Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays! from Charley and Suzie and me

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Monday, December 11, 2017

winter garden

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My garden is snow covered from an early storm. We got about 5 inches of heavy wet snow yesterday. My winter tunnel collapsed at the ends. I didn't put the top support on. I'll do that soon. I use duct tape and attach a PVC pipe along the top apex of each hoop to keep the hoops from collapsing inward. I'm also missing a hoop at the left end.

I opened up the tunnel today and loved the feel of the warm humid air that escaped. It's great how the sun warms the air through the greenhouse plastic. My tunnel has two layers - one of greenhouse plastic and then another of winter fabric row cover.

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I've been experimenting with different greens in my tunnel. Spinach always does super well. I tried a big row of arugula this year and it's awesome too. Escarole and mustard greens are great. I pick a salad bowl once a week and alternate with store-bought. I have several varieties of lettuce growing. I'm really pleased with my iceberg lettuce Ice Queen. I have 4 heads and looking forward to harvesting a couple for a nice Christmas salad. I think this lettuce would be even better if I had started it a bit earlier and had bigger heads, but the loose outer greens are holding up really well in the cold tunnel.

All of my greens will start growing soon - late January - once the sunlight starts to increase. Nothing's growing now, but my tunnel greens always grow like crazy with increasing sun and then by Feb and March it's full. I pick leaves here and there and am patient until the daylight increases.

winter tunnel lettuce IMG_1196

Friday, November 10, 2017


Charley IMG_7187 Charley follows me everywhere, especially out to the garden. He's a year and 2 months old now. I still call him a puppy since he bounds around and plays all the time. He's curious and nosy. Sniffs and tastes everything in my garden. His favorite is fresh broccoli - any part of the plant. He's very good and has learned where he is allowed to walk and where he can and can't dig. I rarely need to say "Paws off" or "No dig" anymore. He still has those dark black, wide set eyes that look so sweet and serious.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

first frost

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We got a hard frost last night. All my garden plants have a coat of white crystals. It was one month late, almost to the day.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

today's garden work

We are expecting a good freeze tonight - our first - so I spent some time getting ready.

- Picked the rest of the pole beans, 3 lbs (!), and took down the vines and poles (and later made 5 jars of dilly bean pickles)
- Harvested the last of my peppers and pulled the plants
- Picked a couple small winter squash and a big bunch of lettuce
- Set up my winter tunnel over a bed full of greens by covering low hoops with garden fabric and higher hoops with greenhouse plastic
- Covered a small bed of lettuce with garden fabric

Monday, November 06, 2017

today's harvest

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November 6 and I'm STILL picking green beans! These are Kentucky Wonder pole beans.

Friday, November 03, 2017

balmy (hot!) fall

I can't believe it's November 3 and NO FROST yet. This is over 3 weeks later then our average date of Oct 10. It's a very odd season here in the northeast. We're up in the 70's today.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

winter tunnel

My winter tunnel is pretty much full of greens. The lettuce is edible size and I've started thinning it. Spinach and escarole need to grow a bit. But it's ready for winter. When temperatures fall, I'll cover this bed with a layer of plastic and a layer of heavy row cover. Hopefully I'll be able to eat these greens all winter.

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my pantry

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This is my pantry that doubles as a root cellar. I store my jars and vegetables here at a cool room temperature. Vegetables I have here are shell beans, popcorn, coriander, garlic, potatoes, and winter squashes.

I spend a lot of time in the pantry. It has a little work shelf. Also storage shelves with garden books and garden supplies. In the middle are plant shelves with lights that I can wheel around. The room is off the garage, well vented, and has its own temperature control. It's a tight space but it does the job.

Other things I've stored this year are,
Freezer: green beans, basil pesto, roasted chiles, pizza sauce, raspberries, and dried pears
Refrigerator: carrots, beets, cabbage, and winter radishes
Kitchen: dried beans and dried chiles
Boiler room: honey

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

growing Belgian endive

I'm trying something new this year. Belgian endive! I grew it from seed starting mid summer. Last Friday I harvested the roots and now they are curing in the garden under leaves. They'll stay out there a few days or so, then the leaves get chopped off and the roots are stored like carrots - in plastic in the refrigerator. In a few weeks I'll take out one root and plant it. It should take 3 weeks for it to start producing chicons. What an odd thing to do. I can't wait to see how (if?) it works out.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

my best tomatoes this year

I'm almost out of garden tomatoes. Two weeks ago I picked the last of the green ones on my tomato vines. They’ve been gradually ripening indoors. Yesterday I made a batch of sauce, probably my last one after a summer of making nearly a batch a week. I only have a couple tomatoes left :-(

I’ve been thinking about which were my favorite varities this year. For slicing tomatoes, it was an heirloom variety called True Black Brandywine (seeds from Baker Creek). It’s not related to Brandywine and doesn't have that mealy flesh. Its flavor and texture are fantastic and it's beautifully colored - deep purple with green shoulders.

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My best sauce tomatoes were San Marzano and Opalka. San Marzano gave me a huge number of middle sized tomatoes. Opalka had fewer tomatoes but they were enormous and perfect for sauce.

I grew about 20 varieties this year - a couple of each. Next year I'm planning to grow many fewer varieties. Probably slicing tomatoes: True Black Brandywine, Orange Blossom, Pink Beauty, Cherokee Purple, and Mortgage Lifter. Sauce tomatoes: San Marzano and Opalka.

I'd love to hear what tomatoes did best for other gardeners.

no frost yet

I didn't get a frost last week in either of my gardens. My mom's garden frosted and many others around, but no frost yet in my area. And none are in sight for the next week and a half. That means I'll have a VERY late frost this year. At least 3 weeks late. Wow. My plants summer plants have stopped growing anyway, because there isn't enough light for them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


celeriac IMG_0537

It's the first time I've grown a good sized celeriac. This one is softball size. I've never had one bigger than a baseball before. I gave them more space. I guess they like to spread out their roots. I put 3 or 4 in a row - about a foot or so apart. And compost, lots of compost.

frosty night

I'm wondering if my garden got it's first frost last night. I covered some baby lettuces and picked the last of my peppers, eggplants, and popcorn - just in case. My thermometer now says it's 33. Brrr. Once it's light and warms up a little, I'll go down and check.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

pickles, jam, jelly, and sauce

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This is a line-up of all my canning from this fall, so far. From left: tomato sauce, End-of-the-Harvest pickles (Ball book of canning), Daikon and Carrot pickles (Food in Jars), Bread and Butter pickles (Food in Jars), Sandwich pickles (Ball), Apple Sauce (Food in Jars), Raspberry Jam (Ball). And on the top: Apple Preserves and Crabapple jelly (both from the Ball book of canning).

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Thursday, October 05, 2017

today's harvest

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I picked my first ears of popcorn today. The variety is Calico, the same as I grew two years ago. That crop would never pop for me but was very pretty. I'm leaving the ears on the stalk longer this year - until the husk is fully dried. And I'm hoping it will pop.

I also pulled a bunch of shell beans - Black Turtle Soup. I'll hang them til they dry, then shell them. I have a lot more still waiting for harvest.

And I picked all of my pepper that were close to mature. I want to have as many as I can for roasting and freezing tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Charley and my potatoes


I dug a bushel of potatoes this year. Pretty good for me. I had three rows about 6 feet each. Probably 18 plants. I grew only two varieties this year. I dug one row of La Ratte fingerlings early and we've eaten them all already. These are Green Mountain. A great producer, storage, and all purpose cooking. They are delicious baked, fried, or sauteed.  Charley likes them a lot!!

Friday, September 29, 2017

butternut squash portrait

All my butternuts got together for a family portrait. It's been a good year. Eleven big squash from four plants.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

crabapple jelly

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My mom has a crabapple tree that was full of very big crabapples this year. So I picked a basket full. I've never made crabapple jelly before. The apples are really tart (pucker), but the jelly is wonderful. And I love the color. (I used the recipe in Ball Home Preserving pages 107 and 109.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

flowers (and some pollinators) in my garden now - the last of the season

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This collection has 10 different "ornamental" flowers (actually not only ornaments, but valuable companions) and 8 vegetable or herb flowers. These are all in my backyard vegetable garden. The vegetable flowers here are eggplant, pepper, squash, broccoli, carrot, bean, basil, and cucumber.

I was curious to see the carrot flower. Carrots are biennials and bloom their second year. To get the flower, I planted the top of a supermarket carrot in the spring. I won't collect the seeds as I imagine the supermarket carrot is a hybrid.