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Friday Favorite: Cilantro

May 26th, 2017

Cilantro is my all-time favorite herb, probably because I grew up in South America eating mass quantities of it. This past winter, when I was looking through the Johnny’s Seeds catalog, I noticed there were a few different varieties. Generally, I grow ‘Slo-Bolt’ cilantro. I have noticed when I purchase cilantro at the store, some is more flavorful than others. This got me to thinking that the different varieties would have a slightly different taste. So I ordered up three different varieties and got them started.

After doing taste tests, ‘Santo’ was my favorite both for flavor and texture. I’ll definitely be growing this variety in the future, along with the ‘Slo-Bolt’ that self seeds itself happily throughout my gardens.

What’s your favorite herb?

So Close…

May 25th, 2017

I’m so close to getting all the seedlings planted. This past week I managed to get all the peppers and tomatoes in. They are filling out the side of the garden that was a cutting garden last summer. The soil hasn’t been improved as much as it has in the other half of the garden since this side has been left mostly fallow for the past few years.

I still have 5-6 flats of onions, leeks, and various flowers to get planted. Hopefully those will be planted today before a few days of rain. I always like to plant when we’re forecasted to have rain and a few cloudy days, I find it helps the plants deal with the shock of transplant better.

How’s your garden shaping up?

Long Lived, but not Immortal

May 24th, 2017

There are many perennial vegetables, but that doesn’t mean that they are immortal. Often, long lived perennial vegetables exhaust themselves or slowly decline after reaching a certain age. There are many factors that contribute to this. My asparagus patch here has been on the decline, it’s pretty old. I noticed that it produces much later than my friend’s and the harvest is much smaller. This is after adding compost and amending the soil well. The plants have probably just exhausted their productivity.

Last year I started two varieties of asparagus from seed (Precoce D’Argenteuil & Mary Washington), they overwintered well and are growing nicely. I also ordered 25 crowns of each ‘Jersey Supreme’ and ‘Purple Passion’ asparagus from Nourse Farms this year. Both of these varieties grew in my Ohio garden and I was very happy with them.

It looks like I will end up with 75-100 asparagus crowns including the ones I started from seed, which will be more than we need, but neighbors never complain about it when you give them asparagus so I don’t think I will have any issue using it all up. One of the varieties I have is supposed to produce quite early, so I’m thinking about trying to maximize this by planting it in a space where I can cover it with a low tunnel for the winter and try to force an extra early harvest. I may also plant some early strawberries with it for an extra early strawberry harvest as well.

I’m always happy to add perennial vegetables to the garden, it’s nice to know that each spring I will have a lovely harvest of asparagus with not much input on my part. With a little maintenance each year, an asparagus patch will produce for many, many years. However, if your patch is on the decline, it may be time to cut your losses and start over.

Do you grow asparagus in the garden? Do you have a favorite variety?

A Helping Hand

May 23rd, 2017

When you live in a cold climate and transplant spring vegetables into the garden, it’s beneficial to give them a weekly feed with a diluted kelp solution. Plants started indoors or purchased, are trying to produce new roots after being transplanted. This requires nutrition, which is in short supply because of the cold soil. When the soil is cold, plants have a much more difficult time getting nutrients from the soil.

Foliar feeding is the best way to give you plants what they need. While I often advocate a liquid fish/seaweed mixture, I find that sometimes this can attract racoons and skunks to the garden. Liquid kelp doesn’t have the same effect and it provides just the right amount of food when mixed half strength and used weekly. One thing to note is that liquid fertilizers can burn the leaves of plants if used in the morning on a sunny warm day. It’s best to water in the late afternoon when using a liquid feed. Your plants will thank you and you will have lush lettuce and other vegetables much more quickly than without the added fertilizer.

My favorite brand of liquid seaweed (or fish/seaweed mix) is Neptune’s Harvest. I’ve tried a wide variety of brands and find this one to work best for me. In fact, I like it so much I buy it by the five gallon bucket. I always give any transplants a watering straight away with a foliar feed and find that it helps them settle in much quicker. Tomatoes, peppers, and other fruiting plants get a feeding at the first fruit set as well. In my exeprience, this increases yeild and helps reduce drop-off of immature fruit. The variety of minerals and nutrients in kelp makes it a fantastic addition to the garden (in liquid or powdered form, more on that in the weeks to come).

What’s your favorite type of fertilizer to use in the edible garden?

Mickey Mouse Tulips

May 22nd, 2017

The first fall after we purchased our new house (way back in 2003), I planted tulip bulbs. I found the bulbs on clearance at my local Target store, they were called ‘Mickey Mouse’ tulips. I planted the few bulbs from the package and was excited when they came up the following spring. Little did I know that these few bulbs would naturalize and reproduce. Each year I had a few more flowers, which is unusual for tulips. I passed a few bulbs along to my mom and they started reproducing in her garden as well. When we moved to Maine, it happened in the fall and I forgot to dig up bulbs to bring with me.

Last spring, I finally remember to dig a few up at my mom’s during a late spring visit. You can imagine how happy I was to see their little sunny red and yellow faces in the my garden this spring. There are two bulbs so far, but it looks as if the two bulbs I brought have already started to multiply. It’s wonderful to have these little lovelies in my garden once again.

Do you have any plans that you have acquired, then lost, then reacquired?

Reading & Watching

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.