2014 – February Garden Log.

mizuna Late. Behind. Lagging. These are words that are starting to best describe my 2014 garden season and it is only February! As per usual when I get to doing something later than I had wanted to, I proceed the way I would have if I had been on time. I am an optimist when it comes to throwing seeds in dirt. So despite being very behind is planting for the 2014 spring garden, I planted everything, all the same. But a note to myself in 2015 and any other readers in my planting zone, skip the 2014 early year posts and refer to 2013 for what is likely a better more productive timeline (unless it ends up all the same, then I will have to make a change to this paragraph).

So onward, because I did actually do some stuff in the garden this month after the snow.

February Snow

2/16: Started hardening off all perviously planted starts that would eventually go outside. Also turned/weeded beds that would be the new homes for these plants and cloched them to dry out a bit before planting.

2/23: FINALLY planting something in the dirt!! All December and January starts went into the ground next to some kale and spinach planted in the fall, except the romaine lettuce. We simply kept that in the house for easy access. We also direct sowed some seeds into one of the beds; Alaska peas, shelling (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Monstrueux de Viroflay spinach (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Ideal purple top Milan turnips (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and Saxa II radish (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

2014 first planting

2/25: This is the latest (and terribly embarrassing) sowing of these seeds I think I have done! I had intentions of planting onions early and as my artichokes were lost during our very long zero degree cold snap in December, I had planned on getting those sown early as well. BUT, they were all sown today with the spring veg I should have planted last month! So here is what we have Giant of Naples (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Calabrese broccoli (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Genovese basil (Seed Savers Exchange), Early purple Vienna kohlrabi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and yellow of Parma (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). And new to the garden: Wethersfield red onion (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), red romaine lettuce (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), red express cabbage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Glory of Enkhuizen cabbage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), green globe artichokes (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and bleu if Solaise leek (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). And to all of that, here’s hoping as I hole up my glass with a look of chagrin on my face.

My plan for early March is to get my snow peas into the ground outside and to plant some more shelling peas. I will also sow some more radishes and get some carrots and beets in the ground. The last of the fall carrots are coming out of the garden, some are still edible, some were destroyed by the early February snow and ice storm. I will also be broadcasting some arugula and mizuna outside, I just have to decide where. Oh and more chard needs to be planted! For inside starts we have tomatoes and peppers on the docket as well as more herbs and lots of flowers!

Happy planting!!

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2014 – January Garden Log.

Frosty thyme

1/18 – I transplanted my first round of crisp mint romaine. It will continue to grow in the house and more will be direct sown outside in FEbruary.

1/19 –  I did a second sowing of crisp mint romaine (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). And also got some Monstrueux de Viroflay spinach (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) in, which you might remember from last year yields leaves as big as my hand. I started some slo bolt cilantro (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) and some genovese basil (Seed Savers Exchange). There were three new to the garden this year items that also received their inaugural planting: lime streaked mizuna (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), red streaked mizuna (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and oriole orange chard (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

Keep your warm garden thoughts coming!!

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2013 – December Garden Log.

happy new yearNothing happened in my garden in November aside from some clean up.

We spent the first part of December in a deep freeze, but just around the solstice the weather returned to a more seasonable temp with drizzling rain, just how we like it in the Pacific Northwest. As I continued to celebrate the change of the sun’s role in the sky I purchased some needed seeds for the 2014 garden and prepared to sow some seeds for my later winter/early spring garden.

12/29 I had a plan to sow these on the 26th, but it was the 29th when I actually got around to setting up my growing station. In all I planted Calabrese broccoli (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Snowball Self-Blanching cauliflower (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Giant of Naples cauliflower (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) – new to me this year and is supposed to yield large three pound heads, Early Purple Vienna kohlrabi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Winter Red kale (Gathering Together Farm), and another new to me item, Crisp Mint lettuce (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) – which is to yield 10 inch romaine type heads with mint green outer leaves and stark white hearts.

I have some new mizuna varieties, but I am going to wait until a little into January to sow any of them.

Yay for first of the year plantings!!

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Enchilada Sauce.

I originally posted this recipe back in 2011 here. Today I reinvented it as our go to enchilada sauce. Buying the sauce at the store seems such a waste given all of the added ingredients, preservatives, fillers, etc. Even the organic sauce we had changed to over a year ago contains canola oil. This sauce freezes well so large batches can be made at one time.

Enchilada Sauce.

Ingredients

5 dried ancho peppers (be sure to get air dried that do not have added oils or to dry them at home)

1 quart of homemade chicken stock (I have also used smoked chicken stock here)

24 oz crushed or diced tomatoes (be sure to purchase pure tomatoes, generally these will be Italian as most American tomatoes have citric acid — generally corn — added. Also you may sub fresh, roast and food mill into the mixture to add a deeper flavor)

1 tablespoon double concentrate tomato paste (be sure to purchase pure tomato paste with no additives, or use homemade)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon  ground cumin

1 tablespoon heaping Mexican oregano (whole, dried, then crushed)

6 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1  heaping teaspoon Real Salt (I used fine)

dash (1/2 of 1/8 of a teaspoon) of baking soda (to remove a little of the bitter from the peppers)

Process

The first thing you need to do is rehydrate the chiles. Start your chicken broth boiling in a medium pot. Cut the peppers in half and remove the stem, seeds and ribs. Anything you leave behind will impart heat into your sauce, so keep that in mind (use gloves if you are not used to handling hot peppers). Heat a dry sauté pan or skillet over medium heat and place chiles in for 5-10 seconds on each side. Use a flipper to push them down if they will not behave. Do not brown or burn the chiles, just heat them to get their oils active.

Place the warmed chiles in the boiling broth. Allow to boil for about 30 seconds and remove from heat. Be careful not breathe in the pepper too much, it will make you cough! Allow to sit for 20 minutes so the peppers can steep.

Add remaining ingredients to pot and stir to combine. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour with an off center lid on it. Remember, tomato makes a big mess if it boils without being covered.

Remove pot from heat and, using an immersion blender, blend the pepper mixture smooth. Taste mixture and adjust salt if needed. Place pot (with off center lid) back on heat and simmer for an additional hour.

Cool and freeze into containers, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or enjoy immediately.

Enjoy!

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2013 – October Garden Log.

I am of course, behind in getting this post up. Not too much happened in October, just the annual garlic planting. I did a full moon planting for the first time this year on October 18. We got 176 cloves of inchelium soft neck garlic from our seed saved from the June harvest into the ground. Then on the 20th we planted 50 cloves of Turkish giant hard neck garlic. I purchased some hard neck seed because I missed out not having any scapes to harvest for pesto this year. I am not the biggest fan of hard neck garlic…I mean the flavor is good, but it bugs me that the cloves are so small and a lot of the bulb is just the scape. But, I love using the scapes in basil pesto. So I have added some back in to the mix. I will not enough for as much pesto as I would like to make, but come 2015 I will as I will save most of it for seed. 

Overall October was a very dry month. One of the driest on record after a very wet end to September. So far November has proven to be a very traditional November with regards to the weather, but I will be back in early December to let you know how it turns out. For now, off into fall we go!

Happy Fall!

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2013 – September Garden Log.

Wet steps with fernsSeptember started out quite warm for us and quickly tapered into expected pre-fall/fall weather. I love fall. It is my absolute favorite. Time to start harvesting the winter squashes and pumpkins, dig potatoes and prepare for winter. The garden continued to give us a good bounty well into the month with daily pickings of beans, zucchini (it never ends!), cucumbers, tomatillos, tomatoes and potatoes. The herbs continued to flourish and both basil and dill continued to fill the kitchen. We picked our first fall beets and fermented them with some ginger and orange for a delightful snack. The carrots continued to grow in their beds and I continued to watch the weather, debating how October would go and when to plant my garlic. And then it started…unexpected bouts of torrential downpours.

I say unexpected, but in fact it is exactly what happens here in the fall (but never this early). The jet stream moves so fast and frequently the weather predictors cannot keep up. The basil quickly wilted and the peppers refused to ripen. But I hold out hope and those silly peppers are still out there, waiting for that week of glorious weather I know we must get! I did get one unexpectedly fantastic fall day on September 26th where the sun warm but the air was crisp and I finally planted some seeds. I planted touchstone gold and Detroit dark red beets, tonda di parigi carrots, monstrueux de viroflay spinach, mizuna, winter red kale, five color silverbeet Swiss chard, and lacinato kale. Better late than never I suppose. They got a day of nitrogen rich rain and then it was to the cloche with them. Covered by thick plastic, ends open for the fresh fall air to circulate, but covered from the very heavy fall rains we have been experiencing.

If you have been with me for some time, you know I am not afraid of failure in the garden. Which is my way of saying that if I planted to late to get a good yield, I will get over it!

Too all of you gardeners out there…

Happy Fall Gardening!!

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2013 – August Garden Log.

August was a month of harvesting for my little garden. We processed tomatoes, beans, tomatillos, cucumbers, potatoes, herb, did I mention tomatoes? Some stuff got away from us, but overall it was a good month. I did not get anything planted, but I did get my onions picked and set to dry into September. I did not get as many as I would have liked, but I did harvest 100! That is better than nothing I suppose but will not last very long in my kitchen.

I fear it will be another year without a winter garden. I took a chance and started my winter items outside in seed pots. But alas between my forgetfulness when it came to watering and the mission the aphids and caterpillars were on to eat the starts I lost everything.

I find that each year I start out with 12 months of motivation, but by the time June/July/August comes around I have used it all up on my spring and summer garden and the winter garden goes by the wayside. I did make some progress this year and have a good bit of carrots, beets, dill and basil coming out of the late summer garden, but I still have not cleared the hurdle of the 12 month garden. I do, however, have hope that I will get there. I have a plan for next year…will it work? Time will tell.

September holds the task of prolonging life of tomatoes, the peppers, the squashes, potatoes, eeking out the last of the tomatillos and cucumbers, cleaning up any late season berries and beans. Of cleaning up the summer debris, planning the 2014 garden, thinking about the garlic planting to come in October, the cover crops, the beds that will be bedded down with straw, the winterizing.

Happy (fall) gardening everyone!

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2013 – July Garden Log.

Speckled RomanAs summer rolls ever forward the garden has become more of a jungle than a manicured landscape, and that I like! It has been extremely dry here, we had 0.00 inches of rain in July, so in order to keep my jungle garden going I have been watering a lot. However, there are many benefits to the dry, hot weather we have been having. Generally, while I grow summer crops, they do not put out the yield that my fall, winter and spring gardens do because our weather is more conducive to cool weather crops. But in years like this I get bumper crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, tomatillos, pumpkins (and other swash varieties) and so many more of those beautiful hot weather yummies.

I did get some new items planted this month though.

7/8 buckwheat, danvers 126 half long (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), honda di parigi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), genovese basil (Seed Savers Exchange), touchstone gold beet (Wild Garden Seed), dill (saved seed from a friend).

7/15 Empress bush beans (Seed Savers Exchange)

We also planted various rounds of cilantro and holy basil.

Happy gardening!

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2013 – June Garden Log.

Hungarian Wax

6/9 Planted some more cilantro and also some genovese basil. The holy basil is not doing so well for me. I might sow some more and try again, but for today it was just the genovese that made it in the pot! We also planted more greens. The spinach (the monstruex de viroflay from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), it has been the most fantastic spinach and I just want to keep eating it so we are planting more. You saw the leaves in last month’s garden update, as big as my hand! Some of the first sowings are starting to bolt. I am hoping to be able to gather seeds for next year. We are currently addicted to mizuna (Seed Savers Exchange) so our third sowing of that went in as well. And just for good measure we planted more leaf lettuce (Botanical Interests).

Last but surely not least we planted carrots. Now that the broccoli and most of the cauliflower is out of the garden I have space to get some root veggies in. Today we planted Danvers 126 half long (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) and honda di parigi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), which are rainbow colored in a spectrum of yellow to red, with lots of orange in between. This is our first time planting this variety of carrot and we are excited for the results! I hope to get some beets in when I free up some space where the cabbages are, maybe a little later this month.

6/20 I started some Calabrese broccoli (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), snowball self-blanching cauliflower (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), early purple Vienna kohlrabi (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) and early Jersey Wakefield cabbage (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) in seed trays for planting in the garden when they are established.

6/24 started a week of harvest. We started with the garlic planted last fall. We ended up with 171 bulbs, some as big as my hand. I think we have the perfect amount to separate seed out and keep us sustained until next June/July (but only time will tell of course). Later in the week we processed all of the red Russian kale and also what was left of the spring sowing of early Jersey Wakefield cabbage.

Just a sampling of the nice variety of sizes we have this year in our bulbs.

Just a sampling of the nice variety of sizes we have this year in our bulbs.

The month got away with us, otherwise, and we did not get more herbs planted, but we are aiming for early July to do that.

Happy planting!

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2013 – May Garden Log.

My favorite view of the garden from our back patio. I love the combination of colors.

My favorite view of the garden from our back patio. I love the combination of colors.

I think I am trying to max out my media space with this post! There are a lot of photos, so prepare to see my weeds and also my questionable photo taking skills!!

5/7 With our weather having been about 20 degrees higher than normal for the last three weeks with no end in sight, I finally planted my tomatoes, peppers, squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers outside today. I had moved them outside about two weeks ago, hardening them off by bringing them in at night for the first week. But since then they have been living in their seed starts and were more than ready to move. Generally I would have repotted until later this month, even until early June. But I did not see the point this year. If the rains come back and the plants cannot handle it I will cloche and everyone will be fine. Such a strange spring.

I also direct planted Hidatsa Red Indian pole (dry) beans (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Bolita pole (dry) beans (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), Fordhook zucchini (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and Empress bush beans (Seed Savers Exchange).

5/28 The garden is growing well. The weather cooled back down a bit, but it was still too late for the broccoli. The cauliflower also suffered in the long run, producing small crowns that wanted to flower quickly. I got many of them in and riced to freeze before losing them. Everything planted this month is coming in nicely, with all direct sown beans and zucchinis showing their faces. I had wanted to direct sow carrots, but the rains returned with enough frequency to put that on hold until next month (I did not want to drag the plastic out again since the other plants are getting along just fine without it). All in all I have spent most of May picking cabbage worms, leaf miners and slugs out of the garden.

I do hope June proceeds with some regularity. It is getting harder and harder to tell the future when it comes to the weather!

In other news the garden is beautiful right now, take a walk with me through some of it!

cabbage

Cabbage! Most of the cabbages are having trouble with the weather, but this one is just so cute and perfect.

Fighting the earwig battle, but I think we are winning. Soapy water spray and lots of hands on management!

Fighting the earwig battle, but I think we are winning. Soapy water spray and lots of hands on management!

The blueberries are coming along, but the sporadic weather has not been terribly good for early fruit crops.

The blueberries are coming along, but the sporadic weather has not been terribly good for early fruit crops.

This is what's left of the kohlrabi. Another victim of strange weather.

This is what’s left of the kohlrabi. Another victim of strange weather.

Potatoes!

Potatoes and peas!

One of the garlic beds. Scapes are very far behind this year. I have been scoping other garlic beds around town and we are all in the same boat. I am hoping they arrive soon as I would like to make some fresh garlic scape pesto!

One of the garlic beds. Scapes are very far behind this year. I have been scoping other garlic beds around town and we are all in the same boat. I am hoping they arrive soon as I would like to make some fresh garlic scape pesto!

The heirloom spinach I planted this year is awesome and yes, as big as my hand. It has made some excellent wraps and sandwiches for this gluten free girl!

The heirloom spinach I planted this year is awesome and yes, as big as my hand. It has made some excellent wraps and sandwiches for this gluten free girl!

My volunteer avocado tree. It survived the winter and has even grown a new branch.

My volunteer avocado tree. It survived the winter and has even grown a new branch.

Some of our onions. Every year I try something new and every year I don't do so well. They are looking good and strong, so I am hopeful we will get a harvest!

Some of our onions. Every year I try something new and every year I don’t do so well. They are looking good and strong, so I am hopeful we will get a harvest!

This was my first year growing flowers from seed. This zinnia is the only one that made it, but it has a lot of buds on it!

This was my first year growing flowers from seed. This zinnia is the only one that made it, but it has a lot of buds on it!

I planted a lot of poppy seeds and lots of plants made it. See all those buds! I think you might be seeing blooms in the June Garden Update.

I planted a lot of poppy seeds and lots of plants made it. See all those buds! I think you might be seeing blooms in the June Garden Update.

One obligatory hop photo. This is one of our Mount Hood hops. It is prolific this year and probably a month ahead of schedule. This photo makes me Hop Monster!!!

One obligatory hop photo. This is one of our Mount Hood hops. It is prolific this year and probably a month ahead of schedule. This photo makes me Hop Monster!!!

Happy Gardening!

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