Garden Notes--Fall 2009
- As of 10-26-09, we are still collecting:
rhubarb--we won't take every stalk in order to leave the plant with food.
a skinny non-bunching celery
parsely--high in iron
sorrel--can be used to curdle the milk for cheese making
there are also other herbs like oregano and sage.
comfrey/knitbone--cell proliferant known for helping broken bones knit back together. Great for the compost pile. Tomatoes love it it (can be used as a mulch. I grows back AMAZINGLY fast). Sage does not like it.
there are hot peppers including a jalepeno or two. We'll collect the seeds for next year's crop and put them in a homemade envelop made from scrap paper. Waste not, want not. When I need something, I look around my house and yard to figure out where I already have it. Even if it is a skirt, I look for fabric that I already have--whether from a bolt, a sheet, or a tablecloth.
radishes are looking good. Crisp and crunchy. I cut up the green parts in the salad too. Our salads can be made with whatever is available in the garden and pantry--lettuce or no lettuce. We'll dice up different vegetables, season them, and call it "cha-cha" though it's not the cha-cha my grandmother stored it is the same idea to me. We put some dressing on the cha-cha and it is delicious with all the flavors melded together. It's good with no dressing just to eat on the side with a main course.
- Experimented with hot pepper persimmon jelly. It is very delicious. Will make it for Thanksgiving. Eating the last of the "wild" tomatoes that popped up in the far flung areas on their own. There are hot peppers still on the plants. Want to make hot sauce.
- Raking leaves to use in feeding the ground to prepare for next year's plantings. The leaves piled up from last year formed a beautiful leaf mold
- The millet did wonderfully in a bed that I call, "the desert". Not much nourishment and dusty soil.
- Tilling up the clay ground using the pick axe (my favorite gardening tool).
- To the broken up clods, we mix fallen leaves, a little vermiculite/peat, and topsoil. We top it off with farm dung and top soil. We plan to add sand (we have some we had previously collected from the beach) especially to the beds where we will plant potatoes. We don't buy Miracle Grow, etc. We use what we have. The vermiculite/peat mixture comes from our "All New Square Foot Garden" garden. The SFG method was a wonderful revelation for us but we want soil in addition to the compost/peat/vermiculite.
- Collecting twigs and branches to keep dry for fires.
- Hearth cooking--sweet potato in the embers, fried fish, savoury curried fish and rice.
- Harvesting sweet potatoes--orange ones (last year a man who sold us collard greens gave us some from a huge harvest. We ate some and planted and some this year. Sweet potatoes, if cured, last a LONG time) and Nancy Halls (yellowish). Spread out in a single layer in cardboard boxes so that they can cure (dry out) over the next few weeks and then go in a cool dark place to be stored. Sweet potatoes are filling and are extremely high in vitamin A. Without enough vitamin A, a child can go blind. If need be, I'm sure they could be used as a staple and they are easy to grow. We put ours in the ground too late this year and still had a harvest. Next year, we plan to get everything in the ground on schedule.
- Make an index card box for the garden with twelve (12) tabs--one for each month. Include all activities for each month including what to plant, what activities to complete, etc.
- Creating a long bed by the fence line for next year's tomatoes using the pick axe. Also added comfrey which tomatoes like.
- Planning to plant potatoes in December (they will grow if temperature is constantly 45 degrees). When they sprout up in spring, we will keep mounding dirt over the stems, with just a few leaves showing. The potatoes will develop up the stem so beautifully. We had success with this this year. Next year, our soil mix will be lighter including sand so that the potatoes will be easier to dig out without harming them.
- Next year's theme (for 2010): "In the Ground". Last year we had six (6) yards of dirt delivered by a local nursery. We had to move it out of the driveway so we put it in several piles out back. We planted in it and got a harvest--put some fresh farm dung in strategic places for the roots--but it was way above ground and not very pretty. Now we are spreading it out and hand tilling some of it into our heavy clay ground along with leaves, vermiculite and peat moss (these two only lighten--they are not nutritious and peat is a non-renewable resource) in order to lighten the clay and work organic matter into it. The rest of the topsoil will go on top with dung and leaves (plants get most of their nutrients in the top few inches of the soil. In potato beds and those of other root crops we plan to work in sand to make these crops easy to harvest. [Aside: it is often said to use well-rotted manure but a groundskeeper at the farm said he would dig the hole, put manure in, cover it with some dirt and plant so I started using a fresh dung too and it works! I use it in my established beds and when I see a plant needs reviving. I find I only have to do it once for a whole growing season. I don't use much. I like to chop up what I am using and push it in the dirt. Big chunks on top of the dirt and debris are slug hiding places.]
- Planted garlic. October is said to be an excellent month to plant garlic. We did so last year and had a terrific harvest. Garlic is not only delicious but is said to be very good for you and antibiotic.
- Drying and storing herbs and seeds for next year's planting. Seed saving is important as a handful of companies like Monsanto are actually changing the genetic structure of seeds. Cross pollination corrupts the fruit of the good plant. See GMO Trilogy online at Google for more information.
- Clean up debris. Organizing. Completing calendar for upcoming garden activities including when and what to plant.
- Killing white grubs lodged in the soil as we till it. It is good to disturb insects and pests and expose the dirt to the air. Incidentally, white grubs are insects at their most nutritious, rich stage. If I were to try one, I'd probably cut his head off first in case he bites.
- Put some cooked rice on the compost pile. To discourage vermin, mixed in urine (urine itself is full of excess nutrients excreted by the body). We have not had a problem with vermin up to this point.
- We occasionally feed some feral cats that have kept rabbits and other animals in check for the past few years. I never cared for cats in the past but now see the tremendous benefits of a good farm cat.
- We look forward to experimenting with the findings of George Washington Carver as found in the bulletins from the Tuskegee Experiment Station.
- Set beer/yeast slug traps for those that would overwinter. Do the same thing in early spring. Also handpick in the evening and lay down ground up egg shells in problem areas. The eggshells have proven a lasting, highly effective deterrent around one particular hosta that was constantly torn up by slugs.
- Collected pine needles and the dirt under them for potatoes (they like acid and actually are a good source of vitamin C)
- What I want to grow: The Spanish Peanut (will plant from a pack from the grocery store. 3 of 5 germinated). Examining George Washington Carver on the Peanut. ||| Amaranth