Friday, November 26, 2010

Dry Bean Summary

The cold has arrived, the ground is starting to freeze up so I thought I would focus a post indoors today. This season I grew a nice variety of dry beans for the first time. They really reward the grower with lots of variation. Here is a shot of all the dry beans harvested this season:

I am pleased with the results from the beans. There was a 4'x4' area for the bush varieties and three 6' wigwams for the pole varieties. Given the small area they produced quite well. I have yet to cook any but given the weather some hearty meals will be cooked with them soon. A close up of each variety and description fallows:

Borlotti beans:
pole habit, very productive
seed shared by: Gary

True Red Cranberry beans:
pole habit, very productive
seed shared by: Kath

Soldier beans:
bush habit, low producer
seed shared by: Kath

Trail of Tears beans:
pole habit, very productive, produced two crops
seed shared by: Daphne

Vermont Cranberry beans:
bush habit, productive

Tiger's Eye beans:
bush habit, low producer

Purple Podded Pole beans:
pole habit, very productive
These were grown as a snap bean but the dry beans look
pretty good too. I'll report on their taste when I try them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Garlic's In

Today I planted all the garlic, a total of 35 cloves. First thing was to get the soil in shape. The bed was turned and weeded. Then I amended with a couple inches of leaf mold compost and dug that in. With the bed ready I dug a trench and then sprinkled in some blood & bone meal. The bulbs were spaced about 4" apart with each row 6" apart. This spacing is a little close but it worked out well last season.

Here is the garlic I planted. It is from the farmers market and they call it Elephant garlic. Not to be confused with the other huge Elephant garlic that is actually in the lily family. None the less these are big cloves! It produces around 6 cloves per head that are 2-3 times the size of your average garlic. It is a hard neck variety with a purple flecked skin and had a nice flavor.

I really wanted to order some interesting garlic varieties this season but did not order soon enough. Seems garlic is a hot commodity. Maybe next season I'll get to try some purple, red & spicy garlic.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday

A wee Harvest Monday today. Harvesting has really slowed down now. There are a few hardy vegetables left but I am only harvesting them as needed. In terms of true fall crops things a pretty dismal this year because I never planted many. My plan is to try and transplant some things soon into the poly tunnel in hopes of extending the harvests.

I dug up some Parsnips and was pretty surprised at the size of most of them. This bunch weight in at 2lbs 1oz. The cores were pretty fibrous so I just cut out that part. There are still lots of parsnips in the garden, probably more then I need. Unless I need some I am just leaving them in until the ground starts freezing. They can also be left in and dug in the spring before they bolt.

I also cut some more Red Celery. This bunch is not overly red at the base due to shading. Next season I need to give them more spacing so they get redder. The celery and parsnips went into a batch of chicken pot pie.

These snap dragons are still going strong even with the heavy frost we have been having. They were sown this spring from seed shared by Granny.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaf Season

The time has came to start composting leaves again. There are 10 large maple trees along the property line that drop lots of leaves. Last year was the first time that I started to compost them on site, previously I put them out for the city to compost. That turned out to be a pretty big mistake because leaves make some excellent compost for the garden. Here is how I went about composting leaves from last season:

To collect the leaves I used a mower with a bag attach, this really makes the process easy and mulches them up nicely. They then went into an open top bin were I compacted them down and watered well. The photo above shows them in early summer. They shrink down considerable over the winter and starting in the spring I start working them into compost. As the photo shows I dump out the bin and then rebuild with a mix of leaves and grass clippings, about 10 parts leaves and 1 part grass clippings. I did this 3 times this season and it did a good job of speeding the process along.

Now that it is time to start the process over I screened out the black gold making way for the new leaves. Last year I only collect leaves from the lawn and ended up with two big wheelbarrows worth of compost, about 12 cubic feet. The end produce was so nice this year I am collecting as many leaves as I can.

Here is a close up of the compost. It's about as good as it gets, airy, retains moisture well and is full of goodness. This was screened with my Compost Screen, a bit tedious to do but I think it is worth it. It removes sticks, stones and some maple roots that started invading the bin. This season I am putting landscape fabric down in hopes of keeping the trees from growing into the bin.

At this point about half the leaves have been collected and the rest are still on the trees. In a couple weeks they should be all down and in the bin. If I run out of bin space I am going to start storing them in leaf bags over the winter. By spring it should shrink down enough that they will all fit in the bin.