January 28, 2016

Let the Seed Starting Commence

February promises to be warmer than usual, so sayeth those that dare forecast the weather. Which is surprising since that is usually our coldest month. And March promises to be very spring-ish, so it's time to get seed starting on.

You might wonder about freak frosts and cold snaps. We haven't gotten those since I've moved here, and if there's a warming trend generally it will continue. The year we didn't get a winter I started pepper seeds in late January and people were tilling their gardens in February. Unlike Idaho where they get freak killing freezes after Mother's Day that even killed the potatoes underground, and even farmers had to replant.

I've done some seed ordering online which has finally got my gardening mojo on. So many pretty pretty seeds. They are having a sale at Tradewind Fruit and Seeds and lots of their tomatoes are included in their sale. Woohoo. And lets just say I resisted nothing!

Our little one has been really sick with bronchitis and ear infections since before Christmas. And at the same time the 2 year molars came in. Poor baby... So we've been spending lots of quality time with the Nebulizer doing breathing treatments. The little tyke is really tired of being poked and prodded with thermometers, bulb suctioners, medicines, and tissues. 

Needless to say, gardening and seed starting has been the furthest thing from my mind. So whenever my really really excited friend starts to talk about how many seeds she's got started in her greenhouse I would balk, "Oh man, it's the middle of winter. I am not. Even remotely. There yet."

So here it is, almost February and we're supposed to get 60 degree weather this weekend. By March we should expect temperatures consistently in the 60s. So I shall be starting seeds this weekend, on the list are 6 varieties of Broccoli.

Arcadia (F1)
Gypsy (F1)
Green Magic (F1)

I really really want to start some Brussels sprout seeds but I have no idea when to start or plant them out for this region. Should I start them early so they get the benefit of a nice cool spring? Who knows? Because I surely don't.

January 11, 2016

Harvest Monday, 1/11/16

2 big white radishes on the left, turnips, carrots, and greens.
A big bowl of lettuce.

I'm writing this on Sunday Morning where it is a balmy 17 degrees Fahrenheit outside (-8 Celsius) with 4 inches of snow coloring the landscape.

Yesterday we were predicted to get 2-3 inches of rain, and boy did it rain. By nightfall the rain had turned into hard blowing snow as the temperatures dropped into the teens. Hopefully the vegetables will be protected under the thick blanket of snow. During all that rain I went out and picked a big load of lettuce, turnips, radishes, and a few carrots.

The lettuce will be used as wraps for a batch of banh xeo, a crispy crepe filled with hot shrimp, pork and shredded jicama. My grandma always substituted jicama in banh xeo when she didn't have bean sprouts. Some carrots were pulled for fresh eating, turnips and radishes for soups and stews.

I can see why turnips were such a staple crop in winter, they keep swelling and growing even with low daylight hours. And the variety di Milano a Colletto Viola takes overcrowding very well.

Please join us at Harvest Monday where gardeners share what's happenings in their vegetable gardens.

January 10, 2016

2016 Vegetable Garden Plans

We are planning to rototill the whole yard so we can rake it flat and seed grass in non-garden areas. Then the back yard is going to get a privacy fence. We've been really lucky in terms of animals messing with the garden. We've seen 3 big dogs and numerous cats that hang out in the backyard. The cats were usually hanging out behind the pepper bed (probably hiding from dogs). There's been a few trodden beds and dug up holes but nothing major.

The garden at the old house wasn't fenced either and I caught a dog eating tomatoes, he looked old and hungry so I just left him alone. And there was a wild brown rabbit that was living under the bush bean bed, she was definitely eating well for awhile. That was a great gardening year where the weather was perfect and it was definitely "the year of the tomato". Peppers produced and produced, and some eggplant (aubergine) plants ended up taller than me by August.

We are completely out of salsa, so next year will be a salsa garden. The plan is 40 tomato plants, 20 jalapeno peppers, 5 serrano peppers, and 20 anaheims peppers. Last time I wasn't able to get anaheims nor serranos to germinate so substituted Hungarian Hot Wax and Santa Fe Grande (set your hair on fire hot). If I can get the peppers and tomatoes in the ground by the last week of April, I can plan on canning salsa by the end of July. That'll be early enough to let the peppers set fruit before the heat sets in the peppers start to drop blossoms.

Hot peppers can be tricky to germinate, so they'll needed to be started in February so I can figure out what's not germinating and move on. Once they germinate they get moved under 24 hour lights in my husband's workshop, it's very cold out there so they don't get spindly. And when it gets warm enough they'll spend daylight hours outside.

Asparagus and artichokes will get moved to their permanent bed, so that'll free up a bed for potatoes which will be followed by winter squash. A bed of broccoli will once again be trialled with turnips planted in their under-story like Daphne does and I'll be using BT. Once the bush beans are finished in July, Brussels sprout seedlings will be planted in that bed. Eggplant will share a bed with Borlotti bush beans  for shelly beans, and once the Borlotti beans are done they'll get replaced with a planting of carrots.