Garlic planted yesterday Oct 26!

Garlic cloves planted and covered with straw for winter protection

Nice day yesterday here in Santa Fe. I planted the garlic I ordered from Filaree Garlic Farm online for the second year and their garlic is great. I ordered 3 hardneck varieties (hardneck varieties do well here in cold climates). They are Penasco Blue, German White and Music. All produce big heads of garlic.  If you plant garlic in late fall (October), you will get bigger heads of garlic in early summer than if you wait till summer to plant it and it’s sooo easy at this time of year. I added about 2 inches of compost on top of my raised bed, lightly dug it in and planted the cloves pointy side up about 3 inches deep. Then water well and add about 6 inches of straw on top for winter protection. Remember to water them in the winter if we don’t get any precipitation and wait for the green leaves to appear in early spring. Nothing  bothers them too and fresh garlic is great! That’s it-easy peezy.

Growing Sweet Potatoes in Santa Fe? Yes!

Sweet potato vines with chard at end of bed

 

I tried sweet potatoes this season. I wasn’t sure if we would have enough time for them to get big. Plus they like really hot, damp climate like in the South where they are grown a lot. Sweet potatoes take between 90-170 days to mature. Yikes! Many varieties would not mature here in our short season. I ended up getting a variety called Georgia Jett because it has one of the shortest growing times—90 days to harvest. It has orange flesh.

I got a dozen sweet potato slips in spring. They arrived in the mail too early to plant. And they were not in good shape when they came. I had to keep them alive in the house till the weather and soil warmed up in late spring. At first, I put a damp paper towel in a plastic bag with the slips to keep moist. I lost 7 of them. Then I eventually had to put them in a glass of water where they started producing roots. As it got close to planting time, I put them outside in a bucket with water. I planted them in June in Wall of Waters as the nights were still cool, We had a late snow on May 20. Five survived.

Sweet potato flower

Well it turns out those five slips filled and overflowed the 10′ x 4′ raised bed. They are easy to grow and not much bothers them, plus no bugs. They just need water and heat, which we got plenty of heat this summer. They are beautiful plants. I’m not sure where I coulda put the other 7 as they are rampant growers and need space. Plus I didn’t know they are related to morning glories and have a beautiful flower which is smaller than a morning glory flower. Another bonus!

Left side-sweet potatoes still curing Right side-sweet potatoes with dirt brushed off and ready for pantry

They have now been harvested and many of them are very large. They are curing inside the house because they must be kept warm during the curing process. Curing is a hardening off process for veggies like squash and garlic to harden the skins and in this case to sweeten them as well. When you dig them out, don’t wash off the dirt while they are curing. They have to cure for 10 days in a warm space. After that, you can lightly brush off the dirt but still don’t wash them till just before use. Store them in a dark space like regular potatoes. I don’t know about the flavor yet as they are still curing inside the house but they look good. I’ll let you know when I eat some of them about the flavor.

Veggie Garden Finito!

Three boxes of green tomatoes (now ripening inside), Butternut squash, Pink Glass Gem corn harvested Oct 9

The veggie garden is done for the season. Harvesting was intense since the first freeze came about a week earlier this year.

Onions and sweet potatoes and other crops (not pictured) harvested this past Sunday

I harvested the last of the warm season crops like corn, tomatoes, raspberries, squash before the very first hard freeze on Oct 10.

Then this past Sunday, Oct 20th, I finished harvesting the last of my cool season crops-carrots, fennel, kale, onions, kale, Swiss chard, cabbage and sweet potatoes (more on sweet potatoes later). All are inside now. I have so much produce, I brought in some tables to put everything on. I’ve been sharing much of the harvest with friends.

I will clean up the dead vegetation before the ground freezes which will be sometime in early December.

I once waited to clean up the garden in the spring but found it was too much work, what with adding amendments in the soil and planting a new garden, so now I do it in the fall.

Winter is Coming! (tomorrow nite-October 10)

As they kept saying in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming” and it is coming here tomorrow night. Low temperatures tomorrow (Wednesday) will be 24°F and Thursday night will be 27°F. I’ve been harvesting everything I can before the cold hits. Afterwards is too late.

Most of my garden is done but here are some crops that may still need harvesting. I will pick my winter squash now and put it in the house. While winter squash likes it cold, it does not like the temperatures below freezing and can be ruined if they freeze–they should last months in the house.

Pick any green tomatoes of decent size and put them 2 layers deep in paper bags. The bags will keep the tomatoes in the dark. Then put a slice of apple in the bag (it releases ethylene gas, a natural ripening agent) and close up the bag to speed up the ripening process. Check the bag several times a week and you can move them to your kitchen table once they turn color. They are never quite as good as sun-ripened tomatoes but still 200% better than store bought and you may have home grown tomatoes into November.

Harvest all other warm season crops like beans, peppers, eggplants, corn, cucumbers, summer squash and melons-if they are not already picked.

Harvest onions if you still have any.

Cool season crops like broccoli, kale, cabbage, arugula and other leafy greens may survive but will need winter weight row cover over them to protect them from the below freezing nights. Take off in the day and recover at night when freezing. You can get row cover (winter weight) at some of the local nurseries. Just call around.

Beets and carrots should be ok but should be harvested before the ground freezes rock hard in December.

If you have lettuce, I would pick it as it will freeze. You may be able to save it with row cover over it, but it is chancy.

Herbs can be cut and dried in your house.

Of course if you have a cold frame, your season could still be extended if you cover the plants inside with row cover.

So pick everything you can today and tomorrow and don’t forget to disconnect your drip systems so they don’t freeze either. Get busy!

2019–A lousy year for tomatoes

This year was a lousy year for tomatoes for me. Other gardeners have said as much too. Except for one raised bed with 8 tomato plants that are my salvation, the other 17 tomato plants in a different section have not produced well.

Why I asked? A couple of things come to mind for me.

First, we got a late snow on May 20th. The first frost free date is suppose to be May 15th here, but not this year. Plus our spring was cold. That caused me to to put the transplant in the ground on May 25th in wall of waters. I could have transplanted them earlier in the wall of waters but I didn’t have the heart to put them out earlier. It’s hard to do when you’ve started them from seeds 6 weeks earlier and it’s cold or freezing outside. I didn’t want them to stress or even die in the cold nights.

The previous year was we had a very warm spring and I was able to get out the tomato transplants in the ground on May 6th-quite a difference 3 weeks can make in a short growing season.

The second thing that comes to mind was we had a hot June where the temperatures were above 92°F for much of the month. Any temperatures over 92°F will cause tomato blossom drop during the pollination process. The plants did flower and then dropped their blossoms. Pollination temperatures are critical for setting tomato fruit-we want the temps to be below 92°F. After they set their fruit, temperature is not a big factor and the fruit will grow.

The third thing is the monsoons were late. They normally come at the end of the first week in July but didn’t materialize until the end of July and then only for a short period of time. The monsoons stopped and it got too hot again for tomato pollination-hence more blossom drop in July.

Lastly, the soil in the beds were not as good where the 17 tomato plants are in. They are in a newer section where the soil is not as rich. This pointed out to me (again) the need to improve the soil with more compost.

Now the temps are beautiful but basically our season has slowed down and will end for tomatoes whenever we get that first freeze which is between now and October 15th. So before that night comes, when I hear a freeze is eminent, I will pick those few green tomatoes and bring them inside to ripen. For tips on ripening tomatoes inside, go to my post here.

It was a disappointing season for tomatoes here in my garden. How about the rest of you? How did your tomato plants do this year?

Mother nature is sometimes not so generous to gardeners!

 

Snake in the chicken coop!

Well, well, well, look what I found this week in the chicken coop! A bull snake trying to eat an egg but I got it before he did! Now I check a few times a day if I’m home to make sure it doesn’t get an egg. I like the snake around the coop as it keeps the mice population down but I guess this egg was an easier meal to catch!

Peaches galore!

This was the a great year for peach harvests. A friend called me and told me they picked over 200 lbs of peaches off of their two peach trees! The tree variety is called Contender, and she bought them from Tooley’s Trees up in Truchas. She invited me to come and get some and I took about 15 lbs of peaches.

I made two wonderful galettes with peaches and raspberries. I used Deborah Madison’s recipe for the galette crust from her Seasonal Fruit Desserts book. Really simple to do and the best crust ever-light and flaky!

I also made 24 jars of peach-raspberry jam with honey–Delicious!

The rest of the fresh peaches were eaten within the week! What a treat!