Monday, April 20, 2009

Woodland Festival: Take Some Time to Enjoy

After a nice weather weekend, rain and cold with high winds moved in Sunday night, April 19th. The rain continued all day today, Monday, and will last until Wednesday morning, if the forecasts are correct. The wood stove is cranking tonight, it is a cold, raw rain.
The third and last “peeper snowfall” is expected tomorrow, Tuesday evening here. For the best part of this week, not much is likely to happen in the veggie garden.
But was able to plant another 25 foot row of snow peas on Sunday before the weather worsened. I planted some earlier but so far after a week, no germination. But the weather has no been cooperating much and the night temperatures have been in the lower 20's F. But the garlic is booming out there.
I do have a pollinator garden on two side of the backyard veggie plot but decided to build a new one in dead center. I moved some extra columbines, sweet william plants and transplanted a yucca plant. I am debating what else to put in the three by ten foot bed. Calendula's (also called pot marigold) are my first choice. A pollinator bed is a good idea. It adds to the biodiversity and they attract many good insects such as the bees and butterflies – all important to the veggies.
Saturday was just plain nice and youth (16y/o and younger)hunt day for spring gobblers. My neighbor, Jacob, and his dad were back up in the woods. Jacob was able to harvest the gobbler pictured after just about an hour in the woods.
There are several rather large flocks around here, each with about thirty birds. They really don't do much damage except to the blueberries. They are fond of them as they ripen and they are comical to watch as the jump the bushes to get the berries.
After hunting ended at noon, it was time for me and the dog and the camera. The May Apples were emerging and starting to open. The trout lily were ready to bloom as were the trillium. By week's end, it should be bloom time for both.
The wild phlox (pictured) was blooming Saturday. April's Full Moon is called the Full Pink Moon after these wild flowers, one of the earliest to bloom in the woods.
The leeks (pictured) are doing great and getting larger. I thought the picture posted here was unique. Leeks are good eating and on Saturday, it was ham/potato's /leeks in the crock pot and the extra leeks in the freezer.
The next couple of weeks are going to get hectic but it is a good time to get out and enjoy whats happening in the woodlands. It is actually inspirational.
For more insights into spring Urban Veggies
Some good local events and sights at Southern Tier
Some additional gardening articles.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Time is Right: Plant a Veggie Garden

The Time is Right for a Vegetable Garden....

There have always been people who just like to garden. For many, it is relaxing and almost, if not, a spiritual activity. Gardening gets us back in touch with our natural world; it's mysteries and wonders, and yes, even the challenges.
This year more people are turning to vegetable gardens to save some money because of the current economic downturn. Done correctly a lot of money can be saved. Certainly, many of these new gardeners will become more avid after their first time working in the dirt.
There are plenty of great sites to learn more about different techniques and plants. Visit Dan Chapman at Urban Veggies or read some Kathleen Richardson advice and recipes at Helium.
What to do with the extra produce? Food banks are one important option; just placing a sign with Free Veggie in the yard next to a table is another. For others, a small roadside stand is another option and could be a source of some income.
Health is another major factor in growing a home vegetable garden and likely the most important reason. Home grown vegetables picked in the backyard and brought inside and cooked (or eaten raw) are simply packed with higher levels of important nutrients than those which have been shipped from thousands of miles away and then placed on a store shelve for...who wants to guess that one?
Properly done, home canning and freezing vegetables from the backyard, or even your local grower, continue to retain high levels of beneficial vitamins, minerals and fiber (and besides, tasting far superior).
Recently, there have been a number of food health safety recalls and scares. People have become terribly ill and in some cases have died from tainted foods. In some cases, not even properly washing the vegetable can solve the problem; harmful bacteria can be under the skin of a vegetable or fruit and no amount of washing will get rid of it.
Factory farms use a lot of pesticides, some of which are done right deadly. The verdict is still out on many of these and there are some serious questions about them. Pesticides were created to kill.
There are outstanding questions about the solutions sprayed on fruits and vegetables to make them look fresh and shiny. And then there are the concerns about genetically modified foods and their impact on human health and our natural world.
It is common sense to plant a garden for health. Go Green. It is important to you, your family and friends and actually for the world. Thoughts or comments?
For more gardening article I have written on vegetables or click the title.
More articles on gardening can be found at my other Blog, SoloKoyote.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Garlic and Snow

Perhaps, the snow will all melt today. It has been a cold weather week but the garlic didn't seem to mind the harsh weather.
Garlic is pretty hardy and I have yet to discover anything that bothers it. The deer and rabbits stay away and so do insects and vampires.
I usually plant hardneck varieties (pictured above). I like eating the June scapes or the seed head which should be cut so the cloves will grow larger. Last fall, I did plant a softneck variety in a new bed.
Garlic is usually planted in the fall for the best crop the following summer. Like the wild leeks, it begins to grow as soon as the snow melts. Mine, planted in raised beds, is usually ready to dig in mid-July.
Then it is hung and dried in a shed. Where the garlic grew, I can usually get in a crop of bush beans which ripen before the killing frosts in October.
The cold weather signals the time to re-plant the garlic. Plant the largest cloves for best results, use the smaller ones for cooking. I try to mulch the cloves after they are planted about two inches deep. Leaves and the last lawn mowing provide the mulch.
While fall is a long way off, plans for garlic happen in the spring, a fall garden requires some organization and thought, much like winter thinking about spring.
After this week's snow storm, it's great to see something growing and turning the brown earth green.
One quick note: The Crawford County Pomona Grange Bake Sale is this Saturday, starting at 9 am, at the H&H in Saegertown. Not sure if they'll have garlic but I'd bet a lot of good Easter baked goods.
And for more leek photos and an artcile.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Save Money: Plant Spring, Plan for Fall

The second “spring peeper frog snow storm” started howling the evening of April 6th and it snowed all day on the seventh. It should end around daybreak, the eighth. I'll count it as the second snow storm though it has lasted for three days. According to the spring peeper frog weather lore, we should have one more blast of winter weather.
The full moon is April 9th and is called the Full Pink Moon after some early blooming, pink wild phlox. There sure isn't much color this year except for patches of green where the leeks emerged last week. Today, I might have some better names for the April Full Moon which I am not sure I want to record publicly.
Peas, both Alaska and Little Marvel were planted in the vegetable garden April 2nd. With the Alaska peas (pictured above but the planted seeds are under snow), both oakleaf and buttercrunch lettuces were planted from seeds left over from last year. The Marvel peas were planted in the larger garden next to a row of garlic. Peas and lettuce can be planted early in the spring and with the costs at the grocery stores, these vegetables should save some money.
They should be warm with these cold temperatures, I'd guess we have about six inches of snow on the ground. I'd imagine the spring peepers frogs are warm buried deep in the mud.
The “on top of the refrigerator” broccoli plants (pictured above) emerged within three days and are now in a southern window. Broccoli is another vegetable which can save money. It is expensive in the supermarket. Last time I looked $2.99 a pound and likely shipped from California.
Broccoli can be planted early and matures quickly if given plenty of water and compost or organic material. It enjoys cooler weather but not a hard freeze (below 28 degrees).
Once the main head is cut, smaller florets appear and these can also be harvested. Broccoli can be replanted in August for a fall crop. There are numerous companion vegetables and herbs which can be planted and grow well with broccoli which also save money in the kitchen budget. Fresh herbs in particular are expensive yet easy to grow. Herbs can save money as much as fresh vegetables and provide enhanced home cooked gourmet meals.
Broccoli can be used in a whole range of dishes and it really is a powerhouse of health benefits, according to medical research. There are broccoli cheese casseroles, broccoli dips, broccoli salads; it can be steamed, boiled slightly or eaten raw.
I realized another extra way to save money with broccoli. Last year, I wanted to plant a fall crop, but all the stores and garden centers had removed seed packages. I purchased a new package of broccoli this year for $1.79. I planted half of the package and have 50+ seedlings growing now. The rest I saved for planting in a couple months.
Broccoli freezes well and this year there will be plenty from plants that cost about a penny apiece. Want to save money and eat healthy? I am thinking broccoli is a good choice.
Now we'll have to wait and see what happens to the snow covered seeds of peas and lettuce.
If your thinking more about a getaway, visit the Helium Zone on New York's Southern Tier by Kathleen Richardson, a fellow write at Helium who also has a blog On My Way Up. For some really good gardening information visit Dan from Ontario at Urban Veggies.
Dan reports snow at his place but his cold frames seemed to have protected his plants.
Thanks for visiting.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wild Food

The same day the peepers began their chorus, the leeks began to appear. It was March 28th and the next day it snowed.
I walked through the woods on April 3rd and was surprised to see how fast they had grown. The trout lily was also up adding some more green, along with moss and the Christmas ferns.
It is extremely difficult to grow the native wild leek in a domesticated vegetable garden because of the unique growing conditions they require. They are a good tasting “wild” food.
Leeks, or as some call them ramps, are a perennial woodland herb, native to much of the eastern sections of North America. The time frame for digging this first crop of the wild “recession” garden is short. Once the woods canopy shades the ground, usually mid to late May, the leeks bloom, and then die back. The distinctive, white flowers (photograph) produce black seeds which are then scattered for future crops.
It pays to be careful when harvesting them, don't take them all and be sure to bring along a shovel; they can be tricky to get out of the soil. Both the white bulb, which looks like a scallion, and the leaves are edible.
There are numerous healthy recipes; the bulbs can be pickled, dried or frozen for future use. Because they have a pungent garlic-onion flavor, pay attention to how many are used in a recipe. Leeks are high in Vitamins A and C and contain some minerals which are beneficial.
While there is a lot of discussions about “recession” gardens this year, there are edible plants which can be harvested in the woods. Spring is a great time to collect some of these foods and to get re-acquainted with our many natural resources. Within weeks the woods will be alive with hundreds of unique and colorful native plants. It pays to be watchful, know what you are harvesting and don't take it all.

For more gardening news and information visit Kathleen Richardson
or Dan at Urban Veggies
or other writing I have done.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

One Down, Two to Go

There has been one snowfall since the peepers started to sing on March 28. According to the weather lore, that means we will have two more to go. It snowed, about an inch on March 29th, the day after the frogs chorus started. We'll see what happens.
Here the spring peeps normally start the last week of March, last year was an exception; it was April 3rd. For me, it means time to plant the peas. If you have any weather lore about spring, why not place a comment?
According to some news articles, a lot of people are planning a vegetable garden this year, “Recession Gardens”, to save food money. It is possible to save hundreds of dollars this year if planted wisely. Be sure to check out some of the links; CNN News and Dan at Urban Veggies Blog
Fellow Helium writer Kathleen Richardson also has some great gardening artciles. She also wites a good Zone blog on the southern Tier in nearby New York State.
On April 11 in Sagertown at the H&H store, the Crawford County Pomona Grange will have a bake sale beginning at 9 am. The proceeds help to fund the many activities sponsored by the Grange, which is also a great resource for vegetable garden information. If you would like to contribute or need more information, just leave a comment at the end of this entry.
Also on April 11th at 7 p.m., there will be a Pomona Grange meeting at the Hayfield Grange Hall. Everyone is welcome to this meeting. It is a good time to get aquainted with the active organization which has a wide range of activities for the entire family.
On April 1st, students from the Linesville High School Envirothon Team planted trees and shrubs to help form a riparian buffer zone at the Wilson Boat Launch area of Pymatuming. Trees and shrubs are planted to help erosion problems, pollution concerns and a better habitat area for fish and other wildlife. The Crawford County Conservation District was one of the major sponsors in the effort. Brian Pilarick, a watershed specialist at the district was one of the leaders in the project. We'll have an update soon and how the project went.
For other gardening articles please visit some of what I have written at Helium. The latest artcile is on comapnion planting. For even more information, click on the title. It will take you to my Zone blog, Rosy Reds, the Frogs and the Vegetable Garden. Thanks for the visit.

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