Garden Amending and Planting Garlic

Advertisements

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the post I added yesterday about planting garlic. This is the first year I am seriously trying to grow garlic, and so I’ve done a lot of research and I’m very excited to see what I can get. But, isn’t this garlic gorgeous! I bought these three varieties, all three are organic, disease free, and heirloom varieties. These varieties cam from MIGardener.com. They are not a sponsor, and many varieties are sold out or selling out fast. With that out of the way, before I could plant my garlic, I first had to pull my remaining plants from my raised beds and fabric bags. With this, I was able to save several Parris Island lettuce seeds. I will include those steps at the bottom of this post. I then amended my raised beds, then I planted my garlic.

My first frost day is only 2 weeks away when I planted the garlic yesterday. It is recommended planting garlic at least 3 weeks before first frost, but we just got over a cold snap yesterday where we had 4 nights of frost. The weather is calling for warm temperatures for the next week, so I’m taking a gamble that we won’t be getting another frost for a couple more weeks.

To amend my beds, I first pulled all my plants, but my marigolds. It was just a personal choice to keep them. I think they are beautiful and have a lot of life left in them, so it didn’t feel right pulling them yet, so I just worked around them. To make up for this, I will add some fertilizer in their place next spring to add more nutrients in those spots. Once I pulled the plants, I then pulled down all my netting. This made it easier to move the soil around. Our beds are 8 ft by 4 ft and pressure treated. We added in one fabric bag to one bed and two fabric bags to the other bed. We then split a bag of peat moss between the two beds. We also added 2 bags of aged cow manure into each bed and mixed it all into the top 4 inches of each bed. The reason we added the fabric bags was because the dirt in them had a lot of clay and dried out very quickly. We added 2 bags to one bed because the soil in that second bed was very poor, so we wanted more organic matter in the bed, so we added more dirt. You could also add potting soil if you needed to fill your beds more, but potting soil is expensive, so if top soil were an option, it would be better. I aim for a ratio of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost/manure, and 1/3 top soil for a healthy and balanced soil.

  • Plant garlic rows 6 inches apart
  • Plant garlic cloves 6 inches apart in a row
  • Place garlic cloves 2-3 inches under ground
  • Cover garlic with 4-6 inches of hay or mulch before your first frost
  • Plant garlic at least 3 weeks before your first frost to allow time for root development before they go into dormancy
  • Place chicken wire/hardware cloth over your beds to prevent animals from digging
  • Uncover garlic once risk of frost has passed
  • Water garlic often in the fall and spring and fertilize often in the spring and summer; garlic is a heavy feeder
  • Garlic is ready once the outer 1-2 leafs are dead and dry, any more than that and the garlic won’t dry and will just rot instead

Parris Island lettuce makes yellow flowers, that once fertilized become white fluffs with seeds attached. To get the seed, simply remove the heads that have already gone to seed, remove the stem, then remove the fluff from the seed. You only need a few flowers to get lots of seeds.

Advertisements

Mid-September Garden Update

Advertisements

As a first year gardener, I don’t know much about gardening. As a result, I do lots of research and planning, and even still it seems with gardening you just have to learn from your mistakes. The first frost is coming this weekend and I’ve already retired most of my garden. There are a few radishes in the ground still forming, green tomatoes sitting on the vine, and the lettuce flowers beginning to open. The only color that remains in my garden is three marigolds that are still thriving despite the temperatures. My house plants will be coming inside tonight to prepare for the frost, and soon my husband and will be struggling to find enough room to keep them for another winter.

There are so many things I wanted to do in the garden still, but yet the first frost is nearly here. I was able to amend one raised bed. I added manure and peat moss. I mixed it into the top few inches, and covered it with another thin layer of mulch. I had planned to plant garlic this fall, but with the first frost among us, it is likely too late. I may still try to get it in the ground, but we will have to see if it will warm back up at night after this frost. And to protect it from the frost, we’ll likely use hay bales to protect from frost. We’ll have to see when it comes.

I have a small patch of dill growing that I planted this fall. My tomatoes and lettuce will also be adversely affected by the frost. Once they are done, we will amend that bed too with more manure and peat moss. My biggest lesson this year was to keep healthy soil. My tomatoes performed poorly in comparison to most everyone, and though I want to blame the very dry and hot summer, I am sure the poor quality soil played the largest part in that. We also learned our lesson with netting, and that chicken wire is superior to a plastic net that can still let in all sorts of critters.

Advertisements

Much thought has been going into a garden for next growing season as well. I am researching when to pull crops and when to plant new, when to start seedlings inside, and what crops do well in the spot of another crop. The plans have become more finalized, and I think I found a setup I prefer. Researching, I found a new way to string up beans/peas. It includes making a wooden frame, then using 100% cotton string as the trellis. This is a huge improvement from the plastic and metal my beans grew through this year. Pulling my beans took so long because of all the tangling and growing into the plastic. So this way of trellising will be an improvement and pulling the plants will be way easier too, and the string 100% cotton can be composted, unlike plastics or other artificial materials.

If I do get my garlic soon, I will do a post about that, but otherwise, my garden is just about done for the year. Thank you to everyone who has been seeing and checking up on my progress. Gardening has been a lot of fun and I am very excited to see what next year holds!

Advertisements

Saving Seeds

Advertisements

Last spring was the first time putting in a spring garden. Like many others, I went to the store and bought a variety of seeds for plants I wanted in my garden that year. So, below are 5 variety of seeds I’ve saved so far this spring. Four varieties are from plants I had in the garden this year, and the other was from a veggie I got at a local farmer’s market. I hear starting from seed is best for most plants, and if you do have problems with germination, then you could always go out and buy the plant. All seeds can also be stored the same way. If you plan to use them within the next year or two, seeds should be stored somewhere cool and dark. If you want to preserve seeds for 5-10 years, you will want to vacuum seal your seeds or place them in a labeled jar with an oxygen absorber, and store in your fridge or freezer.

Green Beans

I bought these green bean seeds this spring. I’ve stored them in a cool and dark place the keep their viability high for next year. I also got several more seeds from my plants this year. If the pod becomes overly ripe and the seeds are viable, the pod will turn yellow on the vine. The seeds have begun going into development when the pods begin to turn waxy and the skin becomes rubbery. I cut my green beans up as soon as I pick them, and suspicious pods, I will cut around the bean to see if the shell has the rubbery texture. Green bean seeds should be sown directly into the ground.

Onion Seeds

My onions this year were started from sets. They did OK, but they didn’t do great. My soil was part of the problem, and I will be addressing that. I also had 3 bulbs go to seed. When Onions go to seed, they develop a big flower stem out the top, and from there they develop a flower that looks like a yarrow or queen Anne’s lace. Once the flower has been pollinated and begins to close up/turn brown in an area, you can cut off the head and place it in a paper bag for a week or two to finish drying. Once dry, you can shake the flower the drop all the tiny little seeds. The flower can be disposed of, and the seeds stored as desired. Onion seeds should be started inside before being transplanted outside.

Radish Seeds

Radishes are a fast growing crop that are supposed to be the best for first time growers. This variety is cherry belle radishes. The seeds are sown directly into the ground. They are ready to harvest 22 days after they sprout and they only like cool weather. If you leave them in the ground for longer, they will begin to go to seed. I kept 3 radishes in the ground, and as they matured they grew considerably! They grow a main stock with many branches of flowers. After about a week or two they begin to form pods. You should let the pods turn red before harvesting the pods, and you should wait for the pods to dry and become brittle before harvesting all the seeds. You can crush the pods and break them open to extract the seeds. The seeds can then be placed in a bowl or bucket. You can then swirl the seeds and blow onto them to remove any chaff that ended up with the seeds. You may lose some seeds too, but they were likely light and inviable.

Green Pepper Seeds

Green peppers are the one plant I didn’t grow in my garden this year. I bought several green peppers from a local grower at a local farmer’s market. These seeds can easily be saved. When you cut a green pepper, cut around top of the pepper. You should make the circle about 1/2 way from the stem and outer edge of the pepper. Cut down enough to sever the ribs, then you can push down on the stem and pull it clean out. You can then remove any remaining seed from inside the pepper and set aside your top to save seeds after you finish cooking. Place your seeds on a paper towel/ paper plate. Place your paper towel/plate on a sunny windowsill. After about 1-2 hours, come through and stir your seeds to dry any seeds that may be underneath. Let dry another 1-2 hours before storing. Green Pepper plants should be started inside 6-8 weeks before your last frost. If available, buy your pepper locally and not from a supermarket, because then you will know the pepper breed will do well in your climate.

Marigold Seeds

When I first planted marigolds this spring, I was shocked with the seed shape! I had never grown anything from seed before, but I assumed all seeds look similar. I was even more shocked to seed how easy it is to harvest more seeds, and how many seeds you get from just one flower! Use a dead or dying flower. Cut the flower from the plant and take it inside. remove the stem by holding the dried petals at the top. Then, grab the black seeds, and pull off the petals. That’s all! Now you have marigold seeds. These are sown directly into the ground in spring and grow all year.

August 2020 Garden Update

August was an eventful month in the garden. In the beginning of the month, I pulled a tomato plant because of fungus. On the 27th, I pulled my cucumbers from the fabric pots. They began forming very misshapen fruits, and the leaves were dying off rather fast. I also planted radish seeds that day in the two open fabric pots and in the free rows of the raised beds. They already have decent sized sprouts, and the rainy weather helps too. I noticed several of my tomatoes had blossom end rot, but I added some crushed egg shells and with lots of rain in the forecast, it had only happened to 3 tomatoes. Finally, I also ordered garlic to be planted beginning to mid-October. I tried to grow garlic last winter, but I really had no idea what I was doing, so they didn’t make it through the freeze. Finally, I’ve also begun trying to root a pineapple top. And, I found a volunteer pumpkin vine by the house.

I’ve also been thinking extensively about the garden for next Spring, Summer, and Fall. Josh and I plan to build 2 more 8X3 or 4 beds. We plan on placing them by our baby peach tree and we plan to place lower maintenance plants there, though I check on my garden at least once a day. Beans grew really well for us this year, so we plan to grow more green beans. We bought heirloom garlic from MI Gardener, so we plan to grow 3 varieties. We didn’t have much luck at all with tomatoes this summer, so though I’ll be more careful next year to water more often and soak them, I plan to up our quantity to 10 tomato plants with 2 heirloom varieties. I’d like to grow bell and banana peppers next year, potatoes and sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and more onions, but this time from seed. And, once garlic in harvested in July, we’ll wait about a month or so, and plant some peas. We are ambitious, but this summer has been such a blessing to us that we’d love to have even more fresh veggies next year! We would plant zucchini, yellow squash, or eggplant, but my in-laws always grow lots, so we help absorb some of their excess. Finally, we contemplated more carrots, growing celery, and beets, but we’d like to grow the garden in increments that won’t overwhelm me, and hopefully doubling in size won’t be too much.

This summer we also got quite a bit of seed from our garden. The radish seed pods below is about 1/2 the quantity I got from about 4-5 plants I let go to seed. It took me about 3 hours to break and filter out the seed, and I easily have 100-200 seeds. I also got 3 onion flowers from my sets this year. They formed seeds, but I want at least one other variety, so I will also be buying a packet of seeds. Finally, as I mentioned, my green beans have been doing great. We were harvesting once a week, but just Monday when I was harvesting, I found about 3 pods that were drying. So, I also got 12 new seeds from that, and I will now be harvesting beans twice a week until they slow down. I also am letting my lettuce go to seed, though we’ll see how far they get before I turn my beds.

August 18

August 27

September 1

Plants Outside the Garden

Preserving from the Garden

Advertisements

Green Beans

First, I wash my beans. I then shake them dry or dry them on a paper towel. I cut both ends off my green beans, then cutting the beans into two or three pieces. I transfer those pieces into a gallon freezer bag, use the water displacement method to remove extra air, then I label with item month and year, then I freeze. I have already done two large harvests this month and was able to fill this bag in just 2 weeks. I planted 12 green bean vines.

To do the water displacement method, fill a large bowl or pot with water. Seal your bag 3/4 of the way and remember the edge that is open. Begin submerging the bag into the water. Leave out the edge that is open, and once most air is removed, seal the rest of the bag. You can then flatten out the contents of the bag for easy storage.

Onions

When I harvested all my onions, I first had to let them dry out. So, I stored them in this container on my kitchen windowsill. The windowsill gets pretty warm but it doesn’t get much sun, just a bit when it’s setting, and it’s not very strong that time of day. Once the tops all browned, I began preserving. If you have a root cellar, you can chop off the tops just above the stem, and clean off the roots, then they can immediately go into storage. If you don’t have a dry space under ground like me, then you can simply dice them and place them in the freezer for future use. I got two full sandwich bags, and I have used them heavily before processing the last of them. I once again used water displacement method to remove air.

Carrots

Carrots can lose nutrients if you pick them and leave the tops on in hot weather. So, our harvest was in two batches. We emptied a bin, took the carrots inside. Cut the tops from the carrots. then repeated with the second batch. Once all the carrots were harvested, I scrubbed them to remove dirt and the roots. Once all were processed, I cut off the tops and the end of the root, then I sliced then and transferred them to gallon freezer bag. I then used water displacement to remove the air, labeled them, then added them to my freezer.

Tomatoes

My tomatoes were starting to go bad, and since I haven’t had any more to harvest lately, I figured one small canner of tomatoes was better than nothing for now. You aren’t supposed to use rotting or damaged tomatoes, however that is how my family has done it for generations. First, cut off any bad spots deep into the tomato. Sanitize your knife and the spots. Then treat them like normal tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water, boil for 1-2 minutes, then transfer into an ice bath. After a minute or so, the skin will loosen from the fruit. Remove a tomato and place on a cutting board. Cut off the top stem then peel off the skin. Dice your tomatoes then add to a preheated jar. (I just soak them in very hot water.) Fill your canner 1/2 way with water and bring to a boil. Also bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, then add the needed number of lids and remove from heat. Push down on the tomatoes and add any extra juice from your dicing. Once near to the top, you need to add Lemon juice and salt. For a Quart add 2 Tbsp lemon and 2 tsp salt, and for a pint, add 1 Tbsp lemon and 1 tsp salt. Add more tomatoes/some very hot water to get to 1/2 inch from the upper lip of the jar. You will then need to stick a butter knife down the edges of the jar to remove air pockets. Then you can wipe the rim clean, add the lid and ring, finger tight, then once all are ready, add them to your water bath, add additional water to cover the jars, bring that to a boil, the process for 85 minutes. Once they are done, carefully remove hot jars and place on several towels on the counter, and let cool to room temperature. Check the tops to see if they sealed, remove the rings, wipe down the jars and label, then store in a dark and cool location for the most available storage time.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: