The Thankful Garden

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I’m amazed at all the things still going strong in the Dirt to Dinner garden at this time of year. In the Midwest, where I grew up, all I had in my garden in late November was frost.

If you’d like to see all the ingredients we have available this year for a Thanksgiving feast, I made a VoiceThread to share them with you.

If you just want the short-list of what is growing, it goes something like this: Ancho peppers, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, basil, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chives, chicory, collards, ginger, gourds, Hungarian peppers, kale, Komatsu, luffa, mustard, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, tomatoes, turnips, sage, shelling peas, snap peas, snow peas, spinach, strawberries and a lone watermelon.

Peas and Potatoes

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Potatoes Looking Done

Potatoes Looking Done

Last weekend at our Open House the kids harvested the last of the All Blue potatoes. The plants were looking pretty sad by the time we got to them. Which is fine. That’s what potato plants do. When the vines die down then you have an easy way to tell that they aren’t doing anything more to grow the potatoes and you can take them out of the ground now. The ones I hadn’t already stolen ‘new’ for potato salads, that is.

This week during our Open Garden time, we pulled the spent vines and tossed them into the compost. Then we added a layer of finished compost and the worm castings we saved when we added a new level to the worm farm and mixed those in well with the existing soil.

Split Bamboo to Keep the Dew and Mold Off the Plants

Split Bamboo to Keep the Dew and Mold Off the Plants

Peas like to have something to climb on, even if they aren’t the pole varieties that grow very tall. On one side we put in Cascadia Snap peas and the seed packet says they climb to 32″. Our poles extend well beyond that, but we figured there was no harm and that way the poles stay a good size to use with our determinant tomato plants in the Spring.

The other side of the bin holds Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Peas, the ones that you pick and eat flat. We are only expecting those vines to grow to 28″ or so, but it still helps to keep pea vines off the ground when you are growing them in the Fall. We don’t know if the weather will be wet or the slugs will be hungry so climbing gives the vines a little bit of an edge against both bugs and disease. Peas also don’t like to be touched and having them staked will make it easier for us to harvest the peas without messing too much with the sensitive vines or possibly spreading disease from one plant to another.

Spacing Out the Pea Seeds

Spacing Out the Pea Seeds

The Cascadia peas are planted ~1″ to 1 1/2″ apart and the Oregon Sugar Pod packet insists that they need 2″. The packet actually says “Seed Spacing: 2″ (Yes. 2″)” which made me feel like they knew me and maybe had seen how closely we had packed in the peas last year during the Winter Pea Trial. I think for one of those varieites we calculated almost 100 peas planted in a single square foot. We gave the Oregon Sugar Pods each their 2″. If they don’t all sprout we can always fill in next week when we see what we’ve got coming up.

The middle section of the bed on the Oregon Sugar Pod side we planted some Golden Beets. Next week during Open Garden we can keep filling in the bed. It might be nice to try some greens along the front of the bed where they will get a bit of shade and we have a seed donation package coming from Territorial Seed Company that might have some interesting things in it we’ll want to add. We also still have kale, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and celery plants we have started that are all getting ready to look for more permanent homes. There’s always plenty to do in the Dirt to Dinner garden!

What Wintered Over from 2008 into 2009

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kaleRussian Red Kale did well in a not very sunny spot in the raised beds through rain, cold, hail, frost and crazy dogs running through the beds.  It stores well and is great in soups.

Utah something Celery did wonderfully well.  I picked it from the outside in and used it all winter long.  It wasn’t bothered by anything and has wonderful spring-like color in the garden in a low sun area.

White onions have been growing since Fall.  The tops aren’t pretty since the frost, but they are growing some new green stems that seem more sturdy.  Who knows?  Maybe the tops always die down when the weather gets severe?  We’ll have to see how they do next year.  It’s also time to get more onions in so they are well established as the day lengthens.

Beets would not come up for love or money this Fall.  I planted them several times and got nothing but weeds.  Will try these with the Spring crew and see how that goes.  Maybe in Jiffy pots so they can sprout inside and then go into the garden???

Several varieties of carrots did well all Fall and Winter long.  They are tough to get started.  I have small patches of them trying to get going so we have more for Spring.  I could have easily used twice what we planted, maybe more.  But they were fun to have. I especially liked the ball type variety but the seed packet is now lost.

Collards were not as hardy as the kale, but they made it through and we like the taste better than the kale.  Could have used more of these guys, espcially since the chard did not make it through the winter well.  It was bug riddled and yellowing by October.

The artichokes you couldn’t kill with a shovel.  They are already back and looking great.  I suspect they would grow in cement mix if you let them.

Peas had a very tough winter.  The second they sprouted something came and ate all their leaves off over and over.  We started some right after the new year and they seem to be doing better so far.  I’ll protect this batch as seedlings better and see how we do.  I might have to go back to buying starts for these guys.