Winter spinach!

Nothing is better than spinach in the winter-sweet and tender. These pics were taken on November 23. I harvested all the outer leaves as they were slowing down their growth when the days got shorter and won’t start growing again till Jan 15. I harvested (two) 2-gallon bags of spinach!

 

Even the big leaves are tender. And it lasts a long time in the refrigerator!
Still good in late December. The variety is Carmel.

 

I still have the plants in my coldframe and hope they make it through winter. If they do, I’ll get 2-3 more harvests in spring. As of this storm last week, they were still alive. With this El Nino weather pattern, we had some much-needed moisture in the form of snow. Having been in an extended drought last year, this moisture is welcomed indeed. And now another storm is hitting us tonight on New Year’s Eve. We shall see how much snow it will dump by tomorrow. Today’s high was 25°F and tonight’s low is 15°F although it has gotten down to 5°F at night this last week.

 

Winter is here early

Fall harvest-tomatoes, Tahiti Butternut squash, Bradford watermelons and Craupadine beets

I just heard last night’s snow was the earliest on record for Oct 14th in Santa Fe. The weather apps have said it was going to be 27°F last night. Woke up this morning to a light snow, ice and the temperature was 24°F here. Harvesting has been intense the last few weeks. Why is there always so much to pick in the end? The only annual crops left are a few kale, beets and cabbages outside in the main garden and greens in the greenhouse and cold frame. I’m not sure how they fared as I wasn’t able to go out and check today, and in truth, with 34°F for a high, I was in no hurry to see if they made it. They were covered with winter weight row cover with the hopes they make it and I will check tomorrow. I was more concerned the barn animals were ok with this first cold snap and made sure all the heaters in the water tanks were working and the chickens had their heat lamps on. I guess winter is here.

Butternut winter squash-doesn’t attract squash bugs

Here is a winter squash that doesn’t attract squash bugs. I’ve grown the very sweet Waltham Butternut, an Italian variety called Rogosa Violina and this year a variety called Tahitian Butternut-all don’t seem to attract squash bugs, at least in my garden. And I grew these because I had read they don’t attract them.

In the last post, I talked about Rugosa Friulana, a summer squash that doesn’t attract squash bugs, so now we have both a winter and summer squash that don’t attract these pesky bugs. Try these two types next year for more carefree squash!

Rugosa Friulana Zucchini-doesn’t attract squash bugs

Rugosa Friulani

I’m trying a new variety of zucchini this year called Rugosa Friulana. It is a yellow, warty zucchini. It is growing 5′ away from my favorite green zucchini, Costata Romanesco. Both are Italian varieties. I thought I’d grow both and compare them.

COMPARSION

BUGS
I covered both plants with row cover after planting by seeds in late May. Male blossoms always appear first with squash, and then the female blossoms (with their little fruit attached at the base of the flower) appear. After the female flowers appear, I uncovered them both so the bees could get in to pollinate them. By keeping them covered early on, I avoided the Squash Viner Borer which appears earlier in the season and is gone by the time the female blossoms appears.

-The Costata Romanesco attracts squash bugs and I pick the adults and eggs off of the plant.

The Rugosa Friulana DOESN’T ATTRACT SQUASH BUGS! That fact alone will make me grow it again.  It’s only 5′ away Costata Romanesco, so you’d think it would attract the squash bug but it doesn’t. How thrilling is that!

PRODUCTION
-The Costata Romanesco started producing zucchini 2 weeks ago-mid-July

-The Rugosa Friulana just produced the first fruits now-Aug 7. Not that much difference.

Costata Romanesco

TASTE
Now comes the taste test. I sliced both and sauteed them in olive oil with only garlic salt.

The Costata Romanesco tends to have less dense flesh and has a sweet nutty flavor. When you slice it into discs, it has beautiful fluted sides. It has always been my favorite.

The Rugosa Friulana has denser flesh when you cut into it (I like that) and has a slightly different flavor (hard to describe but kinda nutty too). When you cut it into discs, it also has ruffly sides from the warts. I like it just as well.

 

So if you only want to grow one zucchini plant, you might consider Rugosa Friulana– very flavorful and squash bug resistant.

Both are really good but just knowing Rugosa Friulana won’t attract squash bugs  makes me want to grow it again. What a pleasant surprise!

 

Harlequin Bug Control

Harlequin bug. Photo courtesy Hobby Farms

I’ve got a lot of questions from people about an orange and black bug attacking their food crops. It’s called a Harlequin bug and it is a bad one for our vegetable gardens. You need to hand-pick them off right away as they can decimate your  vegetable garden. They particularly like crops like cabbage, broccoli and mustard but will attack squash, beans, corn, asparagus, or tomatoes. I pick them off and put in a bucket of soapy water just like for squash bugs. Funny But I don’t remember them in years past but they are here now. Some people are reporting picking off hundreds of them! So don’t wait, get on it NOW.

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Are Harlequin Bugs: How To Get Rid Of Harlequin Bugs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-of-harlequin-bugs.htm

 

Monsoons are here!! Free your tomatoes!

Some of my new dwarf tomatoes-about 3′ tall, loaded with blossoms and some tomatoes and looking good!

TOMATOES ARE FREE! FREE AT LAST!

Now that I’ve had 3 days with some rain and lots more in the forecast, and no leafhoppers in sight, I decided to free the tomatoes. If you still see leafhoppers in your garden, I’d wait a few more days. And of course some of you have already taken the row cover off but I like to err on the side of caution.

Now that they are free, I placed straw over the ground around the tomatoes so no dirt shows. This is done to keep the Early Blight fungal spores from getting on the lower leaves from overhead watering or even the rain. I noticed two tomato plants had Early Blight starting so I immediately cut off the yellowing leaves on the bottom, and trimmed all lower branches, making sure no leaves touch the dirt or straw. I disinfect my trimmers between trimming plants with 10% bleach-about 2 tablespoons in a container big enough to put my hand and the trimmers inside it since I’m reaching in around the leaves and it is contagious between plants.

Tomorrow I will spray all the tomatoes with Serenade, a biological fungicide that will help prevent Early Blight. Sure looks good to see the tomatoes instead of row cover! Finally I can see my garden grow!

Back home in the garden

Beans from Italy coming up nicely under row cover in a bamboo teepee

After a wonderful trip to Italy, I’m now back in the garden trying to get it finished. Seems I got a lot of dry beans in Tuscany at a Florence Farmers Market and have planted 4 different varieties-Fagioli Zolfini, Fagioli Piatellini Nuova, Fagioli con L’Occhio (a black-eyed pea) and Borlotti. These are dry bush beans. I love dry beans as I just have to plant them and after they are up, give them water and you don’t pick them till the end of the season after they dry. Not too many bugs bother them either at my place. They make great soups and stews in winter. So looks like this is the year of the bean.

But I have planted many other interesting crops this year as well.  Other new veggies/fruits include the Bradford watermelon, Tahiti Butternut, a yellow zucchini called Rugosa Fruilana, Craupadine beets and my Fuggle hops and artichoke came back from last year and are doing well. Also 15 bare root raspberries I planted this spring are all up and doing nicely-the variety is Polona-I got them from Nourse nurseries online. My dream is to have so many raspberries I get sick of eating them (never!) And I’m starting a new thornless blackberry (Triple Crown) area in the garden. I got some beautiful 2 gal plants from Newmans for only $15.

And of course I have more tomatoes than I need but have cut down drastically since I am not at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. This year I’m growing more dwarf tomatoes than regular tomatoes and some of them are trials for Craig Lehouiller. All my tomatoes are caged and have row cover wrapped around them to protect them from the Beet leafhopper which passes a deadly virus to them here in the southwest called Curly Top Virus. The row cover is also great for protection from hail storms. It will come off when the monsoons arrive. Hope they do well and can’t wait to taste them. I haven’t eaten a tomato since last November when my crop finished as I won’t eat store-bought tomatoes. Guess I’m a tomato snob.

I’ve actually cut down the garden by 30% this year due to our drought. Pray for rain (no hail please!)