Archive for the ‘eat locally’ Category

It’s here, and it’s in full swing. The past month has been kind of like that song on the radio, “you’re hot and you’re cold”. We went from some early March days in shirtsleeves to a couple of weeks of cold-n-rainy, then some nice daytimes with back down the mid-40’s at night. This weekend it’s supposed to get into the mid-80’s. My lettuce is CONFUSED, I tell ya.

Things I’ve been doing, some of which may be things to think about doing in your garden:

Greens, greens, greens!

  • Harvest the first crop of spinach, Catalina Baby, (outer leaves only), and hope I didn’t take too much
  • Plant more spinach, this time a heat-tolerant variety, Oriental Giant (a spinach-alike, really) and a quick to mature type, Nobel 45-day.
  • Harvest rainbow chard, cutting it all way back to some inner leaves. No leaf miners (yet?) this year, for which I’m grateful.

Peas on Earth, Goodwill to Munch!

  • Check on your peas every couple of days– they may need a boost grabbing onto their trellising. I find myself patiently helping them grab the trellis instead of throttling each other. Hmm, sounds like kids!
  • Pick the first few pea stragglers and eat them as snap peas, whether they are conventional or snap peas. Don’t let your pea plant produce full-grown seeds and then think it is done for the season.
  • Dress their roots with a good layer of compost. In addition to keeping the soil moist, this helps keep it cool. Peas with cool feet will produce longer and be less prone to mildew.
  • Now that the weather is getting hotter, make sure that you don’t spray the pea vines themselves when watering if you can help it, and when you water, do so with plenty of time to dry out before the heat of the day. Once mildew takes hold, it can spread pretty quick.

Strawberry Fields (and Containers) Forever

  • Strawberries are flowering now; have you fertilized them since tucking them in for fall? This is a really good time. If you wait until the first crop of berries is ready, they may need a long break to absorb nutrients before putting out lots of replacement flowers.
  • Mine are everbearing, which produce a berry here and there all summer, but if yours are June-bearing, it’s doubly important to fertilize as soon as they start greening up and forming flower buds. You’re only getting the one shot with the berry crop!
  • Before you fertilize, especially if you’re using compost, carefully pull out all the winter-killed foliage. You don’t want rotting vegetation under that compost– the crowns need to breathe and get good air circulation. This will help prevent fungus problems.
  • Be careful what you are pulling on, and either snip out the old foliage at the stem, or grab only a stem or two at a time and give a quick sharp yank. It’s too easy to pull out the crowns!
  • If your strawberries are in a container, like mine, check the crowns. The soil levels drop as organic matter is used up, and you may have little strawberry castles raised up 2 or 3 inches above the soil. Fill in with enriched potting soil, or regular potting soil mixed 50% with compost. Be careful not to cover the crowns themselves– err on the side of caution, because if you cover them, you are very very likely to have fungus or mildew problems.
  • Container strawberries are sensitive to minerals, too– be sure to sprinkle some greensand and bone meal or eggshell into your containers annually. Now is fine, it’s not too late at all.

Gracious, where did the time go? I guess I’ve been a bit busy in the garden lately. We haven’t even talked about the runner bean seedlings, the tomatoes and peppers, and the squashes. Next time!


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I’ll try to follow up with pictures.

Cilantro is going strong, all over the place. Batavian Nevada, which I’m starting to suspect is merely a fancy name for Black-Seeded Simpson, ditto. Some Merlot and Cimmaron Romaine have come up in the beds, but most are outside the beds. I’m letting them keep going, but have pointed them out to Mike as “take these first”. I think I should start another patch of the romaines. The hard rain either washed away or buried too deeply most of the first set.

The favas are about 2 feet tall, and the some of the beets I put in behind and between them are just showing a pair of seed-leaves.

Two square-foot areas of Baby Catalina Spinach are coming up– one almostly completely, the other lagging severely. Cascadia snap peas on one trellis are about 2.5 feet tall and starting to climb– the volunteer peas I mentioned in my December update turned out to be Sweet Peas, not edible peas.

I planted a batch of either Cascadia or Alaska (curse my “I’ll remember, no need to label” mentality) at the foot of one of the carport posts, and they germinated 100% and are about a 6 inches tall. I need to get them onto wire or string asap, and didn’t get to the hardware store for a trellis this weekend.

The little pak choi mostly didn’t emerge, so I resowed and have a half dozen tiny seed-leaves showing. This afternoon, Mike and I dibbled a long, long row of onion sets, half yellow and half red, along the little front decorative fence. I put a set of shallots in the corner, and am figuring out where to put the other set.

A broccoli has come up in the square planter, let’s see if it thrives. The Bright Lights chard is still with us, but hasn’t taken off yet, is only about thumb-size. Something feathery is up and tall in the back corner, but I can’t tell yet if it’s a bronto carrot or a small fennel; there are several of them.

Oh, and I dug out my seedling heat mats, and picked up (lazy this year!) a bag of potting soil. Usually I make my own, ain’t gonna happen with my current work schedule. Time to start tomatoes and peppers indoors. Maybe time past, but at least I’m starting now. 😉

Much, much, MUCH weeding done this weekend, and a little earlier in the week– the soil is so saturated that even Nasty Things with Taproots are coming out nicely. My problem children, aka the bunchgrass, come out in big clumps, and the stitchgrass in patches like sod. All into the compost pile!

Some of my mystery flowers are coming up, too– there are definitely poppies, and there may have been some earlier that I mistook for dandelion-ish weeds (wups). Something reddish-greenish that looks almost like a zinnia is coming up in 3 places– I think it might ge the clarkia, which I’ve not grown previously. And some cute little exuberant green bursts of teensy leaves, which I weeded out in a few spots in the main bed are also showing up in my flower planter. Wups. I wonder what those are. I will leave alone any more that show up outside of the planter.

Cornflowers coming up well in the expected places, and many unexpected ones. Have moved a long line of the out-of-place ones onto the front fence, keeping my fingers crossed that they take. They seem ok so far!

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Welcome, Weekend Herb Blogging readers!

I love going to Farmer’s Markets this time of year. In the summer, not so much, since most of the things there are things I grow myself or don’t get excited about. I’ll pop in for pluots, apricots, and peaches, none of which (alas) I have here, but that’s about it.

In the fall and winter, though, all the folks in the cool coastal areas have been growing their colorful root veggies, yet there are still summer foods from the inland valley farmers, and of course all the marvelous tree fruits.

Some friends of ours who host a social brunch every few months recently had a new baby, and I wanted to put together something special to bring. A fruit and cheese plate of all-local, all-seasonal goodies seemed just perfect!

I started with gorgeous forenschluss (speckled belly) and cimmaron heirloom romaine lettuces from my garden as a plate cover. In the middle, a tasty goat cheese log from either Half Moon Bay or Petaluma (I forget! and the wrapper is long gone!).

Everybody loves pomegranate seeds, but most people hate extracting them from the pomegranate. Plus, they’re spectacular, like mounds of living rubies. Some pomegranate seeds on a cracker with goat cheese is a little slice of heaven, believe me– that tart-sweet burst of flavor, and the creamy richness of the cheese. Yum.

I absolutely adore persimmons, and feel that they’re one of the most under-appreciated fruits in the fall harvest pantheon. Most folks think of the hachiya type, the astringent persimmons that need to get soft, pulpy, and generally scary in texture to be delicious. Try an under-ripe slice of a fuyu type persimmon and your lips won’t unpucker for days. There is an alternative, however– the crisp, sweet, spicy fuyu type persimmon. Rounded, like a flattened tomato, rather than pointy like a pepper, the fuyu persimmon can be gloriously crunched like an apple, or sliced for a fruit plate. No scary texture adventures!

Photo courtesy of freshelectron’s FlickR stream, CC-licensed.

Some feel that the flavor of a fuyu persimmon is not as wonderful as that of the hachiya persimmon. I think there’s something to that– for all-out persimmon intensity, the fuyu are marvelous. Bake the pulp into dark sweet quickbread, flavor a special kugel, or make exotic chutnies with it. Hachiya rocks! But the persimmon which sells itself to food skeptics, nervously turning over a slice in their fingers, is the friendly fuyu.

Finally, as a decorative yet practical touch, the nasturtiums. The hotheads who enjoy wasabi, Chinese mustard, and other sinus-popping fare will welcome a fiery nasturtium leaf on their cracker of goat cheese, or perhaps even wrapped, by itself, around a few pomegranate seeds. The flowers, lovely and spicy-sweet, are a real treat. Gather them first thing in the morning, before it warms up, and you can even beat the ants to them. Do inspect them carefully as you garnish, though!

I don’t rinse the flowers, as we garden naturally and haven’t had to spray soap or pepper for aphids on them this fall. Rinsing can rinse out the nectar reservoir in the back of the flower, which is a big part of why the flower is so awesome to eat. These are from our side yard. They’ve recovered from the August heat, and make a gorgeous cascade along the trellis.

I don’t publish recipes here as often as I’d like, but there’s plenty of action over at My Bay Area Garden!

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