Monday, December 31, 2012

Boy What a Year!

I finally got most of my gardening "things" organized! The seed inventory is done. My Excel Gardening Journal is updated. I ordered my onion plants and a few seeds. I sent in my order to Wintersown. I have most of my pics organized on the new computer and I'm starting to figure out how to use this new Windows 8. Truthfully, I don't like it.

While organizing everything, I started looking at my photos. Boy, what a year it has been!

The Community Garden move was unbelievable! Who would have thought that it was go from.....

this in March........
to this
in April.....
to this in May...
and this in July
to this in September
and this today.
 We had a lot of great ....
and our Cupboard
 is well stocked
"The Italian's" daughter graduated from college
in May

Isn't she just beautiful??
And as happy we more tuition!!
"The Italian" and I had a couple of wonderful trips!
We took his daughter to our favorite place
New Orleans in May

the sounds on the street
our favorite place to sit!
We had some Garden Bloggers visit
and they made homemade Ice Cream!
In October we
saw some beautiful sunsets in Florida and
then headed to Mexico
and saw the Mayan ruins in Tulum
just amazing!
This stuff is older then Granny!!!

what a wonderful view!
Then we headed to favorite place on the trip
and saw the Mayan ruins Altun Ha

when we got back from the ruins we have some wonderful Adult beverages and listened to these two sing. They were great!
Next we headed to Honduras
and were greeted by a rainbow

we saw some beautiful scenery
 and we walked this bridge

we saw some amazing wildlife

and the female monkeys could keep their hands off "The Italian"!!!

He became know as "The Monkey Man" on our ship!!!
While we were on our trip we got to see
how a lot of the world lives
this is a very big home

and how the lucky ones make their living
And we are grateful
When we returned to Florida
we saw the after affects of Hurricane Sandy and were stuck in Florida for several days
we celebrated the Holidays

with some good food

and Santa brought me a Pressure Canner!!!

and the seed catalogs keep coming in!
They are so beautiful!!!
"The Italian" and I wish all of you a  Happy, Healthy & Bountiful New Year!!! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Harvest Monday............12/03/2012

It's been quite awhile since I posted on Harvest Monday! This week we harvested three different things. The first one has been a long time coming.

My first Meyer Lemon from my little tree!
I picked the Lemon on Saturday and we still haven't decided what we are going to do with it. It's the only lemon that survived. As you can see, I also harvested some baby spinach to use in a wonderful stuffed flank steak. It sure was good!

Sunday, I decided to make some Leek & Potato Soup. So, I went over to the plots and harvested all of the leeks that needed to be harvested. There are still a few over there that are doing well. I will leave them in the ground until we need them or they need to be harvested.
Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in Veggie Gardens around the Globe!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Garden Overview 2012

Before I start my gardening overview I apologize for not blogging for some time. While we were on vacation our home was burglarized. It really wasn't that bad considering what could have happened. I really don't want to go into details. However, my computer was stolen with my up to date, detailed gardening excel journal on it. I did send myself a copy in, not all is lost. But, I don't have all of my notes and total harvests for every crop. Needless to say, my garden overview this year won't have harvest totals in it. I'm also in the process of changing my layout to a winter theme. I will add a nice pic....once I find something that I like.

Now on with the 2012 Garden Overview! This year was a very challenging gardening year with our extreme weather. I really think that weather extremes is going to become the new normal. The gardens did produce well considering the Community Garden move and our crazy weather. The last recorded total on this blog was 729+ lbs. I did have some harvests since then and some crops were not weighed, who knows what the final total really is. But, we do have enough stores, with the exception of onions to get us through the year!

Asian Veggies: Most of the Asian Veggies were grown in the cold frames over the winter and in the early spring. We grew Baby Choi, Pak Choi, Chinese Cabbage & Tatsoi. The Baby Choi also does very well. The variety of Pak Choi that I grow has been bolting the past two years due to the weather. I really need to find another variety to try that is not so sensitive to temperature changes. The Tatsoi did great.....but, I planted too much of it! The Chinese Cabbage did not do well due to some extreme early hot weather that we had. It all bolted! All in all we had enough for the year.

Asparagus: We have two varieties of aspargaus, Jersey Supreme & Purple Passion. Both were 1 year old crowns planted in 2011. Due to the Community Garden move, the asparagus had to be transplanted. Of course, the plots weren't ready at the correct time to transplant them. But, all of the asparagus survived and is thriving! We did have a couple of nice harvests and we are really looking forward to a lot more in 2013! There's nothing better then tender fresh asparagus!

Beans: This year I planted several varieties of beans: Purple Pole, Chinese Red Noodle, Asparagus Red Seeded & Pole Lima Beans. The Purple Pole Beans have always been our favorite. This year they were sown at the plots. Since they really need to be picked at least once a day, many got too old for eating. Next year they will be in the home garden. The Chinese Red Noodle & Asparagus Beans did very well, were extremley prolific & quite beautiful hanging on the trellises. I am definitely planting the Aspargus Beans again. But, I'm not sure about the Chinese Red Noodle. We shall see how we like them from the freezer. The Pole Limas were sown a bit late and really didn't produce as much as I would have liked them to. I'm not sure if I will plant the pole limas next year or go with a bush lima variety.

Beans Dry: There were two varieties of dry bush beans sown; Great Northern & Dark Red Kidney.  I always plant my dry bush beans as a second crop after an early spring vegetable. Both varieties were planted at the home garden and at the plots. The beans in the home garden did better then the beans at the plots. We did have some bug issues at the plots. Next year, I will have to be a bit more diligent about tending to the pests.

I also planted two varieties of dry pole beans; Cherokee Trail of Tears & Ottawa Cranberry. Both of the original seed of these varieties were from Daphne and both sown at the plots. Both did well and produced enough to store and enough seed to save for planting next year. I'm planning on sowing more varieties of dry pole beans next year. We shall see how many after I re-do my garden plans for 2013.

Berries: We have Hull Blackberries, Heritage Raspberries & 3 varieties of Strawberries; Jewel, Annapolis & Ozark Beauty. All of the berries had to be moved from the old plots to the new plots this year. Due to the move and addition of some new strawberry crowns, the harvests were very minimal. All of the plants survived and are also thriving. We are really looking forward to an abundant harvest of berries in 2013!

Broccoli: Three varieties of broccoli were planted in the spring; Nutri-Bud, Packman & Premium Crop. The Premium Crop did the best. I think that Packman was second.....not sure though. The harvest was decent but not great. We did have enough to freeze even though I didn't sow a fall crop. I'm going to search for an additional variety for next year.

Cabbage: I planted three varieties of cabbage this year in the spring; Chiefton Savoy, Red Acre & Tet Noire. They all did well and I grew the biggest Savoy cabbage ever! You can see it here. I will most likely grow the same varieties next year.

Carrots:  This past year I planted Chantenay Royal, Scarlet Nantes & Imperator Carrots in the spring and had a decent harvest. I never got around to sowing a late crop. But I think we will be OK in the carrot department over the winter. I found a way to store carrots in peat moss in the bassement refrigerator and they are doing well.

Cauliflower: Four varieties of cauliflower were planted this past spring; Early Snowball, Silver Cup, Igloo & All the Year Round. They were planted a bit late. I did have success with the Silver Cup since it's only a 40 day variety. Cauliflower is a veggie that we really enjoy and one that I never seem to be able to successfully grow enough of! Maybe 2013 will be better!

Celery: The only variety of celery that I have ever grown is Golden Self Blanching. I have always had success with it and this year was no exception. We had a bumper crop of celery this year weighing in at over 21 lbs! You can read about it here. We also have three small plants still growing in the home garden. I use them for some fresh celery when I only need a little bit.

Corn, Popcorn: The popcorn did amazing this year! I planted Japanese Hulless & Strawberry. The plants growing along the fence pollinated very well and were a nice size. The couple of plants that were planted in the Three Sisters Planting, did not have good pollination. As pretty as the planting looks, I really don't think I will do it again. But, we will definitely be planting these two varieties of popcorn again next year!

Cucumbers: Three varieties of cucumbers were sown; Boston Pickling, Chicago Pickling & Muncher Burpless. The pickling varieties were sown at the plots and the slicing variety in the home garden. I really had issues with bugs on the cucumbers at the plots and will be more diligent about pest prevention next year. The cucmbers at home did very well and produced enough for all of our pickle needs for the year.

Eggplant: For several years I have planted the same four varieties of eggplant; Black Beauty, Early Black Egg, Rosa Bianca & Lunga Violetta Di Firenze. As always, I planted two of each variety....and as usual we had way too many eggplant! I would like to cut back to one plant of each. However, I fear that one year we will have a bad eggplant year and we won't have enough. With that being said, I'm pretty sure that I will plant the same amount and same varieties next year.

Garlic: Last fall I bought some new garlic seed to plant since I didn't plant enough garlic the previous year. The varieties planted were Silverskin & Music. All did well. But were not quite as big as in the past. I think that the dry winter attributed to their lack in size. The harvest was good enough to store for the year and also enough to plant this past October. I don't remember how much I planted in October since the counts were on my old computer. I think 80-90 total.

Greens: All of the greens this past year were planted in the cold frames; Arugula,Vates & Georgia Collards and several varieties of Kale; Dwarf Blue, Squire, Lacinato & Winter Red. They all did well and we have plenty frozen and more growing in the cold frames for this winter and next spring. I usually plant Vates Collards and we love them. Last year I decided to try Georgia Collards. We really didn't like them and they won't be planted again.
Leeks: The only variety of leeks that I have ever grown is Caratan. About a dozen were planted at the plots and one big one was harvested I think in October. The last time I was at the plots the leeks were doing well. I really should go over there and see if any need to be harvested. I will continue to grow this variety and may try an additional variety next year.

Lettuce: I'm really not good at succession planting in the lettuce department. As usual, I have too much or none at all! This past year I grew Little Gem, Romaine, Buttercrunch, Freckles Romaine, Rocky Top & Quattro Stagioni Sel. Rossina Di Pescia. We enjoy all of these varieties and I may search for some new varieties for next year. Maybe one of these years, I get my act together and keep some lettuce growing for most of the year!

Melons: This year I planted Sugar Baby Watermelon & French Organic Cantaloupe. We harvested a few watermelons. Which was enough for our needs. The cantaloupe were a complete failure this year. All of the plants died before they produced a viable melon. Even though my success with cantaloupe is speratic, I'm sure there will be space for them in the garden next year.

Onions: This was the absolute worst year ever for onions! I planted the following: Plants; Copra, Red Wing & Walla Walla. Sets; Red Baron & Stuttergarter. I don't know how many I planted since that information is gone. But, probably twice as much as I normally do. The onions that did manage to grow were small to say the least. I did have enough to use in making capanota, salsa and B&B pickles......but, that's about it! We have a very small basket of some very small onions left. This is one crop that I will have to buy this year.

Peas: I made the mistake of trying some new peas this year. One new variety of garden pea and one new variety of snow pea. They all did well and I even managed to have a small crop of Little Marvel garden peas in the fall. But we did not like the Alderman garden pea and the Green Beauty Snow pea. The following are all the varieties that were grown. Garden; Little Marvel & Alderman. Snow & Snap; Green Beauty Snow Pea, Sugar Magnolia Purple Snap & Spring Blush Snap

Peppers: The peppers had a bad start this year with some BER. They took off later in the season and did well. Not as good as 2011.....but, good enough for us! I didn't have as many Paprika peppers to dry as I would have liked. Next year I will plant more since we use a lot of paprika powder in cooking. The only pepper that did not do all that well were both varieties of cherry, hot & sweet. They were quite small. I'm sure it was due to the weather. We were also pleased with the Hot Banana & Hot Hungarian Wax peppers. This was the first year growing them and they pickled nicely. Below is a list of the varieties of peppers that we grew.

   Hot & Spice:
     Jalapeno, Cayenne, Habanero, Hungarian Hot Wax, Hot Banana, Happy Yummy Hot, Hot Large Cherry, Hungarian Paprika, Pimento & Amish Pimento

     Cubanelle Frying, Purple Beauty, Horizon Orange Bell, Quadrato Giallo D'Asti, Red Marconi, Corno Di Toro, Quadrato Rosso D'Asti, Happy Yummy Sweet, Sweet Cherry & Hungarian Sweet

Potatoes: The potato harvest was good....but not really as much as it should have been. I planted Yukon Gold, Purple Viking, Kennebec & Red Pontiac. Yukon Gold has always been our favorite and we are planning to grow more of that variety next year. I'm not sure exactly what varieties will grown next year. But, Yukon Gold and Kennebec are definitely on the list.

Spinach: As some of you know, I always complain about how I can't grow spinach. Well, it seems like I can if I start it in the fall and harvest it in the spring! This past spring we had a good spinach harvest. I think that I planted the following: Bloomsdale, Long Standing Bloomsdale, Giant Thick Leafed & Matador. This past September/October, I did the same thing and threw a ton of spinach seeds in a bed at the home garden. The spinach is growing and we even harvested some baby spinach yesterday to use in a stuffed flank steak! It was wonderful!

Squash: The only Summer Squash that was grown was Cocozelle Italian Zucchini. We really like this variety and will continue to grow it. I only put in two plants and that was plenty for us. The Winter Squash that was grown were Butternut, Marina di Chioggia, Sugar Pie Pumpkin & Spaghetti. We managed to avoid the dreaded SVB's this year and gew enough Butternut & Spaghetti Squash for our needs. The one and only Marina di Chioggia plant just up and died for reasons unkown. I will try it again next year though since we were really looking forward to it. The Sugar Pie Pumpkins were great and made the best pumpkin pie. They are definitely on the list for next year!

Tomatoes: My 2012 tomato reviews can be found here and here.

That's it for the 2012 Garden Review! So, how did your garden grow this past year???