Sunday, August 28, 2016

Resurrected Chinese Beans. 8.28.16

 We've had sveral meals from these Cinese bean seeds that I resurrected from packets in the 6 to 10 year old range, maybe older.  There seem to be 3 types.  The wider ones were what we remembered from the past.  Wuote delicious, stir fried i  the Northeast Chinese way with potatoes.  Tradition calls for pork but I am vegetarian, and I think their flavor as is, is great

The intent is to save pods from each type.  Beans normally pollinate within the flower, so may grow true.  I would not be surprised, if they dont.  I will label plants of each type for sed saving, so that I can segregate them next year.  Red/pale, Red/green, and Black/green.

Not bad.  Even though initial germination of tne old seeds was only about 20%, we got a lot of beans in the end, and vigor, for most, was great.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

You CAN Grow Okra in Southwest Washington State. 8.27.16

Top photo is today, lower photo is yesterday.   The short fat pods are the Star of David cultivar.  The longer, thinner pods are the Baby Bubba hybrid.

It's true, this Spring was unusually hot.  I didn't think they would grow and did not invest much effort in these at first - planted in ground, in rows.  When they started growing, I became more interested, thinned the plants, provided fencing for animal predation protection.  

My failures this year, were okra plants that I grew indoors and set out in the garden. They failed to thrive, and died - I think it was too early, and on top of that rabbits ate them  .

In the top photo, thete are 3 large pods and one small malformed pod.  The top three were hand pollinated, using a paintbrush.  i left the flower for the other one, to its own devices and local insects.  I dont think the insects here are pollenizers for okra.  The only flowers that have formed pods, are ones that I pollinated.

There are lots more flower buds.  Cool weather ahead may limit bearing, but at the moment i'm very happy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Late Summer Planting Perennial Seeds. 8.21.26

These are perennals for next year if they grow.  I bought seeds for Echinacea - both the wildflower species and the hybrid "Warm summer".  The hybrid had all of 10 seeds in the packet, but I don't need more than that anyway.  There is also hybrid  Lychnis, unnamed Rudbeckia species, Asclepias tuberosa, and a hybrid perennial hibiscus.

I could have planted these in the garden row, but containers give me something to putter with, and I don't have to decide whether germinating seedlings are weeds vs. ornamentals.   The seedling medium is old but hopefully sterile.

Most of these should germinate in 2 to 4 weeks.  It's warm to hot outside, so not using a warming mat.

First Grapes. Some Flowers. 8.10.16

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Okra. 8.21.16

So far, so good. We had the first 2 pods for supper today, in a stir fry with tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions, and mixed into scrambled eggs.  All of those ingredients home grown.  Nice feeling.

This variety is Star of David.  They are a fat pod type, not long and narrow.  I think the hand pollinating is helping, as well as the hot weather the past week - several days above 100 F.

Progress Report. Grafted Gingko biloba trees. 8.21.16

Grafted Ginkgo biloba.  Whip/tongue graft at about 6 Months.  8.21.16
This Spring, I did whip-and-tongue grafts on Ginkgo biloba seedlings.  The scion was my male ginkgo tree from my Dad.  The rootstocks were seedlings that I germinated and grew from seeds collected in Vancouver WA in 2013.

Of the 3 attempts, two took.  Not dramatic.  I've noticed that ginkgos just make a tuft of leaves if the tree is moved or disturbed, then the following year make a dramatic burst of growth.  These just have a tuft of leaves.  I'm hoping for a burst of growth next year.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Walking Around. 8.18.16

Single French marigold selected for seed saving.  8.18.16
Walking around,  but not a lot.  Temps above 100 F by afternoon.  I can handle the am cooler temps, but not the afternoon.
Photos are via I-pad, I didn't have camera card for the better camera today.

Some of the marigold seeds, saved from last year's double flowers, grew out with single flowers.  I've decided I like these better, and want to save them as my own little landrace.  These have a rich, brick-red appearance, with yellow edges.  I don't think they are the same as the Burpee "Cottage Red" variety, which is much redder in photos.  I do have seeds of that variety to grow next year, and signet marigolds, both of which will be kept separate from these singles. There are doubles and oranges nearby, so it may take another year or two to isolate these as my own strain.

Four O'clocks are holding up well to the summer heat.  Some came up from the same roots, for the 3rd year.  They have not been invasive.  My intention is to save seeds from the traditional reds and yelows.
Yellow and red Four O'clocks selected for seed saving.  8.18.16

Seedling rows, Evergreen Bunching Onion and species Echinacea.  8.18.16
 Corn turned out to protect sunflowers from deer, once they grew too big for rabbit tastes.

I planted echinacea seeds a few weeks ago.  These are not a modern hybrid, just bought seed packet labeled "Echinacea Purple Coneflower".  They have germinated.  Rudbeckia seeds have not germinated yet.  Rudbeckia, grown from seeds this Spring, did grow nicely and are blooming.  There are annual and perennial Rudbeckia, and I don't trust the labeling, but maybe these will come back next year.

Sunflower.  8.18.16
Missouri  primrose, Oenothera missouriensis.  8.18.16
Missouri primrose, growing wild.  Very dry tolerant,  and grows in soil that supports almost nothing else.  Maybe I will dig a plant for the perennial border.  Bees don't seem interested in them.

Evergreen bunching onions are doing OK with the heat.  They look delicate but I think they are tough.   They are just a few weeks from planting the seeds.

Rudbeckia, first year from seeds.  8.18.16

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Kitchen Garden Update. 8.15.16

Peppers.  8.17.16
 Kitchen garden is at an in-between stage. 

Sweet corn is midway through the multiple plantings.  I have finished off the first to patches, 3 or 4 to go.

Tomatoes aren't as productive this year but we are getting a few every day.

The peppers recovered from what I think was planting too early in Spring.  They are lush and green and loaded with peppers.
Collards.  8.17.16

Red Stem Scallion Starts.  8.17.16
Okra Flower.  8.17.16
The okra plants are lush and vigorous.  I think the shorter row is Baby Bubba Hybrid, a more compact variety.  The taller ones were mixed, but I think most of the plants are the variety "Star Of David".  The first few okra flowers fell off without producing pods.  Maybe due to cool nights.  Maybe they didn't pollenize.  Yesterday I pollinated a few okra flowers.  The Pistol is dark brown, and the pollen is bright yellow.  It's easy to see the pollen on the pistol after I transfer it.  I hope that helps.
Lettuce, Cilantro, and Evergreen Bunching Onion Seedlings.  8.17.16

Peppers.  8.17.16
 I found a bunch of dried out scallions in a container garden.  These were grown from seeds in 2015, and the remaining plants abandoned due to lack of interest at the time.  They stayed alive despite no watering all summer.  I separated the plants and re-planted in the Battleground kitchen garden, 3 separate areas due to no room for all in one row.  They look droopy, but with a few sturdy green leaves.  I don't know what they will do, but no harm in planting them.

Summer-planted seeds have all germinated and all growing great.  We got a crop of radishes and a crop of salad greens.  More to come.  The turnips, Chinese radishes, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, and broccoli plants all show promise.  Definitely worthwhile project.

Fall Kitchen Garden Seedlings.  8.17.16

Turnips.  About One Month.  8.17.16
Red Stem Scallion Starts.  8.17.16

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kitchen Garden. 8.10.16

Harvested the test of the Bartlet-type pears.  A few were fully ripe.  The rest went into the fridge for controlled ripening.

There were some extra second mini-ears on the Trinity corn.  These were small but still just as good.    Second sweet corn  batch ripening now.  Picked the first of those today.

Some more fresh food from the garden.  I want to make tamales with the red bell peppers.  The beefsteak tomato is the first of those this year.

Hamese Asian pears.  These are the first of my Asian pears to ripen.  Fresh and juicy.

Summerred apple.  There were 3 of these, a summer apple.  Quite delicious, spicy flavor - sort of like cardamon, I think.

Summerred apple, beautiful white flesh, with some of the red color of tne skin soaking into the white flesh.  Pretty as well as tasty.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Final Seeds to plant in summer for Fall Kitchen Garden. 8.2.16

More seeds to plant now for fall kitchen garden.  8.2.16
This idea of planting is summer for a fall crop is foreign to me, but the state ag station says we can do it with some crops.  It might be a little too late for some and a little too early for others, but all we can do is try.

Today I stopped by a local nursery to see if there were seeds for Chinese cabbage, and also bought seeds for red carrots - should look nice in zucchini bread, Daikon, and Bok Choy.

With the storage onions and all of the potatoes now dug up, there is a garden patch with room for all of these and then some.  I also planted a few more Chinese radishes, Salad radishes, bunching onions, rudbeckia, and echinacea.  Herbivore control might be an issue - not a sheltered bed - but maybe I can get in a low fence soon. 

My Pear Ripening Experiment. 7.28.16

Mixed Pear Varieties Off the Tree.  7.28.16
This year I had the mental where-with-all to see if I can pick pears at the ripe time.

European pears are easy to grow but I find it difficult to judge when to ripen them.  If picked too soon, they are hard, sour, and flavorless.  If picked too late, they rot from the inside out.

The reason is that European pear ripening is a multi-step process.  Left on the tree, they ripen from the inside out.

I've researched multiple websites.  They are not all in agreement regarding the proper timing of picking, and the follow up process, but there are similarities and some trends.

According to Oregon State University Extension Service, a pear is ready to pick when  they" detach when "tilted" to a horizontal position from their usual vertical hanging position."  Following picking, pears should be refrigerated.  The authors note, "Bartlett pears need to be cooled only for a day or two, and winter pears such as Anjou, Bosc and Comice require 2 to 6 weeks for optimal effect"  So you need to know what variety you have, in order to choose chilling time.  However, it might be OK to ripen Barlets for 2 to 6 weeks if the variety is not known.   After the chill period is completed,  pears should be ripened "at 65 to 75 degrees F for the following times: Bartlett, 4 to 5 days, Bosc and Comice, 5 to 7 days; and Anjou, 7 to 10 days. The longer the time the pears have spent in cold storage, the shorter the time to ripen them".

Ethylene gas is involved in the ripening process.  Bananas and apples produce ethylene gas, so to speed ripening, place the pear into a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple.  I did that with persimmons, to good effect.  Stark Brothers recommends using a banana or apple to ripen a pear.

Colorado gives other ideas about when pears are ready to pick.  "disregard the red blush on varieties that develop it such as D’Anjou.... The ground color of the pear skin will change to more closely resemble the mature pear of that variety. With Bartlett and D’Anjou and other yellow pear varieties, skin becomes a lighter green."

University of Georgia comments that the lenticels of unready pears are white, but when they are ready to pick they become brown.  The link states, "One measure of maturity are the fruit lenticels. These are the small “dots” or indentations on the fruit’s skin. Lenticels of immature pears are white; however, as cork cells develop the lenticels become brown and shallow. The brown in the lenticels is a good indication that the fruit is ready to be picked and will ripen without shriveling. Color between the lenticels also becomes lighter green than at the lenticels."

I will see if I get it right this year.  I am picking pears if they fall off when moved to horizontal position.  A lot of them are doing that now.  Then they go into the fridge for 2 to 4 weeks, then ripen on counter or in a paper bag with apple or banana.  We'll see what happens.

Kitchen Garden Harvest. Something to do with Collard Greens. 8.2Some of the in.16

Kitchen Garden Harvest.  8.2.16
 Kitchen Garden is making me happy.  Collards, Zucchinis, Eggs, Onions, Sungold Tomatoes, Toka Plums (a few), Trinity Sweet Corn, Lattarula Figs.  I cant ask for bettter.  Much of my food, 3 meals a day, comes from the summer kitchen garden.

I also dug up about 40 pounds of Idaho Russet Potatoes.  They should last 2 or 3 months, I imagine.  Most are not the huge size or odd shapes in the photo.
A few of the Idaho Russet Potatoes.  8.2.16

Collard Green Ribbons, Stir Fried with Onion and Topped with Egg.  8.3.16
Sometimes I grow things, then I don't know what I will do with them.  This collard green dish was from mempory of a spinach recipe I ate somewhere.  Very easy.

Cut out the midrib of the big collard green leaf.

Roll up the leaf, then use serrated knife to cut into strips around 1/4 inch wide, sort of like green leafy fettucini.

Combine with 1/4 medium chopped onion and stir fry in olive oil until tender and the onions are slightly brown. 

Mix in some soy sauce.

Fry egg in the hot skillet sunny side up.  I like to add some water and put on lid, to steam the top of the egg.

Then dust with pepper and add Sriracha sauce.

This was very good.  I have lots of collards now, so will need this and other ways to prepare them.