October 25, 2011

Fall Lettuces Self Seeded and Wild Onions

The last row of the garden is taken up by free range lettuces that have self seeded this fall and some wild onions. The lettuces look to be Grand Rapids with its chartreuse leaves and Cimmaron a red romaine. I am going to leave the lettuces and onions where they lie and fill in the bed with a handful of Bloomsdale spinach seeds that I'm pre-sprouting. Let's see how they handle hard freezes and whether they will overwinter.

My soil is predominately good old western Kentucky clay which tends to form a hard crust when dry so it is best to plant the seeds shallow then what is recommended. Amending the soil has helped the clay structure with the addition of organic matter such as leaf mold, grass clippings, rotted manure, and wood ash. This is only my third year gardening in this soil and climate so there is still some experimenting with vegetable varieties and the timing of planting out seeds and plants.

October 24, 2011

Broadcast Seeded Beets and Swiss Chard

The gentle Detroit Red beets.
The stout and tender Swiss chard.
Left: Two rows of sugar snap peas. Right: Double row of broad Windsor fava bean bed.
Left: Broadcast seeded Swiss chard and Beets. Right: Volunteer lettuce and radish.
Detroit Red beets and Swiss chard were broadcast seeded and then lightly raked over 2 weeks ago and are now sprouting beautifully. They still have 4 weeks to fill out and become established before the killing frost is forecasted for the end of November. The area the beets have sprouted is a bit thin so I'll probably fill it in with pre-sprouted Bloomsdale spinach seeds.

I'm currently pre-sprouting Bloomsdale spinach and Sugar Snap peas which seem to have problems germinating and breaking through heavy soil, it's a good way to check germination rates since these seeds are from 2009. Pre-sprouting is simple just wrap the seeds in moist papertowels and rinse with fresh water a couple of times a day until little rootlets appear and then gently plant them out singly in little holes. The seeds come up much quicker this way compared to just planting out seeds and watering the soil, germination rates seem to be higher with this method. This works especially well with eggplants and peppers which are notoriously finicky about sprouting at warm temperatures, just put the moist seeds in a warm place like on top of the refrigerator or near a heater.

Before this I have only gardened in the high desert of Idaho. A beautiful and wild landscape of high mountain pines, and desert valleys with sagebrush and dust storms blowing through. Rough country. Stark and uncompromising. Breeding rough private people who want of wide open vistas and to live the independent life. I miss the mountains. I miss the desert. But really, I miss the mountains the most.

October 23, 2011

Broad Windsor Fava beans and Free Range Radishes

Broad Windsor fava bean sprout.
Two rows of fava beans.
Free range radishes of the Icicle and maybe Cherry Belle types.
Sprouting Sugar Snap peas.
The Windsor fava beans were planted out just a week ago and it looks like we had 100% germination of the two rows. Hopefully the 30 plants will over winter well and produce enough beans for two people in early spring. The leaves and tips of the plants are edible and are said to a spinach slight peppery flavor. The fava bean bed has free range radishes and lettuces that have reseeded themselves and are quickly sizing up in the cool weather of fall.

I am excited since this will be my first time growing fava beans and planting out crops for the fall.

The peas that were planted out 2 weeks ago have sparsely sprouted so I'm pre-sprouting the next batch of Sugar Snap peas before planting them.

October 22, 2011

Planting Fall Vegetables

Delicate pea sprout with its diminutive leaves.
Sugar Snap pea unfurling.
The silent Sugar Snap pea.
Optimistic cantaloup sprout.
Red Noodle yard long bean quickly filling out.
The struggling Cowhorn okra.
Vivacious Celebrity tomato.
The two rows of Sugar Snap Peas have been planted out for 2 weeks now but only a dozen have sprouted. I'm worried that either the birds have gotten to them or the seeds are old and not viable. The garden patch had gone a bit wild with weeds so I went ahead and did a little weeding around the pea netting, maybe the pea sprouts were accidently pulled with the weeds.

A number of free range vegetables have sprouted after rototilling including lettuces, radishes, yard long pole beans, melons, okra, and tomatoes. The soft tender plants such as the beans, melons, okra, and tomatoes should meet their demise soon since the killing frost is forecasted four weeks from now on November 20th.

October 5, 2011

Freshly Tilled Ground

The okra, tomato plants, and cushaw plants have been cut down and tilled under back into the garden. It was a fairly terrible year for the vegetable garden with the flood that delayed planting by 2 months and then the humid 100 degree whether that set in for 3 months with the intermittent 15 degree drops in temperature that quickly climbed back up into the 100's. The vegetables just didn't fair very well in the humidity and the swarms of cucumber and squash beetles seemed to just make them even more susceptible to disease. The tomatoes weren't as flavorful and had thick harder cores and I only had 3 zucchinis ripen and no summer squash from 7 zucchini and squash plants that were planted out. Even the okra which is usually such a winner took forever to start producing.

With this newly tilled garden plot I will plant out rows of Sugar Snap Peas which will be marked by fencing posts and to which nylon trellis netting will be attached. The peas will be planted out with 3 or 4 rows on each side of the netting. They seem to do just fine grown thickly up a trellis.

Two rows of Broad Windsor Fava Beans will be planted in the bed next to the peas. I have never had fava beans before but my husband swears they are delicious. They are supposed to be hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit which is well within the winter survival temperature for my area.