November 22, 2011

Hard Freezes and Over Wintering Lettuce and Fava Broad Beans

Grand Rapids and Cimmaron volunteer lettuces.
We have had two hard freezes in our area last week with the temperature getting down to the low 20's Fahrenheit. The volunteer melons, beans, and tomatoes have bit the dust but the volunteer lettuces of the Grand Rapids and Cimmaron varieties are still going strong and are filling their bed out nicely. It has been raining a lot lately and the weather has warmed to the 50's and 60's during the day. Which means the plants that love the cool weather are growing quickly in the grey wet wintry days.

Broad Windsor fava bean plant.
The Broad Windsor fava beans are growing beautifully. They are already 6-8 inches tall with most of them branching out and forming multiple stems. The fava bean plants should end up 3 feet tall at their tallest. I enjoy seeing the garden covered in fall leaves. It reminds me that despite the cold dreariness of winter that things can still grow and flourish in the cold earth.

Freshly tilled ground with mulch spread over top.
New ground has been tilled. We have extended the garden by more than twice its length and spread mulch over the surface which should break down over the winter months and then will be rototilled in for spring planting. I plan on storing and saving a lot more food by either canning or freezing the surplus. Most of my neighbors in Idaho tried to preserve at least 4 years worth of food by canning, freezing, and drying. My main food crops will be tomatoes for sauce and salsa, green beans, corn, dried beans, summer and winter squash, and peppers.

I have not been able to grow large amounts of cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, or summer squash in western Kentucky. The heat and humid may play a part, but truth be told I have never seen so many insects in my life as they have in this area. The stem borers, Japanese beetles, and squash bugs can be just awful. This year I am going to try interplanting marigold flowers, nasturtium, dill, basil, and cilantro in hopes of deterring the insect pests from the vegetables.

Tomatoes, okra, peppers, green beans, and sweet potatoes do simply wonderfully in this climate. Japanese beetles do seem to love the okra and green beans and end up consuming a great deal of the plants foliage, but the plants always seem to pull through and produce in large quantities. I have heard of people pickling, canning and drying okra. Now, the idea of drying okra is somewhat alluring but the high humidity in this area curtails some of my enthusiasm. Hmmm.

No comments: