Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Harvests and Growing Greens

Rhubarb is a perennial and one of the earliest spring harvests.  Beautiful red stocks. I'll be making a rhubarb sauce and freezing it.  It's so delicious on pancakes, crepes, waffles, ice cream or in yogurt.

Perennial herbs are wonderful to have in the yard or garden.  This is oregano, lemon balm, and winter savory.  I'll be drying oregano and infusing it in cooking oil.  You can never use enough oregano.

Purple and Brisk Green Pac Choi.  Great for stir fries
 I started the pac choi indoors and planted it out early under a low tunnel.  I start a few each week to have a continuous supply for a good stir fry each week. They are cool season so get them in by mid May then replant in late summer for a fall harvest.  These are a type of cabbage and extremely easy to grow. They mature quickly and have few pest problems.  They can be started indoors or direct seeded outside.  To harvest pull entire plant.  Chop stems and leaves for stir fries. They have a very mild flavor.  There are green and purple varieties also baby pac choi which are cute little cabbages with an even faster maturity rate.

From front to back:  Bronze arrowhead (one of my favorities) Rossa Di Trento, and Mascara

Tenderheart Chinese Cabbage.  A fast growing, easy cabbage. Great for stir fries or cole slaws

One of my favorite lettuces. Reputed to be absolutely the darkest red lettuce in existence, which should make it tops for anthocyanin ...  Pick outer leaves.  Mix with green lettuce and it is a beautiful salad.  

Growing Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the few seeds that needs light to germinate.  I like to start mine indoors.  You can direct seed in the garden; however, seeds tend to float where you don't want them.  To start indoors use a seedling mix and sprinkle a couple seeds on the surface and brush the surface.  Plant outside into a soil with lots of compost.  They tolerate some shade.  Keep soil evenly moist. Mulch around plants.  They can be planted in shade of taller plants.  I like to succession plant so I have lettuce throughout the season.  You can also grow lettuce indoors in pots during the heat of the summer.  Look for slow bolt varieties.  The heat signals lettuce to go into reproductive mode and produce flowers and seeds this causes chemicals that make lettuce bitter.  Pull up any that bolt.  Saving seeds from lettuce is very easy so look for open pollinated varieties.

Types of Lettuce:

There are 4 types of lettuce:  loose leaf, crisphead, butterhead, and romaine (cos)
Crisphead:  harvest entire head, good varieties include Summertime

Loose leaf:  easiest to grow,  outer leaves can be harvested any time. Cut with scissors or tear off.  Harvest in morning , wash and put in refrigerator in zip loc for a day or two before using.  Can use cut and come again method.  Cut leaving 2” stub which will not harm the growing point and tender, new leaves will grow. Varieties are endless some of my favorites are Mascara and Rossa Di Trento

Oakleaf:  Harvest like a loose leaf. Beautifully lobed.  Adds variety to salads. One of my favorites is Bronze Arrowhead.

Butterhead:  As the name implies harvest the whole head.  This is a tender, delicious, gourmet lettuce.  Pull entire plant up, trim root, wash and put in Ziploc, use soon it does not store as well as loose leaf varieties.  Good Varieties include:  Butter Crunch, Merveille Des Quatre Saisons

Cos (Romaine): A head lettuce very easy to grow.  Good varieties are Little Gem Cos, Parris Island Cos, and Cimmaron Red Romaine.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Organic Fertilizers


  I hope it is helpful.  Just remember fertilizers do not take the place of adding organic matter or compost.  The most important thing you can do in organic gardening is return organic matter to the soil.  I was out yesterday preparing beds. It's exciting to have a deep, rich, loose soil with worms.  I weeded beds, added dry fertilizer, and compost.  I watered the bed and its ready to plant.