I’ll be cutting the remaining red-veined mizuna along with mustard and other greens from our coldframe (shown below) for a festive Christmas salad. For the first time in many years it looks like we will be having a brown Christmas in Wisconsin. Being able to walk through the yard without snowshoes has given me the chance to make more and more grandiose plans for next year’s garden. Boy, am I in trouble if I actually try to accomplish all of the projects.
I received a new journal as an early Christmas present and will be using it to keep track of some of my garden notes. I have multiple Excel spreadsheets that I use as annual logs and maps of what we grow but have never kept a wish list or a list of projects and things to do seasonally. I am making a New Year’s resolution to use the journal for all of that.
Happy holidays! —Kathy Shaw, Neenah, Wisconsin
Tags: coldframe, mizuna, mustard
It appears global warming is at work in the Northeast. As of today, we still haven’t had a heavy frost in southern New England. Usually we have a hard frost by the middle of November. Yesterday I harvested carrots, peanuts, and a really nice broccoli.
Regular readers of this blog may recall the giant head of ‘Green Goliath’ broccoli I picked last July. The broccoli head shown above is actually a side shoot from that same plant! The head is over 7 inches across—bigger than many main heads. I have been picking broccoli side shoots since August and it looks like I may actually be able to keep picking into 2012.
Although the carrots didn’t get planted until early July and were never fertilized or weeded, I’m pretty happy with them. I planted them under my tomatoes and they really didn’t start to grow until the tomatoes died in September. The variety is ‘Big Top’, an Asian type of carrot. I planted ‘Scarlet Nantes’, a variety we are trialing this year, at the same time but they did not germinate (maybe too hot or dry?).
The last photo is of something I have never tried to grow before: peanuts. These were planted very late, in mid-July, but due to the warm fall they produced a small crop. Now I know if I plant them a bit earlier and fertilize I can get a good crop of peanuts.
I still have tons of kale, collard greens, celery, as well as Brussels sprouts in my garden to harvest. I also have to check the celeriac to see if they produced roots. It used to be that after November it was just garden cleanup, but now it seems gardening is a year-round job in New England. —John Lewis, Newport, Rhode Island
Tags: broccoli, carrots, fall, peanuts, weather
How is fall in everyone’s garden? The ornamental kale I’m trialing—’Glamour Red’, an All-America Selections winner for 2011—is gorgeous. Is anyone doing anything with it other than admiring it—like eating it? Here it is next to the little viola ‘Shangri-La Marina’ we also tested. —Debbie Leung, Olympia, Washington
Tags: All-America Selections, kale
Yes, it’s getting cold at night here in Boulder, Colorado. We lost all the tender things two weeks ago but the days are still nice and warm. Last week there was snow in the low mountains just a few miles from my garden.
My house is stacked full of cartons of unripe tomatoes, and ripe ones, too. My absolute favorite tomato this year is ‘Sweet Seedless’ from Burpee. It had a rocky start when just a few seeds germinated for a total of only three seedlings to pot up. Those three promptly got lost in the shade of the big, lusty ‘Brandy Boy’ tomatoes that filled their one-gallon pots in record time. Truly, I didn’t know the ‘Sweet Seedless’ were underneath there until I moved the BB’s out of the greenhouse! Spindly little things, I didn’t give them even one star at that point.
‘Brandy Boy’ grew 5 or 6 feet tall in no time and produced tons of immense tomatoes. Then, when most of the fruit was half ripe, those gorgeous plants got the blight. So did many of my other tomato varieties, although I pruned up the bottom leaves and was careful to not get the foliage wet. At the same time, those little ‘Sweet Seedless’ were growing tall, taller, and eventually tallest in the garden—7 feet high, sturdy as could be, and hugely wide, taking up more garden space than any other variety. They were covered in lovely medium-sized green globes that ripened slowly but tasted so sweet. No unhealthy leaves, no cracked or marred tomatoes—eerily perfect.
It was a bit difficult to crawl deep into the viny mass to harvest tomatoes, but I’m not complaining. Now myriads of green ones are slowly ripening all along my hall, nestled in flat fruit boxes, and they have the same sweet flavor too. I will grow these every year. —Barbara Miller, Boulder, Colorado
Tags: Brandy Boy, Sweet Seedless, tomato
The popcorn I started on April 9th has matured and now I am harvesting and eating it. Here in the desert It has taken just 4 months to grow it and to let it dry on the stalks. This variety is ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Butter Flavored’, an heirloom variety from Fedco that we are trialing this year. I found it to be worth the space and the time—I like it.
I have been popping some now and then since about the first of August using either canola oil or olive oil. I like the flavor of olive oil better. Next I’ll try popping it in peanut oil. I also purchased some white cheddar cheese powder from King Arthur Flour Company to sprinkle on the popped corn. I like cheesy popcorn.
Yesterday I tried popping the popcorn while still on the cob in the microwave. The problem I had was that all the kernels popped and they smashed each other—most didn’t explode off the cob. This was fun for a few minutes. I wish I knew the trick for popping on the cob—it’s annoying to have to remove the kernels from the cob first! —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada