Harvest Monday, August 21, 2017 – All Firsts

Had many first these past 2 weeks. The stars are Container Figs and Blackberries.

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The above is one day’s harvest from my one container plant.

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Figs are extra large this year.

At the end of last year my kids helped me to transplant the fig tree into a larger container and added lobster compost to fill the container. Guessing that’s the reason for the larger figs and was worth the expense.

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The above photo shows figs at various stages of maturity. Unripe, each fig stands up tall and straight, as it ripens it bends at the stem. Fig is ready will fully bent and soft to the touch. The fig on the left should be ready in a day or two.

Unfortunately critter/s have discovered the ripened figs and many are missing I also see partially eaten figs strewn on the driveway. Now I must pick before each fig is fully ripen to the stage I like.

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Lost the first crop of ripened blackberries as they were sitting at the top of the plant in plain sight of the birds.

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Thornless Blackberries

The above blackberries were hidden among the branches making them harder for the birds to get to.

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Sweet potatoes are growing very well now and I feel comfortable cutting some of the leaves for cooking without worrying about affecting the tubers.

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Sweet Potato Leaves

There 2 kinds of sweet potato leaves – most varieties have heart-shaped leaves while a few varieties have deep-cut leaves, both are edible.

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Sweet Potato Leaves

Using Sweet Potato Leaves
Sweet potato leaves are highly nutritious. Both the leaf and leaf stem are edible, and like spinach shrinks a lot after cooking:
Saute like you would spinach, leave whole or cut into bite-sized pieces or thin strips.
Spinach substitute in soups, e.g. Italian Stracciatella soup, Wonton soup, Bean soup, …..
Vegetable in pot sticker dumplings,
Combine with other vegetables in frittata, quiche
Combine with other vegetables in ravioli, lasagna, …..
In curry sauce with coconut milk
Sauteed leaves as pizza topping, bruschetta or lettuce substitute in sandwiches, …..

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Both Red Noodles Beans and Green Chinese Long Beans are starting to produce.

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Red Noodles Beans

The Red Noodles are very pretty hanging on the vines in the garden.

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Green Chinese Long Beans

The Long Greens were a bit later than the Red Noodles but are catching up.

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Top, Red Noodles Beans. Bottom, Chinese Long Beans.

Click here to learn about Chinese Long Beans.

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Container Bok Choys are doing well. There are 6 plants in the container below, way too crowded.

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Bok Choy, White Stem

Just noticed the water droplets on the bok choy leaves in above photo look like spider mites infestation.

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Bok Choy, White Stem

Pulled 3 of the larger White Stem Bok Choy to give the other 3 smaller ones room to grow.

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Due to their sizes Mei Qing Choi are well suited for growing in window box.

I harvested the outer leaves from each plant, then sprinkled granular fertilizer around each plant and watered well. Should be harvesting more outer leaves soon.

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Mei Qing Choi

My family of rabbits are multiplying but veggies are safe since I elevated the window boxes.

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New family members

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Where is Mama Deer?

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Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday

Posted in Container gardening, Fruits, Garden pests, Gardening, Growing sweet potatoes, Harvest Monday, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Harvest Monday, August 7, 2017 – Garlic Failure + Floating Row Cover + Harvests

In ground garlic crop failed, well, not completely.

There are 2 reasons why my garlic plants growing in the garden were near total failure.

Reason No. 1: Location
I failed to take into consideration the shade from my neighbor’s trees when they are fully leafed out (resulting in only about 3 hours of sun daily for the garlic bed). So even though all the garlic plants were robust in early spring before the trees had leaves and the area got plenty of sun and I harvested garlic scapes, lacking adequate sun during the critical bulb forming period resulted in small bulbs.

Reason No. 2: Timing
Should have dug in the garlic before I went out of town, but was busy and figured a few days would not harm the bulbs. Well, it poured while I was away, the garlic bed got a very good soaking and a number of the garlic bulbs split.

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All 3 heads of garlic in the above photo are of the same variety. The garlic on the left was grown in a container in full sun. Garlic in the middle and on the right were grown in the garden with about 3 hours of sun daily.

Most of the garlic dug from the garden will not keep so I will, ASAP, peel, roast and freeze the cloves for future use.

Click here and scroll down to learn the “Best Method to Peel (large quantity of) Garlic”.

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Mary N, marysveggiegarden, grows the most beautiful and perfect head of Napa Cabbage under floating row cover. So when I transplanted my Minuet Napa Cabbage seedlings I decided to follow her suggestion. Hope I get the same results Mary.

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Minuet Napa Cabbage growing under floating row cover

Before transplanting, I examined each seedling leaf to make sure there are no bugs and no bug’s eggs. Sure hope I did not miss any eggs. Hard to see, but if you peer closely you can see some green under the cover.

Yesterday was a perfect gardening day, the first thing I did when I entered the garden was to lift the row cover to check on the napa plants and top dress each with organic granular fertilizer. All growing well and looking healthy, so guess I did not miss any bug’s eggs.

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Window box Tri-color Amaranth sure grew a lot since last week. What a difference a week makes!

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Tri-color Amaranth growing in window box

I cut each plant about 1½” from soil level leaving a stem that will produce side shoots.

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Window box grown Tri-color Amaranth

I then top dressed plants with organic granular fertilizer and watered well.

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Tri-color Amaraanth Growing in Window Box

In just a few days, each stem sprouted many side shoots. I can see harvesting again soon.

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Back on the menu, homegrown lettuce. What a treat!

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Window box grown Lettuces

Harvested the outer leaves of each plant from the window box, then top dressed plants with organic granular fertilizer and watered well.

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Lettuces, left to right: Forellenschluss, Oak Leaf & Red Sail

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Peppermint Swiss Chard from the garden.

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Peppermint Swiss Chard

Peppermint Swiss Chard doing exceptionally well this year.

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The Semi-heading Mustard in the photo below is a volunteer.

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Semi-heading Mustard

Actually there were quite a few volunteer mustard plants growing in the garden, unfortunately they were showing signs of bolting, so I pulled all.

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Cut mustard, stems and leaves, into bite-sized pieced and stir-fried in ginger and garlic infused oil.

I was told to always add ginger when preparing mustard, something to do with yin and yang which I do not fully understand.

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Yesterday afternoon my door bell rang, my friends Phyll and Tom were returning from soonsorchard (click on link to learn what this amazing orchard offers) and was at my door steps with a bushel of apples, tree- ripened peaches and freshly picked corn.

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The box of mixed variety apples will make the best tasting apple sauce, apple butter and apple leather. Of course, many will be set aside to enjoy as is.

Check out the size of the corn and the peaches in the photo below.

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The peach on the left is a yellow flesh peach, the one on the right is a white flesh peach. Both were juicy and delicious.

I steamed the corn and enjoyed with a pat of butter, sooooo sweet.

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Three of my (?) Bunnies nibbling and having a good time in the backyard.

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They are getting fat.

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Photos were taken through glass so are not clear.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday


Posted in Container gardening, Cooking, dairy free, Gardening, gluten free, Harvest Monday, meatless, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Harvest Monday, July 31, 2017 – Containers Gardening

Last of the raspberries (the ones the birds missed).

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Now I am waiting for the blackberries to ripen, hopefully soon and I get to the ripe berries before the birds.

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Best ever onion harvest. After years of trying, I finally got decent size onions.

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The onion on the left weighs 10+ ounces the one on the right weighs 6+ ounces. A record for me. Most of the others weigh between 4 – 6 ounces. All the onions were grown in a container.

After harvesting the onion, I enriched the potting mix in the container and put in some sugar snap peas seeds. Hope it is not too late.

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Disappointing container blue potatoes.

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All Blue Potatoes

Neglected to hill the container potatoes resulting in poor harvest.

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Pulled up all the remaining beets in the window box.

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Early Wonder Beets

Cut the leaves (including the stems) into bite-sized lengths and stir fried in garlic infused oil. Used as a side.

Peeled and sliced the roots, placed (uncooked), in freezer bag, dated, labeled and placed in freezer for later use.

(Last year I experimented with freezing uncooked beets which I used to make soup and liked the results.)

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Bumped up the seedlings I started end of June into 4″ pots for transplanting as space becomes available (having seedlings on hand enabled me to grow successive crops in each container and in the garden.)

After pulling all the beets I enriched the potting mix in the window box and transplanted lettuce seedlings into the box.

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Lettuces: Left, Red Sails. Right, Schweitzer Mescher Bibb

Also enriched the potting mix in the other available window boxes and transplanted seedlings that I know will do well in window box.

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Mei Qing Choi

All baby bok choys do well in window box.

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 Forellenschluss Lettuce

All Lettuces do well in window box.

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After the rabbit/s ate the first sowing of Tri-color Amaranth seedlings, I resowed and they are growing very well (I elevated the window box so that the rabbit/s could not get to the seedlings.)

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Tri-color Amaranth

The plants are getting too crowded, need to thin.

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Another best

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Japanese Anemone

Bees are buzzing. They just love these Japanese Anemone but could not get them to stay still for a group photo. Did manage to catch one on the flower on the left.

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Japanese Anemone

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday

Posted in Container gardening, Cooking, dairy free, Flowers, Fruits, Gardening, Harvest Monday, potatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, window box gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Harvest Monday, July 17, 2017 – Containers Harvest

Container garlic ready for harvest.

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Garlic growing in container

Pulled all the container garlic. After removing much of the soil all the plants were bundled together and are hanging in the shed to cure.

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Notice how much smaller the head of garlic on the left is compared with the others? All the above garlic were grown in the same container under the same circumstance, the difference is I harvest the scapes from all the garlic plants except the one on the left. A lot of its energy went into the scape resulting in a smaller head of garlic.

Click here (and scroll down) for a tutorial on growing garlic in container.

Click here to learn about garlic scape.

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Pulled up the container onions whose tops had turned brown. Shook off the excess soil and spread them out on an open screen to dry in the shed.

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They are of pretty decent sizes. The 3 larger ones weigh about 4 ounces each.

The remaining onions in the container continues to bulk up.

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Onions growing in container

Will pull when the tops turn brown.

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Harvest a large bunch of Red Amaranth

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Red Amaranth

Was going to make soup with the Red Amaranth, but while cleaning realized they were very tender so just wilted the cleaned amaranth (leaves and stems) in garlic infused oil, S&P to taste, simple and delicious.

I had over-sown the Red Amaranth and thin as the container gets overcrowded. The above is actually the 2nd thinning from the window box below.

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Red Amaranth growing in window box

As you can see, Amaranth grows very well in window box.

Above photo, before thinning. Below photo, after thinning.

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Red Amaranth growing in window box

Fertilized, after thinning, with liquid fish emulsion fertilizer. In a week or 2 I should be harvesting another thinning.

I also sowed Tri-color Amaranth on the same day as the Red Amaranth but have nothing to show, not even seedlings. There is a rabbit (rabbits?) with very selective preferences, the boxes with the Red Amaranth and Tri-color Amaranth are side-by-side but it ate only the Tri-color.

The rabbit/s also devoured most of the seedlings I transplanted in the containers (Bok Choys, Beet, Kale, Semi-heading Mustard, Lettuces, Celery …..). Fortunately I have extra seedlings for replacements but will need to elevate the containers.

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Celery growing in container

I think the 2 celery plants on the left will regrow as the rabbit/s missed the tiny center leaf of each plant.

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Some of the Sugar Snap Peas seedlings at the edge of the container were also eaten.

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Little Snap Crunch Peas growing in container

Since the missing seedlings are at the edge of the container I re-sowed in those spots and hopefully the seeds will germinate and grow well.

Adding insult to injury, one of the rabbits, after devouring my seedlings could not find its way out of the fenced in area and I had to release it.

I also have a deer parading along the garden fence daily, so far no damage. Trying to snap a photo but so far no luck.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday

Posted in Container gardening, Cooking, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Harvest Monday, July 10, 2017 – Sweet Potato Experiment #2 + Seedlings Update + …..

My sweet potato containers (and other containers as well) are placed among my shrubs and perennials.

Below is a Purple Sweet Potato, an early variety SP with very vigorous growing vine. Previous years I allow the vines to roam freely. This not only makes the area very untidy the vines also suffocate some of my perennials.

Thinking: What if I train the vines to grow vertically on trellises? Sitting in the shed is an unused tomato cage that fits just right in the Purple SP container. Worth a try.

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Sweet Potato, Purple, growing in container

As you can see from the above photo the Purple SP vines are, so far, staying vertical.

Had a broken folding wire fence laying around, took it apart and it was just right for the container below.

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Sweet Potato, Wilma’s, growing in container

Wilma’s, a gift from Mary N, is another early variety SP. A semi-bush variety that I am growing for the first time. It probably will not overwhelm my shrubs and perennials, but decided to give the vines support as well since I have the broken fence.

Shall post progress photos, of both, periodically and harvest results.

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Most of the seeds started late June germinated. Two of the lettuces, Bronze Mignonette and Schweitzer Mescher did poorly (although both germinated well for spring planting) and one, Cimmaron, failed to germinate.

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Since many of the seeds were old I over-seeded the cells. Guess what? Except for the 3 lettuces mentioned above, just about all of the seeds germinated.

While the seedlings were still small and have not yet developed a strong root system, decided to very carefully tease out the extras and transplanted them (patiently into blueberries container sans lids) to see how many will survive.

As the photo below illustrates, all have survived so far.

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In a week or 2 I will know for sure if all the above seedlings make it, if they do, I will have extras to share with my garden friends at LGHVG.

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Container Peppermint Swiss Chard and Red Winter Kale continue to grow well.

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Peppermint Swiss Chard

Ribs of the container chard are not as thick as the ones grown in the ground but tender and delicious just the same.

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Red Winter Kale

Should harvest some of the kale this week.

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Chinese Chives aka Garlic Chives was the only non-camera shy harvest for the week. Also had a bit of chive flowers.

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Chinese Chives aka Garlic Chives and Chive Scapes

Some of the chives and all of the chive flowers went into scrambled eggs. Shared the remainder with a friend who happened to drop by.

Other harvests for the week were: Red Amaranth, Beet green, Red Giant Mustard, 2 small onions and a handful of snap peas.

Will pull the snap peas vines this week (even though there are a few flowers on some of the vines, not worth keeping).

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Got a few raspberries that the birds missed.

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The raspberries disappeared as soon as their photo was taken.

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Blackberry bush is laden with berries.

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Blackberry, Thornless

The challenge now is getting to the ripe berries before the birds.

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Blackberry, Thornless

Previous years I tried netting the berry bush, but that made it a pain to harvest not to mention there is always one bird that will find a way to get under the netting and I have to release it, adding insult to injuries.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Monday

Posted in Container gardening, Cooking, dairy free, Fruits, Gardening, gluten free, Growing sweet potatoes, Harvest Monday, Heritage vegetable garden, Locust Grove, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments