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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Playing Horticulture

I've been playing Horticulture lately.  I ran across across a volunteer strawberry among the weeds in the backyard, that I suspect is just an ornamental, which would really be too bad.  But it's sending out runners, so I stuck some soil-packed pots underneath them and pinned them down.  We'll see what happens.

 Playing horticulture with a volunteer strawberry

Miriam over at Mucky Boots Farm has put away her pots for the season.  I wondered if it wasn't time to start winter veg now, and she said that her plan is to directly sow the hardier stuff into the ground, and the lettuces will go into the flats, which are in rotation now.  She has more room than I do, I think.  I need to start my stuff sooner to rotate it in as soon as other stuff finishes.

I am still very new to this idea of growing vegetables for year 'round harvesting.  I wasn't even sure when I should be starting the fall and winter stuff.  Nita over at Throwback at Trapper Creek said that she starts her winter stuff almost the same time as the spring stuff.  I wondered about that, because we are roughly in the same part of Oregon, although she's at a higher elevation.  She said it's not the temperature so much, on a lot of things- it's the length of day, or if you will, the amount of light.  Nita writes a great blog, by the way- she's extremely knowledgeable on a lot of subjects.

Last weekend, I got a second sowing of my storage onions started (Borettana, Copra, and Red Wing) and some Giant Musselburgh leeks, and twelve Brilliant celeriac, and six bell peppers.   The onions and celeriac take 110 days, so I'm figuring on having them out of the ground around the end of the summer.  It's not so important for the celeriac, I don't think, as it is for the onions.  I need to be able to get them cured before the rainy season starts again.  I don't know the variety on the bell pepper because I scraped them out of a supermarket pepper, but they are for harvesting this summer, and I hope to freeze some of them and dry some of them, as well as roast and can some of them.  It's kind of odd when I think about it, but I used to absolutely hate bell peppers as a kid, but I really like them as an ingredient in things. 

Today, I managed to get a sixer each of arugula and lettuce (Bibb) started, and some cilantro and dill.  I also planted twelve more Parade pickling cucumbers, because although the ones that made it bravely through the hail are doing better now, they are all oddly at different stages of growth.  The point of planting Parade is that they produce cucumbers all at the same time, which is great for processing.  So I'm starting over, partly to see what happens, and partly for insurance.  They and the bell peppers are on the heat mat, so hopefully they will sprout and be ready for transplanting in no time.

Summer salad and winter vegetables

You want to know where I finally learned to start seeds correctly? Promise you won't leave me? Martha Stewart.  I know, I know!  I don't normally watch her show, but she had a couple of horticulturalists on it demonstrating how to start seeds correctly so I sat up and paid attention.  When I am packing damp seed starting medium into brand new six packs and tamping it down before putting down seed, I really feel like I'm playing Horticulture.  I am hoping that everything will be ready to plant about the same time that some things are coming out of the garden, like the garlic and the first batch of onions.  I still need to do a day count on the veg I want to plant for next winter, so I'll know when to start it, and then I need to figure out where it's going to go.

I'm going to plant so much more kale for this next winter- I sure love it in pasta!   I just brown some bacon, throw in a good pinch of red pepper flakes, throw in a couple of sliced cloves of garlic and when those are golden, stop them from getting too brown by putting in a ladle full of pasta water, then I throw in a large couple of handfuls of chopped kale and put the lid on.  When the capellini's done, the kale should be too, so I just drag the capellini into the kale with the tongs, mix it up and cook off the water, shut off the heat and add some more olive oil and toss it a little more, and then serve it with freshly grated Romano.  I could eat this dish every other night, easily- it's one of my favorites.  Why Romano?   It's easier to grate than Parmesan and I just got tired of working so hard over the cheese.  Parmesan seems to take forever to grate.  There was a time when I could get my husband to grate my cheese for me, but he seems to disappear until it's time to pour his beer for dinner....I guess the honeymoon's over.

For plant markers, I cut up a wide plant marker from something I bought at the store and wrote on it in a medium-sized Sharpie, and then today I was really stuck for something, so you know what I did? I found expired car insurance cards on my desk that I hadn't cut up yet, so I cut those into strips and wrote on the clearer parts of those.  Not too elegant, but it worked.

Guess you can't really expect elegance from a woman who wear overalls all the time, huh?


Miriam said...

You're making me rethink my aversion to kale. I grew it last year because I know how good it is for you, but I never really got to like it, no matter how I prepared it. But bacon! I never thought of bacon. I think the addition of bacon makes just about anything taste better... My friend Jean loves kale, and encouraged me to eat it raw, just shredded and tossed with a generous splash of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar and left to sit for a half-hour or so, then sprinkled with some dried cranberries. That still wasn't appealing to me, but I bet it would be delicious to someone who likes kale!

So what did Martha's experts say about starting seeds?

Paula said...

Actually, we had this meal again today, only with mixed greens, because that was the best I could do out of the garden: the very last of the broccoli rabe, a bunch of arugula (which is starting to get long in the tooth), a little Lacinto and Russian kale, and four leaves of radish greens. Yes, radish greens are edible. Actually, it was really good. I have served up greens without the pasta and the cheese, and they're still good, just better with the rest if you can handle it.

Generally, wet your seed starting medium so that it's damp but not dripping and pack it into either your six-packs, pots or flats. Then tamp it flat, put your seed on, and cover with the recommended depth of soil, and tamp again. Then put a thin layer of light grit or sand on the top to keep the soil from crusting over. Keep your seedlings damp, and at the proper temperature for germination. Transplant after the first set of true leaves appear (after the cotyledons) and never handle the seedling by the stem- only by the leaves. Stems are sometimes much more tender than leaves and you'll bruise them to death. This is what I remember, anyway.