Tag: veggie garden
September 17, 2012
Growing carrots? If so, carrot sawfly may have found your garden. While these flying insects can be great pollinators for your cilantro, their larvae can destroy emerging carrot, fennel, dill, parsley & cilantro crops, and they can do some serious damage to your carrot root crops as well. And, yep we’ve got’m in one bed – dammit!
This pest insect is a hard one to keep off your crops. The adults — tiny flying wasp insects that look more like black ants than true flies — love to feed on everything in the carrot family. And, they look a lot like many other tiny, black wasps. I’m no entomologist, so I won’t even begin to try to tell you exactly what they look like. But, I do know what their larvae’s damage looks like, and in one bed, my carrots had it, so we’ve pulled them and won’t be planting them or their cousins plants in that area again anytime soon. (Actually, we’re planning a big renovation for this area, so stay tuned for updates on that in the months ahead.)
Oh, and yes, we have practiced crop rotation here, but when even one tiny wasp makes its way to the crop, the larvae may thrive. And those wasps are small and sneaky little buggers! (more…)
February 20, 2012
If you haven’t started already, now’s the time to start your vegetable garden. It is also time to be wrapping up any dormant pruning of your edible trees, shrubs and vines. (Think: blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears & the like.)
Buds are beginning to swell and break open. Seeds – including self-seeded weeds – are beginning to emerge from the soil. Birds are beginning to migrate and nest. And, slowly but surely, days are getting longer. And when we’re really lucky, those days are even feeling slightly warmer than just a few weeks ago.
In my own garden, I began seeds for plants like cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, watercress, fava beans, snap peas, mizuna, beets and chard several weeks ago when we had that sunny run of 60F days. I have an unheated greenhouse where they germinated rapidly. In a few days, I’ll be moving several of these from overcrowded sterile mix containers to individual pots where they can grow on a bit more before moving to the garden.
As in years past, this past weekend, I even seeded a few warm season crops (think tomato) in the greenhouse. If they take off, bully for me. If they don’t, I can try again indoors under lights in a few weeks and still have plenty of time to bring them to fruition later this summer. (I also started carrots, chinese cabbage and some flower seeds this past weekend.)
So, if you’ve got onions to place, seeds to sow, soil to test, berries to prune or weeds to pull, there’s no time like this very moment to get out there and get started. Even if your soil is frozen, sowing seeds now indoors or in a protected outdoor spot, will mean your garden will be well on its way by the time the Spring thaw comes. Find ideas for inexpensive season extenders here.
Thinking you need help planning, designing or installing your garden? Pretty sure you need a lesson in how to prune those fruit trees, shrubs and canes properly so you don’t kill them in the process?
Don’t keep waiting. Get in touch now to get your project scheduled and your education underway. If you wait until Spring to reach out for help, you’ll be waiting much longer to get your garden growing!
October 01, 2011
One of the simplest fresh-from-the-garden salads is coleslaw. And right now the main ingredients to this tasty side are abundant in the garden. Until they’re hit with frost damage, cabbages stay lovely and tasty in the garden. And, carrots often taste even better once they’re kissed by chilly temperatures.
So, make it now while picnics are still in season, or make it later when you’re huddled inside on a chilly day. It’ll only take a minute to toss together!
- 1 small to medium head of purple cabbage, cored and shredded into fine pieces
- 4-6 orange carrots, grated with a medium blade
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 T. mayonnaise
- 3 T. cider vinegar
- 1 t. celery seed
- 2 T. prepared horseradish (or to taste)
- dash salt
In a large bowl toss the shredded vegetables until mixed. Set aside.
To make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise & horseradish. When well mixed, whisk in vinegar. Stir in remaining ingredients to combine.
Pour dressing over shredded vegetables and toss to mix well.
If you can wait, this salad tastes better if given an hour or two for the flavors to mingle. But, its also great right from the start, so dig in!
August 29, 2011
I’ve got to take a moment to sing the praises of my new favorite container cucumber – Spacemaster 80. Kinda sounds like the spaceship of cucumbers, right?
When I saw that Irish Eyes Garden seeds had a new compact, organic offering — Spacemaster 80 — I couldn’t resist giving it a try. Purported to produce bitter-free, prolific fruits on determinant plants in 58 days even when planted in containers or in small spaces– I had to try it.
Because we have a cool, wet, short growing season, I decided to grow my cukes in our passive solar greenhouse, in containers this year. I seeded both SpaceMaster and Marketmore, which I’ve grown for several years with consistent results. Both germinated, and both took over the greenhouse, which is dripping with cukes right now.
But, I gotta say: SpaceMaster is sweeter than Marketmore, and the cukes are so pretty. They look like perfect little slightly striped dill pickles. If I had a larger crop, I’d probably try my hand at pickling a batch.
The pros on this crop: grows well in a container, crisp, fast-forming, sweet, thin-skinned, pretty snacking cukes. Best picked young before seeds begin to mature.
The cons: Powdery mildew hits them fast and hard. But, with vigilant cutting out of the infection; the plants will continue to produce for several weeks despite being determinants.
Next year I’ll definitely try these again. They taste better than Marketmore, which also grow well in containers in the greenhouse. And, yes, I’ll probably grow more Marketmores as well. They’re my old reliables, and it looks like their more disease-resistant, indeterminant vines are going to outlast the SpaceMasters, which are coming to the end of their life cycle.
Note to self: Next year try more succession plantings of SpaceMasters. And by that, I mean more successful succession plantings. This year, it took about 3 tries at seeding to get successful starts. Such was the problem with our especially dark, cold, wet growing year in 2011.
August 16, 2011
Last week I wrote about cucumbers and gave readers a tasty salad idea to try. I also mentioned one of my favorite summer cocktails – the cucumber G&T. Reader Tea_Austen commented with an ask for the recipe (as did a few friends via email & social networking connections).
So, when I checked the greenhouse this morning and realized I’ve got about another half dozen to harvest, following the same harvest yesterday, I decided I needed a drink. And figured it was time to share the recipe with my fellow gardeners who are likely pulling in cucumbers by the pound right now too.
I’ll wait ’til happy hour to make my drink, but so you can start planning yours, here’s how to make a simple, tasty Cucumber G&T. As you pour the gin over the cucumber, the alcohol is mildly infused with the vegetable flavors. And, the tonic seems to fizz the gin flavor into the cucumber. A Win:Win in summer tastiness!
If you’re not of legal drinking age, go away. Don’t read this, don’t make this & don’t drink this. If you do try to make it, leave out the gin. Tonic plus cucumber is tasty!
- 2 fingers Gin (Hendricks is my first choice; Sapphire works great too)
- 1/2 fresh cucumber, stem end removed and discarded. Peeled in stripes, leaving some peel intact (if waxed or you don’t like skin, remove it all). Seeds removed, if mature. Sliced into long 1″ wide wedges
- Tonic water (I prefer Hansen’s; the flavor is much sweeter than some other brands. It goes incredibly well with sweet summer cucumber.)
In a “low ball” or “rocks” style glass, add ice about 1/3 full. Insert two cucumber wedges. Pour over two fingers gin. Top with tonic. Swirl. Enjoy!
(Optional: in a muddler add a slice of cucumber and a slice of ginger. Smash with muddler. Add ice, gin & shake. Pour everything into your glass over intact slices of cucumber. Top with tonic. Super tasty, but you gotta be a fan of ginger!)
Let me know what you think!
August 10, 2011
Blossom end rot ruining your ripening tomatoes?
Our tomatoes are beginning to turn color. The cherry varieties began first in tasty yellows, oranges and reds. Then the pastes began to turn, well, a different shade of green….and red…and oh no! Black!
I thought they were ripening. But, upon closer inspection, I realized the color change wasn’t at all good. And, the color change was beginning at the base of the fruit, spreading upwards. Yep, that’s a sure-fire sign of blossom end rot.
And, yes, I get a bit of it each year. Usually, its the paste tomato varieties that seem most susceptible. I’m not sure why, but they do. And, yes, I do grow the same variety — Saucy Paste from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds — each year. And, every year a few of the fruits get end rot. But, not all of them.
This paste variety is a consistent, heavy fruit setter on a semi-determinant plant. That means the plant stays fairly small and tough and still gives a lot of fruit. If one or two off a plant fail, I still get pounds and pounds. The trade off is worth it. Plus, these are tasty & easy to prep for drying, which I do each year.
I monitor them closely and remove any infected fruit early. And, I try keep supplemental calcium in the growing pots. Calcium deficiency can lead to end rot. I find that crumbling a few egg shells into the base of the plant helps. Egg shells can provide a slow release supply of calcium to the plant, and over the last few years of doing this, I’ve found it is sufficient to keep most of the end rot at bay.
And, it recycles those egg shells!
Just watch out — one of our dogs liked to eat the egg shells right out of the pots. She never got sick from it, but the plants needed the shells more than she did!
Having other veggie disease problems and wonder what to do? A few seasonal issues are covered here with suggestions for ways to manage them.