Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Weather Finally Gets Here


This may be the last toad I see for the year, now that it is getting cold and wet.  He surprised me when I was out in the dark collecting salad greens.  I thought he was a leaf.  Leaves, however, don't jump out of one's hands quite like that.  Nor do they pee in one's palm.

This is the newest bed I've created.  I did nothing to amend the soil before planting this time, but instead planted fava beans and arugula, both of which I'll dig into the soil when I'm finishing harvesting from them.  This year, I've planted only Crimson Flowered Favas, a 12 foot curving double-row of them, in order to be able to save a large enough quantity of seed, safe from cross pollination, to share through Seed Savers.

At the far end of the garlic bed, the earliest planting of the three Sugar Snap pea towers has already started to flower.  I've been carefully saving seeds for a few years now, saving especially for early and heavy production and powdery mildew resistance.  Usually, when I plant in October, as I did this year, I don't get flowers at least until February.  It's been much cooler lately than last year; I'm not exactly sure why they're so early, nor do I know if it is a good or bad issue.

I have three different kinds of cabbage growing in this section of the cole crop bed.  I bought the Red Ace cabbage seedlings, and I started Red Verona Savoy and Perfection Drumhead Savoy from seeds I ordered through the Seeds Savers Yearbook.  I'm particularly excited about Red Verona, supposedly a blushed, mildly savoyed, delicious cabbage.  Towards the top of the picture, the forest of self-seeded Oriole "Orange" chard is visible.

Here, Redbor Kale (hybrid, but so pretty) frames Lacinato Kale (my favorite) that I started from seed.

I've purchased just about variety of orange chard that I've been able to find, but never do the stems actually glow orange.  Usually, they're yellow, which is pretty, but not the fiery orange that I love.  This year, my Five Color Silverbeet chards have two beautiful, orange-stemmed knock-outs.  I'll let only those two bolt this spring, save seeds from them, and see if I can pin down the orange chard for which I've been hunting.

A field of arugula in the new bed gives us lots of tasty salads.

Last year, I had such a beautiful garlic crop, I thought I'd have plenty for the year.  But when the garlic is so good, we eat it.  And then we eat more of it.  Despite last year's generous crop, the end of 2009's homegrown crop is in sight.  This year, I've planted twice as much.  I've added to my favorites—Ajo Rojo, Shilla, Applegate, Red Toch, and Metechi—some new-to-me varieties—Red Janice, Sonoran, Music, Blossom, Lorz Italian, Khabar, and Bogatyr.  

At the top of this picture, the Sugar Snap towers are barely visible.  Far out of the frame on the right hand side, I've planted Sharon's Shallots (from a fellow Seed Savers member); it is my first time growing shallots.

This is an Owari Satsuma, the first fruit tree I planted when we moved here.  The fruit are almost ready.

My little Keitt mango tree is still growing, apparently unfazed so far by the frost we've already seen.

This papaya isn't quite as happy.  The plant is still healthy, with a strong trunk and lots of fresh young leaves, but the most exterior leaves are a bit frostbitten.

When we moved here last year, the existent Meyer Lemon tree had four fruit on it.  This year, it has hundreds.  In this picture,  a few fruit are visible, as well as the edge of our Big Project, almost ready for a full reveal.  The rain has slowed us down, but I'm not complaining.

Rain.  It's about time.


9 comments:

Lucy said...

Ah, rain.

Bliss.

And I love a toad that pees in your palm.

ann said...

I am soooo jealous! Look at all your beautiful veggies!! And, have i said a proper THANK YOOOOOOOOU!!!! for the meyer lemons? I shared two with my friend here in the office and she made the most *divine* lemon and poppy seed cookies for Isaac and me. I decided to hoard, uhm, I mean preserve mine. They're all sitting in jars with salt and lemon juice fermenting away. Thank you thank you thank you!! You'll get a real, truly proper thanks soon though :-) Yay rain indeed.

June said...

Okay, forgive me, but this is when I say ouch. OUCH! Do you know how much crunchy snow is in my garden right now? Lots. Lots lots.

Complaining aside, I loved seeing your baby green things. It may just get me through the Maine winter. So thanks!

Cute toad too.

Michelle said...

Yes! Rain! We really needed it here too. It's been just right, not too much and not too little.

You've got so many good things growing in your garden. I grew the Crimson Flowered favas last year and really liked them, although they took forever to set seeds. They bloomed liked crazy, and bloomed and bloomed, and weeks after they started blooming they pods finally started to set. Had they not been so pretty I might have turned them in. Besides, I was trying fava greens for the first time and they were tasty!

What variety of sugar snaps are you growing? I keep trying new ones, the golden ones being the latest variety. The plants survived the recent cold snap better than I had anticipated.

I'm looking forward to seeing the interesting cabbages you're growing. Lacinato kale is a favorite of mine also, but it's runty this year. The Portuguese kale has been delicious though, so I'm not feeling too kale deprived.

Lots of interesting garlic - can't have too much home grown garlic.

Good luck with you Orange Chard quest, it is pretty.

Wow, what an interesting post, so many good things!

Thomas said...

Hi Christina, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm very jealous of your citrus trees. One disadvantage of growing them in pots is that they never become get quite so big and productive. Sometimes I wish I lived in a warmer climate! I'm planting on purchasing a few more dwarf trees for Four Winds Growers in CA...maybe I'll get a mandarin like the variety you have.

Christina said...

Lucy: Toads always pee in my palm. I think it may be a defense mechanism, but I just can't help picking them up.

Ann: You're welcome. I can't wait to see what you do with the preserved Meyers. I couldn't cook without a jar of them in my refrigerator. Those cookies sound wonderful--could you get your hands on the recipe? I have both homegrown poppy seeds and homegrown lemons.

June: Ah, but Maine appears to have plenty of its own charms, even if home grown produce in December isn't one of them.

Michelle: I've grown Broad Windsor favas for a few years now, and last year, I threw Crimson Flowered in the mix. Though the Broad Windsors are more productive, I fell in love with the pretty red flowers of the others and I want to be able to share them with as many people as I can. For sugar snaps, I grow plain old "Sugar Snaps," not the Super Sugar Snaps, as those seem to be less resistant to powdery mildew. I haven't experimented with any of the more unusual varieties because I love these guys sooooooooo much.

Thomas: I hope that you're able to get your hands on some citrus trees. Southern California is under citrus quarantine right now because of a new pest that carries a devastating disease. In other affected areas, five years or so after the pest arrived, the organic citrus crop was wiped out. As of now, the only solution is some pretty mean pesticides. Hopefully, we'll be able to solve the problem before then, but it doesn't look good. I figure I should enjoy my citrus as much as I can now before I have to pull it all out in a few years. On a positive note, if you can get citrus sent to you despite the quarantine, you probably won't have to worry about the pest in your climate! Owari satsumas are wonderful. So are Algerian Clementines. Yum.

altadenahiker said...

Out east, the rain has already made a big difference and perked up some very lazy lettuce and brussel sprouts, radishes and, well, those snap peas are trying but look a bit frail. For awhile, I thought I'd have nothing but garlic to eat.

Was out your way today and I've never seen the sky look so lovely.

ann said...

Its this one from Ms. Martha: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/lemon-poppy-seed-cookies

I love my friends :-)

Christina said...

AH: Sometimes the peas take a while to get going, but once they wrap their tendrils fully around support, they'll start shooting up. If they don't grow for you, let me know, and I'll share my harvest when they come in for me. Brussels sprouts--I've never grown them and have always wanted to. Are there any special tricks you use with them?

The sky is my favorite part of where I live.