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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homesteading Update 05 February 2012

This weekend we were blessed with gorgeous, sunny weather, and although it's too early in the season for making hay, that's exactly what we did while the sun shined.  We got the perennial bed moved to the back of the yard; now the bees will be facing the flowers. We got the hops moved, and a few rhizomes were cut and packaged to be sent to a buddy of Steve's in Corvallis.  And finally, after clearing out where the hops had been growing, I got my three new apple trees planted, which is a load off my mind. The new apple trees came from Dave Wilson Nursery and they look great!  I got an Ashmead's Kernal, a Spitzenburg, and a Belle de Boskoop.  I hope I love that last apple as much as I love saying it: Belle de Boskoop.   Last weekend, I moved the Montmorency cherry, and got the new Lapins cherry planted.   The only plants I have left to get into the ground are the new standard blueberries, but I have to amend the soil to acidify it if I want them to be happy.  The dwarf blueberries around the bee hive have been productive little things but extremely dwarf, and almost not worth bending over to pick.

Speaking of not bending over, it's four weeks to the date for the marker for six weeks before average last frost for my area, and high time to get seeds ordered. I decided that with last year's delicious filet beans, that I am not doing bush beans anymore, and pole beans are the way for me.  'Denver' were good and prolific, and kept us in fresh green beans all summer long considering that I had only 10 or 12 planted, but they are definitely a young person's green bean.  I've tried Romanos, which used to be my favorite green bean, but I found that if you let them get the least little bit 'long in the tooth', they quickly get woody and unpleasant to eat.  I didn't have that problem with the filet beans, and only left them on the vine when they looked like they'd make better seed than eating.  I'm perusing the seed catalogs now, and I'm probably going to stick to one or two seed companies only to save on shipping.  After looking over my seed, I  noticed that most were packed for 2010, and since I haven't kept them under ideal conditions, I'd better order new seed to ensure the best germination and results. Plus, I'm still looking for the best varieties of things for my area.  Not sure what I'm going to do about tomatoes this year; the best tomato to date were the two German Queens we bought as plants from stupid old Home Depot; I haven't found seed for them yet, and they really performed the best so far. Am I sorry I didn't save seed from them?  Well yeah, but I haven't mastered saving tomato seed either, so it's a wash.  Maybe it was only beginner's luck but my first tomato harvest was my best.  I'd hate to think it will always be that way.

The other thing I want to tell you about is that we recently tried a red quinoa, and it was delicious. I've tried regular quinoa but prefer the red- it's much nuttier in flavor.  I knew that quinoa was from South America, and I wondered if it could be grown here.  I was skeptical, but lots of South America is just as cold there as it is here, so it was worth exploring.  It turns out that quinoa is a cool weather crop!  Different websites suggested planting the seed in April, and quinoa doesn't do well in places where the summer temperatures average above 90 degrees (if that's you, try growing amaranth, otherwise known as Love Lies Bleeding, which is a perfectly dreadful name).  The best thing I discovered about quinoa, beside the fact that it has a better balance of amino acids than milk so therefore is a better source of protein than milk, is that the saponins that coat each seed and have to be rinsed, rinsed, rinsed off the seed before cooking it renders the seed unsavory to both birds and mammals, so it's bird proof! And squirrel proof!  The leaves also make a delicious and nutritious green.  There is so much to recommend it that I'm going to try it, even though it doesn't do well in heavy soils- it does best in well drained soils, so I'll try it in a raised bed.  I'm going to save some of the organic stuff I found in the bulk section of the supermarket because it's the only red quinoa I've ever seen offered, and organic means that it hasn't been treated with anything.  The only thing that might hold up germination is 1) the wrong soil temperature, and 2) it's just plain old seed.  So this will be another Grand Experiment in a long list of many.

I kind of hope that this balmy weather holds up for another week and that we have sunshine next weekend, because the rest of the beds desperately need to be weeded.  There is a ton of pop weed in the bed with the January King cabbages.  I also want to get serious about the new large bed that will get the greenhouse, and there's another section of five each  three-foot square little beds that really need to be removed and replaced with one l-o-o-o-n-g raised bed.  I'm thinking the pole beans grown on the south side of that so that I can grow summer lettuces in their shade.

And this year I'm doing cucumbers, darn it! I missed having them last year.  So much to do, and spring is definitely coming- the hops were barely poking their heads out, which means that the asparagus are not far behind.   Could be just the spring fever from the nice weather we're having, but the daffodils and tulips are popping up all over the place too.

This ought to leave me just enough time to find some cheap black buckets for blanching asparagus before it starts coming up.  But hooee! Spring will be here before you know it!

9 comments:

Miriam said...

Wow, you got a lot of work done - good for you! I have to thank you for solving a longstanding mystery for me: pop weed. When you mentioned your cabbage bed was full of it I started to wonder whether you were referring to the ubiquitous weed I'm always finding everywhere in spring and fall, so I did a Google image search and voila! There it was! So now I have a proper name to use as I curse it...

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

OK, now you've gotten me thinking about quinoa. I've got a relatively cool climate, I certainly don't have heavy soil ("sand" is a better word for what I do have), and I'm trying to grow significantly more of my food this year. The only problem is that I've never really liked quinoa. I may have to get over that.

I envy you your apple trees!

Paula said...

Tamar- I was kind of on the fence about quinoa but this red stuff was a lot nuttier. I cooked it in some sauteed shallots in olive oil, and then twenty minutes in chicken stock.

jill said...

Bountiful Gardens has quinoa seeds - heirloom, untreated, open pollinated. www.bountifulgardens.org
Maybe you can find the one you like on their site.

I'm really enjoying your posts - I'm in awe of the amount of work you accomplish in a weekend!

Amanda said...

Paula, I was at my friends a few months back and noticed a bag and inquired about it. turns out, it was quinoa, on the branch still. A few warnings: it jumps and becomes virulent in your garden, and if that didn't make you swoon, it took us almost an hour to harvest 1 cup of quinoa. I'm sure there's some brilliant way to do it, but what a pain. And we didn't even rinse it.

Paula said...

Good to know Amanda. Maybe I'll rethink it. I don't know- I have a LOT of other weeds. At least quinoa's leaves are edible as well. Hmmmm.

Leigh said...

Well, if Love Lies Bleeding sounds a bit morbid for a source of something to eat, try Golden Giant Amaranth. Huge golden heads up to a pound of seed each, v-e-e-e-r-r-r-y tall. My chickens love them.

Do your transplanted things do well? We've had mixed results with transplanting, though I'd like to rearrange almost everything on the place.

Carolyn said...

Wow, seed starting already. The average date here is May 21, so, six weeks back on the calendar has us.... March 30th, roughly. Damn, too soon. Ah well, I have the chives growing indoors, as are a few pea plants and tomorrow I'll start some lettuce to see if I can get any for salad.
Thanks for the update. Inspiring as always!

Nicole Hitchcock said...

We dried some amaranth for the chickens to peck at during the winter. They LOVED it!