Monthly Archives: July 2012

What’s Growing in the Garden

With the gorgeous weather the last couple of weeks, the garden has been growing great. Here is a bit of an update as to its progress. I am trying a new picture method this week, quality isn’t as good as I am used to.

The second round of cucumbers are getting ready to start fruiting. The first round was decimated by a late cold burst early this growing season.

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The three varieties of tomato plants are starting to put on tomatoes. Even the two plants that had a time with blight are doing well. Here is one of the other varieties.

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The green beans are starting to grow up and up. They are even starting to mingle with the tomato plants.

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The carrots are also growing nicely. I planted more seeds for a fall crop, but they may have been eaten by our feathered friends, being I’ve seen no germination from those. Note to self – replant for winter harvest!

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At the last minute I also planted some squash for this winter, just a couple of seeds apiece. Those seedlings are coming up and starting to form true leaves.

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I have also been picking some lettuce these last couple of weeks for dinners. The Territorial Seed Pom Pom lettuce is a sweet crispy lettuce that is slow to bolt unlike the spinach I planted.

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Last week, I harvested one of the varieties of potato, the Yukon Gold, empty space seen in back of this picture. These potato plants are a Russian fingerling variety, and will be harvested here shortly and put into storage!

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And the apple tree – looking good! Each of these apples are about 2″ in diameter, and hopefully will be mature by fall.

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How’s the gardening going at your home? Let us know in the comments below! Enjoy the weather this week, should be delightful!!

Root Cellaring – Part II

In the previous post about root cellaring, I only briefly touched on many of the topics involved with root cellars.

Some other considerations to take into account is your local climate. Are you near the sound and without many snow covered days, or are you further toward the mountains and have intermittent frozen precipitation events (snow)?

If you are closer to the Puget Sound, you will find that many of our root crops (potatoes and carrots) will last far into the winter, and maybe even spring without leaving the garden beds. I was still pulling carrots last winter after the January storm. This just spring I saw some potato sprouts coming up where the potatoes were last year and I dug those up, they were still very firm and edible. They were delicious in fact!

If you are further towards the mountains you may have a hard time getting your harvest out of the frozen ground in mid-January, but if you were to cover those potatoes and carrots with straw, you would be able to pull that straw back and have pull-able carrots and potatoes.

Other options for cool storage is your garage (unless its a heated garage). I stored all of our harvested potatoes in the garage last year between two burlap bags. They were used coffee bags I found at the Towne Center Ace Hardware in Lake Forest Park. There are other locations listed here. The potatoes started to sprout throughout the winter, but taking off the eyes as they grow will extend the storage of the potatoes.

I have seen carrots put away for cool storage by placing the carrots, without the tops, in cool damp sand, sawdust, or coconut fiber. Potatoes do not need a damp covering material for storage, mine did just fine under the burlap sack and in the garage.

As with all storage foods, checking on them periodically to remove perishing crops. These recommendations apply to both a traditional root cellar and making do with what you have available. Will you be storing some of your fall harvest for winter eating? It would be well worth it, I promise you.

Root Cellaring

This weekend I harvested my Yukon Gold potatoes and saw the apples on the tree growing bigger and bigger. All this growth got me thinking about root cellaring. Root cellars are typically underground storage areas for crops throughout the winter months. Potatoes, carrots, apples, cabbages, and even tomatoes can be stored in a root cellar over the winter to extend your fresh foods onto the cold unproductive months.

Historically, root cellars have been under the house or cut into a hillside. Both of these have the ability to keep the contents cool and dark for months at a time. Now root cellars have grown out of style with the advent of refrigeration units and the grocery store. Why store your food if you can go buy it when you need it?

Many people now would like to exercise their food independence, know where there food comes from, or just know that they have extra. These are all excellent reasons to have a root cellar.

The drawbacks are that if you do not have a cellar or a hillside storage area you may wonder where to store the extras. Some advocate using a cool dark closet in your house. This many times is too warm to be effective. The ideal temperature for a root cellar is between 32 and 40 degrees.

I am thinking of trying to create a root cellar from a new metal garbage can. When I do I will post the how to here.

Do you have a root cellar? What do you store in there? Do you want to share pictures?

An Interesting Book

I have found an interesting book.The book is called Folks, this ain’t normal, by Joel Salatin. Joel is a multi-generational farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He raises multiple different species including cattle, pigs, chickens, and rabbits. He owns a farm that produces for many of his local restaurants, including two local Chipotles.

This book is quite interesting as he has broken down many of the things we as Americans do on a regular basis that just isn’t normal food wise. He talks about packaging, chicken nuggets and the loss of cooking skills in America, among the many.

At the end of each chapter, Joel sets out between 5 & 10 items that you can do to negate the problems outlined in that specific chapter. Many of this things are easy and straight forward actions that are easily accomplished and easily held onto as habits.

I am only about a third through the book, but I think the book has a very insightful view of how America has changed and how we can get it back.

What books have you read lately? Have they changed your outlook?

Uninvited Guests

Last week, right before leaving town, I set up the garden to survive the heat. I cleaned up the weeds that had grown, and checked out the overall health of all the plants. That was when I found the uninvited guests.

I found imported cabbageworms and their offspring on the Brassicas in the garden. The broccoli, kale, and brussell sprouts all had some sign of the pests. I also found aphid swarms. Aphids are good news, they mean that your garden is healthy!

Here is are two photos of the cabbageworm, and below a video of the aphids.

They are interesting to watch, but they are still pests. I picked out the cabbageworms, and sprayed the aphids with insecticidal soap. They are hopefully gone now!

What pests have you had?

Almanac Predictions – July 2012

Well July is here, wow that was fast! Here are the almanac predictions for the month of July.

The average temperatures should be between 63 and 68 degrees, slightly below normal. Precipitation should be near normal.

So, with June being over, how did the predictions pan out? Well June was supposed to be near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation. The average temperature for the month was just under 60 degrees, right about where predicted. The precipitation is another story. We received above average amounts of precipitation, breaking records in some places.

So with this, will you keep looking to the almanac?