel and hand action.  8.23.15

One of the replanted clumps.  8.23.15

Stella de'Oro divided in July.  8.23.15

Daylily labeled as "Frans Hals".  8.23.15
Daylily Seedpod.  Pod Parent Chicago Apache.  8.23.15
The first of the Chicago Apache seedpods started to split, so I picked it.  The stem is brown and dry, so the seeds will obtain no more nutrition from the plant.  The seeds are black and shiny, so I think they are fully ripe.

Pollen parent is either Chicago Apache or Fooled Me.  Doesn't matter, I'm not a commercial grower, and won't be.

These went into a wet paper towel / plastic zipper bag / refrigerator, for stratifying. 

I wondered what I would do with all of  the seeds from the hybridizing efforts.  This pod made only 4 seeds, so maybe I won't have too many.

I don't need a lot.  I just kept dobbing pollen to pistils to see what happened.
Daylily Seeds.  Pod Parent Chicago Apache.  8.23.15

Bee Forage. 8.23.15

Buckwheat in bloom.  8.23.5

Honebee on buckwheat flower.  8.23.15
 Buckwheat is in full bloom.  I planted the buckwheat seeds 7.21.15 to 7.23.15.  They started blooming, barely, one week ago.  So it takes about 3 weeks to begin blooming, and 4 weeks to be in full bloom.

Yesterday I did not see bees foraging the buckwheat.  Today they are foraging in force.

I replanted some bare patches where I must not have spread the seeds evenly, today.  I also planted buckwheat seed among the cornstalks, where I harvested that last of the sweetcorn today.

Other bee forage:

Very active on Chinese Chive, compact version.
Autumn Joy - type Sedum starting to bloom and activity is growing.
Active on  the remaining borage and oregano.
Honeybee on Buckwheat Flower.  8.23.15
Honeybees on Sedum flowers.  8.23.15

Honeybees Foraging Sedum Flowers.  8.23.15

Cluster of Autum Joy - Type Sedum, Starting to Bloom.  8.23.15
The sedum flowers are just beginning to open.  Sedum is a bee favorite - they will be foraging with many bees per flower cluster, until the plant is finished blooming.

I'm impressed with how long the oregano blooms and is foraged.  It looks almost done, but the bees appear to seek out every last flower.  When they are done, I want to save seeds for starting a much larger patch next year.
Honeybee on Oregano.  8.23.15

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Late Summer Kitchen Garden. Starting Seeds. Barrels. 8.26.15

Barrel #1.  Asian Greens, Kohlrabi, Bunching Onions.  8.26.15
 This is a progress report on some of the seeds I am starting for later Summer, or early Fall starts, for Fall and early winter benefit.  These are all barrel planters that I either had with something earlier that finished, or had left alone for a year or two and now being called back into service.   If there were weeds, I pulled out the weed plants - easy with soft potting soil, then turned the top layer of soil with a hand-spade, and added a top layer of a few inches of potting soil.  The one with the dead bamboo, was too root bound, so I just added some potting soil on top.
Barrel #3.  Chinese pole beans and last year's garlic.  8.26.15

Barrel #4.  Roma beans, Turnips, and a few E.W.O. Scallions.  8.26.15
 I want the beans mostly for seeds.  Seeds take longer than fresh beans, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This year is projected for a warmer winter due to the impending el Niño effect.  I speculate that will extend the season.  If not, that's OK too.

Days currently in 90s.  Nights in 50s and 60s.  Seeds are germinating quickly.  The barrels need daily water.  The plants are concentrated in small spaces, so shade the soil and not needing as much care as if in the ground.  I am watering with 1/4 tsp miracle grow in 2 gallons of water.  Basically fertigating.  For some, I occasionally peecycle with 1/2 liter of home-grown fertilizer in 2 gallons.  Not more, because I don't want salt build up.

I'm getting excellent, rapid growth for Egyptian walking onionsnasturtiums, and Swiss chard.  Should have some for cooking in 2 or 3 weeks.  Spinach might also be ready in 3 or 4 weeks.  The nasturtiums are for adding leaves too salads.  The E.W. onions are for scallions, and to maintain my crop.  I got about 80% viable from the ones that were in the bed I wanted to renovate, chewed off by rabbits or deer, crowded by wild carrot, and left dry.  E.W. Onions are a damn hardy breed.

As I dig more into the old E.W. bed that I want to renovate, I remove more, clean them up, and plant them in random spots among other plants.  That will give a more extended Fall harvest of scallions, and also some to leave through the winter for Spring harvest and to maintain the clone.

Barrel #6.  Nasturtiums, Spinach, and some E.W.O. Scallions.  8.26.15
Today I planted seeds for Kohlrabi - expect harvest in 60 days, and Turnip - expect harvest in 50 days.  With the hot summer weather, they should get a fast start, then slow down a little as it cools.
Barrel #7.  Egyptian Walking Onions.  ~3 Weeks,  8.26.15
Some of the seeds I am starting.  8.26.15
I also planted an Asian Greens mix that contains equal parts Arugula, Chinese cabbage, Japanese spinach, mustard-mizuna, mustard-green, mustard-Ruby Streaks, and tatsoi. Those were planted about one week ago and now are all germinated.  Cilantro seeds are also included in the barrel gardens, and growing.  The goal with those is to plant a few more each week, for extended harvests.

I planted scarlet bunching onion seeds because I saw them in the store and wanted to try something different.  At the time I didn't know if the E.W. onions would grow.  The scarlet bunching onion seeds are also germinating.

All in all, I think the late summer planting in large containers, has a lot of potential for kitchen gardening.  Easy, more accessible for the older or less vigorous gardeners, and grow more in a very compact space.   Not much bending over at all, very easy to pull out tiny weeds and putter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Saving seeds. Cilantro. 8.18.15

Cilantro Seeds Ready To Collect.  8.18.15
 I left a bunch of cilantro to go to seed.  It's brown and dry, so ready to collect seeds.

I may use some for spice.  Cilantro seeds are the same as coriander.

Saving seeds is very easy.  I used scissors to cut seed bunches, placed them in a bowl.  Then worked them for a couple of minutes with my fingers.  The seeds fall off the stems.  They don't need to have all of the chaff removed.

I'll let them sit a little while, then they go into an envelope to save for next Spring.  I might plant some this late summer.
Partially Cleaned Cilantro Seeds.  8.18.15

Autumn Joy - type Sedum. Propagation. 8.18.15

Sedums are starting to bloom and the bees are already on them.  There were 2 broken pieces.  This may not be a good time for taking cuttings.  If so, nothing lost.   If they take, then there are some more plants.
Sedum First Blooms.  8.18.15

Sedum CUttings.  8.18.15
 Most are "Autumn Joy" type sedums.  I read, many are sold in the US with that name but in reality are unnamed seedlings.  No problem.  They are great in the border and are great bee forage.  The dark red one might be "Munstead Red". 

I cut the broken pieces into shorter lengths.  I took off the bottom leaves.  The cuttings were allowed to dry briefly.  Not long.  It's in the mid 90s today.  Then I filled small containers with organic potting soil and inserted the stem cuttings and leaf cuttings into the medium.  They are watered and now in the shade.

No rooting hormone.   I read this method works earlier in the year.  Sedums are vigorous, so maybe it will work now.

Root primordia had already formed near the base of the green variety, above the break.   That one should grow even if the others don't.

Low growing, trailing sedums don't need special care to grow from cuttings.  I just cut or pull off pieces and insert into soil where I want them to grow.  These bushier types might not be as easy, or they might.

Sedum Cuttings.  8.18.15

Sedum cuttings.  8.18.15

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sweet Corn Comparison, Ear to Ear. 8.16.15

Sweetcorn.  8.16.15
Until this year, I never attempted to grow sweetcorn here.  This year I planted two varieties.

Today was a good comparison of the two varieties. 

The Trinity plants were much taller, more than 6 foot.  The Early Sunglow plants were only about 3 or 4 foot tall.

Trinity made a much, much larger ear.  With larger kernels.

Flavor-wise, I think the Early Sunglow has a slightly richer, sweet-corn flavor, and the Trinity is sweeter.

They were grown on opposite sides of the yard.  There might have been a soil difference.  I planted the Early Sunglow about 2 weeks earlier than the Trinity.  The Trinity is just beginning to bear.  Early Sunglow is done.  Only a few ears developed on the Early Sunglow plants.  Each and every Trinity plant has an ear.  Some have two.

If I didn't have them here to taste side by side, I would think the Trinity is as good as the Early Sunglow.  Given the big difference in yield, Trinity looks like the more preferred variety by far.   The flavor difference is too subtle to matter.

This difference might just be in my yard, or might be that the soil was not good in the location for Early Sunglow.  It might be worth a try in a different spot next year.

Savoring the Summer. Crookneck Early Golden Summer Squash Chips. 8.16.5

Crookneck Summer Squash and Chips. 8.16.15
Very simple. 
1.  Slice squash into paper thin slices using mandolin.  Do not slice fingers, which would give the squash a nice red tinge but is not considered hygienic.
2.  Spread on food dehydrator plates.
3.  Crush a few cloves of garlic in olive oil to make a paste.  I used a mortar and pestle.
4.  Dab a little garlic paste on each slice.  Try to use minimal amount.
5.  Sprinkle the slices with a minimal dusting of salt an pepper.  Very little, because these slices are very thin and don't need much.
6.  Dry in food dehydrator about a day at 130.

These are crunchy, like potato chips.  Really delicious.  I hate half a squash worth in one sitting.  They do get limp if they sit out very long, so not intended for long term storage.

Bee forage. 8.16.15

Chinese Chive Bee Forage.  8.16.15
 Main bee forage currently is Chinese Chive.  They prefer Chinese chive to all other currently blooming flowers.  These are really pretty.  For the looks and bees, drought and freeze tolerance and sturdiness, this plant is an excellent flower border plant.  They are also delicious as a filling for the world's best Manchurian dumplings.

The borage is also foraged fairly heavily.

Not just honeybees.  Other larger and smaller pollen foraging insects, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and small bees, forage the chives.

Sedum flowers are not open yet.  Bees find the few flowers that are almost open, and check them to see if they are ready yet.

Oregano is heavily foraged but in decline.  They will probably be done in a week.

Bees are ignoring California poppies.  Not on the marigolds much now, either.
Flower Bed For Bees.  8.16.15

Insects on Chinese Chives.  8.16.15
Despite what I read, the honeybees and other bees, ignored the nasturtiums.

They check penstemon without much enthusiasm. Maybe this cultivar is not tasty.  I don't know the cultivar name.

Parsley fell over and may not bloom.  Only one plant.

A flower border for bees is incredible fun.  The air is alive and active, with bees and other foraging the flowers.  So much more than a sterile, store bought, "designer" "HGTV" border.

Preserving Summer. 8.16.15

Sundried Hollywood Plums.  8.16.15

Sundried and Sun-drying tomatoes.  8.16.15
 There is so much now from the kitchen garden.  Can't eat it all at once.  I give some away.

Dried fruit from home garden is surprisingly good.  The near-black Hollywood plums are tart and sweet and concentrated plum flavor.  Like fresh ones but more intense.  Nothing like a prune, which is a dried European plum.

The home grown sun dried tomatoes are even better than store bought,  And store bought sun dried tomatoes are pretty good.

They don't have to be Roma tomatoes.  Ning taught me we can dry any kind.

With these fruits, we dry a few days in the sunroom.  During the day it is in the 120s there.  I can use a food dehydrator, but the sunroom works as well with no power.

Then they go into food bags into the freezer.

Freezer Jam.  Finally found instant pectin.  The advantage is, instant pectin does not need to be dissolved.  No water needs to be added.  So the jam is just fruit, some sugar, and pectin.
Today's Harvest.  8.16.15
 For grapes, only 1/2 the recipe amount of sugar is needed.  Maybe not even that much.  This was amazingly good:

2 cups washed grapes.   These were Price grape.
1/3 cup sugar.
2 tablespoons instant pectin.

I wash the grapes. Place them in food processor and chop coarsely.

Then combine the sugar and pectin.  Add to food processor and process until well mixed.
Ingredients for Grape Freezer Jam.  8.16.15
 I leave the seeds intact, and don't worry about chopping the skin too finely.    Grape flavor is highly concentrated in the skin.  Grape seeds are a health food and the crunchiness adds fun to the jam, similar to seeds in figs.
Cornbread with Grape Freezer Jam.  8.16.5
Very good on cornbread with butter.  Use unsweetened corn bread.  Or mixed with plain, homemade yogurt.

Ladle jam into jars.   Any small jar will do.  These keep 1 year in freezer or 1 month in fridge.  The uncooked fruit flavor sings with joy.

Hollywood plums also make excellent plum jam.  Same as grapes, but slice the plums flesh off the seeds.   Leave the skin on the slices.  Use 2 cups, same as grape jam.  Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  The rest is same as grapes.  It's almost like candy, sweet and sour and full of undiluted flavor, unlike cooked fruit jams with high fructose corn syrup from the grocery store.

In either case, the jam fills 2 8-oz jars.