Friday, May 23, 2014

Leeks and Beets

No, I am not.

I am NOT holding these veggies so that they look humongous.

 I'll prove it. There they are, on the ground with a quarter for reference.

I really wanted to show the scale because I think I have figured something out.....

When I am out in the garden, harvesting, I will pull a leek or a beet or a carrot and think to myself, why isn't it as large as the ones I see in the grosch? Then I get them inside and really understand just how big they truly are and I think the reason may have to do with SCALE. When I am outdoors, I have all this huge space around me so what I might be looking at in the ground doesn't look particularly impressive but bring it indoors and I can really grasp the true size of a leek. Or a beet. In these cases, they are wonderful in size! Not so big that they are woody and not so small that I think, hmmmmmm... what didn't I do right here?

So, the question(s) is/are: How did I get them this big this year when our winter growing did nothing until March? Why did the half the blueberry bushes not bloom out when there was every reason and evidence it was going to be a terrific flowering? Why did the plum tree grow and fertilize massive amounts of fruit this year and nothing on the peach trees?

I have no idea. 

We planted beets and carrots four time during the fall and NOTHING came up. until March! I planted the leeks in Mid-February. We planted potatoes in early March & I planted more beets and carrots in March after the last hard freeze. 

The deal here in this sector of the South is we are too far north of Lake Ponchatrain to get any warming benefit from that massive body of water during the winter months and not far enough North to get there right number of chill hours for certain trees. And timing is everything when you grow in the South. Well, anywhere this is probably true but down here, we have the added bonus of growing something to eat year round and this is NOT true of lots of States. But, again, timing is critical and if you miss the time-frame or if we have an unusual weather event, even the best-timed plantings can go awry.

Now, we've grown some nice leeks in the past but this year is awesome. Everything timed out perfectly for them and I think it helped that I have been diligent in fertilizing every three weeks. The results speak for themselves.

Ditto with the peas and carrots. I love that combination and for the first time, we managed to have them ripen at the same time. Yeah Yeah, I can always freeze one or the other but fresh peas and carrots are outstanding!

AND NOW!!! for the potatoes..... We did plant these in March and here it is the fourth week of May when these gems are being harvested. This is the yield result of 12 plants. You can see four more rows behind the trolley. 

All I know is, we're gonna be eating like kings and trolls this year! hurr hurr hurr!

I just have no clue where I am going to store them all!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

(Coz we gotta get) Back to the Garden

 This is the time of year when the winter crops are about to play out and the summer crops are just starting to flourish and so, I am posting a few shots of what we are harvesting at the moment.

Here are the winter carrots that took forever to germinate this winter. We planted them 4 times over the fall and only started seeing any green sprouting in March. BUT, the wait was worth it and they are so sweet! You are also looking at the first zuc of the year..... I love zucchini!  

And right in time for peas and carrots, you see a tidy saucer of peas and there on the lower left are French Shallots.

We grow shallots year-round and these little gems are NOT the California giants you might be accustomed to seeing and buying at the grosch.... these are from Louisiana, taste like a cross between garlic & onion and are so easy & fun to grow because once you get them going, they just don't stop.  

Now, what you are looking at below is how they appear when they are ready to harvest but you gotta help them get to that point, first. They look all spent and tired. But when they are young and growing, they look an awful lot like pencil onions or green onions and you can eat them like that, by snipping off the tender green shoots.....but....

......once you start seeing any little shoot that look like it's going to turn into a flower, like these do below  you need to cut that off down low. Why? well, all the energy that the plant needs to make that flowerhead could and should be used in the growing of the bulb down below the soil line. If you let the flower go to head, you will only end up with a little bulb no bigger than your fingertip. 

They're good too, and great for replanting, but the bigger ones make for good eating.
So, snip off those flower buds long before they start opening. Cut them as soon you see them start to form. You can also add fertilizer to the soil at this point to help plump up the bulb.

In about 6 weeks or so, you see that the plant looks half-dead but it isn't. All that growing is going on where you can't see until you take a spade and lift it up. It is easier to do if the soil is dry.

Grab hold of the stems to help ease the whole clump out and you will see beautiful green/white bulbs ready to wash and separate.

Once the soil is washed away, you can see how the bulb is growing attached to each of the stalks.... just pop them off , keep all the big ones for cooking and all or just a few of the little bulbs with roots still attached can now be replanted about 8 inches apart for your next crop. You really only need 6-10 for your next crop, unless you love to cook, a lot!

Just plunk them in a new hole and leave the tip sticking out.... water it well and frequently if the weather is hot and you should see new green leaves start showing up in about 3-4 weeks. It take about 5 months to get them to a good size, so try digging up a small clump halfway through it, separate them and replant.... this way you have a new batch to cook with every few months.

Here is a quick shot of the tomatoes we planted in the upper raised beds... these are romas.

And I have to show this shot, only because it drives John nuts. We planted a bed of zinnias last year and the seeds just went everywhere! John hates it that I won't let him spray the walk-path between the beds but, that's where all the flowers are!

Thornless Rosebushes

Every now and then, something amazing happens to me........ case in point:

Last week, I received my credit card bill and I did not recognize a charge. It was relatively small, only $36.00 but still.... "What is this!", I thought to myself.

So, I did the first thing that came to mind, I called the credit company to see if they could identify the business. As I waited for the interminable auto-answering laundry list of selections to flip-flip-flip it's way to where I actually found a human, I popped online to see what this could be. ACT........ 

About the time a human on other end joined me, I figured out it was for a magazine subscription! This was one that I took a trial subscript on back in November of 2012, I kid you not. Back when I registered for the Rock n Roll Marathon!!!!!

Do you remember what you did 15 months ago? I don't, and shame on me. So, I meekly explained that no, this was not a fraudulent charge..... it was something I authorized and just have no memory of until the clues all fell in place.

I might add here, the YOUNG man on the other end had NO, none, nada, zero, nyet reaction. Total silence. Not a chuckle of understanding, or tsk tsk finger-wagging, or joking sympathy for my aging. All my (weak) attempts of humor fell flat. oh well.

I mediately called the magazine distributor who was very kind and helpful and cancelled the subscription (I have totally stopped running since that marathon!) and was told I would be receiving a refund in 2 billing cycles.

So, now keeping with this trending forgetfulness, I set the credit card bill aside to pay and promptly covered it with other clutter. And today, as I go to pay bills, I find... ho ho! What's THIS!?  I forgot to PAY the $36.00!!!! and NOW I see since it IS late, there will be an additional $35.00 Late Fee. 


What to do, what to do? I called the credit card company (again) to throw myself at their mercy only to hear the auto-answer voice tell me I have a $27.00 CREDIT!!! The refund came through immediately.

 GO Figure!

Every now and then, I fall off a balcony and into a thornless rosebush.