Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pansies in the Garden

Love to walk by and see the pansies in the garden.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Carrots in the Garden

I spied carrots in the garden and had to snap a quick picture. Don't know why they always make me smile...

Surprisingly, the question comes up a great deal on where one can buy yellow carrots.  For those interested in trying a small sampling, I have some Yellowstone carrot seeds available which is not presently on my list of available seeds but will be on the updated 2010 list (still compiling it and yes I'm a wee bit behind in that task).  But, please feel free to drop me a quick email if you want me to send you a packet.

However, if you need a large supply, you can get some from:

Seeds of Change
Kitchen Garden Seeds
Thompson and Morgan

Here are a few of my other musings on the subject:
Yellowstone Carrot & Tonda di Parigi Carrot
In the Garden: Yellow Carrot More than Edible

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Celeriac for the Garden

Always find the Soilman's updates refreshingly interesting.  His post on celeriac is definitely useful since we're growing this one for the first time. I'll need to remember to plant to water regularly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blue Speckled Tepary Beans

This is a rare bean we've had in our bean collection for some time. After finding out some creature has eaten our squash seeds that had sprouted, I've decided to start some Tepary Beans in its place.

These are small tan seeds with bluish-speckles. Highly adapted for drier climates. It's a fast grower and adapts easily. Considered to have been cultivated by Mexican Indians more than 5,000 years ago and was found in Europe in in the late 1800s. (Phaseolus acutifolius)

Additional sources:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yellowstone Carrot & Tonda di Parigi Carrot

Carrots happily self seed in our gardens each year in the same wild manner as the celery we grow. I'm planting more yellow carrots, 'Yellowstone', among a new batch of red romaine and decided to plant a non-yellow, round variety, 'Tonda di Parigi' next to the 'Blue Pod Capucijner' peas.

Botanical Name: Daucus carota
Plant Type:  Biennial
Growing Zones:  Zones 2 - 9
Hardiness:  Frost and heat hardy
Soil Preference:  Light loam but easily grown in just about any soil except clay
PH Preference:  5.5 - 6.5
Fertilizer:  5-10-10
Water:  Regular, consistent watering but not too wet
Sun Requirements:  Full sun
Spacing:  2 - 3 inches apart
Sizes:  Baby to extremely large/long. They come in short and circular to long and highly tapered.

Although I grow my plants in the ground, they can easily be grown in a pot.  A few years ago I grew carrots in a windowbox as a test.  Not only did they do well, they've continued to self seed in that same box each year - along with some Music Garlic (which is delicious!).

Try some in your garden. You will be pleasantly surprised when they pop up.

Milano Zucchini in January

Once again, there's zucchini growing in the garden during winter. Although it's been incredibly cold, at least for the coast, the plants remain very productive, surprisingly. Lots of people have questions about growing zucchini. For us, it's really simple and they practically survive from sheer neglect. But part of that is the highly organic soil the plants are grown in. We've attempted to grow 'compact' varieties but thus far, all have proven to be less compact than anticipated. They probably would be compact in an area where the growing seasons are short and the weather is intensely cold.  Since our environment is more tropical than most, all the zucchini plants grow and produce like ivy - and become rampant invaders.

Although we grow the plants year round, zucchini is actually a summer squash and is supposed to do best during the summer months. They are also annuals which means they are supposed to last a season and then die out.  I'm saying 'supposedly' because on most occasions, our plants have produce beyond the typical growing season, often resulting in us having to uproot them so we could plant something else. 

Here are a few tips for anyone having issues growing the plants.  Remember, they're heat lovers so place them in a sunny environment.

1. START SEEDS INDOORS. We start all our seeds in a carefully controlled environment and suggest you to start zucchini seeds indoors too. While they may sprout outside, they'll easily get eaten or wither from the cold as they're just beginning to come above ground. It just seems to give them a good strong start when they start off in complete warmth.

2. PREPARE THE SOIL AND FEED THE PLANT. We use lots of compost in our garden so the ground is very rich, pliable and easy to work. Most people recommend putting plants on mounded earth but we rarely remember to mound the soil and still end up with more than we can handle. After planting, we water the plants well and then leave them alone. Sometimes we'll water with a little fish emulsion upon planting and other times we provide the emulsion within the first week of planting. Important to note, it's best to water these plants at the base rather than over-head; leaves highly susceptible to mold.

3.  HARVEST. Zucchini is one of those plants that need to be picked on a regular basis. If you don't, you could very well end up with fruit the size of a baby's leg, and I'm not joking. The plants tend to be very hardy and if you give them just a little attention, they'll produce for you beyond expectations.

Botanical Name: Cucubita pepo
Plant Type:  Annual
Growing Zones:  Zones 4 - 11
Hardiness:  Generally, not frost hardy; loves heat
Soil Preference:  Does best in well drained soil
PH Preference:  6.0 - 7.5
Fertilizer:  5-10-5
Water:  Moderate once established; 
Sun Requirements:  Full sun
Spacing: 3-4 feet apart
Sizes:  Round, long, octagonal and curvy

Colors:  Green, white, yellow, light green, mottled light green 

Here are some of the varieties we plant on a regular basis.
  • COSTA ROMANESCO (50+ days to fruit)  produces ribbed, dark green fruit. 
  • RONDE DE NICE (45+ days to fruit) is a round zucchini and very tasty. It's a French heirloom with skin that's lighter than the elongated zucchini.
  • TROMBONCINO (55+ days to fruit)  is an interesting variety that grows like a vine. Great plant if you have an area in the garden with a fence it can grow on. Fruits are light green and actually grow with a curve. 
  • MILANO (55+ days to fruit) is very dark green, elongated type. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gold Poinsettia

This is the poinsettia of a neighbor who has a knack for growing these beauties. It's breath taking to see this 4 foot bush filled with gold flowers (leaves). She has several of these in different colors and all are fantastic and some are more than 6 feet tall. All have very colorful flowers.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Spring Plant Exchange

The Spring 2010 issue of Country Gardens magazine highlights what I think is a WONDERFUL idea - a PLANT EXCHANGE - especially an Heirloom Plant Exchange! It's been a really long time since I've been apart of a plant exchange but must admit reading the article brought back fond memories. After this, I may just have to organize one for our community.

If you'd like to organize a plant exchange as well, the article mentions several ways to go about hosting one. Here are several things to consider:

Time of the Year:
  1. Since Saturday's are convenient for most people, it's recommended an exchange is hosted at that time in the early spring.
  1. Select a location with access to plenty of parking like a park, recreation center at a community park or a school.

Partner with Your Local Parks & Recreation Department:
  1. If you can get your local parks and recs department to allow you to host it on their grounds, they might consider helping to promote the event by sending out details to their mailing list, placing an ad in their community bulletin or newsletter.
  1. Be sure to post announcements of your exchange in libraries, community centers, grocery stores, garden centers and farmer's markets.
  2. Include instructions (how many plants to bring, whether they should be planted within a container, with or without labels, descriptions and directions on caring for the plants, bring boxes or bags to take plants home in).
  1. Before the time of the event, post signs providing direction to the exchange, arrange the area where the exchange is to take place.
  2. You can even have signs for each type of item being made available such as 'bulbs', 'herbs', 'trees', etc.
  3. If you want to communicate in the future, make sure to place a sign-in sheet so you can send out notifications about future events.
Design Instructions for Participation:
  1. Provide instructions on the process;
  2. Provide popsicle sticks and adhesive labels for anyone who might need to label their plants;
  3. Review the rules before the exchange begins;
  4. Have participants select 1 plant at a time before moving on to the next area of selection;
  5. Invite everyone to help themselves to any leftovers that remain at the end.

Be sure to take pictures. Let me know if you host one and how well it does. I'm more than happy to post photos on the blog of your successful event. Hopefully, it will become an annual affair for your community. Seems like a great way to pass on traditional heirloom plants.

Have fun!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Red Romaine

The patch of Red Romaine continues to grow quite nicely, even with water neglect. It was planted several weeks ago and I've watered it all of three times, today being the third.

Seedlings are great! Put them in and allow them to have their way.