Harvest time

img_0340If you’re anything like me your cherry tomatoes have been coming up very heavily right now. It’s the time of season where you really don’t do much work-mostly harvesting. The exception to that is if you’re planning to have a winter garden. I’ll be posting next week to mention what I’ve been preparing in my winter gardens. There are some unique advantages to the winter months, and there are even some advantages to living in a very cold climate vs. our friends in warmer climates. In some of these warmer climates you wont be able to grow winter annuals like us northerns. Of course, we can’t get tomatoes year round like they do.

Like previous summers, I’ve grown several different varieties of tomatoes. Three types of the regular looking varieties, a paste tomato, 4 cherry tomatoes, and a grape tomato. All taste different. All are delicious! And if I wonder out to the garden and find some on the ground, I know I’ve waited too long. It’s hard for me to keep up on pulling the ripe ones, but it’s pretty important to get that done. I’ll now begin to preserve my tomato harvest by freezing and using my dehydrator. Maybe I’ll post something about that on a later date

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Square foot gardening for the winter

imageOkay, it’s the first week of September and the weather has definitely changed!  No more 100’s, and probably no more 90’s.  Nights are getting into the mid 50’s.  Here is zone 6 it’s time to begin planting for the winter garden.

This week I’ve planted several squares of lettuce, and I will follow that up with another batch of lettuce plantings next week.  This is called succession planting.  It helps you prolong the harvest period during a time when plants virtually stop growing.

I’ve got my favorite lettuces for winter gardening.  One of the best is Queensland.  It’s virtually impossible to find in the U.S.  Other varieties that I grow successfully are Prize Head, EZ serve, Nevada, four seasons, gourmet mix, and black seeded Simpson.  There’s been a lot written about Salanova-a fairly new lettuce that, when harvested,  gives you equal pieces of beautiful lettuce leaves.  It’s a bit on the pricey side, but it sure looks good, tastes great, and it stores for a longer time.

Try a winter garden this year.  It’s the best time to garden.  No pests, hardly any watering, and it’s delicious.

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For those who have no room for a garden-grow bags!

I’ve been experimenting with these for the first time this year.  All I can say is: wow! They are just spectacular!  I tried one for potatoes in the spring because I didn’t have any room left in my square foot gardens.   I haven’t harvested those yet but I can tell you, it looks like its grown a massive amount.  I also grew on deck corn successfully-a special container variety from Burpee.

These grow bags come in many sizes.  The one pictured is 5 gallons.  I’m growing my brussel sprout plant in it and I think it’s going to do well.  I’m hoping it will.  Brussel sprouts can be a challenge around here with aphids in late spring and summer.  So, I’m now trying-again-to grow them in the cooler season and use floating row cover over it in a couple of weeks.

These grow bags are solid.  Because of the nifty side handles they can be moved wherever you want them. For folks who want to have a garden but have no room, these are perfect!  You could have several of them on the patio, move them around, and grow many different crops in them.  You can look at the different sizes and colors here.  Garden Supply is having a great year end summer blow out with items up to 80% off.  You might find some items you’ll use next spring at huge discounts.  Give it a look.

If you’re lucky and have a kale transplant around, plop it in one of these and place it next to your backdoor.  It will perfect for winter use and you can’t kill kale.  You won’t even have to cover it!    For those who took my winter harvest gardening class this morning, their floating row cover looks pretty good

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New potatoes

new potatoes 081816Today I decided to dig up all of my new potatoes in preparation to have my cold frame planted for fall/winter. I’ve been harvesting from the cold frame-functioning as storage for potatoes since spring-all summer long. This is what’s left and they’re just delicious. I’ve got 2 or three different kinds of potatoes-but the favorite around here is red pontiacs

My cold frame is as simple as you can get. Two by fours and a two by six placed directly on existing soil. I’ll place a $5 window that I bought from ReStore on top for protection. That’s it. The wood is leftovers that I’ve had for a long time. I did empty out several inches of the existing soil and filled it with homemade compost. Its performed perfectly. Because it’s not very big-2X6′-there’s not a lot that can be grown inside of it. I’ve planted 4 rows of late fall/early winter greens.

All star gourmet, rainbow swiss chard, spinach, and sweet repeat are all planted as of today. The timing should be perfect. The greens will be established and not too large so they’ll be able to survive the freezing temperatures without damage.

For those close by and interested, I’ll be teaching a winter low tunnel class next week. Details are listed here. It’s only 90 minutes long but you leave with the knowledge of how to build a tunnel, what plants to grow during this time, and when to plant them for a full harvest through the winter. It’s the easiest time to garden, and we talk about why in class

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Time to start plantings for fall lettuce

cherokee lettuceYes? Unless you are in the warmer climates of Arizona, Nevada, or So. Cal, this is the perfect time to prepare for fall lettuce.  And you’ll be so glad you did.  Temperatures are coming down in our state to the low 90’s.  That’s still too warm to germinate lettuce seeds but this is one of the advantage of the square foot garden.  Because your gardens are limited in size, it becomes easier to do certain things, such as protection.

By having the ability to cover a small patch of garden real estate more possibilities open up to you.  A simple structure that can hold shade cloth can be put together to do just that.  This keeps the hot rays of the sun of your plant, and it helps keep the soil cooler-a very important things to keep in mind when growing lettuce in summertime.  There’s still a few more things you can do to increase your chances of successfully doing this, which is the topic of my next ebook that I’ve been talking about for a year.  Soon!

This particular variety is mottistone, a bavarian lettuce crop.  With night temperatures starting to come down to the mid to low 60’s, it really is a good time to begin your fall garden.  I would put it all in during the next couple of weeks.  You’ll be rewarded handsomely.  And then if you decide not to have a winter garden this year, you can pull it all up and put it away until spring.

I do think you would like the experience of growing fall lettuce, along with other tasty salad greens.  And if there are any seed packets left on the shelves in the store-there usually is-you can usually buy them for .50 each.

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