Thursday, September 30, 2010

Frosts and Freezes

Find your first frost dates here;
Frost Chart for United States
Frost Chart for Canada.

What's the difference between a frost and a hard freeze? A frost refers to the conditions that allow a layer of ice crystals to form when water vapor condenses and freezes without first becoming dew. A hard freeze is a period of at least four consecutive hours of air temperatures that are below 25 degrees F. Many plants can survive a brief frost, but very few can survive a hard freeze.

TIP: The chill of a moderate frost or light snow improves the flavor of brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, parsnips, and turnips.

fairy's wing

and as the seasons come and go
here's something you might like to know
there are fairies everywhere
under bushes
in the air
playing games just like you play
singing through their busy day
so listen
and look around
in the air and on the ground
and if you watch all nature's things
you might just see a fairy's wing

~ author unknown

I saw this and had to share.
It's so whimsical, beautiful and lyrical.
I hope you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All about Garlic

I have some garlic bulbs to plant. I purchased these at a local garlic fest in late summer. Below is some of what I have learned online about this wonderful vegetable. I tried last year to grow garlic and lost the whole crop. I am not sure why and neither were the garlic growers I asked. So wish me luck.... it will be a good way to start our CSA garden for next year.

Garlic is a perennial bulb and garlic is grown as a hardy annual—hardy because the cloves are planted in the fall and must survive the winter; annual because it is harvested during its first year of growth. There are three secrets to growing garlic: the first two—planting and picking—have to do with timing; the third is all about careful drying.

Unlike other vegetables, garlic (Allium sativum) goes into the ground in late summer or early fall, any time from mid-September to mid-October. When you buy garlic to plant, you receive full intact bulbs, no different from the garlic that sits on your kitchen counter for cooking. (Except the kitchen variety maybe treated to not grow.) You then split the bulbs into individual cloves for planting; each clove you plant can yield a full bulb—or head—the following summer. Unless they are tiny, size is of little consequence; as you separate cloves, try to keep the protective papery husk around each one.

Planting tips
Garlic is best planted in full sun, in a bed about a metre wide. The soil should be well drained, and dug to a depth of at least 20 centimetres, then raked to a smooth, level surface. Draw out furrows of about four to six centimetres deep across the bed with the corner of a hoe. Leave 20 centimetres between the rows. Push single cloves into the furrows, about 15 centimetres apart, until the tips are barely visible, then draw in the ridges of soil from the furrows over the planted cloves to a depth of five centimetres.

Planted early, garlic may show a few points of green growth the same fall. In regions where snow cover comes and goes, mulch the garlic bed just before the first hard freeze. A layer of dry leaves (10 centimetres) is enough to keep the earth from freezing and thawing repeatedly.

Very early the following spring, garlic's broad blue-green leaves begin to grow solidly and by the end of May will reach a surprising height. Insects aren't interested in garlic plants, and spring rains are often enough to see them through to maturity.

A double yield: Garlic scapes in June
In mid-June, curly green pigtails emerge from the center of each plant. These scapes are hard stalks topped with tiny bulbils. All experts agree that it's best to nip garlic in the bud, as it were, snapping off the scapes after they have made a loop or two, to send more energy to the developing bulbs. The scapes' tender tops (as opposed to the hard fibrous bottom portion) are loaded with flavor. Peel and thinly slice them and add to a pesto, stew or frittata.

Harvesting bulbs
Careless harvesting can ruin a fine crop of garlic, however, and timing is all-important. Left in the ground, the bulbs grow overly large, and can split their papery casing. Garlic is harvest-ready usually sometime in July or early August, when the lowest three or four leaves have died back; that is, when the plant is about half green, and the rest is withered and brown. Loosen the earth with a trowel or spade to release the plants.

Storing garlic
Careful drying means good long-term storage. An hour or two in the sun does no harm, but after that lay the bulbs (tops and all) in a single layer—a propped-up window screen works well here—in a dry, shaded spot, such as an airy garden shed, open garage or barn; it's best if the bulbs don't get wet. In 10 to 14 days, they should be completely dry. Then, using secateurs, trim tops back a few centimetres from the bulbs, and gently rub the bulbs to remove dirt and loose skin. Store the bulbs at room temperature or lower, somewhere not too humid (and not in the fridge). Homegrown garlic is good stuff, miles away from pallid imports, and you'll be reaching for it often—for both flavor and health.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Ending of a Good Garden Year Part Deux

I am sorry for the previous post. I was upset. I should not have written what I did. Please forgive my bad temper. I will do better and be better.

Tonight's weather is rain and more rain. We have battened down the hatches in preparation for the 2 to 4 inches of rain predicted for overnight. Our rain barrels which we had started to disconnect, we had to reconnect to keep this amount of rain away from the house foundation.

The moving of the three smaller raised garden boxes had to put on hold. The soil was covered so it wouldn't wash away as it's out of the boxes as they are getting reassembled.

While we fretted and waited on the rain, I went apple picking. Have I ever told you how fresh and sweet an apple is right off the tree? That first crisp crunch...mmm. I sampled over 4 different varieties of apple trying to decide which kind to bring home for applesauce, apple pies and crumbles. I will probably pay for this tomorrow! I did decide on snow and spartan apples. Neither of which I have done anything with before. It's always been the standard, the MacIntosh I have bought. But, I threw caution to the wind today and was adventurous. I'll let you know how things work out with these new types for me.

Oh I did make applesauce to go with the roast pork loin I made for dinner. Was it ever tasty. I used the lobos I had previously purchased. They made a fine applesauce without any added sugar. Sweet and cinnamony, because how can you have applesauce without adding cinnamon to it? (Thank you Joy for that cinnamon!)

The Ending of a Good Garden Year

I am amazed at how well our garden did this year. Why the amazement you ask? Well, so many around us had a terrible time of it gardening this year for one reason or, another. Lack of time, inclination or, bad weather.

I was told by my next door neighbor it was "because you don't work" our garden did well. Don't work? Geez Louise don't you think I already put my time in the 9-5 work a day world? I did 25+ years doing the daily grind on the night shift at that. And, I am 20 some odd years older than you whose house looks like a disaster area and should be condemned and who harvested only a dozen decent tomatoes from 30 plants. (Though whose counting here?) I am not neither sitting on my laurels nor, not working in some way daily. I guess she got my back up a bit with her indiscriminate statement.

Our big plans are to start a CSA garden. To become self employed and help others to learn how to eat locally and organically. Everything I did in the garden this past year was a learning experience to make this dream of ours come true. I planted so many different types of tomatoes I lost count, new crops of different sorts, different ways of trellising plants and tried new organic pesticides on those bad buggies who were chomping on the plants. (Did you know a strong vacuum cleaner will clear the beetles out of your squash and cucumber plants amazingly well?) All of this in preparation for next year's garden. And, I didn't work you say?

I look with great pleasure at all the food stuffs I put by this year. I hotwater bathed canned, I continued to learn more on how to pressure can, I dehydrated all sorts of veggies and I froze as much as I could for our winter consumption. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish. It should lighten our grocery bills this winter quite a bit. Oh and you said I didn't work?

I hope all you who continued to read this blog had a good experience with your gardening too. Are you ready for next year?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This is always the name of the full Moon that falls closest to the date of the autumnal equinox. In years when the Harvest Moon falls in September, the October full Moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon, the Travel Moon, or the Dying Grass Moon.

The mellow Moon,

the changing leaves,

The earlier setting Sun,

Proclaim at last, my merry boys,

The harvesttime begun.
–Charles G. Eastman (1816–60)

It’s Harvesttime!
Here’s some sound advice on how to store apples and pears:
If of late-keeping varieties, pack them at once in barrels or boxes, and place them in a cool, dry cellar where the temperature will vary but little from 8 degrees above the freezing point of water. In such a place they should be kept until wanted for use, or for sale.
To change the air or temperature will hasten decay, which is a fact that many of the past generation failed to learn.
–Farmer’s Calendar, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1900

Here’s a modern approach to storing apples: Apples keep well for about 6 months between freezing and 45 degrees F. A Styrofoam chest or a double cardboard box in a cool mudroom or cellar can approximate root cellar conditions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


September 22

Autumnal EquinoxFall begins with the equinox today, at 11:09 P.M. (Eastern Time). The autumnal equinox is defined as the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south.

The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere. The word equinox means “equal night,” when night and day are of the same duration.

September 22—

Harvest HomeIn Europe, the conclusion of the harvest was once marked by festivals of fun, feasting, and thanksgiving known as “Harvest Home.”It was also a time to hold elections, pay workers, and collect rents. These festivals usually took place around the time of the autumnal equinox.

Little old me...

My photo
An american yankee up past the 49th parellel.


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