Garden Tip of the Week: 16

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If you don’t already do this, consider keeping a garden journal.  Buy yourself a blank, hardcover notebook and “dig in!”   There are many ways to approach it.  Here’s what I do:

Each spring, I draw a rough “map” of the vegetable spaces in the garden.  I draw lines and label each area with what I have planted.  That way, I can keep track of crop rotation from year to year.

I keep a record of what date I planted each crop.  If I remember, the brand and variety of seed gets listed!  I make a note of when I start harvesting each vegetable, just for an “almanac” sort of record.

I record which vegetables  grew well and what flunked despite my tender care. And  make notes about what to do next year, as these ideas come to mind.

Also, I keep a list in the journal of what canning, drying and preserving I did.

If you keep a garden journal, you don’t have to start form scratch every spring, wondering what you did last year and where you planted what!

Remember, it’s your journal.  You don’t have to show it to anyone, so it can be as neat or as messy as you please.  You can adorn it with drawings, and paste in clippings of interest.

Mine has now been going for a decade and I started a new one this spring.  It’s fun to look back and realize how your knowledge has grown from your own experience, from any courses you took, or from good old trial and error!

Course reminder:

PUAA is offering a course in “Seed Saving for Beginners.” Instructor Michelle Younie is a young farmer who has been successful in saving seeds from her favorite vegetables and using them to grow next year’s crop. She’ll share her methods with us and answer our many questions. She’s offering this class on Tuesday, September 16 from 6 to 8 PM.

Tell your friends and register soon; this one will fill up fast. Reply to this email or call  250-494-8244 for more info and to register.

 

 

Garden Tip of the Week: 15

BEANS AND LEMON CLOTH YELL PLATE

We’re at the time of year when we cut back on watering crops like tomatoes and squash, to encourage ripening for tomatoes, and to allow the skins of winter squash varieties to harden for storage.  You can cut new flowers off your tomato plants (unless you want tons of little green ones in mid-October) and let the vines wither on your squash plants.

It’s a bittersweet time.  The vegetable garden doesn’t look as “pretty” as it did a few weeks ago, but there’s hopefully lots of produce to be harvested in the coming weeks.

This is the moment to congratulate yourself on what grew well this summer, and learn from what didn’t.  Every gardener is involved in life long learning!

In case you want to celebrate the successes of your summer’s work in the garden, below is a recipe for vegetarian curry.  Delicious. And colorful, especially if you have a few fresh cooked beets on the side of your plate.  Hope you will enjoy making it from your own harvest!

VEGETARIAN CURRY (4 servings + leftovers)

1 med. onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 knob of peeled chopped fresh ginger

2 Tbsp curry powder

½  tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt or to taste, and pepper

1 tin coconut milk

1- 1 ½  c water

1 scant Tbsp brown sugar

Juice of half a lime

2 tbsp dark rum

 2 or 3 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1” chunks

1 small cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 small head of broccoli, cut into flowerettes  (or a handful of cut green beans)

1 red pepper seeded and sliced in strips

large handful of roughly chopped Swiss chard (or spinach)

fresh basil leaves for garnish

Saute onion in butter and olive oil til soft, add garlic and ginger at end.

Add curry powder and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes.

Add water, brown sugar and coconut milk, plus salt and pepper to taste

Add carrots and simmer uncovered 30 min until cooked.

Cover and add broccoli, then cauliflower, then red pepper strips and spinach at end.  Cook until cauliflower is just tender. . .do not overcook .

Add rum and lime juice.

Serve over jasmine rice accompanied by bowls of toasted chopped almonds, chutney, and plain yogurt.

Optional toppings include  raisins and chopped green onions.

Garden Tip of the Week: 14

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(It’s not a ghost . . .it’s vegetables nestled under row cloth)

Planting fall vegetables in your garden?  The following may be of some use:

The Many Uses of Row Cloth

‘Row cloth’ is a lightweight white material the primary use for which is to cover crops vulnerable to flying-insect damage, in particular the cabbage butterfly that lays its eggs on members of the mustard family and on cole crops (cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower) resulting in little green caterpillars that are very hard to see.  The cloth is a physical barrier to the butterfly so must be put over the plants as soon as they are set out or germinate if direct-seeded and left on for the whole season.

Use a wide piece of cloth so the edges come to the ground, or close to it, even when the plants are mature. The cloth is light and won’t crush delicate seedlings.  It allows water and sunlight through.  Small stones at the corners and strategically along the edges will hold it down and make it easy to lift the cloth to inspect your plants.

All row cloth is not equal; avoid any that say “biodegradable” as they will end up in the first season in tiny, irritating pieces all over your garden.  Good row cloth is available from Lee Valley (store in Vancouver or order online), can be bought in bulk, and has the best price around even with shipping added.  It can last several years if you’re careful not to put holes in it!

Row cloth has other uses.  Here’s a sampling:

  • To protect vegetable seedlings from variable weather conditions, help warm the soil, and prevent severe temperature fluctuations around the seedlings. Note: if temperatures drop significantly (ie towards or below freezing, you may need to add a layer of plastic over your seedlings on top of the row cloth
  • In extreme heat over smallish plants anywhere, to help preserve moisture and protect from direct sun, or over raised beds which tend to lose moisture more quickly than in-ground beds
  • Over tender plants in fall (tomatoes, peppers, melons) when night temperatures drop close to freezing, double layer if possible. If frost is forecasted, you’ll need to add plastic sheeting or other heavier protection (blankets, burlap sacking, etc.)

Garden Tip of the Week: 13

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Oops!  The post is late this week, sorry!  I’ve had my head in the canning kettle.  It’s that time of year again, when we preserve the garden’s rewards for the winter months ahead.  Still, your vegetable patch requires some work!

If your wax or filet beans are flowering but not producing beans, now is not the time to give up and pull the plants!  Beans become stressed in the heat, and they may sulk for awhile.  Keep watering them and they’ll produce again when it the air is a little cooler.  Continue to pick them (don’t let them go to seed) and they’ll reward you with a longer harvest.

Garden Tip of the Week: 11

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The time to harvest your garlic crop is when approximately half the leaves have turned yellow.  This usually happens mid to late July. Pull the plants, and gently brush any soil off the bulbs.  Be careful not to break the papery skin that encases the bulb.  “Cure” the bulbs outside on a tray out of direct sunlight for a few days to harden the outer skin for storage.  (Do not separate the individual cloves.)  Store in a cool, dry, dark place such as your  basement  pantry.

A garden tip on planting garlic will appear in early autumn.  Until then, enjoy your harvest!

A reminder: be sure to check out our “Courses” page, for summer and fall course offerings and instructions for registration!

Garden Tip of the Week: 9

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(“Taku”, a recent houseguest from Bella Coola,  delicately sniffs the beans)

If it’s not deer or marmots lurking around your yard, what next?  Aphid season has arrived again in the Okanagan.  Want to encourage aphid-eating, beneficial insects such as ladybugs to hang around your garden?  Here’s a recipe for an easy to make spray which can be applied to the leaves of flowers and shrubs near your vegetable plants, or to the leaves of broccoli,  carrot tops, potatoes, etc:

In a small container with a lid, mix the following:  ½ cup sugar, 2 tsp. honey. 4 tbsp. brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast, and 2/3 cup warm water. In a spray bottle, mix 2 tbsp, of the solution in a liter of warm water. Use the spray bottle to apply the solution to your plants. Apply every few evenings, right  after watering down the leaves, or after rain.   Keep the container of concentrated solution in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Garden Tip of the Week: 7

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Are you picking peas yet? Whether edible pod or shelling peas, those first bites are a delicious early-summer treat. They won’t stay that way long, however, unless they are picked regularly. To keep them at their tender best, peas need to be harvested every second or third day, particularly during a hot spell. That sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the difference between sweet young peas and starchy over-mature ones is worth the effort.

And in case you’re short a few crops in your own garden, here’s a link to fresh local produce sources on the Okanagan.