Garden Tip of the Week: 19


. . .Summer bounty at the Penticton Farmers Market

Planting and growing garlic isn’t difficult; however, attention to a few critical details will help ensure a good harvest. You can find lots of info online of course, but the best tips I’ve ever had on growing garlic were learned at Brenda Lende’s course at C.URB last year.  I planned to attend this year’s again but couldn’t make it.  (Maybe you were there?)

Here are the main points:

Softneck garlic heads (thin necked varieties) store longer than hardneck (thick neck) types.  Plant your own cloves or buy seed.  Garlic bought in the grocery store, which has been shipped from afar (i.e. China) is often irradiated and will not sprout, so avoid those for planting.

Mix compost into your soil a week or two ahead of planting.

Separate the garlic heads into individual cloves, being careful not to break or remove the papery skin from each clove.

Plant individual cloves a foot apart, or in a 10” grid, staggered. When garlic cloves are planted  too closely, they will stop growing as soon as their roots touch the next plant, so give them lots of space!

Pointy end up! (That’s the end of the clove that sprouts  to form leaves . . .)

Plant 2 inches deep near frost, or 1 inch deep earlier, when the soil is warmer.  Mid to late October works well in the Okanagan.

Put one teaspoon of bone meal in each planting hole. Fill hole with soil and cover your new garlic patch with straw or leaves.  Water lightly.

In the spring, keep the patch weeded and watered.

I’ve grown garlic in past years, but this summer’s crop had the biggest heads ever after following the above planting instructions!

Garden Tip of the Week: 18


(. . . Where did summer go?)

So you’ve successfully grown a crop of winter squash (Butternut, Buttercup, Delicata, Kuri or other varieties) and are wondering when to harvest them. Winter squash are ripe when you can’t pierce the skin with your thumbnail. They benefit from ripening further on the vine and even a light frost, however, so leave them until the vine begins to die back. Cut through the woody stem at least an inch above the fruit. Clean them, if necessary, with a damp cloth, and allow them to cure for two weeks in a warm dry place out of the sun. Store winter squash in a cool, dry place, dark if possible, and check them every few weeks for signs of spoilage. If you see some, cook and freeze the good parts.

Note that Acorn squash belong to a different family. They need to be stored in cooler, moister conditions (e.g. the fridge) and don’t last as long as the other varieties.

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


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: 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: 10

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After you’ve cut the main heads from your plants, fresh broccoli enjoyment can go on and on! To prolong your harvest of broccoli, use mulch to protect its roots from hot sun.  Keep on harvesting the side shoots after you cut the main heads.  And be generous with the broccoli’s water supply, because tough stems are a result of not enough moisture to the roots.

If you didn’t grow your own broccoli this year, try it next spring.  It tastes a lot better than the stuff that comes from far away, and you’ll be impressed at the brilliant green color when it’s cooked and on your plate.