Green House Lettuce, Bok Choy & Chard on 3-31-14

GH lettuce 03-31-14

Holy Schmole! My lettuce, in the picture above was planted as transplants back on February 17th and look at it at the end of March. Fantastic! So excited to not have to buy lettuce and greens for a while. I’ve been experimenting in the greenhouse planting some seeds and some as transplants. I got these transplants as little tiny plants in pony packs from Agua Fria Nursery in town in February. On the left is Marshall Red Romaine. In the middle is ‘Winter Wunderland’ leaf lettuce and on the right is Bright Lights Chard.  They are growing in the middle raised bed where I had horse manure composting in January to try to add heat to the greenhouse but in mid February I took out as it cooled down and took all but the top 6 inches and added soil and compost and waa lah! You can see how big they got since March 21 here.

mesclun

Here is a pic of the lettuce I planted by seeds. It is a mesclun mix from Johnny’s called, 5-star lettuce mix. It’s not quite tall enough to ‘cut and come again’ but will be soon-probably in the next week.

 

dwarf bok choi

Here is a variety of dwarf bok choy (choi) I planted from seed. I will transplant some of these to sell a little later and the rest will have room to really get bigger. They are doing really well.

yellow green bok choi

I love the color of this yellow-green bok choi – chartreuse! Such a great contrast to the other ‘greens’.

tatsoi

Here is a variety called tatsoi-the hardiest of the bok choi family. It grows in little clusters.

I planted all of them on the edge of the raised bed as I’m going to put in some tomatoes soon  in the middle of the bed as another experiment to see how they do. My thinking is by the time the tomatoes need more room, the cold hardy greens will be done (eaten)  :)

Cold Weather Protection for Vegetable Gardens Class-this Saturday

Here’s the flyer info for my class this Saturday April 5th-Hope many of you can come-it should be good!

 

WOW pic for blog

 

Saturday, April 5
Cold Weather Protection for Vegetable Gardens
Protecting your crops in spring
Time: 10 am-12 pm
Instructor: Jannine Cabossel
Location: Whole Food’s Community Room (St. Francis location)
Please RSVP to 505-983-9706 or email: homegrownnewmexico1@gmail.com

Jannine Cabossel, a Master Gardener and ‘The Tomato Lady’ at the Santa Fe Farmers Market will teach a class about how to use row cover, cloches, hoop houses, wall of waters, and other items to get your garden in earlier with protection.

Jannine has extensive experience in growing vegetables on her 3000 square foot garden using all organic methods. Follow her blog at giantveggiegardener.com. Suggested $10 donation. Become a 2014 Member for $35 with $250 value-includes all classes, potlucks and tour.

The nicest people always seem to go first

PINK CLOUDS

This week I went to visit my good gardening friend, Amy Hetager on Wednesday afternoon. Her dad, John had emailed me that she went into home hospice care on Monday and I knew I wanted to visit her. Little did I know it would be the last time I would see her. She slept while I was there and I knew she was on her journey and she seemed peaceful. It seemed so sudden when I heard from her dad that she had passed away the next day on Thursday mourning and yet it was not really sudden.

Amy Hetager, leader of Home Grown New Mexico and whom I had gotten to know through working with her in both Home Grown and Master Gardeners organizations had been battling brain cancer for 5 years and had beat it back many times. Not many people knew she was sick as she was a very private person and I could respect that.  I saw at many of our events she would not be feeling well-maybe she had chemo that day or the day before and yet she always showed up at the events. She was so strong internally. It seemed like in the 4 years that I knew her she had to go every week to put those chemicals into her body. They would save her for a while but they also wrecked her. One of those ways was that she had many joint replacements during that 5 years as the steroids the doctors gave her to counter the side effects of the many different chemos she had also destroyed her joints. Many people knew that she had some joint replacements because it’s hard to hide a cast. This was no secret.

I use to tease her and called her the bionic woman and actually she was now that I think of it in several ways, the most obvious way being those new metal joints but there was another way she was bionic in that she could do so much. Running her baby, Home Grown New Mexico and being involved in so many other gardening associations and organizations in our community took a bionic effort as well and it was something she really enjoyed and I’m sure it kept her going too.

Amy was a kind, gentle person with a passion for vegetable gardening and especially growing tomatoes which we both shared. She loved to grow vegetables, harvest them and process or cook them and she was an excellent cook as well. She wanted to be more sustainable which is also why she started Home Grown.

It seems like the nicest people always go first to the other side. When Amy got obviously physically sick late last year, I took on her responsibilities in running Home Grown to help her out and am continuing it forward now. Many of us will miss her and hopefully those of us in Home Grown can carry her vision forward as she would have wanted it. I know I’m sure going to try.

Beets to try: Chiogga, Touchstone Gold, Detroit Dark Red, Cylindra and Craupaudine

getimage

Detroit dark red beets

Beets - Also known as ‘Beetroot’, they have many health benefits with antioxidants in them. Both the leaves and the roots can be eaten.

I never liked them when I was a kid because I only had them pickled. I didn’t like them that way then and still don’t like beets pickled. Then I discovered them steamed and roasted. Wow-What a difference in flavor! This year, I’m growing more beets than I ever have. They have a fantastic shelf life if stored in the refrigerator. I love beets now in a lettuce salad with a dab of goat cheese with sunflower seeds and a lite vinaigrette—divine. Also slow roasted in the oven-more divine. Now I love beets! Here’s what I’m growing this year and why.

Chiogga beets hail from Chiogga, Italy and are beautiful with red and white concentric circles inside when you cut them. I like them because of their beauty and they are sweet. They make a nice contrast to other beets.

Touchstone Gold beets- OP variety. New to me this year, I wanted a yellow beet to compliment the red beets. This has a fine, buttery texture, very sweet, and does not bleed like red varieties do. Can’t wait to try it.

Heirloom Detroit Dark Red beets are an old standby. This is not the hybrid variety of ‘Detroit Red’ but a heirloom variety so don’t be confused. It has very good sweet flavor and does well here. You can get the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

Cylindra beets come from Denmark and are excellent. The are long cylinder shaped instead of round and slice more uniformly than the round type. They grew well here. Very sweet-they are my second favorite. You can get the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

Craupaudine beets are my favorite beet of all time. Oldest beet variety in existence. Incredibly ugly and incredibly delicious. Very sweet beet and fantastic when wrapped in foil after you rinse it, (leaving the water on the beet) and placed over a BBQ where you add a few wood chips and smoke it slightly as it cooks till tender. The water on the beet helps to steam them a little too. To cook it like the French do go to my other article, ‘Rouge Crapaudine’ Beets-say what?!! They are a little harder to germinate so plant more seeds then you think you need. They are only available in the states from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

The last three are harder to find so I gave the source for getting seeds. Chiogga and Touchstone Gold are commonly available through many seed companies.

Swiss Chard-Argentata, Ruby and Bright Lights

chard_argentata

Argentata Chard is not only delicious but cold hardy too.

This past year I grew several varieties of chard—Ruby, Bright Lights and Argentata (shown above).

ruby chard with flowers

Ruby chard has the most brilliant red veins-grown with flowers it is stunning

For looks in the garden I would pick Ruby chard and Bright Lights (whose stalks come in lovely shades of red, pink, salmon and yellow) and grow them around my flowers inside my vegetable garden because they are soo beautiful (Ruby chard-above last year).

chard_chopped

Argentata chard loosely cut and ready to steam

But to eat and for flavor I would pick Argentata chard hands down. This heirloom chard, also known as Bionda da Costa, is revered by Italian cooks and for good reason. Argentata produces large, deep green leaves with juicy white stalks. The stalks are never stringy or tough like some other chards but soft and tender when steamed. I eat both the leaves and stems. Chard reminds me of steamed spinach only better.

chard_cooked

Here is the steamed Argentata chard with a little balsamic salad dressing on it with my french fingerling potatoes I grew and salmon (which I did not grow!)

And a bonus of Argentata is that it is one of the most cold hardy varieties. It won’t make it through the whole winter here in Santa Fe but will survive longer in the fall than the others with our cold winters. I got my seeds from John Scheppers Kitchen Garden Seeds.

:) We can plant chard seeds inside right now in March and early April and transplant them to the garden in late-April or plants seeds then too but not now as it is still too cold at night.

Spring has Sprung! Boing!

lettuce

Chard (left), WinterWunderland lettuce (center) and Mashal lRed Romaine (right) have doubled in size since planting in February in the greenhouse

Well, now that spring has sprung it’s time to get busy-really busy!  We vegetable gardeners will generally be headless from now on from pre-starting seeds to planting in the garden all those vegetables you’ve been dreaming of trying since January. And some of us are still cleaning up our gardens including me. Now is the time in our area, to continue seed planting or start seeds inside under lights or in a cold frame or a hoophouse. Just about any cold hardy veggies like Asian greens, lettuce, spinach, mesclun and many others can be started inside and some of those can also be started outside right now like arugula, bok choy, spinach and peas. Also if your space is warm enough, you can plant beets inside but DON’T plant beet and carrot seeds outside till April (right around the corner). The reason is the soil is still pretty cold outside in our gardens and they will just sit and sulk until the soil warms up. :(

Spring Equinox

Equinox-0

Yesterday,  March 20 was Spring Equinox, (or Vernal Equinox as it is sometimes called) where the sun passed directly over the earth’s equator and spring was official here in the Northern Hemisphere at 12:57 pm. ‘Down under’ they were having Fall Equinox. The word Equinox means ‘equal nights’ which translates to equal days and equal nights. It’s the first day of Spring.  Many past people have celebrated spring equinox as they knew that soon their food sources would be renewed. Here’s one more interesting fact: The early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx pointing directly towards the rising morning sun on the day of the vernal equinox. Pretty cool.

What a beautiful day it was – unlike the day before with cold temperatures and cold winds.  Thanks you universe for that!