Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Planting and harvesting and eating radish sandwiches...

Hi Everyone,

TODAY'S HARVEST 23 lbs.        YTD 71 lbs.

Today was a great day to work in the garden--cool and overcast. Gardeners today were G.A., Susan, Jamie, Karen, Barbara, Maxine, Melba, Greg, Nancy and myself. Much was accomplished, but I still have one more flat of assorted things to plant on Saturday.

Karen, Melba and Jamie did much needed weeding of the whole garden. It was a perfect day for weeding since the ground was so soft and damp. Maxine and Barbara thinned out the second planting of bok choy and transplanted the 'thinnings' which will give us late harvest. In addition, they picked the remains of the first crop that was starting to bolt. It was still good and not bitter at all.

The radishes this year are the prettiest I've ever seen at PAR.

In addition to the bok choy, we harvested romaine, kale, spinach, cilantro, loose headed lettuce, endive, red mustard and radishes. All were well received at the women's shelter.

Japanese Red Mustard.

Greg once again worked on the leaf pile and filled one big compost bin. There is still a much smaller pile of leaves that I hope we can use up as we mulch our plantings. Nancy started mulching the cabbage and got quite a bit done. We can finish up Saturday and check again for cabbage worms.

Lacinato Kale and Romaine.

Jamie had a bluebird house waiting for us, and he and G.A. installed it on a pole. I forgot to get a picture of it, but should be able to Saturday. Susan planted most of the peppers, but we still need some bells and jalapeƱos to complete our pepper assortment. Today she planted Poblano, Shishito, Serrano, and Yellow Banana. 

Loose head lettuce, endive, and more radishes.

G.A. loosened up the soil under the muscadine wire and planted zinnias. He stated that men plant flowers different than women do. I don't know what he meant by that, but we'll see if they look any different when they come up.

Garden gourmet sandwich.

When we were done working we stopped and sampled our produce with radish sandwiches. This is something I ate growing up when we had radishes in the garden. The gardeners thought I was a little more off kilter than usual, but agreed that they were good. Except for G.A. who said they needed 'jazzing up.' Maybe everyone else was being kind.

Sandwich samplers Nancy, Maxine, Barbara and Karen.

And that's all the news from PAR Davies, where the men and women are strong and good looking and all the vegetables are above average.

'Til later,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

History and Veggies at PAR Davies

Hi Everyone,

TODAY'S HARVEST 8 lbs.            YTD 48 lbs.

I thought I was going to be singing Carl Wayne's hymn today but then Martha showed up! I'm sorry you all missed the neat stuff going on at Davies today. The Shelby County History Festival/Reenactment was happening. When I first got there I didn't see many people, but when we left there were more folks walking around in period costumes. Cool.

Horses and buggies with a trailer....old with the new.

Cooking breakfast in camp.

Okay, now down to garden business. We were absolutely amazed at what the rain did to make things really take off. I didn't think the peas were ever going to do anything, but now I can see that we should have a nice crop.

Alaska Peas climbing and blooming with radishes in front
 and tiny carrots in front of the radishes.

All of the lettuces look great, although the voles are partial to the Romaine. The several varieties of radishes were huge and beautiful. Some of the lettuce and radishes needed to be picked today, so I called the halfway house (Women Ablaze Ministries), and they were delighted to get fresh from the garden produce. We had to thin out some of the onions to make room for a tomato plant, so green onions were included too. What great ingredients for a salad.

 Heads of Rougette de Montpellier lettuce at the top and light green 
Nevada Batavia lettuce with Lutz beets along the sides.

And more lettuce planted in block holes....forgot the name of this, but it's pretty.

I noticed that the muscadine is alive and finally leafing out! I thought it was a goner. The kale and cabbage looked good with no evidence of cabbage worms after Mary Elizabeth sprayed. We will have to keep a close eye on these since the rain probably washed most of the Bt off.

Martha finished up planting all the tomatoes. We didn't get the peppers planted as anticipated, since we decided to make a harvest and delivery. Another zucchini was planted with row cover and same procedure as the last one. There are still two butternuts and a yellow summer squash to plant for our early squash crop. Most of the basil was planted, but there is still some purple basil to put in.

Spinach bed.

I am glad we planted the spinach thick, because there are some spaces in between. I think this was the result of us not incorporating the new mix in with the older more fertile soil and not holding moisture very well. I believe some of the seedlings just dried out in-between waterings. But what survived looks really good and we should be able to pick some Wednesday.


Lastly, check out the mushrooms. I was so glad to see these. Mushrooms in the garden used to disgust me, but now I know they indicate healthy soil. 

'Til later,

Friday, April 18, 2014

You say tomato, I say tomahto

Hi Everyone,

Actually, I've never heard anyone in Tennessee say 'tomahto.'

This was a quiet and busy morning in the garden. Gardeners were Janet, G.A., Dorothy and myself. The main accomplishment today was major tomato planting....Beefsteak, Roma, Bella Rosa, Rutgers, Nebraska Wedding, Marglobe, Mr. Stripey, Phoenix, Brandywine Pink, Black Cherry and Juliet!! Next week we hope to finish up with the tomatoes.

Two 'Emerald' artichokes were planted today.

The artichokes were started from seed. Out of five seeds in the package, only two germinated. They are supposed to be perennials in zone 7. However, if we have another winter like the one just past, maybe not. 

A few other things going on in the garden....

Japanese Giant Red Mustard

Only about eight of these mustard plants survived, but the ones that did look like they will be very productive. These are really stunning plants, and I hope to have a larger crop in the fall.

Our favorite herb.

Update on the Comfrey shows blossoms forming. In a several of weeks, we should be able to start our famous 'Comfrey Tea' just in time to fertilize tomatoes, peppers and squash.

Espaliered 'Moonglow' pear tree.

This is one of two espaliered pear trees ready for the second tier. The other 'Bartlett' pear had some damage when a limb fell on it breaking one of the trained branches. I don't know if the tree will be salvageable, and we may have to get another.

Strawberries in block holes.

There are lots of strawberry blossoms, but the berries always seem to end up food for critters. In the words of Susan...I admire you trying to take care of the little creatures!

Surely there will be no more freezes and the tomatoes will be safe. Barring any disasters, we hope to have many varieties of tomatoes for the 'Tomato Tasting' in July.

'Til later,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

All the Dirt on Dirt... 'er SOIL!

The latest issue of the Memphis Area Master Gardeners' newsletter is all about preparing your soil. And it's all about the soil, baby!

Click here to open newsletter

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First harvest of 2014 for PAR Davies

Hi Everyone,


What a good day at the garden with our first harvest of 2014! Gardeners here today were Susan, G.A., Jamie, Maxine, Lauren, Dorothy, Greg, Pam and myself. We picked cilantro, lettuce, endive, spinach and walking onions. Ten pounds doesn't sound like much, but it looked mighty fine to us.

Our first harvest.

We planted carrots in two beds, companions for further tomatoes, a double row in each bed. Another round of radishes were planted down the middle of a cabbage bed. Chamomile, dill and borage were planted in the block holes. Chinese celery was planted in a container so we will be able to move it to a shadier spot later on in the summer. This being new for us, we don't quite know what to expect.

Romaine lettuce and red cabbage.

The crops are coming along nicely with some of the cabbage heading up. I am glad to see this, since we will be anxious to replace it with summer crops later on. And, yesterday I saw one of the dreaded white butterflies in my own yard. 

Martha was the brave one who tackled the compost bin. Much to our surprise, she uncovered 'black gold' once she turned over the top layer. We used some of this when planting in the block holes.

We were amazed at what was in the compost pile...lovely composty soil.

The spinach was fertilized with fish emulsion/liquid seaweed, and G.A. side dressed some of the kale, cabbage and lettuce. Weeding was done, and the weeds are actually under better control than this time last year. Susan brought us another bunch of cardboard, which was put down in the area of the containers where we keep our fertilizer, worm castings, etc., making it look really organized.

Greg and Jamie putting down cardboard and cleaning up along the fence.

Last week several gardeners straightened up next to the compost bins where pallets, etc. were stored. So with what was done today, that whole area looks great. Thanks to all who worked so hard.

Neater than it's ever been!!

Pam dropped by with borage seedlings and enough asparagus plants to finish up the bed. These came from her garden, and we are so grateful that she shared them with us. She planted them all before she left. Thanks Pam. You have left so many neat things at the garden for us to remember you by.

Lacinato kale, aka Tuscan, Black and Dinosaur kale.

Did you read the article in the paper today about kale? Tuscan kale was recommended for use in salads because it is much more tender than other types. That happens to be the variety of kale that we planted this year. It is doing quite well, especially in the vetch bed, and is said to be easier to grow with a height of 2-3 feet. I would like to try a few other types, but this may be our preferred variety. Stay tuned for kale updates.

Now the big question is, will we be able to plant tomatoes next week? Hmmm. Maybe a few but certainly not all.

'Til next week,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wrapping carrot seeds in toilet paper and other fun stuff.

Hi Everyone,

Things are really warming up and the garden is reflecting that with new growth throughout. Gardeners today were Cathy, Jamie, Susan, Nancy, Mary Elizabeth, Greg, Joan and myself. Two more rows of carrots were planted using the toilet paper method. We tried this to see if it works as far as keeping the seeding more uniform and being able to see where you plant. The strips of toilet paper are then placed in the row and covered with soil. We will give a report on this as they emerge.

Mary Elizabeth, Susan and Nancy planting carrots.

We got lots of weeding done, and the bok choy and radishes were thinned. Empty spots in the pea rows were filled in with more seeds. Jamie worked more on the irrigation system, which is a pretty big job.  One of the compost bins was all turned to one side to make room for leaves. Soil that had washed into the aisles was scooped up and added to the area with the leftover Pro Mix. Speaking of new growth, check out the row of raspberries. Last week when planted they were just sticks. I have a feeling we will be wrapping these with netting. I can't wait to see them fill up the fence.

Raspberry row.

Al Hayes sent some really neat herb seedlings via Greg....Florence fennel (bulbing type), bronze fennel, dill, lemon grass and sage. The sage was planted in the block holes. I think it best to wait until after the 15th to plant everything else, although the dill might be okay to plant now. Susan also planted chamomile seeds.
Lacinato kale in the vetch bed.

We noticed that the kale planted in the bed with a thick stand of vetch looked much better than kale planted in another bed. Most of the vetch was trimmed off and turned under, but a few sprouts remain on top. So this tells us that the vetch definitely has enriched our soil with nitrogen. We need to do more winter cover planting. The only problem is finding an empty bed when it's time to plant it.

Intensive planting with peas on the fence, radishes, and carrots on the outside.

The picture above shows a FULL bed with three crops. When the peas and radishes are finished there will be a warm weather crop to plant down the middle, still allowing the carrots to reach maturity. Behind this bed is romaine lettuce and cabbage. The PVC pipe is for the low tunnel winter garden demo at the class.

Nancy making a structure for the peas to climb.

We finally got around to getting branches for the pea patch. Susan had cautioned us that even though the seed package says they don't get tall and don't need anything to climb on...don't believe it. So we are ready if they want to climb.

Next week we should be able to harvest spinach, lettuce, onions and cilantro.

'Til later,