Friday, March 1, 2013

Garden Update March 1st 2013

I'm 2 weeks behind getting February's garden update, but here it is.
The weather has been extremely windy and cold, so I have not spent time in the garden this last month, besides some quick watering.

Anyways, there is LOTS to tell.

I finally harvested my first head of ruby perfection cabbage. There are still many more growing in the garden. I couldnt wait any longer so I picked a head out that was a pretty good size.

The leaves are all chewed up, but the bugs left the actual head of cabbage alone.

And there is still lots more! This is plot #2. The cabbage was transplanted here from some seedlings I bought at Walmart at the end of October. So it took roughly 4 months for the heads to get big enough to start harvesting.

So...what do I do with all this red cabbage? I never grew up eating cabbage so I'm not sure what to make with it. I found a recipe to marinate it in some red wine vinegar, sugar, shredded carrot, and orange juice. It was like coleslaw without all the mayonnaise. I loved it! It was sweet, crunchy, and tangy. Then I decided to saute some with sausage, since cabbage and sausage go together so well.

And I loved the flavor of the tangy cabbage and the fatty/savory sausage. very good combination. If you have any good red cabbage recipes for me to try please leave comments. I still have lots of red cabbage to figure out what to do with it.

Below is some Bloomsdale long standing spinach that I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  These were sowed January 17th and they are ready to start harvesting some of the bigger leaves.

I love this spinach variety. The leaf shape was normal. I'm comparing this to the Salad Select spinach variety that I got from Burpee which is so ugly. I have like 6 of these Salad Select spinach that was sowed Oct 21st 2012, and they all have the ugliest leaf formation. Look at them below. I dont even want to eat them.

Compare leaf shape below:

On the left is the Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach, and on the right is the Salad Select spinach. Huge difference. And the Salad Select leaves are thicker than what I would like to have for spinach, especially since I eat it raw in salads. The Bloomsdale Longstanding is a heirloom variety and it looks perfect.

Also I noted that the Salad Select was sowed Oct 21st 2012, and I noted on Dec 3rd they were still too small to harvest. That is like 43 days, and it was still not ready to harvest. Whereas the Blooomsdale Longstanding was sowed Jan 17th and today, March 1st, also 43 days, and they are ready to start eating. It has been debated that a lot of the hybrid types of vegetables that are supposedly bred to grow faster and have more yields, actually dont do that great compared to heirloom original varieties. Just saying....

Below is Red Romaine lettuce from baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, sowed Jan 17th 2013. This is in my plot #3 which is the first plot being converted to the square foot garden technique (thus the strings you see in the photo marking each square).  Wow they look very beautiful. I cant wait to eat them.

The image below shows the tops of some Muscade carrots I sowed January 17th 2013. These seeds were given to me by Logrus9 in the idig forum. I am so excited to try these out. They are supposed to tolerate hotter weather than other carrots. They are doing very well so far. I expect them to be ready for harvest March 28th.... we will see. I also sowed other carrot varieties such as Chantenay, Danvers Half Long, and Amarillo.

This is Swiss Chard Neon Lights mix from Burpee. For some reason all the plants are the same red color instead of being all different colors... All in all, not too happy with my Burpee brand seeds. I had problems with the spinach, and the swiss chard was not a mix of colors. I have like 8 of these pants I grew from seed sowed back in October. Anyways, they are monstrous in size and they look very beautiful. Except one thing....I dont like the taste of it and I have no idea how to cook them. Parents, please introduce your children to a wide variety of vegetables. Its not that it tasted bad, its just I dunno, foreign to me. It tastes like a stronger spinach flavor and its more juicy. Anyways, I donated it to the other gardeners.

Below is my super sweet 100 tomatoes that were planted here back in October I think. They took forever to really start growing. Maybe because of the cold weather. Now it has warmed up significantly and they have taken off. I have 2 of them and they are about 4 foot tall now, and are full of buds. I'm holding the first one that ripped enough. They taste wonderful! Very juicy, tangy, and sweet. I cant wait to get more. They are supposed to form a huge cluster, kind of like grapes, but full of cherry sized tomatoes. I hope they get that big.

This is an over view size of plot #2 sowed between September-October of 2013.  On the left is are the super sweet 100 tomatoes. I give this plot 1 more month to finish maturing the red cabbage and then its time to pull everything out except for the tomatoes and plant for late spring and summer.
Oh and those yellow flowers towards the right is the broccoli which went to flower. It looks pretty and the bees are crazy for them so I will just leave them in place.

I did harvest a huge load of broccoli, as shown in the picture. I cut the main heads off both my Packman and Majors hybrid broccoli and they both produced a ton of large side shoots. The Packman variety definitely produced heads earlier than the Majors hybrid, but the heads were looser in shape instead of very close packed buds like we see in the grocery store. Majors had the nice tight bud formation but took longer to form the broccoli heads. Overall, once you cut the main head off both varieties they both produced lots of side shoots. I cut the main head off the Majors hybrids at the end of December, so 2 months later it was full of heads and side shoots again.

 Also, we decided to plant Amish cantaloupe which I got the seed from a Texas gardener, Ananas D'Amerique A Chair Vert melons, which I got from Baker Creek, and Canary melons I got from Logrus9 next to our chicken coop. We always plant some type of vineing squash to grow over the coop and provide shade for the chickens. This year we planted these melons instead. We hope they will produce a lot so all the gardeners can have some. I'm glad they were planted here so now I have more space in my own plots for other things. Melon and watermelon are my favorite fruit so I cant wait to try all these varieties.

Now we move over to plot #1, which is basically done and needs to be totally pulled out and re planted. I will leave the flowers and herbs though.

I'm holding some Fernleaf Dill which I got from Burpee in the hopes it would help attract butterflies. Dill is a herb I'm not used to cooking with either, so I gotta learn some recipes for that too. Behind the dill is the Kale from last year, variety unknown. Its been growing like crazy now that the weather has warmed up.

The white and purple flowers is alyssum. They were planted last fall, bloomed like crazy, and then looked awful mid December. So I cut them down to remove all the spent blooms and they have re-bloomed again! I couldn't believe it considering alyssum is an annual and I expected they would die over the winter. They smell like honey. I'm touching the leaves of some German Chamomile which I direct sowed in October from seed I got from Burpee. It has been 131 days since they were sowed, and the packet says they are ready for harvest at 120 days. I assume it means the flowers will be ready for harvest, since that is what is harvested from this plant. So far no signs of flowers. Maybe the cold winter weather slowed the plant down a bit.

This is Burpee's Jewel Mix Nasturtium. They are really pretty and interesting plants. The flowers and leaves are edible. It has a mild peppery taste to them.

This was my first attempt at growing carrots. This is the Chantenay variety which I bought at the dollar store from the American Seed company. Anyways, they were sowed September 23rd 2012!!! They barely grew, maybe because this plot has quite a bit of shade. I was told to look at the base of the carrot and once they get 1inch diameter its time to pull them. If they stay in any longer the roots get tough and woody. So I finally decided to pull them out. Its been 5 months! They were extremely small. I know it had to be the lack of sun, because the carrots I just sowed January 17th are growing vigorously in a plot with much more sun.

I also keep harvesting Bibb aka Limestone lettuce. I just pull up the whole heads. I really like this variety. Its mild in flavor and very crispy.

When I harvest things from my garden I let it sit in some water with white vinegar to clean and disinfect the vegetables.  I dont use any chemicals or pesticides on the vegetables, besides fertilizer. So they are very clean, but I still like to clean them. I let them soak for a few minutes and then use a salad spinner to get all the excess water off. Then I store them n the fridge.

This has been a huge post, but there is still more. Now is my apartment garden which I constructed out of storage bins. Since I now have the community garden, I transferred all vegetable plants to that garden. My apartment garden will be for flowers only.

Below are some tulips and gladiolus bulbs! The tulips were planted at the end of November and are coming up. They are a mixture of blue and purple hues, and a pastel mix. The gladiolus are a big mix of colors which were planted 2 weeks ago and are all ready sprouting.

This pot has lots of cilantro, lemon grass, rosemary, and Queen Red Lime zinnias. Plus I think I sprinkled in some snapdragon and marigold seeds it it randomly.

This one has celery growing last the bottom right. This was celery I bought in the grocery store. I didn't use it up quickly enough so I planted the bottom stub into this pot a few months back and its re-growing! You can do this with lots of produce from the grocery store including lettuces and green onions.

Here are some more tulips and Queen red Lime zinnias. I'm so excited for these zinnias. It was very hard for me to get these seeds. They were sold out everywhere, including online. I got them from Burpee. They are the only variety of zinnia that I will grow at my apartment because I want to save the seeds and I didn't want them to cross with other zinnias.

This is a seed tray full of stuff. There are marigolds and snap dragons for our community garden plant sale, or to plant in that garden. And there is some European Mesclun mix that I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which I will plant in plot #1.

I'm just waiting for the weather to warm up enough so I'm not suffering out in the cold trying to tend my garden. I really hate the cold. I'm hoping by mid March it will be warm enough that I can completely dig out everything in plots #1 and #2 to restart them in the square foot garden way, and plant a bunch of seeds that i still have. Anyways, thats finally it for now.

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