Most summer gardens are in full swing by early July; the plants are growing like crazy and the harvest is finally coming in. The days are wonderful….and hot. While summer vegetable crops do love heat, there is only so much they can take. Understanding how heat affects you and your crops will make gardening in the heat more productive. [Read more…]
Rainwater is best for watering your garden, but too much rain is hard on your soil and your plants. I was watching the morning news the other day, and the weatherman said we had rain 15 days out of the last 16. It rained again that day.
My garden is soggy, but most of it is still in pretty good shape. In this article, we'll talk about wet garden solutions, including steps you can take to prevent damage, and what to do after heavy rains hit. Wet weather might slow plants down, but it doesn't have to end your gardening season. [Read more…]
Annette at Sustainable Eats tagged me in a meme that asks participants to share “a day in the slow life”. I have to say, from what I've read so far, most of the “slow life” folks have pretty busy days.
In an effort to get this posted in time for Simple Lives Thursday, I'm going to try to recollect this past Monday. The days sometimes seem to run together. There's always so much I'd like to do, and then there's what can reasonably be accomplished (at least by me, an individual who requires sleep). [Read more…]
What is it? A creature from the deep? Captain Nemo's worst nightmare? Nope – just this year's harvest of parsnips posing as a parsnip squid.
What I love best about parsnips is that they are ready to harvest when very little else is available. I always overwinter my parsnips (i.e., leave them in the ground over winter and harvest them in the spring). The freeze/thaw cycle converts more of their starches to sugars and makes them absolutely delicious. Come late March/early April, the boys and I head out to where we've buried the plants the previous fall under a thick layer of straw. My stepdad swore up and down that the ground wouldn't freeze if you covered it in this much straw, but mine surely did, so we had to wait to dig until the frost was gone. [Read more…]
Now that the bulk of planting is finally done (other than adding a few things later in the season for fall and winter harvest and maybe a few more flowers – you can never have too many flowers), it's time to settle down into regular maintenance. Weeding, mulching, thinning, staking – turn your back for a couple of days and it's amazing how much things can change (and get out of control).
The root veggies planted from seed are coming along nicely, so they need to be thinned out so they are not overcrowded. I've tried planting more thinly, but then it always seem to happen that they don't germinate well for some reason or another and I up up replanting. Thinning is easier for me. My mom never thins, and I didn't when I first started, but the roots grow so much nicer when they have more room. The last few growing seasons have been short on rain, too, so more room equals less stress on the plants.
You can see in the “before” pictures that the carrots are growing in bushy little clumps without much wiggle room between plants. The goal for the first thinning is so have about an inch between them.
Here's the after. Much easier to see individual plants. As they grow, they'll get thinned again, and the small carrots will end up as salad fixings, and the larger carrots will be left for winter storage.
The potatoes are around a foot tall, so they are ready to be mulched or hilled to get more plant undercover to produce a better harvest. I prefer mulching, as I find it easier to move around leaves and straw than dirt. Also, if it gets rainy in fall (not a problem recently, but it does happen), you don't end up with such a muddy mess. Given that I mulch almost all of my garden anyway, this is just a better all around solution for me.
I saved several bags of leaves from my in-laws last fall (and actually stored some of my root cellar vegetables in leaves, which worked well), so my Kennebec potatoes received a leaf mulch this year. The leaves also acidify the soil, which reduces potato scab. (Note to self – avoid planting potatoes in beds that were occupied the previous year by brassicas that were mulched with lots of composted manure, as too much nitrogen contributes to potato scab….sigh…garden rotation is not as straightforward as it seems.)