Tag Archives: chard

Putting the Garden to Bed

Putthegardentobed

Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Second Season Gardening

fallgreensDid you miss getting some carrots, kale, herbs, or chard into the garden this spring?  Gardening for a Second Season starting mid to late summer (late July early August) is as an ideal time to plant seeds for a second gardening season as early spring.   Plus, that second season can be as productive as your major early spring plantings.

For a delicious and very nutritious cornucopia of fall meals, late summer is the time to plant juicy lettuces, the cool -season aromatic herbs – dill, garlic chives, chervil, cilantro, arugula, and parsley; hearty greens like chard or kale;  Oriental greens; carrots, beets, leeks, peas, green onion, spinach, radishes, fennel and all the brassica family members.

Plant a second season garden of crops that tolerate cold

Plant a second season garden of crops that tolerate cold

Late planted crops have less competition from weeds and pests and grow beautifully with less garden work. It may seem odd to be starting new seeds when a lot of your summer produce like squash and tomatoes are still cranking, but it’s well worth the effort.

For reliable harvests in cooler weather, seedlings must have good initial growth and well-established root systems. The goal is to have fully grown, ready to pick plants that basically store themselves in the garden throughout the fall, so you can pick them as you need them over a long sustained harvest season.

Start seeds in containers or in a garden area with dappled sun or light shade — wherever seeds can germinate comfortably out of the hot sun but still get plenty of light after seedlings are well-established. Plant in well-prepared moist soil and in the evening so they will have the advantage of cooler night temperatures to settle in and minimize shock.

With daytime temperatures likely to  still be in the high 80’s, or even 90’s you will need to shelter your newly transplanted seedlings with row covers or a shade cloths for a few days so they can adjust heat and sun.

Once the seedlings have acclimated, don’t forget to supply adequate moisture to these young crops and fertilize them regularly in the early growing stages.

All herb, vegetable and flower seeds can still be purchased at Paonia Farm and Home.

Salad Garden

A wide assortment of Spring salad lettuces

A wide assortment of Spring salad lettuces, peas, and radishes

As gardeners, we yearn to sow the earliest seeds of spring into the garden-Botanical Interests‘ lettuce, peas, kale, spinach, arugula, mustards, carrots, radish…yum, you get the idea. These early, fresh spring crops are up in the garden and paying off on the salad plate. Add some overwintered carrots, onion leaves, homegrown pansy and bachelor button flowers, and you have a downright masterpiece for the eyes and the palate.

Planting tip:

These Botanical Interests radish seeds produce a harvest in less than four weeks!

These Botanical Interests radish seeds produce a harvest in less than four weeks!

Succession sowing:

Little Finger carrots are harvestable in 57 days

Little Finger carrots are harvestable in 57 days

Succession sowing refers to sowing a crop in intervals to ensure a continuous harvest. By sowing crops with different days to maturity (harvest), you are planning for multiple harvests in one effort. For example, Cherry Belle radishes are ready in 24 days,  Little Finger carrots are harvestable in 57 days, and Atomic Red carrots will mature in 70 to 75 days. When you sow both of these crops at the same time, you already have two successive harvests.

Harvesting tips:

Botanical Interests Mustard seeds

Botanical Interests Mustard seeds

Whenever possible, harvest vegetables in the cool of the morning. Both greens (spinach, mustards, Swiss chard, and kale) and lettuce can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week or more. Harvest entire stems with the leaves of Swiss chard, kale, and mustard; it helps the plant put its energy into more growth.

It’s not too late to get a salad garden growing!