Archive for June, 2008

Refueling the strawberry bed

June 30, 2008

There is a definite seasonal shift on the day that you pick your last strawberries. You know that you have left the first part of the growing season, the part where everything is new and kinda “green” and that you are headed into the real summer. I picked my last strawberries yesterday. Oh well.

But now it is time to redo the strawberry bed.  My bed is a circle about eight feet in diameter that I have divided into four pie shaped quadrants with a space between the quadrants to place my feet when working the beds or picking the berries. Each year, after harvesting, I select the three or four best plants in each quadrant and pull out all of the others. The best plants are the ones that are starting into their second year and have set down solid roots. Then I work up the soil where I took out the old plants and spread compost over the top (watching that I don’t mess up the crown-soil levels on the remaining plants. The remaining plants will now send out their runners and I’ll maneuver the runners to the spaces I want filled in. In a few weeks there will be new plants getting ready for next year’s production.  My bed is about 6 years old now and still going strong. We get about 25 or so quarts of berries from it each year and that gives us enough over the course of 3-4 weeks for many breakfasts, desserts and preserves … especially delicious is the strawberry-gooseberry blend which requires great luck or freezing some strawberries to get them together at the same time.

Time to start fall brassicas

June 27, 2008

Here in Ohio (zone 6 now) it is time to start Kale, Collards, Cauliflower, Broccoli and other fall brassicas. It is just about past time to get winter carrots in the ground and to plant seed for Belgian Endive. Soon it will be time to start fall fennel.  I’m continuing to start lettuces but they will struggle in the summer heat (assuming we do not have a continuation of moderate summer weather) .  I’ll start  frisee and other green endives and escaroles in about a month for fall development.

Slugs and Chinese Cabbage

June 27, 2008

No matter where I have lived or gardened, slugs have been my constant companion. They used to drive me spare. I did all of the usually things like beer in a shallow saucer, boards in the garden that you would turn over in mid-morning to scrape off the slugs and on and on. Then I found Iron Phosphate (FePO4) and my life got much better. It controls the little boogers and doesn’t harm anything. It’s completely organic. But … it does depend on the slugs being on the ground for some part of the day/night so they can munch on the Iron Phosphate. And that’s the rub with Chinese Cabbage.

When the cabbage is small, the slugs can be controlled because there is lots of room between the cabbages and you can get both the slugs and the Iron Phosphate on the ground at the same time. But the cabbages grow rapidly and just as they are about to seriously head up, their leaves cover the ground. So … the slugs crawl up in the cabbage and there they now stay … munching their way throughout the head and living out the goodlife in the dark interior of the cabbage. This is one where floating row cover does no good because the slugs come from the ground up.

So … just before the plants cover the ground around them, make sure you apply the slug control and hope that you get them before they get your cabbages.

Over-wintered onions

June 20, 2008

Like many of you, I recently received Territorial Seed’s “Winter” catalog (highly recommended catalog) and I was pleased to see a focus on suggestions for Fall-Winter plantings.  However, the catalog raised as many questions as it answered. One of the suggestions it made was to plant onion seed in the Fall and let it Winter over to get a head start on growth in the following Spring. Great idea and it is what commercial growers of sweet onions do in more temperate climates … like Vadallia Georgia. So, has anyone tried this in less temperate climates?  Where has it been successful and what do you do to improve the chances of the onions wintering over successfully?  What varieties seem to do better in colder climates?  I’ll try it this winter with some Italian red onion seed.

Welcome to Advanced Vegetables

June 20, 2008

I don’t know about you but I keep looking for a site that focuses on vegetable gardeners who want to do more/better vegetable gardening and what I find are many, many great sites for folks who are just getting started and want to know how to plant their first garden. I appreciate the needs of novices and I often try to help out but what I really want to do is to share tips with gardeners who are trying to grow difficult things, to grow them in difficult situations or to deal with tough problems … like how to grow an organic eggplant while keeping flea beetles from decimating the young plants before they get started.

This is the start of such a site.  In the future I will take some time to dress up the site and make it look appealing but that can wait.

For all of you who want to join in, send me a post and I’ll publish it here.

As for me, I currently garden in NE Ohio but have also gardened in CT. I do mostly raised bed gardening, almost exclusively organic, and I  try to extend my growing season at both ends. I mostly start my own plants and I do a lot of succession planting during the year. While I have nothing against non-vegetable gardening, I like to concentrate on things to eat … might be a guy thing.

Let me hear from you.