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Peas and Twigs

March 31st, 2010

Perhaps you have seen peas growing among twigs in garden books, on-line, in other gardens or you do it your own garden. It’s an old tradition to grow peas up twigs. (note: these are not the peas currently in my garden, these photos were taken last spring at the end of April, my peas haven’t even germinated yet).

I’ve always used this method for supporting peas, mainly because it’s convenient and cheap. Since my gardens are surrounded by woods,, I have access to as many saplings and twigs as I need.

I’ve also heard it’s helpful for keeping rabbits and other critters out of the garden. It didn’t work for me last year with the deer, so I’m not sure if this is true.

I read a few weeks ago that peas are traditionally grown up twigs because they are planted at the same time as the trees are pruned. How convenient, you remember when to plant your peas and you have plenty of free supports for them.

Do you have any great old gardening traditions/sayings like this or any cost cutting measures you employ in the garden?

The Rewards of Growing Vegetables

March 30th, 2010

The most rewarding part of growing vegetables is harvesting them. It is incredibly satisfying pulling from the ground vegetables you sowed as seed in the spring.

-Christoper Lloyd & Richard Bird (The Cottage Garden)


I’m reading The Cottage Garden book at the moment and I really really like it. I actually got it from the library again, it’s the second time I’ve read it. I decided it’s worthy of being added to my library and I purchased it last week. If you like cottage gardens and like growing vegetables you’ll be delighted by the garden plans and all the information, plant suggestions and photos in this book.

What’s the most rewarding part of growing vegetables for you?

The First Tomato Seedling of 2010

March 29th, 2010

Exciting things are happening in the Chiot’s Run basement seed starting headquarters. On Saturday morning while working in the basement, I spotted the first tomato seedling of 2010. Can you guess what kind it is?*

This is when that new macro lens Mr Chiots got me for Christmas comes in handy, I never would have been able to get this close with my other lens. It’s a thing of beauty, since I was working in the basement so I caught it before it even fully emerged from the soil and stood up. I had just checked them that morning and didn’t see anything, later that afternoon there was a tiny speck of green.

I still haven’t started all of my tomato seeds yet, that will happen this week when I can leave the flats on the front porch to warm (it’s supposed to be in the high 60′s). Of course I ended up with more variates than I wanted to grow, but fewer than last year. I’ll give you the full list when I start them.

Do you have any tomatoes growing yet?

*It’s a San Marzano

Perennial Potato and Egyptian Walking Onions

March 28th, 2010

Over the past couple years I’ve been reading about permaculture and have been looking for ways to incorporate more of these techniques into my gardening. One of the things that many permaculture advocates suggest is using as many perennial vegetables as possible to limit the need to disturb the soil by working it too much. Adding more perennial fruits and vegetables would also help with the gardening work load! Since I love trying to things, especially in the garden I decided I’d try my hand at growing perennial onions and Egyptian Walking onions. I searched on-line and found them at Southern Exposure.

According to Southern Exposure:
Heirloom potato onions enjoyed widespread popularity before the turn of the century. Nearly every gardener grew potato onions and they were available in yellow, white, and reddish-brown varieties, the yellow being most common. Potato onions are still a local favorite in some areas of Virginia. Each bulb cluster of potato onions may contain many bulbs, averaging 2 to 2-1/2″ in diameter. When a small bulb (3/4″) is planted, it will usually produce one or two larger bulbs. When a large bulb (3 to 4″) is planted, it will produce approximately 10 to 12 bulbs per cluster. These bulbs of various sizes may be used for eating, storing, or replanting. By replanting a mixture of sizes you will have plenty of sets for next year’s crop and plenty of onions for eating during the year. Potato onions can increase 3- to 8- fold by weight each year depending on growing conditions. Potato onions store better than most seed onions, and individual bulbs can be grown in flower pots to produce a steady supply of green onions during the winter.

The potato onions looked like shallots and the Egyptian onions were tiny little bulbs, not quite what I was expecting.

Egyptian Onions are described by Southern Exposure this way:
The onion to plant if you always want onions. Egyptian Walking Onions grow perennially in a bed. Hardy bulbs set bulblets on stalks. Air bound bulblets will sprout new smaller stalks, which fall over and replant themselves, hence the name “Walking”. Bulbs can be harvested over Fall and Winter. Green Onions can be harvested selectively as they grow. Plant them where you intend to have them for a long time, as they are quite hardy.

I planted both of these last fall and I was pretty excited when I saw the potato onions and the walking onions coming up this spring. I’m interested to see how they do here in the gardens and what the flavor is like. Not having to plant as many onions each year will be nice if these work out. I’ll be sure you keep you posted.

Do you have any perennial vegetables or fruits in the garden?

It Snowed, It Snowed, It Snowed Last Night

March 27th, 2010

One of the reasons I blog is to keep track of things like the weather, last snowfall, last frost, first frost, etc. This past week was beautiful for gardening here in NE Ohio, we had days in the 50′s & 60′s and nights in the 40′s. Since it’s Ohio, I knew the weather was too good to last. We frequently get snow in March and in April (last year we had snow on April 7). I don’t think I have any photos of Easter egg hunts as a kid without winter coats covering up our lovely Easter outfits.

Winter is far from over here in Ohio and mother nature makes sure to remind us this time of year. We woke up to a few inches of snow yesterday morning and temperatures in the teens. The nice thing about snow this time of year is that it melts of quickly and the days usually are still warm, not as cold as in the heart of winter.

I’m actually happy for this cold snap. I’m stratifying some joe pye weed seeds and I need a week of cold nights so the seeds will germinate. It’s supposed to be down below freezing for the next couple nights, so I think I’ll have just enough cold weather. We’ll most likely still get some snow in April, but by the end of April we can pretty much be certain that spring is officially here.

When is your last snow or cold weather?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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