Do you have something to eat from your garden, every day?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAJuly 22, 2014

That's what I'd like to do but I guess I'm going to have to work harder at my timing. Well this year I was all off anyway because of new beds being built. We have been eating out of the garden a little, but still waiting for crops. I imagine others are more successful at always having something to harvest than I have been so far.

How hard do you work at 'timing' and finding a way to harvest something every day? How soon after starting your garden do you start harvesting and is it in spurts until the large harvest late in the summer?

I still have a small garden, after enlarging it. [g] So I am thinking I may be limited as well by the size of my garden. Do you think that makes a big difference?

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zzackey(8b GA)

The bigger and more varied the garden the more you get. We are much farther south than you. Even tho the rains kept us from planting until a month later that we should have, we have a good harvest. Tomatoes galore. Eggplants just getting ripe (planted really late) and lots of peppers. Grapes getting ripe soon. We pay for this by suffering in the heat for many months. I'm from northern Pa so this is quite a change for me.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:34PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Every day for how long? Can we count herbs? If so I could say 365 days a year if I could be bothered to go down there to get them.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:43PM
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You can plan, but the best laid plans are notoriously subject to going off. My plan is to have fruit continually from June strawberries until the last apples are gone from storage. This year, only one apple tree and one plum tree are bearing any kind of crop.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:45PM
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IF. You are willing to eat whatever grows or if youare willing to can or freeze your surplus, there is no trick to having garden grow food everyday. Of course winter in the northeast would restrict you to fresh things like kale, collards, brussel sprouts etc. Stored fresh vegtables like potatoes, carrots, squash, cabbage, onions, parsnips etc. March-April are the most barren times but you may have the remnants of fall/winter vegetables until new growth is available from quick maturing plants. Of course a freezer solves most of the problems.
In my case there are many vegetables that I do not want to eat on a daily basis. Kale for example is very dependable, butI I get sick of it in a hurry.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:51PM
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Yes I am eating most of the days, but the chipmunks seem to be eating something from my garden every day :(

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Not me unless you count a little bit of chives and some basil. But if all goes well, I will have a nice harvest towards the end of summer/fall. But I don't have something every day. If I had more room, I could have had more things from about April to Sept.-Oct. However, where I live, the weather doesn't always like to cooperate in spring and summer. Our winters are really long and wet or very cold so I can't do anything during that time except grow indoors which I am trying to do more of :).

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:00PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Yes, here. It starts with lettuce, spinach, and strawberries. Then broccoli and sugar snap peas are ready. Then beets and carrots are ready. Then comes 7 plantings of sweet corn, peppers, raspberries [yellow, red, black, and purple.]. Tomatoes, egg plant, and zucchini follow. Lima beans [love those Fordhook 242s], potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon , and onions roll in. Fall squash, sweetpotatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, butterhead lettuce,and meal corn follow. Already the decorative pumpkins are getting huge..

Fall fruits like apples and pears are sizing up now. No peaches, plums, or hardly any English Walnuts this year because of the -16°F night.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:10PM
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writtenonwater(N. VA 7a)

I planted about 20 herb, tomato, and string bean plants, and get a few of each to eat every day. I would think string beans would be good in your area since it won't get too hot for them to produce.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:20PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

I've tried at times to have something I grew every day, year round. Using stored garlic, onions, potatoes, squash, etc.was "legal". Also, dried herbs, canned tomatoes, and frozen fruit and beans counted. It was an effort some days, especially when some meals were away from home, or at restaurants. I found it best to be sure to include either onions in omelets or a side of frozen fruit with breakfast then.

Trying to eat from the garden each day has resulted in me trying new garden methods. I've started planters and pots of beans and peas inside that are easily moved outside when the weather settles. It gives me a harvest a few weeks earlier. Also, a few small collapsible tunnels have given us some very early and very late harvests of spinach and lettuce. I'd rather fuss a bit to get early and late harvests and easily stored produce like squash and potatoes than spend a lot of time preserving food.

The past month we have been raiding our potato patch for new potatoes. That has allowed us to have meals where all the produce was from our garden and the meat was from chickens we saw grow up (not at our home, though). Getting enough calories without a calorie dense food like potatoes, mature beans, or winter squash is a challenge for us and is often why we add food from elsewhere in the early summer.

Now, I am just trying to eat as much as possible from our garden and not getting upset if a day goes by without garden fresh items. Usually something is available, but it may not be something I want to clean, cook, process, etc. that particular I don't :) That way, I'm able to enjoy the days I do "eat from home" without it becoming a burdensome chore.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 3:00PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Zackey, I don’t think I could tolerate the heat of the South to garden in. How long since you moved from PA?

Floral, Herbs definitely count. :-)

Ltilton, you are right, every season it’s something. Which fruits do you have planted that you hope to harvest continually from? Have you had one season where that worked out?

FarmerDill, where are you located? Which zone? Of course, you’d have to have surplus, which I’ve never had. Winter in the Northeast, would provide Kale, etc? Even Eliot Coleman is restricted to less than that in a northern winter, isn’t he? If you have a hoop house and a large enough cold cellar, you’d do a lot better. But you’d have to have a fair size piece of property for that.

We’ve been eating Kale daily for awhile. We juice it with different vegetables and that disguises it pretty much. Add it to soups too. There are many vegetables I wouldn’t want to eat on a daily basis either.

Gardengal, I do think the size of the garden space makes a difference. If it’s small you have to choose which crops will produce the most for you and that often ends up being end of summer harvesting, I guess.

Wayne, it sounds like you are harvesting the way that most gardeners set out trying to do. How large a garden do you have? You have a separate orchard too?

WrittenOnWater, we are just starting to get string beans and that first batch was delicious. We do get some heat waves here, that slow down production.

Naturegirl, you also sound like you have a large garden. I like the season extending efforts and starting beans and peas inside. Do you have a South facing window or do you grow them under lights?

You make a good point, that you don’t want it to become something negative, because you start to feel you have to eat something every day, regardless. Sounds like you started out very committed to making your garden produce as much of what you eat as you can.

I guess I wasn’t even thinking of the ‘off season’ eating. Mainly because we have so small a garden that we never have surplus and get to put anything up for the winter. So I am planning on focusing on season extending, because when the garden stops, that’s the end of it. 

Wayne’s description of how his crops come in and what comes first and what follows etc. was more along the lines of what I was wondering about. I can see that the size of my garden definitely limits my ability to do that. 

I’d like to add another question, suppose you couldn’t grow all those crops, especially those that take a lot of space, like corn and melons, what would be the most productive crops that you would choose to grow? 

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:12PM
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prairie - It would ideally go - strawberry, white cherry, red cherry, apricot, Asian plums, Gala apples, pears, prune plums, Enterprise & Fuji apples. I need to work raspberries in there, but I took out the blueberries. Peaches don't do well here.

Most productive crop - green beans. Also lettuce, spinach, cabbages.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:48PM
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Fortunately I grew up on a subsistance farm, where the only store bought food was sugar, coffee and spices. It did get monotonous in the winter where dried beans and potatoes were almost daily fare. Parsnips were starvation food for me. I had to be pretty hungry to eat them. Kale stood all winter in z6 so even frozen it was a welcome change from dried beans. By the time it bolted, upland cress and poke were available for spring greens. While it is nice to know it can be done, no way would I want to go back to those days.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:53PM
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Sure I eat every day. In winter I have collards under hoop houses, plus preserved roots and cardoons in the cellar. In late winter I run out of things and do sprouts inside. Right now tomatoes are not ready yet, I am on a four days rotation of chicory salad, beans, chard, and zucchini, about 2 lbs a day for a family of 3. I could eat beets and turnips though.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:34PM
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For fruits, I think it is best to start with juneberries and mulberries. earlier, no spray, and mulberries harvest takes seconds. plus strawberries take too much space and have too many predators.
I also think it is best to have high nutrition berries that can be frozen for the winter, such as blueberries or sea berries. I U-pick blueberries, though I planted sea berries this year (don't want to fight the alkaline soil).

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:38PM
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We definitely eat all of dinner (except for some eggs or tofu now and then, and rice and pasta) and at least part of lunch and/or breakfast from the garden every day of the year. It's kind of the only food I'm interested in, so I've been also very interested in how to keep it going year round (I just use agricultural fleece on hoops in winter) and keeping notes about what works, and perfecting year by year. I've also researched what *types* of, say, lettuce or kale, will make it through the winter.

I believe in only doing what is fun in the garden. This is what has been a lot of fun for me. I've got a plot 60' by 24', for 2 people plus family.

So here is how the year goes, more or less:
January -- March is stored squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, sweet potatoes, rutabagas. In the ground under heavy mulch are carrots, parsnips, leeks. Growing under fleece is savoy cabbage, gigante kolrabi, spinach, some winter lettuces. Growing wherever it wants is mache. Canned applesauce, tomatoes, and pumpkin, frozen veggies and berries, fill in the gaps.

April starts the come-back of the over wintered greens -- spinach and lettuce do great, tatsoi, chard, sylvetta arugula, kale, claytonia, chard. Still eating stored crops -- my stored potatoes meet the new potatoes, stored onions meet the spring scallions, etc. (as in, close the gap)

Summer is self explanatory -- others have filled that in. We make lots of pesto and freeze some.

In fall, we go back to more of the hardy crops like cabbage and kale. We try not to eat the storage crops until real winter has set in. Greens and lettuce last beautifully through December under agricultural fleece.

There doesn't have to be a lot of space dedicated to any one thing. Two 2 foot rows of swiss chard will last us all year.

Also, throw out the idea of planting everything after last frost. Onion sets, even in zone 5, can go out in March. Peas in early April. As soon as something is harvested, plant something else. You don't need a ton of room.

You can also plant in any gaps. I have NO bare soil. All block planted in wide rows with clover pathways in between. In a raised bed, no reason for bare soil IMO. I have kale plants that came up (self seeded) under the tomatoes. There they stay. When the tomatoes get pulled up, voila, instant kale bed (plus, we're eating it now)

Have fun, keep notes, and in zone 5 try planting some fall crops now and see how late into fall they'll keep feeding you.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:18PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Prairiemoon, I have 3 gardens totaling about 7500 sq. ft. Things are spaced out need to crowd. The fruit and nuts are mostly around the edge or elsewhere in the area.

I also have some very nice flowers blooming which includes about 250 glads. I am retired and have time...not off on long jaunts

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:31PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Ltilton, I haven’t heard of white cherries before, or asian plums. Do you mainly just eat all your fruit fresh? I can understand why you suggest green beans, lettuce & spinach are productive, but why so, cabbage? I haven’t grown much cabbage. What variety do you like?

Farmerdill, I wonder if you still grow dried beans and potatoes after getting so sick of them? I would agree, wouldn’t want to live on what I could grow in the winter and leftovers from the summer. So you’d grow Kale and it would freeze in the winter and you’d harvest it frozen and eat it, interesting. Is there a variety that is more capable of doing that, than another?

Glib, I didn’t think Collards could grow in winter, even with a hoop house. Do you have a root cellar? Or just a cold basement? What kind of sprouts do you grow? Is a juneberry an Amelanchier? I never heard of sea berries either.

Elisa, Why Reemay instead of plastic? What variety of Kale do you grow for winter? So you plant lettuce and spinach in the Fall, cover it with remay for the winter and then it regrows in spring? All the other ‘greens’ you mention that start ‘coming back’ in April were all wintered over in the garden too?

Your garden is a little more than double the size of our garden and we’re trying to feed two people plus family. I guess I have to work harder at succession growing in summer too.

You can grow sweet potatoes in zone 5? Do you have to start them early indoors or is it a special variety? How do you store potatoes all winter? Savoy cabbage grows Jan-Mar under Reemay in your zone 5?

Wow, you process a lot too, with the tomatoes and pumpkin and frozen veggies and berries. Do you have your own apple tree?

How do you manage to keep your soil fertile when it is so intensely planted for so much of the year? I normally cover crop, do you?

Thanks for your detailed description of your growing year. You must spend a lot of time in the garden. It does sound like you’re having fun. :-)

Wayne, that’s a big garden! About 4x the size of ours. You must spend a lot of time in the garden too. What kind of nuts do you grow?

Lots of inspiration to make the most of it here! Glad I asked. :\-) Thanks! 
    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:56AM
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prairie - I do process fruit. In a normal year, I get enough to last until the next fresh season.

Not vegetables, though, other than storing onions, potatoes and winter squash.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:34AM
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I do. Starting from the early spring in following order while they last into next spring(fresh or preserved) : Chive, sorrel, garlic, radishes, turnips, lettuce, dill, lavage, alpine and regular strawberries, raspberries, currants, cabbage(early), peas, parsley, zucchinis, potatoes, beets, eggplants, cucumbers, onions, carrots, beans, bell and hot peppers, tomatoes, gooseberries, blueberries, peaches, melons, horseradish, cabbage(late).
In case you interested how mush space I have - it is 6000 sq feet city property - that includes house, shed, compost pile, fruit trees in front(covering lawn), large driveway and garden covering whole back yard. All together my bed space is 760 sq. feet, but not in one square - I have south-east facing hill side in the back and terraces(helps with sun). The family size is 2, but I think 3 or 4 people could be fed from the same space - I give away a lot. For preserves I have extra full size freezer and extra refrigerator. I also pick wild mushrooms when the year is right(not this year!). Not exactly from my garden, but they cost me nothing comparing to the garden). By the way, from the cost perspective, I think, I already can say that I get more produce then I could buy on the farmers market on the money I spend on the garden, but probably just a little bit more. Gardening is very expensive hobby). But buying on the market lucks the fun of gardening!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:10AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

OK - if herbs count there is something available fresh 365 days a year but I don't necessarily use it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:27AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wayne, that's a lot of gladioli! You could go into business for yourself selling cut flowers. [g]

Ltilton, that’s a lot of fruit! Do you think you have enough or are you thinking of adding more?

Galinas, you must have full sun on your 6,000 sq ft. That’s a lot of garden to fill up the whole front and backyard! I think I have more sq ft than you do, but I only have 5 large raised beds, about 300 sq ft of raised bed space, in the part of the property that gets the most sun and that is only 6-7hrs a day. The rest of the property has less sun. I do have a sunny patch in the front of the house that I put a few tomato plants in with perennials, roses and butterfly bushes.

Sounds like a perfect set up for a vegetable garden, to have a Southeast facing hill. A little more work, but I bet it keeps you in shape.

It’s not easy even to break even to grow your own food. Sounds like you saw a challenge and you rose to meet it. :-)

I’ll have to think about expanding a little more. I have places I could grow lettuce and other greens instead of in the main beds. I’ve already taken the perennial herbs out of the main vegetable bed.

Floral, I’m having trouble using the few herbs I have growing. [g] Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Chives, Marjoram, Oregano, Dill, Thyme. We seem to be a little set in our ways with what we eat. What are you using the most and what do you use it for?

To all…. 

How far have you come from when you first started gardening? Did you start small and learn as you go? 

Do you work at feeding your soil every year? Does it take some of your garden space out of production? 

How many hours do you spend in garden related activity in the growing season and off season? 

How much time does it take you to process produce for storage? 

What’s your hardest vegetable to grow and what’s your easiest? 
    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:49AM
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Glib, juneberry is endemic around here - it is also called shadbush here, blooms like crazy around the time that shad run. Have not yet had a single fruit, because they all wither away before ripe and the few that are edible are grabbed by birds. Old-timers say they used to be a reliable source of fruit, apparently there is a fungus living on them now.

PM, most days of the year I can eat something I grew. Even here in z7, though, it would be an elaborate amount of effort to have something fresh from the "garden" every day of the year. Do we consider heated greenhouses to be gardens?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:14AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Sweetpotatoes are easy to grow here and can reach large size by the first of special help needed.

Lima beans are a bit tricky. They need just the right conditions to come up nicely. I got a near perfect crop this year. If the soil is too fertilized, they make more bush than seed before frost.

Melons are difficult in the long subject to wilts and mature vine decline in the soil fungi. Also, they need really good fertility to size up the melons.

Corn is a sure thing here.

I used to plow, disk, and rush out to plant everything at once on about May 13th [1950-60s] Later I went to fall plowing and tilling for a row or rows as needed. When I retired, I started amending the already good soil to make it really nice and loose. I made wide and unbordered raised beds in ¾ of the gardens. I add rotted horse manure with lots of rotted hay in the fall. I also plant tillage radishes as a cover crop where possible. I also have added a lot of leaves and leaf compost. Yes, I fertilize too and the gardens are vintage.

The Eanglish Walnuts, raspberries, apples, plums, blackberries and peaches grow in other areas....asparagus on the edge.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:42AM
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This time of year I want to harvest three times more fruits and veggies than we normally eat in a day. I do one food preservation project a day, and this will go on through October. Gradually it adds up so that we eat from the garden almost every day of the year.

It's a chop wood, carry water process. I'm finished making pickles for the year and starting on jelly. The dehydrator stays busy all the time.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Great question and great answers. I've learned as I went along, spent summer of 2007 making a couple of lasagna beds at our new home and then planting a little more each year. Last year I tried a sampler pack from Moose's Tubers of fingerling potatoes. I store in the semi-heated garage. Early this year I planted some sprouted red fingerlings in a 4' row in the high tunnel. Harvest a large Tupperware bowl full last week. Meanwhile this year trying a sampler pack of storage potatoes plus one fingerling.

We had sugar snap peas last week in June planted in high tunnel but outdoor planted row wasn't far behind. Unfortunately, between rain and getting busy, a lot got too big and were wasted. My sugarsnap row is 6-8', the length of a section of concrete reinforcing mesh used as a trellis.

Spinach didn't do as well this winter as last but grows year round in the high tunnel. So have also had lettuce, chard and baby beets. Chinese greens and arugala as well as perennial herbs. Pepper plants growing in high tunnel seem to be growing more quickly thanks to 100deg + daytime temps under plastic. Sides are rolled up but it still gets that hot. Saw a farm last summer growing sweet potatoes in their high tunnels.

Have hardest time growing decent onions and getting indoor started seed planted. This spring had too many weeds in veggie beds left from last year. I should have at least put down black plastic in the spring. Very invasive creeping Jenny and quack grass. I completely screwed up leeks. The potatoes are taking up more space than I expected plus this year I finally wanted to get a strawberry bed started. Helps to do lasagna bed prep the summer before.

Semi-retired now but not a lot of stamina thanks to a lazy winter. Also had to be away 3 weeks in May. Husband hauls in a utility trailer full of composted horse manure in spring. One year I planted spinach before the compost arrive. The second batch of spinach on a bed with added compost did much better, bigger leaves. Trick to spinach here in NH is to get it in as early as possible (April) but I have also had good luck seeding late in the summer and having it winter over. It dies down outside but starts growing in the spring. Several weeks ahead of an early spring planting.

My original idea was not to grow so much I had to spend time processing but eventually a bumper crop of tomatoes and peppers went into the freezer and I started trying some recipes like curried cherry tomato sauce (like chili sauce). Much easier to grow winter squash that lasts all winter (if you grow the right varieties), potatoes, garlic. Also to grow parsnips which we don't dig until early spring. Harvested garlic last weed (mid July) but enjoyed garlic scapes in mid June.

I also try not to waste garden space. 3' of lettuce is plenty for the two of us. Red onion sets were tucked among new strawberry plants. Cucumbers are growing on the end of the bed. Again, we only need a small amount of room for cukes, my husband doesn't like pickles. I do some refrigerator pickles for my use.

Every year I try to make an improvement on my timing, my use of garden space, and usefulness of what I grow. Two years in a row I have wasted space to self sown dill which became a forest and then turnip I let go to seed to see what would happen. I harvested the seed but so much fell on the ground I had a turnip green forest by early fall.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:07AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

prairiemoon2 - I can't really help with recipes because I don't use them. I just chuck herbs in anything that seems appropriate at the time. In Winter it's usually bay, rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano because that's what grows then. And in summer I use those plus basil, mint, chives, dill and coriander.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:37AM
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Only fruit I'd add would be raspberries, as I mentioned, but the spotted wing drosophila gives me pause. When it comes to apples and pears, I give a lot of the crop away to the food pantry.

Other than fruit, I only grow for fresh consumption for our small family of 2-3 people. I don't think canned or frozen vegetables are worth the trouble.

I only plant what I can grow successfully, and what's best fresh out of the garden. So I eat out of the garden because it's the best eating, not as a sustenance thing. When asparagus is in season, we eat fresh asparagus. When it's done, I hope for some lettuce and spinach to be ready, but I'll buy from the store if nothing is.

I gave up on sweet corn because of the squirrels. Gave up on limas as more trouble than they were worth.

I've found that wintering-over isn't successful here, and I use the season to amend the garden bed, tilling in lots of chopped leaves in the fall, which means all crops are cleared out by then except for the perennials, all on one side.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:41AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

PNBrown, I’ve had ‘Shadbush’ here, and it’s a native, Amelanchier, right? We had winter moths, strip the foliage every year and out they went after four years of no fruit. So we just planted blueberry bushes instead.

I think it is a whole lot of effort to keep the garden that productive to be able to eat something every day. But it doesn’t have to be fresh, it can be frozen, canned, stored, dried. Heated greenhouses? I don’t know. Definitely for other garden plants, but food? The only thing I can think of, are the tasteless tomatoes raised in greenhouses that you get at the supermarket. Although, Eliot Coleman had a hoop house attached to the back of his house, if I remember right and sometimes put a space heater in it on a really cold night.

Wayne, I’m surprised that sweet potatoes are easy and bear by September. No help? Do you start them indoors, or plant seed potatoes directly?

Indiana, isn’t that corn country?

I find melons very difficult. Even when I’ve had melons, they haven’t tasted right.

Sounds like you do a lot for your soil. What does ‘the gardens are vintage’ mean?

Planatus - You’ve got some system working there! I haven’t even got one cucumber yet and you’re done with pickles and I’m in your zone! :-) It sounds like a lot of work, but fun too. Something different going on all the time.

Defrost, How long have you had your high tunnel? I almost tried potatoes this year, but started hearing about issues I wasn’t ready for, so I’ve postponed. You make it sound easy. We really eat more sweet potatoes than other potatoes too, so I may try those.

You really have to start the onion seeds so early. I didn’t grow them this year. I want to do better with it next year.

Just sowed some sugar ann peas last weekend. Hoping for a Fall harvest. I had planned to grow string beans on our new trellis followed by sugar snap peas, but that didn’t work out. The pole beans are just starting to flower. Luckily I had Sugar Ann which only grows 2 ft tall and found another place for that.

What do you find are the right varieties of winter squash that last all winter?

Sounds like you have been improving every year and now have a successful productive vegetable garden!

Everyone’s garden sounds very successful and productive! 
    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:46AM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

We have a 25x25 main garden laid out in about 4 foot wide beds. Also a 4x8 raised bed and a 3x10 asparagus patch and sometimes "overflow" areas on the edges of the flower gardens for the extras that seem to show up from friends and nursery give aways after the rest is filled. Another area has some berry bushes that never do well. Maybe someday we'll work on that and get them figured out. For berries we mostly harvest wild black raspberries from the edge of a nearby woodlot. We also have poorly managed apple, peach, and pear trees in the yard...another food source we haven't put the needed time and effort into, but we do enjoy a small harvest from them most years.

I gardened with my dad as a kid and enjoyed it. As an adult I always had some veggies growing during warm times, sometimes only a few in containers. When my kids were teens we were gone from home a lot and very involved in their activities and cut way back on gardening. Several future assistance dogs also fostered with us during that time and also influenced the limited gardening decision. We learned to enjoy the activities of each stage of life and make changes when needed...gardening ebbed and flowed as other things came and went.

Now my husband and I are reclaiming some overgrown areas and enjoying our best veggies ever. We grow for the two of us and for fun. At times we bring lots of extras to friends and a food pantry. I've also helped in a large school nature center garden and experimented with many new-to-me veggies there over the past several years.

We don't buy a lot for our garden although it may be more than I think :) Plants are started from seed, some direct sown, others started inside under shop lights. Lots of seeds are saved, given to me, or purchased in bulk or at a discount. We collect neighbors bagged leaves in the fall and use A LOT of them for mulch, compost making, etc. We've also picked up fencing, cages, pots, etc. on trash day to reuse in our garden.

I enjoy growing and harvesting veggies much more than processing them. Some of what I grow is influenced by that. I like to half small tomatoes and dry them much better than canning large ones on hot late summer days. I'd rather donate extra summer squash to the food pantry than preserve it for later. I grow some hot peppers just because they look cool and are fun to grow. They're too hot for me and also go to the food pantry. But I'll only pick beans for my family and a few close green beans for the food pantry.

We find tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, beans, onions and garlic grow well here most every year without major problems or extra work. Overwintered spinach and lettuce under a low tunnel is a recent addition that has been great in early spring. Melons have been tough for us and we sometimes don't even try them now. Squash and cucumbers have had more problems the past few years. We may try parthenocarpic varieties under row cover next year. Row cover/tunnels are still quite new to us and look to hold lots of possibilities for extended harvests.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:50AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Floral, nice to be able to grow bay and rosemary in the winter.

Ltilton, I feel that way about canned vegetables and most frozen vegetables. I do find that if tomatoes are used to make spaghetti sauce, that freezes very well.

Naturegirl, we do that a bit -- focus on what is going well and leave something that needs more attention until we have the attention to give it. At least you already have the berry bushes, apple, peach and pear trees in place, maturing every year and maybe in the future just a few adjustments will make it all fall into place.

Gardening with your Dad and enjoying it was a real plus! No one in our family gardened and I didn’t start until adulthood. I often wish I had someone who gardened when I was a kid.

Our gardening efforts have ebbed and flowed too. I imagine most people do the same.

Nice to hear from a few people that potatoes are easy. I haven’t tried using row covers and tunnels yet either but I hope to. I’m not getting much in the way of squash this year and think I need to try hand pollination. Maybe those that don’t need hand pollination should be on my list for next year.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Sun is everything, you are right. I started as 5X5 decorative brick(!!!) raised bed near my deck - only sunny spot I had in the moment. And I was afraid that wooden or concrete block bed will offense my city neighbors(my house is a duplex). Nobody seemed to be offended, they actually came to me to see how things are actually growing. Most of them couldn't recognize garlic or radishes. Then I start to expand. Now, after 4 large threes down, rocks on the hill arranged to create terraces and about 60-80 50 pound bugs of strait horse manure composted every year(no, i do not have a horse, neither truck, my old Honda did the most of the job bringing it from the person who has horses, but do not want to spend a fortune on the horse bedding ), I can say it is a routine now. Spring and fall is most busy time - all weekends and couple hours every day in the garden, sometime take a week vacation to do the planting... Summer very busy with harvesting and preserving... in fall I usually did expansions, but now I am using every single bit of land, so only tasks are clean up, leaves collection... I have about 1 month garden free - from mid November to mid December. Then I seed onions indoor - and all starts again)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:28PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

prairiemoon, Yes, this is corn country. I send away for sweetpotato slips...I have raised my own, but that is not as certain for enough quality slips by May early June they [home grown] grow like crazy IF the 'seed' potatoes kept well.

Yes, melons are a real art to produce those large, juicy, crispy,and flavorful ones. Part of the secret is varietial. Part is experience. Part is soil and fertilization. A huge part is lack of disease pressure after the first year or two. An A++ melon is...well so memerable.

Oh, and a vintage crop or season is one that is bursting with lushness and flavor.

This post was edited by wayne_5 on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 14:00

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:54PM
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If you made me pick just one, I would grow tomatoes. We use tomatoes all year and we found a nice way to freeze them. I don't think I can grow enough tomatoes for us, especially in my size plot now so as many as I can get my hands on, the better. Plus, organic tomatoes are way too expensive.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:49PM
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Collards vegetate in winter. They lose some or most of the lower leaves to the cold, but they do not grow new leaves. That will still leave you with a rosette of useful leaves at the top, and it is great to have fresh food in January and February.

Juneberry are amelanchier. They fruit well in Michigan, but see what PN Brown had to say about them on the East Coast.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:27PM
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prairiemoon -- you've started a great discussion!
I'll answer your questions, then go enjoy all the great info you're gathering from all these gardeners.

I use remay instead of plastic because I don't water, and I want the rain and snow to seep in.

Kale: Beedy's Camden and Winterbor are the most hardy I've found. Forget Red Russian.

Yes, I plant lettuce (with names like North Pole) and spinach and other greens (tatsoi, hardy arugulas,) in fall, cover them when it starts to get into the 20's, and keep eating during the winter (it grows very slowly. Get one salad for 2 once a week ) Then it really comes on in spring. Even chard, which looks dead in winter, comes back in spring. It all starts in mid March and by April salads and greens are awesome.

"Your garden is a little more than double the size of our garden and we’re trying to feed two people plus family."

But about half of mine is potatoes and corn, and a few beds that I describe as "I never got to it" but come to think of it, I could call it "fallowing" :) You can definitely do this -- succession planting is king!

"You can grow sweet potatoes in zone 5?"
Yes! In terms of production, they are nothing like what goes on in the south, but I get a nice harvest, they're delicious, and after curing (a warm, humid bathroom for a week or so) they store perfectly in a kitchen cupboard until spring. No special variety, no starting indoors -- just plant after frost.

"How do you store potatoes all winter?"
I get them dry (lay them out on newspaper and run a fan over them for a couple days) Then keep them in our basement that has some humidity, is cool (about 55 degrees) and very dark.

"Savoy cabbage grows Jan-Mar under Reemay in your zone 5?"
Great discovery -- Wirosa Savoy cabbage (lots of my seeds are from Fedco -- they talk about winter hardiness in their descriptions.) I start them in June in cells, put them in the ground in July when the garlic frees up a bed, and cover in late fall. These are BIG heads of cabbage -- one will make awesome cole slaw, and then have a bunch left over for cooking. Last winter they made it though our -31 F night with some hay packed around them and one layer of remay over them!

Yes, we have our own apple tree. A pear and an apricot tree too, but still too young to produce. And raspberries. And I don't process a lot -- I used to freeze more, but have learned more about what will still grow fresh in winter, so I just do 4 or 5 containers each of beans, zucchini, pumpkin, and tomatoes. I'm done with freezing broccoli. I started canning pumpkin and tomatoes so I could take them with us when we travel.

"How do you manage to keep your soil fertile when it is so intensely planted for so much of the year? I normally cover crop, do you?"
The only time I cover crop is when the potato beds are bare after harvest, and winter is coming on. Everything else is normally tied up in weeds, crops, or mulch -- I want to leave everything covered in winter.

I feed my soil continually -- $10 hole for a 10 cent plant, right? Actually, it doesn't cost a lot -- my own compost, manure from a friend, Azomite recently, and Bio Dynamic applications to increase soil life. Also, I run through a whole round bale of hay each year for mulch, which is always melting into the soil and making humous.

My theory is that nature grows something on every inch, so it must be a good idea.

Best squash for storage (and taste) Butternut, and Musque de Provence pumpkin, also trombocino squash. If you leave the trombocino to get big, it becomes winter squash. Makes a great frittata with shallots. Also great curried pumpkin soup.

Oh -- get a few "cooking in season" cookbooks. No reason ever to be bored with what is ready. I have a list of dinners for each season --about 25 - 30 ideas for each season.

Also, if you have a few of each thing, you get more variety ( I know, duh) But really -- I put 3 or 4 rutabagas in cells in March, planted under cover in April, and now the greens are huge and I can harvest once every 10 days or so for a dinner. We'll eat the greens until winter. To get actual rutabagas (the ones making the greens will be too woody) I'll plant now.

It has been a process from the beginning -- expanding the garden, learning what works and what doesn't.
Keeping notes has been key for me.

"How many hours do you spend in garden related activity in the growing season and off season?"
That's a hard one. Maybe 30 or 40 hours for the month of May (the busiest) and maybe 20 - 30 in June or July, then down to 10 - 15 in April and October, and 5 a month during the off months?

"How much time does it take you to process produce for storage?"
Maybe 10 hours a month for July (pesto and freezing zucchini and beans) and October (canning applesauce and pumpkin, curing sweet potatoes, getting white potatoes ready for storage ). 5 hours to can tomatoes in September. Shelling dry beans can be done while watching basket ball during the winter.

"What’s your hardest vegetable to grow and what’s your easiest?"
Hardest: carrots. I haven't given up yet, but I'm close.
easiest: mache. All I do is let it go to seed wherever it is, and each February and March the garden goes wild with this fresh green salad ingredient that needs no cover or help of any kind.

Again, thanks for the great discussion!
And if you get Eliot Coleman's book you'll be hooked on 4 season gardening.


This post was edited by elisa_Z5 on Thu, Jul 24, 14 at 10:59

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:38PM
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We eat things from the garden several times a week year round, particularly since most dinners start with some garlic and at least one onion. I have a garden that's about 20' x 60'. In the winter we have onions and potatoes stored in the cold cellar, and garlic stored at room temperature. I often dry basil and lovage leaves and always freeze pesto, and if we have enough surplus, I freeze hot peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. At this time of year, we're eating fresh from the garden: peas, onions, the first tomatoes, the first peppers, broccoli, and little kale leaves. Between the garlic, onions, and peas, right now most days we eat something from the garden. As the tomatoes ripen, the squash and eggplant start producing, and the basil and other herbs get larger, we'll eat more of them. Late fall and spring in addition to the stored veggies we have leeks which I store in the garden under a heavy layer of fluffy mulch. (Midwinter they are buried under several feet of snow and are just too much trouble to try to dig out.) During the spring we have rhubarb and in the summer some blueberries, but I don't grow other fruit since there are several orchards nearby. My perennial crops like the lovage, blueberries, and rhubarb are in my ornamental beds to make clearing out and prepping the veggie beds easier.

There are days we don't eat from the garden, but it's usually by choice - either time constraints (no fun picking produce after the mosquitoes are out!) or we aren't home for supper. Usually in the summer my lunch includes some garden veggies.

Elisa said, "Onion sets, even in zone 5, can go out in March. Peas in early April." I think that this isn't possible everywhere in zone 5. A few years I've been able to plant peas, potatoes, and onions in early April, but this past spring my garden was still under snow the first week of April, and soil was frozen until mid-April, so I ended up planting my cold weather crops near the end of April. I don't use row covers of either plastic or remay-type fabric until the end of April since we also sometimes get wet, heavy late snows that are rough on all but really sturdy structures. I've never planted anything in March since there's almost always still snow on the ground then, although I sometimes plant spinach in the fall for an early spring crop. Our last frost is mid to late May, and I do usually have warm weather plants out before then, and just cover or use wall-of-waters to keep them happy.

I started small with tomatoes when I was in hight school, worked in a large cooperative garden in college, and have had a garden just about every year since then, though there were a couple of years early on that I didn't have a place to garden.

Every year the garden gets at least some compost and mulch and every three years or so we turn in a good layer of well-composted horse manure.

I have no idea how much time I spend in the garden as I am not too linear in my work style. On days I don't go to work at my regular job ( about 4 days a week) I work outside on various project, some of which are in the veggie garden, but many of which are maintaining the ornamental gardens. I go out for several hours in the morning, staying outside until I get too warm (or too stiff if I am working on something repetitive.) I usually take a break midday and then work for a couple of hours late afternoon unless something prevents it. Off season I don't spend much time at all.

For preservation I mostly just blanch and freeze veggies, so that doesn't take too long. The longest time goes into making tomato sauce and pesto since both of those require cooking, but it's time that I don't spend cooking in the winter, so it's pretty much a wash.

Easiest veggies are peppers, onions, garlic, and potatoes. No real pests as long as I cover the potatoes with hoops and tule to keep out the potato beetles. Other than harvesting, I don't have to work much with any of these veggies. I gave up on sweet corn due to the critters harvesting it before us for several years in a row.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:03PM
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I grow several varieties of beans. So during the summer there's always beans.. I have some winter squash stored up that are ready to eat. I've already eaten all my cucumbers. I have leafy greens too but I myself am not one of the big fans of eating them. The tomatoes and gourds are just starting to bear right now...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:25PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Galinas, I’m sure your neighbors have found it fascinating to watch the transformation of your property fueled by all your enthusiasm and energy. :-) So you take a break for the holidays and then back at it. I imagine you love it though.

Wayne, have you found a good company to order sweet potato slips from? Variety that you like?

Yes, a delicious melon is memorable and so is an awful

Gardengal, We never get enough tomatoes either and everyone is always looking for them. So what is this nice way you’ve found to freeze them?

Glib, I haven’t really warmed up to collard greens yet. Kale is our green of choice. Do you just cook them in a little oil and garlic or use them some other way?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 7:57AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Elisa, I was just thinking about that yesterday, that if you use hoop houses, you would have to water by hand, no rain. I’d say that’s a good reason to do Remay, but I see the other reasons to use Plastic hoop houses too. Do you mean you actually don’t give your garden any supplemental water?

Thanks for the Kale, Cabbage, Pumpkin, Squash & Lettuce varieties to try. We buy our seed from FEDCO too and will try those next year. I guess I can’t get too excited about getting one salad a week out of the garden in winter [g] but the fact that they are already in the ground and ready to start growing at just the right time in the spring is pretty exciting! I’m going to have to try that.

Thanks for all the details on the potatoes and cabbage. I appreciate the time you spent to share your methods and routine.

We make up Minestrone Soup with fresh vegetables and freeze that in our full size freezer. It tastes as good as fresh to me. A little bit of grated cheese and yum. :-) I’ve never tried winter squash in a fritata.

Yes, I have read some of Eliot Coleman’s books. Very inspiring and educational! ‘Cooking in Season’ cookbooks -- Did you know that Eliot Coleman and his wife have a new cookbook out? I just got it out of the library and I am so happy with it. They actually use the first half of the book to explain how they grow all the food and the second half is the cookbook. Haven’t read all the recipes yet. 25-30 dinner ideas for each season? lol We are definitely in a rut, going to have to try something new.

Covercrop - We don't use manure so I bought a soil building mix from FEDCO this year, PVO mix. Peas, vetch and oats. I’m trying that for the first time. I have been using just vetch. We just sowed it on the weekend and it’s already coming up. I plan to turn it under in the fall and then cover with grass clippings and leaves over winter. It’s only on one bed, that was not working out for me anyway. I hope to do one of my beds every season, so they all get it at least once every 5 years. I’ll just sow it in the spring and leave it to grow the whole season, which will produce a lot of green matter to turn in.

How many plants of dry beans do you need to grow to get enough dry beans for the winter? We use kidney beans in chili and minestrone soup a lot. I'm using all my trellis space for string beans, cucumbers, peas and tomatoes.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:05AM
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What? I should have put tulle over the potatoes? Thanks for the tip nhbabs (who gardens not too far from where I do). I had read about tulle but was just thinking of covering blueberries. Will have to get a bolt. I think I saw some for $2.99/yd but I had forgotten which type lasted longest.

The butternut variety I thought was a good keeper was a long neck type from Baker's Creek. We love Confection which is a kabocha type from Johnny's. I'm trying another kabocha type this year, too. Trying to grow some delicate but having germination problems. This is not a good keeper but is a nice two person squash for early in the season while the others are developing good taste after harvest.

My husband built a wood framed high tunnel which was the cheapest for us. It has been thru two winters and I still have a lot to learn. I compare my veggie progress with the photos some local market gardeners post on facebook.

I have to remember to water in the high tunnel because it doesn't get rain. Both the garden and high tunnel is a bit far from the house (driveway is between house and lawn/garden area) so my husband installed a yard pump - so I can have water in winter, too! I use it to run the hoses in the garden so we no longer have hose running across the driveway.

An advantage to the high tunnel is the soil never freezes even if temperature goes below zero at night. So my first planting of sugar snaps went in the high tunnel where soil was not so cold and wet as outside. We had standing water in some areas of the yard in early spring.

I was very happy with the fingerling sampler pack from Fedco last year but trying the storage sampler this year plus one fingerling.

I forgot to list asparagus as an early crop. I did a terrible job with the bed so now it is filled with weeds but my husband mowed it early in the year which gave the spears a chance to grow. Right now the fronds and weeds are a mess. Not sure if I can ever get this cleaned up.

btw after the first hilling of closely planted potatoes, I don't have enough soil for more hilling so I start using straw. One bale does almost my whole small patch. It also last thru more than one season. I have not used hay because of worrying about weed seeds although my garden has plenty of weeds seeds already.

I think getting carrots to grow means making sure they get enough water in the beginning. I tried seeding carrots with sugar snap peas but it wasted a lot of seed/low germination.

Maybe NEXT year I'll give priority to onions so they don't end up dying in the driveway pot ghetto.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:07AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Babs, I’m surprised that you are eating peas now. I didn’t get any in this year because it was so late by the time I could, so I went right to string beans. I’m starting some now for the Fall with fingers crossed. [g]

Leeks - I remember watching the old Victory Garden show and they were big fans of Leeks. I’ve yet to develop a taste for them. Leek soup they used to make on the show.

What do you make with the Rhubarb?

I left all the perennial vegetables and herbs out of the garden this year too. Blueberry bushes in a mixed border, we just added this year. Still have four gallons of chives to find a home for.

I was still under snow in April this year too, Babs and we’re in zone 6. I used to go by the old practice of trying to put peas in by Saint Patrick’s Day, but haven’t been able to do that very many times. I’ve used wall of waters to put tomatoes out in April sometimes too.

We also like the equation of cooking sauces and soups for the freezer and then only having to defrost and heat them when we need them. We freeze in individual containers a lot which is very convenient for the two of us, especially since we are not always eating the same thing.

You don’t have any issues with potatoes and soil borne diseases? I seem to remember reading about having to use sulfur to change the PH due to some wilting issues? Which varieties do you use?

Mav72, We haven’t had a ripe cucumber yet. We did start a little later this year. Are your beans string beans or dry? What do you do with your gourds? 
    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:27AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Wayne, have you found a good company to order sweet potato slips from? Variety that you like?

I order from Steele Plant Co. in Gleason, Tenn. They ship reliably on May 17th or very close to that day. I like the yellow O'Henry best, but might mix in some others.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:03AM
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I didn't think of this but saw it posted on FB. After cleaning and drying off tomatoes and removing any stems, you take your tomatoes with skins on, put them on a cookie sheet, freeze for about half a day then place them in a freezer bag. We even stacked ours in a brownie pan because we had a lot last year and ran out of cookie sheets. We love spaghetti around here and can't have enough tomatoes :). What's nice about this method is that when you thaw them out to use in sauce, the skins slip off easily when they are room temperature. Even 6 months later, we had really nice tomatoes for sauce. I love this method and so much easier than canning. Ok I am not a good canner but I hope to master that this year for pickles if my dang cucumbers will ever recover. Had a very cold June and they are just starting to bounce back.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:26AM
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I prefer collards because they are more disease resistant than kale. Otherwise I would grow kale. I eat everything steamed with olive oil, vinegar and salt, but my wife will cook them with garlic and tallow or lard (we get our own animals, so the animal fats are of the highest quality).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:40AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

DeFrost, I’ve heard others say they love those Kabocha squashes. I haven’t tried it yet. And I may try those potato samplers from FEDCO next year. Thanks.

Is straw weed free as opposed to hay?

The asparagus bed, just needs hand weeding to get it clear and then a good cover of mulch and you’ll be all set. Do a little at a time if it’s a large area.

Thanks Wayne!

Gardengal, how much easier could it get? Is it paste tomatoes you are freezing and using for your pasta sauces?

Cucumbers are just forming on our plants here, they went in a little late.

Glib, thanks. I have heard that if animals are grass fed, that there are more essential fatty acids than if they are fed commercial grain.

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Thu, Jul 24, 14 at 10:57

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:54AM
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"Do you mean you actually don’t give your garden any supplemental water?"
Lol. A couple of times I used up all the water in our holding tank (we're on a spring), and my husband really likes to shower, so I decided the garden had to be on its own. Lots of people around here run out of water in the summer (springs dry up) so they never risk watering their gardens, and I could see that not watering a garden does work (it rains pretty well here). And last winter we had no running water at for almost 4 months (lines froze somewhere in the 1000 feet) so, we couldn't even do indoor sprouts.

Kale recipe ideas to vary from the oil and garlic-- add onions and scapes to the garlic and oil, and throw it over pasta with some feta.
Another is garlic, onions (that starts every recipe, no?) kale, a few tomatoes, oregano and tyme. Can add some white beans or garbanzos, and throw it on rice.

Thanks for the tip on the new Coleman book! I really love his info *and* his writing style.

"How many plants of dry beans do you need to grow to get enough dry beans for the winter? We use kidney beans in chili and minestrone soup a lot."

I used to plant one block area, half a bed -- about 3 feet by 8 or 10 feet. But we don't use many beans, so I've got a surplus from past years. Now I just stop picking the green beans when we're sick of them and they turn into dry beans.

I should qualify the first statement I made that the garden provides "all of dinner" every day of the year. That's true except when we travel -- sometimes I can bring enough for the whole trip, and sometimes not. Especially when we fly, of course! (garlic, onions and butternut in the carry on baggage -- a new gardening adventure!)

In terms of effort -- I have found that self seeded things often do better than what I plant, so I've always got something going to seed like parsnips, lettuce, kale, arugula. That cuts way down on effort.

Also, sun could be one of the reasons it is seeming difficult for you to get a lot of production. Definitely use your sunniest areas -- that could help a lot. And your "dark side of the calendar" crops will benefit from more sun (deciduous trees?), so that will be fun.

Hay vs straw as mulch -- both have weeds, hay I'm sure has more, but I think you should use whatever is local. I had one local friend say "every time I use straw in the garden I get a new invasive weed" That's probably because we don't have straw around here -- no grain fields. So the straw, and weeds, came from elsewhere. Hay is all around us. It seems to mostly plant wild flowers in my garden, and clover, which is all good.

One last note -- we have Mid-Atlantic sunlight, and New England temps (at 3K feet in WV), so while things take longer to get growing (not the long summer days you have) we do have more light in winter than you do, so you might not get even one salad a week from over wintered stuff. But you should still get the bonanza in late March/ early April! And if you have more sun then,(unless your shade is from conifers) that'll help, too.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:14AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Elisa, can’t imagine doing without running water for 4 months! Or not being able to water the garden. I’d have no garden if I couldn’t water. We can’t count on consistent rain here at all in the summer. You must get lots of rain.

Yes, garlic, onions, begins most recipes. [g]
I like that combo w the beans over rice. I’m always looking for a new bean recipe. Nothing ever knocks Chili out of first place among favorites.

You use green beans as dried beans? That’s a first! What do they taste like?

I guess you cook when you travel. The security check at the airport must be interesting with all that produce in your bag. You don't have a frying pan in there too? [g]

Self seeded veggies. Now that’s an idea I was mulling over last year, then I forgot about it. I had kale that I let go to seed and saw a lot of volunteers last year. A little more of that on purpose, would make things a little easier. Do you find they come true to seed?

Yes, I’m sure the amount of sun I get is really making a difference in what I can produce. I can’t really produce very many large tomatoes in my limited sun, cherries do better. But I was reading somewhere that a lot of things will grow okay but slower. I’ve had no trouble with peppers, but I’m trying squash for the first time in years and waiting to see how that is going to go. My grape vine produced grapes this year, which I’m waiting to ripen with netting over it. That surprised me. Everything else seems to be doing okay. I pulled my watermelon seedlings that didn’t grow one inch for 40 days. Definitely think that was a lack of sun. Yes, the trees are deciduous, but my house is on the East side of the garden and that doesn’t help when the sun is lower. I’m still experimenting with that.

I would have to purchase hay or straw, which is not all that available and pretty expensive these days. They have a new product offered now, that is hay that has been ‘cooked’ to kill the weed seeds. I’ll pass on that one. I try to use a combination of grass clippings and chopped leaves all winter and summer as mulch, but not sure I’ll have as much as I need with a larger garden and less lawn. This year I am trying pine bark fines and I think it is doing okay.

We are almost at sea level here and if you are in West Virginia, I think my ability to overwinter would be different than yours. But since Eliot Coleman is further north than I am and manages winter crops, I still think I have a shot at it if I have enough sunshine. I’ll experiment.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:06PM
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I just used any and all tomatoes even the little ones that grew in the garden none were paste but I am thinking that this method would work for them too. Some of the types used last year were Beefsteak tomatoes, brandywine Cherokee, even some of the yellow pear variety and cherry tomatoes. Made the best sauce I've ever made before. It was a colorful sauce!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:51PM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Last year it seemed I had some sort of fruit to eat each day. I'm talking, cukes, tomatoes, blueberries etc etc.

This year is the year of the herbs.. I've made so many stocks and soups because the weather has favored the shrubby herbs instead of the heat loving fruits.

I planted three apple trees in my yard this year to remedy my "no fruit in the winter" issue -- all the varieties are later and should keep until late February if I play my cards right (that is, in 8 or so years).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 5:03PM
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"can’t imagine doing without running water for 4 months!"
It was . . . interesting. Fortunately, there's both an indoor pool, and a campground nearby that let us use the showers. And a neighbor let us fill jugs at his house.

"You use green beans as dried beans? That’s a first! What do they taste like?"
Dried beans are basically beans that have been left to get mature. So they just taste like beans to me. They're not as pretty and fun as, say, Vermont Cranberry Beans, and the flavor isn't as specific as most dried bean varieties, and also they're not as big so they don't shell quite as easily. But they're great for a lazy person :)

"I guess you cook when you travel. The security check at the airport must be interesting with all that produce in your bag. You don't have a frying pan in there too? [g]"

A fry pan -- lol! Well, on road trips I have been known to travel with a salad spinner and Cuisinart :) Always have to have a kitchen. Or someone else's home cooking. Really dislike restaurant food.

Self seeded veggies are wonderful. And yes, the ones I mentioned come out good, even if not exactly true to seed, it all tastes good. (though they seem to be true, as well)

If you'd have to pay for hay or straw it doesn't seem worth it. Maybe ask a couple neighbors if you can have their grass clippings and/or leaves? (those who don't use herbicides)

It sounds like the next few years hold some exciting experimentation for you! You'll have to report back and tell us how it goes. I'd love to hear how you do with fall lettuce and greens if you try them this year.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:23PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

GardenGal, I haven’t tried that. Your ‘colorful’, ‘best ever’ sauce sounds really good! I’m often a ‘color in the lines’ kind of person, but I enjoy being tempted over the line sometimes. :-) I would have stuck to paste tomatoes because that’s what they always tell you to use. Who knew?!

Persimmons, I keep trying to add more herbs, especially those that attract beneficials. We were deprived of fresh herbs growing up, beyond dried from the grocery stores, so I’m not in the habit of using fresh in our cooking. Do you have any recipes you enjoy that use a lot of fresh herbs? Favorite soup recipe?

Such optimism to plant a tree that won’t bear fruit for 8 years. I’m sure with all the other gardening you have to keep you busy, the time will fly by.

Elisa, thanks for all the little tidbits. :-) Definitely will be around to report back and check on how everyone else is doing. :-)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:40PM
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I would love to try it with paste tomatoes now just to see which tastes best. It is a bit soupy but that's what the garlic bread is for :) lol. But maybe paste would take care of that?Maybe next year I will do a taste comparison. Love an excuse to experiment in the garden and kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:28AM
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Last time I grew paste tomatoes, I had over 50 # that worked out to about 2 qts of puree. I figured it would take half a ton of tomatoes to produce enough puree to last me through the year, so now I just grow slicers and eat them fresh.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:40PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I just ate two delicious Mary Lane Seedless figs that were dead ripe! No birds have bothered them because there is a vicious rubber snake lying on the ledge in strike position!

Every day we have green onions from our walking onions, and fresh leaves in our salads from our Moringa trees.

I just froze a ton of Anna Apple pie filling measured into pie size servings..

In winter all our citrus will be ripe.

Next year I plan on trying some other vegies. Nice thread!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:50PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

GardenGal, maybe both paste and regular tomatoes? Garlic bread sounds yummy!

Ltilton, That’s interesting because I haven’t grown too many paste tomato plants. Good to know that if we want something for the freezer, we’d have to plant a lot more plants.

DesertDance, That zone 9 growing sounds awfully good! Good to know those rubber snakes have an effect. I have grapes that I’m wondering about as they get ripe. I have netting now, but just in case that doesn’t do the trick, I’ll try that. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 4:01AM
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goodground(z6 NJ)

I went out to the garden this morning with a bowl of cereal in hand. Then I added fresh blueberries to my bowl from the bush. After eating my berry delicious cereal and throwing out the paper bowl into the compost pile, I picked an onion, a cucumber and a tomato for a salad later. I also picked a few late strawberries for my little ones. Will go back out later to grab some fresh lettuce. Nothing beats walking the garden and popping fresh fruit straight into mouth. :-)

We picked red currants, black raspberries & crab apples daily for a few weeks. So far this year, no figs. The blackberries, grapes, melons, corn, carrots, peaches & pears are not yet ripe. The mulberries will be left on the tree for the birds. :-)

Happy Gardening!!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Good idea! Both sounds perfect. Next year, if I have more space, I will grab some seeds and grow some paste :).

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:01PM
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