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Posts Tagged ‘spring gardening’

My chard (also known as swiss chard and silverbeet) is growing great right now. I planted it last fall, and it did ok throughout the winter months, but it seems to really have taken off in the past months. I have known that I need some shade for my garden in the spring and summer months. That South Texas sun is just too darn hot for most things all day long. While I have a nice line of juniper trees on the east side of the garden I have nothing shading things from the West side and as the hours go by the plants really take a beating. I have tried to come up with some ideas (in my head!) to help shade things, but my limitations over the past few years I haven’t been able to physically get things done like that. This year I had some ideas that I thought would work and I have more stamina to get them done.

Chard stalks

Chard stalks

I’m getting off track here. This post started out about chard and the stems and I have gotten sidetracked with my new shade system….. so I will break this up into two posts and post about the shade that I created in my next post here.

I think my chard is really benefiting from the shade and when I arrived back home after being gone for 3 weeks I was amazed at how tall and full the chard plants where. It is really almost impossible to grow most greens here in the spring and summer months. For two years I did keep a few chard plants going. It wasn’t pretty throughout the summer months, nor were they huge producers, but it was interesting to see them stay alive and keep growing.  I am excited at the prospect of these fall planted chard plants along with the new shade to see what happens throughout the rest of the summer. We are already hot, and it will just get more hot and I hope the plants will do better.

chopping chard stalks

chopping chard stalks

So, I am happily picking chard and adding into most of our meals in one way or another. Last night as I was chopping the chard and I wondered if others out there also ate the stalks/stems.

Adding chopped chard stalks to pasta water

Adding chopped chard stalks to pasta water

I grew up eating the stalks. Mom or Gram would chop them separately and get them sauteing or steaming for a few minutes. The stalks can be a bit bitter and that bitterness will disappear if you give them extra time to cook. they also need additional cooking time because they are a lot thicker and firmer than the leaf and need that extra time to soften up more.

When I am going to add the chard to pasta, I just throw the chopped stalks in along with the pasta for the last 3 minutes of its cooking time. Once the pasta is drained I add the chopped leaves and let the heat of the pasta soften and cook the delicate chard leaves (the smaller you chop them up, the easier it is to incorporate them into the hot pasta.)

Do you eat the chard stalks? How do you incorporate them into your meals?

Sincerely, Emily

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Yesterday was the first day I harvested something from our garden this season.image

Zucchini!!!

Peppers!! Serranos, anaheims, and banana. Sorry, I forgot to get a photo of those.

I also picked three peaches in hopes that they will ripen off the tree. The squirrels are already competing for those. Grrrrr.

What is growing in you garden??

Sincerely, Emily

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Bunching onions, sauerkraut, local lamb roast, and working in the garden….

Chopping up bunching onions to go in my neighbors freezer

Chopping up bunching onions to go in my neighbors freezer

What do all those things have in common? …. Just more “not dabbling in normal” normal.

Over at the neighbors getting things ready to plant.

Over at the neighbors getting things ready to plant.

Cleaning and clearing out the winter garden. the onions are starting to flower. I let a few turnips and some of the kale flower so I can collect seeds. The monster spinach is just starting to bolt, so will leave a few plants in the ground for seed saving also.

I was over at the neighbors yesterday to help clear out winter plants and get some spring things in the ground. He uses a hoe (made in the USA) that belonged to his grandmother. (my neighbor is 81 years old, so that is one old hoe that he is using.) we planted some cucumber and zucchini seeds and got a few bell pepper plants in the ground. My body is still playing catch up from being sick a year ago…. so that was all we got done. We will work out there again on Saturday. I plan to work in my garden today and hopefully get some plants in the ground. I still get out of breath, but it feels good to work out there and I need to keep pushing myself a bit to keep getting better. I have certainly come a long way, especially when i think back to march 2013 when I couldn’t even walk across the room!

chopping cabbage for sauerkraut

chopping cabbage for sauerkraut

I have picked my cabbages and they are in the crock turning into fermented sauerkraut. I picked up some more local cabbage at the local swap that I go to and those are also fermenting in another second crock. A Roasted lamp shoulder

Dinner the other night was a roasted local lamb shoulder (picked it up at the swap/barter.) I had a second pan in the oven roasting sweet potatoes and onions that I also traded for.

Making a cough syrup

Making a cough syrup

I am also taking an herbal medics class. Learning a lot, and So much more to learn. It is a lot of fun. I am harvesting some wild herbs and edibles as they are popping up this spring. The lambsquarter is popping up so I am potting some up to take to plant swaps and also the month swap/barter.

So, like I said…. Life. There is a lot going on. Spring is in the air (It was 87F yesterday – I think we skipped Spring!)

What are you up to this time of year?

Sincerely, Emily

 

 

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Spring has arrived in some parts of the US while other parts are still, not-so patiently waiting. Last week we had fun looking back at what we harvested last year. This week we are looking forward and sharing our garden plans.

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Oh, I  (Sincerely, Emily) always seem to have a lot of plans, but as you know, there was a big wrench put in my plans so far this year. My friends have planted peppers and tomatoes for me and I will get the okra seed in the ground in the next week. That is about it for my garden plans. If things had gone according to “plan” I would be adding tomatillos to my garden this year. I have wanted to plant them for the past few years, but it just didn’t happen. That plan will wait until Spring 2014.  Right now I have peppers and tomatoes already forming.  I am glad to have things growing out there.

Cubanella pepper 4-19-2013

Cubanella pepper 4-19-2013

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Tanglewood Farm is always abuzz with plans; some come to fruition, some shrivel up and die like a cast bug. Heh.

So far this year my biggest plans have been to try to pick up where I left off last spring. The weather last year was so atrocious that I admit I threw in the towel early. Okay, I planted a lots of things, and I admit I got to harvest a handful of tomatoes and some greens, but it was just such a bummer, especially after I had ordered and planted (and paid for) 80+ new berry bushes, including raspberries, dewberries, blackberries and gooseberries. By the end of the summer, regardless of watering, everything was crisp and brown to the roots.

So this year I have reordered most of the plants that died last year and I am starting afresh! I am also putting a lot of the young (wimpy) bareroot plants that I’ve ordered in pots until they are a little more established and until the ground is a little more planting-friendly. Right now we are soggy and sloshy from the house gardens to the back orchard (which, actually, is currently two feet under water!) so planting will have to wait, but planning… planning is always going on here at the farm!

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It’s killing me, but I think this year is probably a no-corn year.  I’m working on my rotation, and finding that without corn I have almost too much space, which I think will be filled with beans– boring, but practical (all the practical stuff is boring). Follow my gardening fits and starts at MyFolia.com/gardener/Xan!

Seedlings Rainbow Chard Seedlings Aunt Ruby

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Are you planting something new this spring?

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For those of you that are used to doing your own things (working the garden, around the house, around the yard, trimming your own trees, hauling your own dirt) you completely understand me when I tell you how frustrating the last 7 weeks have been for me. My mind, for the most part, is working normal (ok, normal for me), but my body is under strict limitations. My limitations have not been lifted yet, but I have been given the go ahead to walk a bit. I can’t get too excited and head off on a mile long, flat road walk, I am able to just bump up my walking a bit.  I am still under strict limitation to only carry 10 lbs. Mind you, I can’t lean over to pick a 10 lb object up or lean over to put a 10 lb object in the oven.

The time has passed when I normally would have started my vegetable seeds. It is time, if I had started them, to get them up into gallon pots and start setting them outside weeks ago to start hardening them. Instead, I headed out to a few local nurseries and bought my veggies this year (and someone carried them to by truck for me.) I also picked up the peppers and tomatoes that my neighbor grows at the same time.

potting plants

I am unable to even pot up those purchased vegetable plants into gallon pots… so, I get by with a little help from my friends. I took all the plants over to my neighbors and they did all the work and got them potted up into gallons pots. Not only did they do all the work, but they kept my plants to oversee them and move them in and out to harden them off and make sure they get a nice dose of sun and wind.

One of the plants I hadn’t found was Anaheim peppers, so we were both keeping our eye out for them. I found them just the other day and delivered the plants next door for more potting.

I wasn’t real sure how I was ever going to have a garden this spring if I can’t start seeds or even plant the actual plants. I am grateful for my neighbors friendship and I am grateful for their help getting my plants ready right along with theirs. This puts a little bit of happiness in my day.

Next step will be actually getting the plants into the garden. It is very frustrating for me not to do my own things. Frustrating having to ask for help. Frustrating to rely on others. I find that I have to take many deep breathes throughout the day, write something down on a list so when someone comes along I can ask them to do it. As I heal and recover I have to rebuild basic strength and energy. I have to be patient and build up stamina. Dang I get tired easy! But what I look forward to the most is doing things myself again.

Until then, I get by with a little help from my friends!

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

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Spring has sprung. For many of us it sprung really really early this year and many areas are several weeks ahead of what is “normal” for this time of year.

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We had some wonderful rains this winter in South Texas and things have been very green. this spring (up until now – we are dry and in need of rain!) We didn’t get enough rain to pull us out of the drought and many areas are still suffering. We warmed up really quickly this spring and things really started growing. I  (Sincerely, Emily) have lots of shades of green in our backyard and everywhere I look.

We plants this apple tree in January 2010. It had four grafts on it and we lost one of the grafts the first year. Three grafts are still growing well.

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Spring in Chicago has been very topsy-turvey. We had May (July?) in March and are now getting March towards the end of April, with a cold 40 degree wind (that’s 4 centigrade, if that’s how you roll) blowing off the lake. But the early warmth means that the garden is bursting, despite the current frosty temps!

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April in Philomath has been mixed. Some days pouring (my days off), and others gorgeous and sunny (my days at work). On the rainy days, i try to spend my time honing my crafts and on the sunny days i venture outside. Sometimes i get flumoxed and end up hiking in the downpour or spinning in the warm sunshine. The magical Trillium blooms in the coastal range make that soggy hike worth every squishy step.

What are the greens that you are seeing right now?

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We had a really hard summer here in South Texas last year and I know we were not alone. As we headed into winter we started getting a little rain. The winter went on and the rains continued little by little. Every little bit has helped, but it still hasn’t been enough.

The winter in my area was much milder than it has been over the past 3 years. My winter vegetable garden has done extremely well and I only remember watering it in the fall to get things started. After that, the rains took over and the cooler temps really kicked those winter veggies into grow-mode. I need to make some notes in my garden notebook… mainly, plant more next year!

In the past few weeks our weather has become quite warm and spring fever is just pushing me to get the vegetable seedlings in the ground. The wildflowers and other “weeds” are growing like crazy. Those seeds all lying in wait for the spring rains and the warmth of the sun to be able to germinate and emerge. They have started to grow and bloom, and produce seed to be able to continue the cycle of life. I don’t mind the wild flowers, but the weeds are out of control this spring.

Thinking of all those seeds lying dormant, waiting for rain and sun, full of hope. I feel the same way. I have hope for a better spring gardening season; better than last year. I am hopeful that we will continue to get some regular rains. I am hopeful that the temperatures don’t rise so quickly. I am hopeful that my vegetable seedlings and other plants have a chance to put down deep roots and grow healthy leaves and have enough energy to produce food.

As I look around, I see beautiful wildflowers, many of which are growing right in my yard. Everything is so lush and green, and the trees seemed to have budded out overnight, and many are full of new green leaves.

I have decided to plant a few tomatoes out in the garden already, not all of them, just a few. I will plant a few more at a time, testing the weather, hoping Mr. Frost doesn’t pay a visit. I am hopeful.

Are you hopeful this Spring?

Sincerely, Emily

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