No, the picture above is not some weird garden experiment gone wrong....it's our attempt to hold on to a few warm weather crops for a few more weeks. Last night Dylan had me pull out (literally) every sheet, curtain, tablecloth and small blanket we own (luckily, he didn't think the pillow cases would work....). We went out at dusk and covered as many tomato plants, squash plants and green beans that we could.
Our 9 year old son, Kade, said it looked like a train. I was kind of thinking to myself that it looked like a circus parade of misshapen elephants covered in mismatched blankets. Either way, it worked, for the most part.
The plants we covered were saved. It was very evident that we would have lost almost everything (warm weather) had we not covered them. The plants that weren't covered were damaged beyond repair.
Luckily, we salvaged enough to keep going with warm weather produce, at least until the next frost!
The funny thing is that when you're out at dusk covering plants with sheets, you don't think about what it's going to look like the next morning. I compared it to hanging your underwear out on the clothesline to dry....or making a huge mess at a camp site and waking up to realize everyone else was seeing your mess from the night before. Pretty comical. Luckily, Dylan was out right after day break to clean it all up and check out the damage.
Maybe next year we'll try floating row covers...but in the meantime, enjoy your tomatoes!! :)
Carrots are one of those funny crops that are frustrating to grow......but ohhhhh so satisfying to harvest. If you've never tasted a carrot right out of the soil you are missing out on an experience that everyone should have the pleasure and priveledge of tasting. Carrots from the grocery store taste only slightly better than cardboard in my opinion. The problem with growing carrots are two-fold....1. they take up to 28 days to germinate. During this time typically a crust forms on the soil and prevents the newly germinated seed from poking its head above the soil line to enjoy the sunshine. There are a couple of things that can be done to combat this (plant radish seed with your carrot seed...they will break through the crust. Others have suggested using a covering of landscape fabric or burlap to speed germination, but this is typically only to warm the soil and keep moisture in and we certainly don't need to warm the soil any further in LA) 2. Carrots are a cool weather crop.......some cool weather crops such as english peas actually benefit from some warmth when in the vegetative phase.....not carrots. They like the cool nights and only warm (not hot) days. If it is too hot, a very sparse stand of carrots will result.......
I cannot however, resist planting carrots whenever provided the opportunity simply from the anticipation of the sheer ecstasy of tasting that first carrot harvest straight out of the garden. I had my first one just last week from this falls plantings and it looks like we will have some to share......Share in the sweetness of fall.......there is nothing better!!!!
Some people are addicted to chocolate, alcohol, hardcore drugs.....not my husband. He's addicted to ordering seeds. He can't get enough. And it's not just seeds that he craves, the ones that really get him excited are the unusual seeds. He orders things like purple snap beans, red turnips, yellow watermelon, red okra and lemon cucumbers, just to name a few.
At first, I didn't really notice what was going on. He'd say he needed to order basil seed, for instance, and we'd get a box from UPS the size of a shoe box. I'd say something like, "Wow...that's some shipment of basil..." but then I'd just let it go. Now we're at the point where he says he needs to order some basil and we get a box half the size of my trunk. The boxes are full of whatever he originally needed, plus several other seeds that he just "had to have". I'm convinced that once he gets on the website, he just can't stop. For the past six months or so I've been telling him he's addicted to ordering seeds, and slowly I think he's coming around to admitting it.
You may ask yourself how he can plant all these seeds. Apparently, it's not that difficult, especially for Dylan.
Our conversations about future plantings go something like this:
Dylan: "So how many rows of beans should we plant?"
Harmony: "I don't know, maybe 4?"
Dylan: "Well I was thinking like 14. But then I want to try this new one I found, too. It's really cool. So let's do 10 of that one."
Harmony: "How about maybe 8 of each?"
Dylan: "Let's do 10 of each. Now what about cucumbers?"
Harmony: "Probably just one bed. Or maybe one and another small one."
Dylan: "How about 4? Plus I need to figure out where to put those lemon cucumbers, so that will have to be a whole separate bed.....Do you think we need a bigger bed for melons or are we good?"
Harmony: "I think we're good. I think it's plenty."
Dylan: "I think I'm going to till up a bed down in the bottom just for melons...."
This goes on and on. It's like we have parallel conversations about the same exact thing.
I guess I shouldn't complain. I could have it much worse. I am pretty much okay with the abundance of wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables that he brings into the house on a daily basis. We've actually been having cantaloupe and watermelon for the past week or so, due to this addiction. :)
The exciting transition to cool weather crops is in full swing. The seasonal transition has always been exciting due to the new variety of crops we get to grow but its never been more exciting than in this climate. After an extended season of warm weather crops the cool weather crops are maturing nicely and even gave some good early harvests in September and early October. The somewhat cooler weather we have been experiencing has also knocked down the cucumber beetle invasion we have been experiencing alleviating some of the crop damage that has been rampant this fall making whole plantings go to the compost pile. The beauty of Louisiana is we get three full growing seasons........and fall has just begun. The broccoli is beautiful and the cabbage loopers haven't found them yet. No worries though, we are standing by with the Bt (an all natural biological control method for caterpillars....approved by OMRI) ready to combat them if they do show up........Now if we could only get some relief from this drought fall would be amazing!! I have been waiting all summer to eat salads again and the greens are particularly beautiful right now.
The sunchoke is actually another name for the Jerusalem Artichoke...which is a type of sunflower. The really neat thing about this plant is that the roots, or tubers, (see left) are edible. So it's a win/win because it looks pretty in the garden and is great in the kitchen as well! We have ordered some of these plants and they are on their way!! We will have sunchokes available starting in late spring/early summer.
The taste is somewhat similar to a potato, but different. Wisegeek.com described it almost perfectly, saying, "A sunchoke is an underground vegetable like a cross between a rutabaga, potato, sunflower seed, and water chestnut." These tubers are very unique in taste and make great additions to salads, just sliced. No other preparation is needed. When cooking, they are best if steamed. If you over cook them, they tend to become mushy and lose most of their great flavor.
Sunchokes are good for you! They are rich in inulin, which creates good intestinal health due to its prebiotic properties. Although the inulin is great for digestive health, it also causes gas....which could also be a good thing, I guess..depending on how you look at it. :) They are also packed with Vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
Here are a couple recipes I found from a farm that specializes in growing this specialty crop (www.mariquita.com). I think the recipes sound great and can't wait to try them!!
1 pound sunchokes
An oven-to-table baking dish
Butter for smearing and dotting the baking dish
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Peel the sunchokes and drop them in salted, boiling water.
-Cook them until they feel tender, but not mushy when prodded with a fork. Ten minutes after the water returns to a boil, check them frequently because they tend to go from very firm to very soft in a brief span of time.
-Drain when done, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1/2-inch slices.
-Smear the bottom of a baking dish with butter, then place the sunchoke slices in it, arranging them so they overlap slightly, roof tile fashion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the grated Parmesan, dot with butter and place the dish on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven. Bake until a light golden crust begins to form on top. Allow to settle for a few minutes out of the oven before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Sunchoke Salad Sandwich (makes 3)
8-12 oz. cleaned scrubbed sunchokes
1 celery rib, diced fine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 small red onion, diced fine
1 cup clean baby spinach leaves
1 red tomato, sliced into 6 slices, plus top and bottom trimming
"enough" mayonnaise or Vegan substitute - about 3 tablespoons or so.
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices hearty wheat bread
-Scrub the sunchokes very well. You don't have to peel them if you are sure you've removed all the dirt. You may peel them if you wish, but you'll need more sunchokes to make up for the loss of the mass of the peel.
-Grate the sunchokes into a medium bowl. Squeeze the water out of the sunchokes with your fists after they've been grated and drain.
-Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion. Mix well.
-Add some of the the mayonnaise and mix until the whole is thoroughly moist, but not soupy. It should look like a slightly dry tuna salad. If still too dry, continue to add mayo until it reaches the consistency you desire.
-Taste and adjust seasonings.
-Lay down a few spinach leaves on a slice of toast, just enough to protect the bread from the mayo in the salad.
-Spread as much as you wish of the salad (up to a 1/3 of the total) on top of the layer of spinach. Top with two slices of tomato, and 1/3 cup of spinach.
- Add the second slice of bread, cut diagonally and serve. Repeat with rest of ingredients to make three sandwiches.
(Photo courtesy of foodlorists.blogspot.com)
While in no way can we expect that we will live up to a desired daily posting, we started this blog to give you an inside view of the daily goings on at 47 Daisies. Posts will consist of day to day happenings.....philosophical rants.....and hopefully some humor in there somewhere. By starting this blog we hope that you will benefit from our successes and our failures and incorporate them (or not) into your own endeavors. Whether you are an avid gardener or someone who has no thought of ever growing your own we hope that you benefit in some way from our posts..........check back often and we will attempt to keep you informed of many days in the life of 47 Daisies!! Feel free to comment or contact us with any questions......and as always "May your day be filled with flowers!"
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )