Plants suffer in 21°F weather/changes for the better by Friday April 17

Well, almost all my tulips bite the dust with the cold weather but these pictured above lifted up their heads and survived. At least I got about two weeks of glorious color to brighten my days before this latest cold snap and they will come back every year.

Looks like the weather will get above freezing from Friday nite April 17th when it is suppose to be 38°F to Saturday April 25th. But this is not carved in stone. As the saying goes here, if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.

Everybody needs to become a weather bug to see what is happening as the weather can change day by day and sometimes even hour by hour. I call this the ‘shoulder season’ where one day it is warm and sunny and the next day/nite cold and freezing and always windy here in spring. These are our springs-ever changing but of course then June will come and we will get too hot! It is way to soon to plant any warm season crops yet. To be safe, wait till May 15 and later.  Last year we got snow on May 27 and the year before I was able to put out my tomato plants on May 7 in Wall of Waters. If the late spring weather really warms up or if you are a gambler, you may be able to plant warm season crops earlier but not without some protection. Otherwise you may be replanting…

If you are looking to start cool weather crops by seeds or starts in your garden, be sure to cover your plants with row cover. Winter weight row cover is best but 2 layers of mid-weight will work as well if you don’t have the heavier weight. I even keep the areas where I plant seeds covered and you can water through row cover till they are acclimated. That way as they germinate, they will get some protection. The row cover is also really good to protect baby starts from our ferocious spring winds which can wipe them out as well as our cold nights. I do flip row cover off the plants on nice days, then back on at nite. You can get this online. I have had friends put sheets over their plants and even one who wrapped a tree in a sleeping bag! Both froze-after all you need a body to keep things warm in a sleeping bag! I never said it would easy growing here in our area BUT you can do so with a few protections.

Beets planted by starts survived

I planted a week ago by seeds-carrots and arugula-they are not up yet. At the same time, I planted beet starts. They are suffering from those 21°F nites out in the garden but are alive. Shallots bulbs, kale and fava beans are all very cold hardy and doing well. Peas got eaten by some thing 4 legged. All were put out one week before this cold snap and all are alive because of row cover on them. All lettuces and spinach were in either my greenhouse or a coldframe and did fine, but they too were covered with 2 layers of row cover.

It seems like from Friday, April 17th the nites will get above freezing for at least a week. This would be a good time to start cool season crops outside whether by seed or starts. So watch the weather and don’t forget to hand water them!

2019 Garden pics!

Here are some pics of my garden this year. Now that we are in September, I wanted to capture it in all it’s glory before it’s gone. I’ve worked hard tweaking out the infrastructure with new framed beds and weed barriers and wood chips in the paths this year. Having retired from the Santa Fe Farmers Market two seasons ago has allowed me to do more in the garden. I also added some perennial fruit like raspberries and blackberries since I don’t need space for 125 tomato plants anymore! By mid-October or sooner, it will be toast with the first frost so might as well enjoy it while I have it. I have an abundance of flowers this year that I grew for my edible flower class and besides being beautiful and edible, they attract many beneficial insects and pollinators. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Cylindra and Chiogga beet harvest

Chiogga beets on the left and Cylindra beets on the right

I just harvested my beets I planted in the spring and got 13 lbs! I grew two heirloom varieties- Cylindra and Chiogga.

The Cylindra beet is originally from Denmark although the seeds are available in the states as well. They are a rather long, sweet buttery beet which is great when sliced. It is a dark red and actually grows a little out of the soil so they are easy to see when they are ready for harvest. One of my favorite varieties of beets.

CHiogga beets are striped insideThe Chiogga (pronounced kee-OH-gee-uh) is an Italian heirloom that was establish in the 1840s. It is a round beet that has beautiful pink and white concentric stripes inside and the flavor is sweet as well-another favorite of mine.

I’m going to start more from seed for a fall harvest. Anybody got some great recipes for beets?

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.

Root Trainers-unique propagating trays

Fava beans in Root Trainer

I started using ‘Deep Root trainers’ last year for my fava beans and other bean crops that need deep cells or for plants that don’t want the roots disturbed when planting. The cool thing about them is that the cells are 5 inches deep and shaped like a clamshell, with two sides that open up like a book.  There are 8 sections total that fit snugly in a tray to hold them upright that comes with the kit. They are great as they have grooves that keep the roots growing straight instead of circling in the cell and strangling the plant. They also air prune when they hit the bottom of the cell.  No need to transplant into another pot, just plant them out in the garden. You just put seed starting soil in each cell, pat it down and put the seeds in. The only drawback is the plastic clamshells are very fragile and must be handled super carefully to keep from cracking but knowing that, I am careful and have them for three years so far. You can get them through Amazon. Get the 5″ deep ones, NOT the 3″ ones.

Pictured above are fava beans in their cells, 6 are already planted in the ground. Just carefully open the clamshell and slide them out into your hole in the ground with no root disturbance for those sensitive plants that hate to be transplanted.

Craupadine beets started in Root Trainer

I also used root trainers with a hard to germinate french variety of beet called ‘Craupadine’. It is probably the oldest beet in existence. I have not had much luck with germination when planting these seeds directly in the ground so I decided to try them in the rootrrainers this year and have much better germination although still spotty. I thought being a root vegetable, they probably would not like to have that main root disturbed. I think they will do well. I won’t wait till the plants are too big.  I am planting them outside after the first true leaves (cotyledon leaves) come out. So far 27 have germinated which is more than I have ever grown at one time.  They are ready for transplant above. I am so excited as these are the sweetest beets I’ve ever eaten. The french farmer markets cook them over a smokey fire in foil and serve them still warm.

Tomato and Vegetable Winners in 2017 garden

Here are my favorite vegetables that I grew for 2017. Mind you I’m super picky and I’m sure there are many other varieties out there waiting to be tried that are great. That’s what keeps it interesting for me. Also I give you where I bought the seeds or transplants. You may be able to buy these elsewhere but this is where I purchased them from.

2017 Tomato Winners

***ALL-TIME FAVORITE TOMATO
Lucky Cross: MY FAVORITE TOMATO-Bigger tomato. Starts yellow then turns more pinkish yellow on the outside with red marbling inside. Sweet and luscious with few cracks. Ripens later in the season but before the end of the season. Part Brandywine and tastes like them. DELICIOUS!  Not to be confused with Little Lucky tomato. Seeds from Victory Seeds

 

RED
Goliath: A very abundant and nice size red tomato. No cracks and old-fashioned tomato flavor-excellent. Seeds from Totally Tomato seeds

Costoluto Genevese: Beautiful fluted tomato with old-fashioned tomato flavor from Italy. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Marmande Garnier Rouge: A medium to large dark-red slightly fluted tomato from France-excellent old-fashion tomato flavor. Seeds from Secret Seeds Cartel

Big Zac: Huge, red sweet tomato-takes all season to ripen but still one of my favorites-worth the wait. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

 

PASTE
Goldman’s Italian American: My favorite for a sauce tomato-Unique, beautiful and large tomatoes have a pear shape, being ribbed and pleated. These have an intense red color and fantastic flavor when ripe. Thick, red flesh is perfect for delicious tomato sauces. Ripens towards end of season. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

 

PINK
NEW! Stump of the World: Big pink tomato with sweet flavor. Good at high altitudes. Seeds from Tomato Growers

 

PURPLE or BLACK

Purple Cherokee: Dusky purple with dark shoulders-Always a favorite-sweet, flavor. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

Paul Robeson: Dark brown with green shoulders-Always a favorite-sweet, earth flavor. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

 

BI-COLOR
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye: Dark pink with green stripes-great sweet flavor.
Seeds from Wild Boars Farms or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

Black and Brown Boar: Brownish-red tomato with green stripes-good, sweet, earthy flavor. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms

NEW! Summer of Love: Large and very meaty red/yellow bi-color beefsteak with purple anthocyanin splashes on the sun-kissed fruit-wonderful flavor. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms

NEW! Lover’s Lunch: A very beautiful and tasty striped red/yellow with bi-colored flesh.  This large, meaty, fruity and sweet tomato has stand-out flavor. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms

NEW! Lucid Gem: First they ripen yellow, than more of an orange when very ripe. Very attractive with black purple anthocynin splashes on shoulder that contrast with the yellow skin.  Flavor is very good- Sweet with fruity tones. Very meaty, very few Seeds – One of the best varieties for heat tolerance. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms

NEW! Solar Flare-XL: Bigger than the regular Solar Flare-very sweet red with faint yellow stripes. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms

 

CHERRY TOMATOES
Artisan Blush Tiger: I love this one-fruity flavor. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

Pink Bumblebee: Great sweet flavor. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

Black Cherry: One of my favorites that I grow EVERY year. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

Sungold: One of my few hybrids-Always a favorite-super sweet yellow cherry tomato. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

——————————————————————————————–

2017 vegetable winners

ARUGULA
Wasabi arugula: This arugula gives the same nose-tingling sensation as the wasabi condiment used in Japanese dishes. This variety is very quick to bolt but delicious. Grow in early spring before heat. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

BEANS-DRY
NEW! Borlotti Lamon’ beans: Climbing beautiful cream, red splashed shell on outside with beans being a pale pink with red splotches inside if you let them dry. I like to harvest them when dry. According to the Venetians, Lamon’s are “THE” bean for ‘pasta fagiolo’. Seeds from Seeds of Italy

BEANS-GREEN
Émérite Filet Pole Bean: Émérite is a true Filet Bean from France, produced on graceful vines growing to 8′ tall. When picked early and often, the beans are tender and have outstanding flavor. Seeds from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

BEETS
Craupadine: I’ve tried this one before-poor germination every year except for one year and the one year it did germinate, it tasted FANTASTIC-sweetish beet I’ve ever eaten. Will try to start seeds inside this year to see if I get better germination. Would really like to get this one again. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

BOK CHOY
Violetta bok choy: A beautiful green with purple tipped leaves and tastes great sautéed. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

CABBAGE
Kalibos Red cabbage: This Eastern European heirloom cabbage has a pointed shape and intense red/purple leaves. Beautiful and sweet flavor. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange

CHARD
Argentata chard: Has green leaf with big white stalks that when cooked, melt in your mouth. Plus it is the most cold tolerant variety in my garden outlasting many other varieties of chard. Seeds from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

CUCUMBERS
Poona Kheera: My all-time favorite eating cucumber. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

EGGPLANT
Fairy Tale: my favorite-never bitter or tough skin. No need to peel this small eggplant. I just cut them in half  and saute or BBQ them. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

FENNEL
Florence Fennel: A bulb type fennel from Italy. Wonderful mild anise taste to add to Chippino or Boulabaise. I chop it and freeze it for use later. Seeds from Seeds of Italy or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

PEPPER
Jimmy Nardello: Super sweet, red pepper-good for sauteing or cook on BBQ. It is thin-walled. Good cooked or raw. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

SPINACH
Carmel: A fabulous early spring spinach with great flavor. The only spinach to survive winter with row cover. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

SQUASH-WINTER
Waltham Butternut: I grew it because I had heard it doesn’t get squash bugs and that was true for me-good flavor too. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

Rogosa Violina “Gioia” Butternut: An Italian version of Butternut. Grew much larger with excellent flavor and no squash bugs-YAY! Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

SQUASH-SUMMER
Costata Romanesco zucchini: This is the most flavorful zucchini I’ve ever tasted-sweet nutty flavor. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

WATERMELON
Moon and Stars:
This has a beautiful dark green skin with yellow ‘stars’. Taste is super sweet and it ripened before the end of the season. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe

 

Vegetables for the Table-Tomato Lady 2017 favorites

Here are my favorite vegetables going into the 2017 growing season. I may not have room for all these in the gardening but these are my favorites as of right now

VEGETABLES FOR THE TABLE-TOMATO LADY’S FAVORITES

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

SAUCE TOMATOES
Goldman’s Italian American-85D
San Marzano

DRYING TOMATOES
Principe Borghese
Any cherry tomato

CHERRY TOMATOES
Sungold*
Green Grape
Black Cherry
Pink Bumblebee
Purple Bumblebee
Artisan Blush Tiger

EARLY TOMATOES-52-65 days
Matina
Stupice
Sungold (cherry)*
Glacier
Siberian
Fireworks

MID-SEASON-65-78 days
Bella Rosa*-very firm even when ripe
Marmande
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Black and Brown Boar
Paul Robeson
Costoluto Genevese
Juane Flamme

LATE-SEASON-80 days +
Porkchop
Big Zac*
Pantano Romanesco
Purple Cherokee-purple tomato
Paul Robeson-dark tomato
Indigo Apple or Indigo Rose
Lucky Cross

*denotes hybrid tomato

BEANS
Rattlesnake-pole
Emerite-french filet-pole
Romano-Italian pole or bush
Tarbais-dry pole bean for French cassoulet

BEETS
Cylindra
Touchstone Gold
Detroit Red
Chiogga-beautiful red with white stripes inside

CARROTS
Cosmic Purple
Atomic Red
Scarlet Nantes-orange sweet
Chantenay Red-orange very sweet

CHARD
Ruby Red-gorgeous red/good flavor
Argentata-white stem-favorite in Italy-very cold hardy

CUCUMBERS
EATING
Poona Kheera-best tasting ever
Lemon cucumber-never bitter

PICKLING
Boothsby Blonde-Bread and Butter pickles
Parisian-Cornichon pickles
Russian Pickling-Dill pickles
Mini Whites-sweet pickles

EGGPLANT
Rosa Bianca-big eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan
Fairytale-small, sauté or BBQ

PEPPER
Jimmy Nardello-red thin skin pepper for sautéing-SWEET
Shishito-Japanese small green pepper-saute-serve for tapas-NOT HOT
Poblano-use for chile relleno/MILDLY HOT

SQUASH
Winter Squash
Sweet Meat
Butternut-will not attract squash bugs
Galeux D’ Eyesines

Summer Squash
Costata Romanesco-zucchini-Favorite of Deborah Madison also
Bennings Green Tint-patty pan

 

What’s up in the garden!

20140403122458-Meraviglia-di-venezia-a-grano-biancoStill catching up on what’s up in the garden. I planted a new bean called Climbing pole French Bean – Meraviglia Venezia that I bought from Franchi Seeds. It’s a Romano type of bean only yellow in color. I wonder what it will taste like. I also planted Emerite french filet pole bean from John Scheepers Vegetable seeds and a Chartreuse leaf colored scarlet runner pole bean which I grow for looks as the bright yellow-green leaves look fantastic against other greens.

 

Detroit Red beets, Craupadine beets and Atomic Red carrot seeds were planted directly in the garden. I put row cover over all of them to keep the birds from eating the bean seeds and to keep moisture in the ground for the beets and carrots.  If you’ve had trouble with birds eating germinating seeds, put row cover over them till they get about 3 inches tall. The Detroit beets and carrots are coming up nicely but the Craupadine beets are not. They are so hard for me to germinate compared to other beet seeds-still I try as I love the flavor of them.

cuke transplantsCucumber seeds planted in 2″ pots in the greenhouse at end of May, have germinated and will go into the garden today-June 15. The varieties are: Poona Kheera cucumbers (best tasting slicing cuke ever-never get bitter), Parisian cucumbers (I will make Cornichon pickles out of them), Boothby Blonde cucumber seeds will become Bread and Butter pickles and National Pickling cucumber seeds which will become dill pickles. Can’t wait to make pickles!

Pillbugs_(Armadillidiidae)Last year and every year before, I planted cucumber seeds directly in the ground but roly polys ate my cucumber seeds as they germinated last year in the soil. Roly polys, sow bugs, pill bugs, potato bugs are sort of interchangeable names for Armadillidiidae. They are actually good composters of horse manure so they are great in a compost pile but can damage small seedlings as they germinate in your garden when you plant seeds. Last year, I thought it was a cut worm eating all my seedlings, but found the roly polys instead to be the culprits. I had to plant 3x before I could get enough up and only after I sprayed them with Neem did I have success. This year I pre-started them in the greenhouse in 2″ pots to get them a little bigger. I find when seedlings are bigger, the roly polys don’s bother them anymore. They only like the young tender seedlings as they emerge.  If they do eat some of my other seedlings that are direct seed planted, they will be toast as I will spray Neem Oil on the roly polys on the soil where they live to get rid of them.

Rogosa-Violina butternut

Rugosa Violina Butternut Squash

The winter squash varieties I’ve planted are Rugosa Violina Butternut and Waltham Butternut. I grow Butternut squash because it doesn’t attract squash bugs! It’s the winter squash to grow if they are a problem.

 

 

 

 

calabacitas squash pic

Calabacitas squash

I’m also growing ‘Tahume’ Calabacitas squash which is really a winter squash picked very immature-we eat it like summer squash out here in Santa Fe especially in the dish called Calabacitas, which is a mixture of sauteed onions, corn, Hatch green chili and calabacitas squash. I got this from Botanical Gardens seed company. Very yummy!

 

 

 

costata romanesco

Costata Romanesco zucchini

Summer squash varieties I started are Costata Romanesco zucchini (best flavor ever) and ‘Bennings Green Tint’ patty pan. If I hadn’t had such trouble with the rolly polys last year I would just plant the seeds in the ground and you should too if they are not a problem for you. The soil has warmed up nicely—over 70°F which is perfect for squash seed germination.

 

bennings-green-tint-scallop-squash

Bennings Green tint summer squash

Should be done with all veggies planted this week. So if you think you are behind in the garden this year, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Veggie chips-yams, beets, carrots & red potatoes

veggie chips final

After making kale chips, I thought why not try making other veggie chips from some of my vegetables. After all, I’ve seen veggie chips in the stores and thought it would be fun to try make some. So far I’ve done yams, beets, carrots and red potatoes. Some of them I did in the dehydrator and some I did in the oven.

mandolinemandoline setting

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all of them I used a mandoline. Mandolines are used for slicing things very thin. The one I got was not very expensive but does the job well. It has 4 settings with #1 setting slicing the thinnest and #4 the thickest and all of the settings still slice thinner than you could do with a kitchen knife. Not having used one before, I started using #1 setting which slices super thin. I then tried #2 setting which I liked better for the dehydrator and then used the #3 setting which worked even better for both the oven and the dehydrator. It was all an experiment. Here is how I did them:

Yams
I started using the #1 setting of the mandoline to slice the yams which was too thin. Hard to believe it can slice veggies that thin. More like shavings. One big yam filled 10 trays!  I like the dehydrator for these as you don’t have to watch them so closely and they keep their gorgeous color. After they were done, they were paper thin. Subsequent batches I used the #2 and #3 setting which were more like a potato chip in thickness.

yam sliced

After cutting the slices of yams, I put lemon juice on them, about a tablespoon of olive oil and massaged them in till everything is coated.

yams on dryer

Then I put them out on the trays. You have to spread them out being careful to not overlap them so they can crisp up.I lightly put some crushed rosemary on some of them and just lightly salted all of them. The rest just had salt but no rosemary. Experiment. I set the dehydrator to 145-150°F for 2 hours and then turned it down to 135°F till the chips were crispy. Hard to say how long they take as it depends how thin you slice them and what temperature you use. It took 2 hours for super thin and maybe 4 hours for the #2 setting on the mandoline. They should be crunchy like potato chips.

beets sliced

Beets
I used the#2 setting on the mandoline but think you can use the #3 setting as well for a more substantial bite. I put lemon juice and olive oil on some of them and on some of them I dipped in a cane sugar solution to make the beets sweeter-no lemon juice on those. I saw that as an ingredient in the store bought chips but afterwards felt it is not really necessary. Put on trays and lightly salt them.

carrots drying

Carrots
I used the #2-3 setting on the mandoline. Do the same as above with just olive oil and salt.

 

Red potatoes
For these I decided to try them in the oven as the thought of dehydrating raw potatoes didn’t really appeal to me. They were easy. I sliced them in my mandoline using the #3 setting which works well. I think they need to be a little thicker when using the oven as it gets done faster than using the dehydrator.

potatoes ready

When using the oven to dehydrate or baking the chips, you must really pay attention. If you do them in the oven, set your oven on 250°F (the lowest setting on many ovens). They cook pretty fast-about 45 minutes. You’ll have to watch them closely towards the end so not to burn them. Some recipes say set your oven at 300-400°F but when I did that they burned very quickly and were inedible.

For these I put about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and olive oil massaged in, then spread them out single layer on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then added salt on some, salt and pepper on others and salt and smoked paprika on still others. I tried onions but they turned out kinda funky.

potatoes_dried

Here are the finished potatoes.

Starting COLD HARDY VEGETABLES Super Early

lettuce_greenhouse germinating

So now that the Persephone period is almost over and the magic date of January 15th is upon us, what does that mean? It means our day lengths are getting longer and January 15th is when we start getting 10 hours of daylight that will continue to get longer every day. Have you noticed already it now gets dark around 5:30 instead of 5 pm? The darkest time of the year is over. What does that mean to gardeners? To learn how to start cold hardy vegetable seeds super early outside and how also how to start them inside read on.

STARTING COLD HARDY VEGETABLE SEEDS OUTSIDE: cold frme opened
If you want to try growing cold hardy vegetables outdoors at this time of year, you will need a cold frame, low tunnel or hoop house.

If you already planted cold hardy vegetables late last fall in a cold frame, low tunnel or hoop house, you may have noticed that the little seedlings haven’t been growing much at all as winter set in. Now with longer daylight hours, they will start to grow again and barring any devastating freezes, they will continue to grow and you can get cold hardy crops earlier this spring.

In late winter, before you have harvest your winter crops, decide what you want to plant in your bed once space opens up in your cold frame.  As the end of the Persephone period draws near (January 15) , you can re-seed the openings created from your harvesting or you could start planting seeds in your bed if you don’t have anything growing. My soil in my unheated greenhouse is at 40°F right now (as of January 12). Lots of cold hardy vegetables germinate in cold soil.  They will be slow to start at first but they will start as your soil warms up to 40°F and warmer. Now with the day light getting longer, you can think about starting early. The winter sowing you do will be ready for harvest by early spring, often long before the same crop when grown outside without protection. A bonus is many of the cold hardy winter crops don’t like our springs, bolting on the first few warm days so you’ll be able to harvest that spinach before it bolts!

Some cold-hardy plants planted inside a cold frame, low tunnel or hoop house can tolerate a hard freeze at night, provided they are allowed to thaw during the day. The plants must be completely thawed before you harvest them. In addition, put some winter row cover over seedlings at night to give them an additional 4-6°F protection even though they are already in a cold frame, etc. Remove the row cover on days when it is above freezing. Watering is necessary to get crops started, but they will generally need very little water during the winter season-early spring once established.

STARTING VEGETABLE SEEDS INSIDE:
I’ve already written about starting seeds inside on many earlier posts.
To learn all about starting seeds indoors to get a head start go here:
https://giantveggiegardener.com/2012/03/08/starting-seeds-inside/

WINTER HARDY VEGETABLES
The following list of winter vegetables to grow is from ‘The Winter Harvest Handbook’ by Elliot Coleman. These can be planted either as transplants (first started inside under lights) or outside as seeds in cold frames, low tunnels or hoop houses.

Asian greens-Tatsoi, Pak Choi (Mei Quing Choi), Mizuna, Tokyo Bekana,Komatsuna

arugula-Astro, Sylvetta

beets-Red Ace, Merlin, Touchstone Gold

beet leaves-Bull’s Blood, Red Ace

carrot-Napoli, Mokum, Nelson

chard-Fordhook Giant, Ruby Red, Argentata

claytonia

endive-Bianca Riccia

leek-Tadorna

lettuce-Red Saladbowl, Tango, Rex, Rouge d’hiver

 mache-Vit

minutina

mustard green-Toyoko Beau

radishes-Tinto, D’Avignon, Cherriette

scallion-White Spear

sorrel

spinach-Space

turnip-Hakurei

watercress

Cold Damage on Winter Crops

garden dec 9 2014

Well  here it is in early December and not surprisingly, most of the outside crops in the main garden, ‘bit the dust’ as they say—died. A few are still alive. It is warmer now—here are the results of those cold snaps we had.

 

The Toscano Kale with freeze burn. It is more sensitive to cold temperatures  than other kales

Toscano Kale

The Toscana (aka Lacinato or dinosaur) kale got severely damaged. It is cold sensitive and although it’s not completely dead, it is unharvestable. Here it is with the leaves burned from the cold.

 

Russian Red kale is still alive

Russian Red kale

 

The Russian Red and Curly Leaf kale are still going and have some damage as well but the new growth is doing well. I haven’t watered them at all-nature has with a little snow and a nice rain the other day- almost an inch. I do have them covered with 2 layers of winter weight row cover.

gourds in field

The gourds are still drying in the field. Some are starting to get lighter in weight so I will put those in the garden shed to finish drying. The rest will stay outside until they dry more.

bubble wrap down on windowsThe green house is button up fairly tight now with just a little venting at the top panels. I’ve put the bubble wrap on all the windows (bubbles faced to the window) for extra insulation. I’ve also put the 4 barrels with water in them on the north wall for them to absorb heat in the daytime (I took them out during the summer), releasing the heat at night (the theory is that the sun which is lower and further to the south will hit them on the north wall and warm up in the daytime). I’m not sure I have enough barrels to do much good but even one degree will be helpful once it gets cold again.

winter lettuces

I’ve planted 2 winter lettuce varieties in the green house as transplants back in early November. The cold hard varieties are a green variety-Winter Wunder and a red variety-Marshall Red Romaine. They both have made it so far through those cold snaps although they have slowed down in growth because of the shorter daylight hours. They will stop growing until sometime in January when the daylight hours start to get longer.  Winter Wunder is my favorite lettuce but only grows well during the cold months. When it starts to get even a little warm, it will bolt. The lettuces have 2 layers of row cover over them at night and have some protection from the unheated greenhouse (at least from the winds). I’ve also noticed that the lettuces don’t need a lot of water now (about once every 2 weeks). It will be interesting to see if they make it Dec-February. Don’t they look wonderful in the winter!

There has been about a 4-7°F difference between the greenhouse temperature and the outside temperature at 7 am in the morning when I check everything. When I add the row cover at night I get about 4-6 degrees more protection. I’m not sure what to expect this winter since this is my first December-January  in the greenhouse. Last year when we finished up the greenhouse I start planting on February 17th so now I will see if these established greens can survive Dec-Jan.

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

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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.

What unusual vegetable seeds are you trying this year?

seeds

I’m always interested in what unusual seeds people are trying (or have had success with).  So I’m sharing what seeds I will try, where I got them and I hope some of you will do the same. For a complete list of all my crops for 2014 go here.

2014 unusual seeds that I will try:

African Bushel gourd-big round gourds the size of a bushel basket! Suppose to be good to use as containers after they dry out. You know me and giant things!

White Egg gourds-from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange-small egg gourd-looks like white chicken eggs-sounds like fun! Now I can pretend my old girls are still laying!

Tarbais beans-from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds-a pole bean that you dry out and cook for bean stews, soups and cassoulets. More delicate flavor than navy beans. These use to be hard to find in the states but thankfully Baker Heiloom Seeds has carried them for 2 years now.

Eyesines de Galeux-from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds-a salmon warty winter squash that tastes divine. The more ‘worts’ the sweeter it tastes. More worts=more sugar in it.

Sweet Meat-Another great winter squash-so sweet you don’t have to add anything to it to sweeten it. Also a great keeper-I just finished eating our last one in February.

Peredovik sunflower seed– from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange-this is the black oil sunflower seed that your birds eat in bird seed food.

Jimmy Nardello pepper-a red ‘chili’ looking pepper but sweet-from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange-a sweet long red pepper delicious when sautéed.

Bullshorn (Corno Di Toro) pepper-a red ‘chili’ looking pepper but sweet-from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange-another sweet long red pepper delicious when roasted or sautéed.

‘Canoncito’ landrace red hot chili pepper-This one I got from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and is a local seed from north of Espanola.

Charentais melon-from Baker Heirloom Seeds-one of the most flavorful melons from France or so they say.

Purple Bumblebee tomatoes-from Baker Heirloom-small purple and green striped larger cherry tomato. Part of the new Artisan tomatoes out this year.

Round Black Spanish radish-from Baker Heirloom Seeds-I got one from our local organic market and it was delicious so I’m gonna try them this year.

Craupadine beets-from Baker Heirloom Seeds-one of the ugliest but sweetest tasting beets ever-from France.

Review of 2012 vegetables

fall harvest

2012 VEGGIE LIST

Here is my review of what I will and won’t grow again from last year’s vegetables that I tried and why. I will put tomatoes in another list since there are so many of them!

WILL GROW AGAIN
ARUGULA
-Apollo-nice leaf size and flavor

BEANS
-Rattlesnake bean/pole-remarkably flavored pole bean-grows very tall-great for trellises or arbor
-Tarbais bean/pole-dry bean-after much work FINDING IT last year in the states, you can now get this wonderful bean from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. I will make a french dish called cassoulet with it.
-Fava Bean/bush-wonderful flavor and 2 crops last year. A little work shelling it twice but worth it. Also is a good cover crop replenishing the soil with nitrogen.
-Golden Scarlet Runner/pole-I grow runners for their flowers/foliage-the foliage on this one is a striking chartreuse color against the scarlet flowers-simply beautiful

BEETS
– Craupadine-BEST tasting (but ugly) beet around
-Cylindra-long cylinder shape, great taste, easy cutting into slices

BOK CHOY
-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-wonderful flavor-I like to cut one in half, saute it in olive oil, and add tamari when you flip it

CARROTS
-Atomic Red-great color and flavor
-Cosmic Purple-one of my favorites

CHARD
-Bright Lights-adds great color tucked into the garden and good flavor
-Argentata-thick juicy stalks with huge leaves-very cold tolerant
-Ruby Red-one of the prettiest and tasty chards out there

CUCUMBERS
-Parisian Pickling-used for making cornichon pickles
-Boothsby Blonde-used for making bread and butter pickles
-Poona Kheera-best flavor for eating
-Armenian– fun to grow, good flavor, few seeds

EGGPLANT
-Fairy Tale-sweet, no bitter taste and tender (not tough) skin

LETTUCES
–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce

PEAS
-Dwarf Sugar Gray-great in salads or steamed, grows about 3 ft tall

PEPPER–want to try some different varieties from Europe this year as well
-Shishito (Japanese non-hot pepper)-one of my favorites
-Poblanos-mildly hot (I call it warm), great for chile rellanos or scrambled eggs, wonderful smoky flavor

POTATOES–first year grower and I’m hooked!
-French Fingerling-OMG, the best flavor!
-Peruvian Purple-I loved the flavor of these as well

SPINACH
-Bloomsdale and Tyee

SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI
-Costata Romanesco-best tasting zuke around

SUNFLOWERS-technically a flower but they are veggies for the birds!
-will grow another huge patch of different varieties-beautiful and the birds love them
-Russian Mammoth AND Titan– for us/birds to eat
-Black Oil-for the birds only

TOMATILLO-Green-good for tomatillo salsa-only need one plant as they are so prolific.

WON’T GROW AGAIN
BEAN-Emerite bean/pole bean- great flavor but didn’t grow high enough to cover my teepee and I will grow others this year.

CARROTS
-Paris Market-too small, bland flavor, not impressed

CALABICITAS SQUASH
-seed from local grower-turns out it was a native winter squash, not calabacitas squash.

CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

FENNEL/FINOCCHIO
-Di Firenze-might grow one or two but not 25 plants like last year!

PEPPER
-Jalapeno-I don’t use them enough to call for space in the garden. I’ll just buy the few I use throughout the year.

POTATOES
-Russian Banana-too crunchy and watery

‘Rouge Crapaudine’ Beets-say what?!!

Rouge Crapaudine beet. Photo courtesy of www.frenchgardening.com

Rouge Crapaudine beet. Photo courtesy of http://www.frenchgardening.com

I tried a new variety of beet this year-a heirloom beet named ‘Rouge Crapaudine’. Do I dare try to pronounce it?! Ha! This beet hails from France and is one of the oldest varieties of beet in history possibly dating back 1000 years and still around! Craupadine means female toad in french! It’s not pretty-it’s shaped like a very rough fat carrot  (definitely toadlike) and it’s skin looks like tree bark (toadlike again) hence the name. In fact it’s downright ugly BUT the dense purple flesh is divinely sweet and sought out by chefs. In France they sell them at farmers markets both raw and roasted. I was curious so I looked up how they cook it over there.

craupadine beet cooked

Cooked Crapaudine beet. Now it needs to be skinned.

First wash the beets (you don’t have to oil  or skin them) and place them in several layers of foil (beets on shiny side) and close it up tight on the top and both ends. Then put it directly on hot coals in your fireplace (yes that’s right) but not on a direct flame. A fun thing to do in the winter after having a nice warm fire.

It will cook inside the foil on the coals. How long to cook it depends on how hot your coals are. Mine took about 45-50 minutes total turning halfway through. You’ll have to take it off the coals and check it for tenderness with a fork from time to time as there is no exact science as this is an art!

Wear gloves if you don't like your hands red after skinning beets

Wear gloves if you don’t like your hands red after skinning beets

The skin will come off easy after they are cooked once they cool down.  But be aware your hands will turn a lovely shade of magenta! For more details you can go here  at the website frenchgardening.com where I learned about this beet and French cooking method.

Crapaudine bet skinned and ready to eat!

Crapaudine bet skinned and ready to eat!

Crapaudine beets get a sweet smoky flavor cooking it this way. You can also cook them in a more traditional way in an oven for about 45-60 minutes at 350°F. They’ll still be good but without the smokiness. Do try it in the fireplace for a treat.

After cooking them in the fireplace, I made a salad with the beets sliced and placed on a bed of greens with some crumbled goat cheese, pinon nuts sprinkled on them and topped with a balsamic dressing-absolutely fantastic. I didn’t even like beets-until now.

Crapaudine beet seeds are hard to find but I found them at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Sow them next spring and just be sure you sow more seeds than you think necessary as they are tough to germinate and some won’t come up. Plant them in spring as they will take at least 3 months to be ready to harvest. Then harvest in late summer and store in a refrigerator all winter if you like and save for a wonderful fall-winter treat. Crapaudine beets can also be used in any beet recipe.