Harvest Monday, April 20, 2015 – Growing Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes in Containers + Garden Overwintered Root Crops

My daughter, Kathy, grew vegetables for the first time last year and had bountiful harvest. So pleased with her success she is enthusiastically looking forward to this new gardening season even installed grow lights and started some veggies and flowers seedlings.

Last year she grew napa cabbage, bok choy, different varieties of tomatoes, Swiss chard,  cucumber, beans, leeks, onions, celeriac, parsnips, pepper, etc. There was also asparagus (started by my son-in-law few years ago, prior to last year he was the veggie gardener and Kathy was the flower gardener).

Couple weeks ago she mentioned that her neighbor is planning to grow potatoes and I sensed she would like to give it a try. Since I have grown potatoes successfully in container in the past, I offered to start potatoes in a container for her as she lacks garden space but has a nice sunny patio.

While shopping at Home Depot came across some 6.87 gallons multi-purpose bins, just the size I was looking for, very sturdy and better yet has 2 handles and cost only $4.88 each, the only problem there is no drain hole. However using a utility knife I was able to solve the problem, needed a bit of force to cut through the plastic to make the 4 drain holes but it was doable.

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Potatoes: All Blue, Adirondack Red & Adirondack Blue

I filled ¼ of the bin with a mixture of pro-mix, well composted cow manure, peat moss (potatoes prefer a low pH, 4.8-5.5) and organic granular fertilizer.

I placed on the surface an All Blue, an Adirondack Red and an Adirondack Blue potato.

To see cross sections of the above potatoes click HERE and scroll down.

growing potatoes in container (07373)I covered the potatoes with the same mixture, watered well and placed the bin on the driveway where it is warm and sunny.

As you can see from the first photo all 3 potatoes are sprouting. I will hill the plants as they grow so when my daughter comes to get the plants in a few weeks the bin will most likely be filled to near the top and all she needs to do is keep the plants well water. Potatoes need plentiful consistent moisture.

Click HERE for Cornell University Potatoes Growing Guide.

While I was at it, decided to push my luck and ask if she would like to grow a purple sweet potato in a container as well. Surprisingly she said “yes”.

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Purple Sweet Potato

I filled the bin with the same potting mix as the potatoes and placed 0ne (1) sweet potato slip in the middle then watered well. Also placed this bin on the driveway.

Our nighttime temperature is still too cold to leave the sweet potato plant outside so I will bring the bin into the garage at night and take it out during the day (the 2 handles make the job so much easier).

End of May is when I transplant my sweet potatoes into the garden.

Thinking: Planting the sweet potato slip in April in container and bringing the plant into the garage at night for protection will this extra time result in a better yield?

My daughter is a very organized and methodical individual she will most likely take notes and photos and give me progress reports of both the sweet potato and the potatoes. I will definitely give you an update about this experiment in a future post later in the year.

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End of last year I decided to leave some of my root crops in the garden and mulch heavily to see how they would fare through the winter.

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Garden Overwintered Parsnips

The parsnips fared very well, all were in good usable condition. Harvest 7+ pounds. Shared with family and friends.

I braised a couple of them in broth to serve as a side, had a slightly sweet flavor and the texture was good not woody at all.

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Portion of the Garden Overwintered Leeks, Golden Beets, Celeriac & Lutz Beets

All the golden beets overwintered well. Harvest about 2 pounds, they are small, about the size of a golf ball. In the fridge for later use.

A few of the celeriac and lutz beets had soft spots at the leaf end so I discarded those. Boiled until tender a couple of the lutz beets, peeled, sliced and made a pickle with rice vinegar, a bit of salt and a bit of sugar, simple but good. May make borscht with the two remaining ones.

Haven’t used the celeriac yet may be this week, all 5 are in the fridge.

The leeks fared pretty well. The green parts on a few were a bit mushy but the white parts were good and firm and usable. Used the above 2 in a stew. There are still 5 good looking ones and a few not so good looking ones in the garden.

Will dig them up this week as I need the bed for my Swiss chard.

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Yay! Spring has finally arrived and hopefully here to stay.

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Hellebores

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Hellebores

The hellebores, though late in arriving this year, are gorgeous, I have white ones and various shades of pink ones.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission. Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Container gardening, Flowers, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Harvest Monday, April 13, 2015 – Bumping Up Snap Peas Seedlings + Sweet Potatoes Slips

Was absent from Harvest Monday for the past 2 weeks as there was nothing in the garden  to write about (ground was either still frozen and/or too wet) and the seedlings were coming along oh so slowly.

Needed to see some spring colors so wrote about the Observatory Garden at Central Park on 3/30/15.

Needed some cheers and smiles so wrote about the Delacorte Music Clock (also at Central Park) on 4/6/15.

Set foot in the veggie garden for the first time last Monday, it was a beautiful day to garden and I was so ready to get my hands dirty but the soil was still too wet so no work was done. Rained the next few days making the soil even wetter (soggy) and the week felt like winter instead of spring. There was no rain over the weekend and yesterday was a gorgeous day. Checked the veggie beds and decided to allow the soil to dry out a bit more. Today ought to be a good day to tidy up the garden, fertilize the garlic plants, reset the strawberry plants (if needed) and fertilize, plant out some seedlings, etc. as rain is predicted for tomorrow.

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Last year I decided to start my snow pea seeds indoor in 4-inch pots and transplanted the seedlings from the 4-inch pots directly into the garden early April. Was very successful and am doing the same again this year.

But due to the prolonged winter then the rain my garden was still not workable so decided to separate the seedlings individually (before they get too large and the roots are all tangled) then potted them up into biodegradable pots (my sister, Joyce, gave me the idea) allowing me to transplant the seedlings (pot and all) into the garden, as soon as the ground is ready (may be later this week) with minimum roots disturbance.

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A Sample of the Sugar Daddy Snap Peas Seedlings. Top row: in 4-inch pots. Bottom row: transplanted into biodegradable pots.

Bumping up the snap peas seedlings into individual pots is an extra step that I prefer not to take, but a gardener does what a gardener needs to do (under the circumstances) since old man winter refused to depart.

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I started rooting both the Purple and the Georgia Jet Sweet Potatoes on the same day, but as you can see from the photo below, the Purple’s slips (left) are ready for rooting but the Georgia Jet (right) needs more time.

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Left: Purple Sweet Potato. Right: Georgia Jet Sweet Potato

Will be removing the purple sweet potato slips that are ready and plant them directly into containers (can also first root in water).

To learn more about starting sweet potato slips, click here.
To learn which end of the sweet potato to immerse in water, click here. Immersing the wrong end in water will result in rotted sweet potato and no slips.

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Had a large Purple SP and a large Georgie Jet SP that started to sprout.

Thinking: What if I cut off the sprouting part of each and root them in pro-mix, what will happen? Below are the results.

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Left: Purple Sweet Potato. Right: Georgie Jet Sweet Potato

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Left: Frazier White Sweet Potato. Right: Purple Sweet Potato. All those sprouts will grow into slips (did not have a cut off section of the Georgia Jet SP for the photo).

Had a Frazier White Sweet Potato with a long skinny section that was also sprouting so decided to also grow slips from the sprouts.

Conclusion: A whole sweet potato is not necessary for growing slips. In the future I will cut off and plant the sprouting end of the SP and feast on the rest.

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Failed experiment? May be may be not.

Some of you may recall from my 3/16/15 (click on link and scroll down) post my attempt at trying to root a pencil thin Okinawan sweet potato, to date, nothing is happening.

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Rooting Okinawan Sweet Potato

Uncovered the SP tuber and it is still firm but nothing is going on, no roots no sprouts, will continue to observe and see if eventually it will sprout.

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Yeah!!!!! I had color in my garden, one (1) single miniature iris.

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Miniature Iris

Was not happy with the above photo but when I went to take another the next morning, my one and only flower was gone, a deer had it for breakfast or was it dinner?

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

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Container gardening, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 44 Comments

The Delacorte Music Clock at Central Park, NYC

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The Delacorte Music Clock

The Delacorte Music Clock was a gift to Central Park from publisher & philanthropist George T. Delacorte. It was modeled after the musical clocks that Mr. Delacorte saw while traveling in Europe.

Dedicated on June 24, 1965 the Clock is located near the Children’s Zoo and Wildlife Center at 65th St.

Each day, on the hour and half hour, between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., the clock (digitally programmed) plays songs from the the Delacorte Clock Song List. Click here to view the song list. The songs change with the season. Around the holiday the songs change to a collection of Christmas carols.

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Delacorte clock (04372)At the base of the clock tower there are six animal figures (a goat, a kangaroo, a penguin, a bear, a hippo and an elephant) rotating on a track around the clock. Each animal also turns on an axis. The whimsical bronze animal sculptures carousel was created by sculptor Andrea Spadini,

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Two (2) Monkeys Striking the Bell on the Hour with Hammers

On top of the Clock tower is a bell and two monkeys. On the hour the monkeys strike the bell with hammers.

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Below are the 6 animals playing their instruments.

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Goat Playing the Pipes

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Kangaroo & Baby Roo Playing the Horn

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Penguin Playing the Drums

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Bear Playing the Tambourine

Delacorte clock (04376 hippo)

Hippo Playing the Violin

Delacorte clock (04378 elephant)

Elephant Playing the Concertina

All the above photos were taken by my daughter Kathy.
Thank you Kathy!

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

Posted in New York, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments

Central Park’s Conservatory Garden, NYC

central park's conservancy garden (05727)Central Park’s Conservatory garden is located at the north end of Central Park. A six-acre formal garden designed by Gilmore D. Clarke.

Opened in 1937, it is an officially designated Quiet Zone. A beautiful setting to relax and recharge. Stroll leisurely along the pathways, admire the flowers and settings or sit quietly with a book.

Enter through the Vanderbilt Gate at 5th Avenue between 104th and 105th Street. The Conservatory Garden is divided into 3 smaller gardens – English, French and Italian.

The photos below were taken April 30, 2013 by my daughter Kathy when we visited the garden. Thank you Kathy.

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Yew Hedge & Flowering Crabapple Trees

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The other side of the fence is 5th Avenue

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Pansies

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Hellebores (Lenten Rose)

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Stairs leading up to wisteria pergola

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Wisteria

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Wisteria Pergola

The Conservatory Garden is home to more than 20,000 tulips. They were at their  best when we visited.

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To learn more about the Conservatory Garden, click here.
To learn about the magnificent Vanderbilt gate and a photo click here.

The Conservatory Garden is:
Free
Open daily 8:00 a.m. to dusk
Wheelchair accessible at the 106th Street gate inside Park
Restroom available
An officially designated Quiet Zone
(dogs must be leashed and kept on pathways at all times; no running, rollerblading, or bike riding; no organized, active recreation or sports allowed; headphones required for radios)

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

Posted in New York, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 54 Comments

Harvest Monday, March 23, 2015 – Overwintered Root Crops + Thyme Harvest

Happy Spring!

March, 20, 2015 did not look or feel like the First Day of Spring. Can you believe we had snow? Not an awful lot, about 3 inches.

But spring will arrive, the sun will shine, all the snow will disappear, the grounds will thaw and I will be planting in my garden with harvest to follow in the not too distant future.

Below photo shows the last of my overwintered root crop that were stored in foam ice chests in my unheated garage.

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Overwintered Root Crop. Left to right Top: Sunchoke, aka Jerusalem Artichoke (from LGHVG), Lutz Beet, Celeriac. Center: Parsnips, Carrots. Bottom: Purple & Orange Carrots from Transplants

I forgot to take photos of how I stored the root crop in the foam ice chests so you will just have to use your imagination, so sorry.

This is how I prepared the root crops for storage:
Placed about a 1-inch thick layer of pro-mix (sand will work also) in the bottom of a clean foam ice chest
Placed unblemished and unwashed root crop on top of pro-mix and covered all with a layer of pro-mix (some of the mix will settle between the root crops)
Covered ice chest with lid (slightly askew) and placed along outside wall of the garage.
Used throughout the winter as needed.

This is how I cooked the above root crops:

Peeled the sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke), celeriac, parsnips and carrots. Cut into bite-sized chunks. Placed on sheet pan with a few crushed garlic cloves (from indoor storage), few sprigs of thyme (from garden). Tossed with olive oil, S&P. Roast in 400º preheated oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Served as a side.

Cut the beet in half lengthwise. Tossed with a bit of olive oil and salt. Wrapped in foil and placed in oven same time as the other root crops. When cooled, peeled and cut into small cubes, tossed with unseasoned rice vinegar, bit of sugar, salt, minced ginger and lemon zest.

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You may remember the thyme photo below from my February 9 post.

thyme

Overwintered Thyme

The thyme in the photo below is the same thyme plant as the one in the photo above when a lot of the snow disappeared this past week.

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Overwintered Thyme

Harvested a few sprigs of the above thyme to add to the roasted root crop (oops, again no photo, can’t believe my first harvest of the year and I forgot to take photos).

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Overwintered Scallions

The scallions survived the winter. This week, weather permitting, I will clean up the area, carefully remove all the dead scallion parts and new plants should be coming up along the sides of each.

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Overwintered Sage

The sage also survived the harsh winter. After tidying up the area I will prune the plant to keep it under control.

The twig in front is the seed stalk of a cilantro plant that I never got around to take care of last fall. The seeds have fallen to the grounds. As soon as the soil warms up I should see many volunteer cilantro plants appearing. The benefit of a lazy and disorganized gardener.

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The celeriac seeds germinated, took 10 days.

Did more indoor seeding: Radicchio/Chicory, Chard, Kohlrabi and Collard.

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

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest MondaysMonday

Posted in Cooking, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Herbs, Heritage vegetable garden, Locust Grove, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 36 Comments