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

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.

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.

Today’s Harvest-July 16!

Today’s harvest!

Today the ‘Emerite’ beans, some beets and 3 little tomatoes were ready for harvest!  The beans are french vericots and should be picked very thin when they are tender. If you wait till they are bigger they will be tough. The beets were from thinning them out some more so the rest of them can get bigger. The garlic in the picture was harvested a couple of weeks go and is dry and ready to clean up.

Fall Vegetable Planting Schedule

Fall harvest. We only wish our gardens were this GREEN! Photo courtesy of http://gardening.ktsa.com

Ok, so now since it is time to plant my fall veggie garden, here is my planting schedule

FIRST-WHAT TO PLANT AND WHEN

Depends a lot on what you like to eat. Below is MY list of what I want to plant for a fall garden. Some of these are already growing in the summer garden and will be ready to harvest soon like the carrots and beets so I must decide if I want more in the fall.  All of these planting dates are estimates depending on the variety you grow and are based on planting outside, not in a greenhouse. Look on your package of seeds or on the plant label for seedlings for accurate harvest times and go backwards from Oct 3 for Santa F+ add 14 days.

JUNE

Fennel (Finnochio-bulb type)-Sow seeds mid June. OPPS! Missed this. The short cool days of fall are even better for fennel than spring. You can still plant this (IN JULY) as it likes cool nights although the bulbs may be smaller since we missed it’s prime planting date.

JULY-AUGUST


Asian Greens/Bok Choi- Sow seeds mid July. Can handle light frosts. Harvest days depends on variety. Look on seed package.

Beets- Sow seeds in mid July-early August. Can handle freezes but must mulch with thick straw or row cover. 45-65 days to harvest.

Broccoli- Sow seeds early July-mid July. Can handle light frosts. 55 days to harvest.

Broccoli raab- Sow seeds in early July-mid July. Can handle light frosts. 45 days to harvest.

Carrots- Sow seeds in early July-mid August. Can handle freezes but must mulch with thick straw or row cover. 70-80 days to harvest.

Chard- Sow seeds late July-. Can handle some light frosts. Cover with row cover when it gets cold to extend season. 50-60 days to harvest

.

Kale- Sow seeds early July. The short cool days of fall are even better for kale than spring. Kale that is established will last well into winter and can survive below freezing temperatures down into the 20s.

Lettuces- Lettuce baby- Sow seeds in early-August. Seedlings will need consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun on hot days. Cover when it gets cold to extend season but it will not survive freezing temps. 45 days to harvest depending on type and variety.



Peas- Sow seeds in early-July-mid-July. Likes cool but not freezing weather. 60-75 days

.

Radish- Sow seeds late July. 30 days to harvest.

AUGUST


Spinach- Sow seeds early-August. The short cool days of fall are even better for spinach than spring. Spinach that is established will last well into winter and can survive below freezing temperatures down into the 20s although it will stop growing. Why doesn’t it freeze? It produces an alcohol inside-alcohol won’t freeze! 45 days to maturity.

Endive, Escarole-Sow seeds early August. The short cool days of fall are even better for these than spring.



Lettuces- Lettuce head – Sow seeds in anytime August. Seedlings will need consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun on hot days. Cover when it gets cold to extend season but it will not survive freezing temps. 45 to 60 days to harvest depending on type and variety.



Mesclun mixes- Sow seeds in early-August. Seedlings will need consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun on hot days. Cover when it gets cold to extend season but it will not survive freezing temps. 45 to 60 days to harvest depending on type and variety.



Arugula- Sow seeds in mid-August-late August. Fast growing. Can handle some light frosts. 
30-40 days to harvest.



Kale- Sow more seeds mid August. The short cool days of fall are even better for kale than spring. Kale that is established will last well into winter and can survive below freezing temperatures down into the 20s

OCTOBER


Garlic-Sow largest cloves anytime in October after the first frost. Harvest in late-June-July

Shallots-Sow largest bulbs anytime in October after the first frost. Harvest in late-June-July.

I’m 

not a big fan of kale, endive, escarole and collards, but went ahead and listed them as I know many of you like them. Cabbage and cauliflower take too long to grow for me. Forgetaboutit!

SECOND-WHERE TO PLANT


Do you have garden space close to your house for easy watering and harvesting as it gets colder? This is important to consider if your main garden is far away from your home. I have two places to plant them now. My cold frame and my raised beds up by the house. If I ever get my greenhouse done, I’ll have another great place for veggies but for now I’ll plant in my two spaces.

Cold frame in previous year

My first space is my cold frame up by the house. Since it is too hot now, I think I will have to put some shade cloth over it to keep plants cooler inside. Also I want to get one of those automatic vent openers that will open the lid if the temps get too hot and close it when it gets too cold.

The shallots will soon be done in this raised bed and I will use it for fall planting

My second space is the raised beds also up by the house. Raised beds are great as they keep the soil warmer in the fall when it is getting cooler. Since I already pulled all the garlic in these raised beds, I will plant a few cold hardy vegetables in them and then plant garlic and shallots between them come October. The beauty of having some garden space close to the house is when it does get cold, I won’t have to walk down to the main garden to water and harvest. I can just get a watering can and go right outside the house. Also I can replace the light row cover that I keep my cool season crops under (keeps the critters and bugs away) with a heavy row cover on the beds if a sudden frost comes up. The cool season crops will be picked by the time winter hits and the garlic and shallots will sleep till spring!