Monday, February 29, 2016

Harvest Monday 2/29/16

I have just a few harvests this week, mostly greens: spinach and lettuce.  The broccoli decided to put out a few more side shoots.  I also pulled a few more carrots.  I had plans for a salad, but ate all the carrots before they made it to the salad bowl.

I tried to take more pictures of preserved garden veggies that I ate this week.  This is a typical lunch sandwich with sweet potato hummus, lettuce from the garden, roasted red peppers and dried tomatoes out of the freezer.  That is also my homemade whole wheat bread.  I think it is the most delicious 100% whole wheat bread recipe that I've tried.
One night this week we had quesadillas with lots of frozen garden veggies: corn, green peppers, banana peppers and tomatoes.  The onions were store bought- it seems I can never grow enough onions.

These are my typical breakfasts: some kind of greens with egg.  The first one is Swiss chard and carrots.  The second one is spinach with roasted tomato sauce.  That sauce tastes so much of summer- perfect for brightening a February breakfast.

Weekly harvests:
Carrots: 6.3 oz
Broccoli: 1.3 oz
Spinach: 4.4 oz
Lettuce: 2 oz

2016 Harvests: 25.7 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Our Happy Acres.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Harvest Monday 2/22/16

There's not much going on in the garden here at the end February.  Hopefully the coldest of the winter has passed and it will start feeling more like spring.  However, there is still some life in the garden even at the end February.  Carrots, lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach are still hanging on.  I'm so glad that I planted a bunch of carrot seeds in the fall.  It has been so nice having them throughout the winter.

Fresh and colorful veggies make the dreary winter days a bit better.

We've also been working on getting the garden ready for spring.  I added compost to the rows that don't have winter crops, which is two thirds of the garden.  Then we tilled on Friday and Saturday.  The fence is still down on one side, so hopefully the deer don't figure that out and decide to work on my winter veggies.  I've also started onion, tomato, pepper and cabbage seeds inside.  It won't be long until spring planting and summer harvests.

Weekly harvests:
Carrots: 24.3 oz
Swiss chard: 12.6 oz
Spinach: 3.5 oz
Lettuce: 3.7 oz

2016 Harvests: 24.8 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Our Happy Acres.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Planting the Home Orchard: Pears

One of my goals this year is to plant more fruit trees.  We currently have three apple tress, so it was time to expand.  J is a fan of pears and I'm in the pears are alright category.  However, I've never had a ripe-off-the-tree pear, so perhaps my opinion of pears will improve.

In researching pears for my area, the biggest problem is fire blight, which is caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora.  From what I've read fire blight can be very destructive and kill apple and pear trees.  According to Clemson University, the best strategies to reduce fire blight are to select resistant varieties, use sanitary measures and avoid excess nitrogen. My search began for resistant pear varieties.

Warren kept coming up when I searched for fire blight resistant pears.  It appears that this variety was developed in Mississippi and any hot and humid climate has a greater risk of fire blight.  It is considered the best pear tree for southern states.  The descriptions I read also makes it sound delicious and a good keeper.  Of course I was going to need another tree for pollination, so my research continued for pears that can handle the humid south.

I ended up back at Century Farm Orchards, where I had ordered my southern heirloom apple trees.  They also sale some pear trees and there was one I found especially intriguing, the Plumblee pear.  It is described as a sweet and juicy pear with disease resistance.  What intrigued me was that it is a local pear and was grown by their friend’s father for decades.  This orchard is only about two hours from here, so the climate, diseases and pests should be very similar.  That was pretty much all the information that was available for this pear, except that the guy that grows all these southern heirloom apple trees likes this pear better than most apples!  Well, I was sold.

I kept reading about these varieties and found that some people were having problems with Warren not setting fruit.  It seems that it is not a good pollinator.  It would be sad to wait several years for pear trees to mature and then not get any fruit, so I thought I should get one other pear just to make sure there will be some pollination going on.  I wanted to order everything from Century Farm Orchards to avoid paying more shipping costs.  Of the other varieties they had available it seemed that Keiffer and Seckle were my best bets for fire blight resistance.  Keiffer, however, has a reputation for being hard and gritty, so even though it has high disease resistance, it was voted off the pear tree list.  The third pear variety will be Seckle.  It is described to have moderate resistance to fire blight, so hopefully that will be adequate.  It is a small dessert pear that is very sweet and good for canning.

Our three pear trees arrived at the beginning of January and we planted them the first weekend of the month.  Now we have three apple trees and three pears in our growing little home orchard.  Our next step is to mulch and put up a fence barrier for the deer and beavers and then we just have to wait.

Gardening has increased my patience.  I remember the first time I planted asparagus I was appalled that it was going to take three years for harvest.  Now I have pecan trees that will take ten or more years to mature, so five to seven years for pears and apples doesn't seem too long.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Harvest Monday 2/1/16

First day of February here brings much nicer weather than last week.  Last weekend we had snow, sleet and freezing rain while this past weekend we had sun and 60 degree weather.  It was a great weekend to get started on the garden.  We got a trailer load of compost and began shoveling it onto the rows.  There's still a long way to go, but we've got plenty of time until spring planting.

Most of my crops survived the collapsed row covers in the snow and ice.  The lettuce, however, didn't fair so well.  I cut it down to the soil in hopes that the roots are fine at that it will re-sprout.  The other crop that isn't looking very well are the onions, which is strange because normally they overwinter with no problems.  I think the really warm weather we had for a few weeks in December really confused the plants into thinking it's already spring.  

Not much going on in the garden here.  I harvested more Swiss chard, which is a regular part of my breakfast.  It got a bit squished by the snow, but rebounded quickly.

The only other harvest this week was some purple carrots.  They are fun, but I don't think they taste as sweet as my orange carrots.

Weekly harvests:
Carrots: 12.8 oz
Swiss chard: 10.4 oz

2016 Harvests: 13.2 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Our Happy Acres.