Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Garden Collage

The first year of my new garden is almost at an end. Above you'll find a collage of photos of the garden through the months with roughly two photos each month. You can click on it for a larger version.

This year the garden gave us over 460 pounds of produce.
It was a great year!
Last year's version of the collage in my old garden is here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Harvests Collage

I enjoyed doing the collage of the photos of my garden through out the year (posting later this week) so I thought I'd do one of the harvests too. It seemed apt to publish it on the last Harvest Monday of the year. It was hard to choose just six photos for each month to represent the harvest. And then I got to December and found I only had just a few photos. You can click for a larger version of the collage.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A New Meat Smoker

You may have seen a large blue object off to the side of some of my garden overview pictures. That's the cover for my husband's smoker he built this summer. I took photos for him during the process and now that we're on Christmas break he's had a chance to write about his new and wonderful smoker. We've enjoyed many great meals from it already. You can read his description of it here. There should also be a post soon about the things we've smoked.

Part 2: Tomatoes, Potatoes & More

Here is part 2 of my summary of this year's garden. Click here to read part 1 from yesterday.

Potatoes- We enjoyed a good crop of potatoes, even though I cut down the foliage early to prevent disease spread. Next year I need to be better about picking of the beetles and water only in the morning. We enjoyed the All Blue potatoes for their color, liked the creamy texture of the Irish Cobbler, and our Yukon Gold taste good though they lack the gold color. We still have some in the basement in a old lobster box.
Peppers - I planted a fair amount of both hot and sweet peppers, but our yield were poor. High heat in July seemed to make them all drop their blossoms. Next year I need to start the seedlings earlier to get them to a fair size before the are planted out.
Eggplants- Eggplants had the same problem as peppers, not much production. I also need to start them a lot earlier next year. They were significantly smaller than the ones nurseries were selling for seedlings when it was time to plant them out.
Tomatillos- The pineapple tomatillos were wild and out of control. We enjoyed their flavor but next year they need to be restrained. I also want to try traditional green tomatillos.
Tomatoes- The support system we designed just barely survived the year. Next year we need stronger posts, cross braces and I need to plant the tomatoes singly along the center of the row rather than in two lines. This means that I need to plant half as many plants. However I hope that with more room they will do just as well.
I started two cherry tomatoes and two green zebra early and put them in the ground with walls of water in early May. This meant that I had early cherry tomatoes but the green zebras didn't produce as fast. Next year I hope to start a wider variety of tomatoes early. I think I have enough to do 8 plants.
As far as varieties go, the Amish Paste was great, with large paste tomatoes and a prolific producer. The Chelsea Cherry tomatoes were good and early, but large for cherry tomatoes. I'm hoping to plant another couple varieties instead next year. The green zebras were prolific as well and we enjoyed the flavor of green pasta sauce. Red zebras weren't that exciting and are off the list for next year. Market Miracles were ok, I will do fewer of them next year. My heirloom mix produced some stars and some duds. I did a little detective work to try to find the names of the ones I was saving. I'll plant a few of them next year.
The winner of the tomatoes this year was the Purple Calabash. They were the first tomato besides the cherries to ripen, and though small, they pack a lot of flavor. They were just the right size for a tomato sandwich for breakfast, which I enjoyed daily for almost a month. I has about 6 plants of them this year and I'll do just as many next year. They'll be one of the varieties I start early.

So that's the wrap up for the year. I've already ordered seeds from Fedco for next year, through my local coop which does a bulk order and therefore gets 20% off. And I'm thinking of working on a preliminary plant for where things will go in the New Year. My husband and I recently discussed where the light table might fit in our new house.
Before I know it will be time to start seeds!

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Garden Wrap Up: Part 1

I intended to do a wrap up post for each crop family but doubt I'm going to get to that. So I'm just going to list some observations about what went well and what needs work next year so that I don't forget. It ended up a little long so I'll put the tomatoes & solanaceae family in another post.
Greens- I did better with succession plantings this spring and had the room to do it. We enjoyed lettuce early thanks to the cold frame. Swiss Chard produced and produced all summer long. Next year I'd like to do better with doing successions in the fall with hardy crops and more lettuce again. I may have to start the seedlings inside for the fall crops out of the hot and dry August heat. Many of the fall greens I seeded had trouble germinating. I hope the cold frame staying in place over the winter will mean early spring greens this year.
Root Crops- Carrots did better than in years past. I let them be for longer and so got a larger size from them. Beets were off to a slow start but the spring plantings were enjoyed this fall. We may let go of the red beets and just do the golden as we enjoy those more. Next year I need to start fall carrots earlier.
Onions- Onions were fair, though on the small side. Next year I need to mulch them when they are very small when it is easier. I also shouldn't plant them as close to the edge of the bed. I'm looking forward my first garlic crop from the garlic I seeded this fall and I ordered onion seeds to start my own plants rather than using sets.
Cucumbers & Zucchini- The cucumber trellis worked well, and I planted a good amount of plants (20 something). I'm going to move the trellis towards the back of the garden next year so it doesn't shade shorter plants. The zucchini were not quite as prolific as I thought. We liked the green and yellow but I want to try some new varieties like a patty pan. Next year I should plant them in the center of the bed, not toward the edges where they over ran the path. So much for trying to save space.
Winter Squash and Pumpkins- These did well, though each plant didn't produce as many fruit as I thought. The Buttercup squash did the best as well as the pie pumpkins. Delicata was a low producer and seemed to grow slower than the others. Butternuts did fine. I'm going to move it with the zucchini where it won't get overrun by faster winter squash. We loved the pie pumpkins and the Jarrahdale are beautiful and have great flesh. All the winter squash are keeping well. As we need one, I might find one that has a soft spot and use it up.

Sweet potatoes- These were a bust as they were shaded by cucumbers and tomatillos. Next year I need to start the slips earlier and find a sunnier spot.

Melons- Another bust. Seedlings waited too long to go in the ground, not enough water or heat. Try again next year.
Cole Crops- My seedlings of Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli died in the cold frame this spring so I went with nursery transplants. The brussels sprouts were great! We also enjoyed the broccoli and I wish I had started fall broccoli sooner. I have plants out in the garden, but it was too late. The cabbage bolted and we only got one head. The fall planting was too late. Kale did well and produced from the early spring right through summer and I'm sure we could pick more right now from under the snow too. Next year I'll start the winter hardy varieties later so that they aren't so tall when winter comes and can get better protection from the snow.
Beans- Romanos were good but I didn't plant enough of them. Purple Dragon Tongue looked neat but weren't that exciting taste wise. The black beans did well. I didn't have a plant for supporting the pole beans and they got out of control. I didn't pick them young enough so they were tough. I need a plan for support going into next year. We had fun with these pink shelling beans above. I'll plant more of them next year.
Peas- Peas seemed to take forever. We didn't get much from either the sugar snap variety or the shell pea. Next year I need to plant more of them, plant them earlier and do more succession plantings.

More later.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Decorations

A few days ago my mom shared her Christmas decorations and asked others to share theirs. Since she won't be visiting my house this Christmas, here are a few photos of our decorations.

At the front door, you'll find our wreath. I bought a plain wreath and decorated it myself.
Inside the living room, the santas I painted as a teenager sit on the shelf with the clock and a mini-tree my mom made years ago. I dried a few apple and orange slices on the woodstove and they adorn the shelf as well.
The sideboard holds our two nativity sets, and we've been placing Christmas cards behind. (We have gotten more than one since I took this picture).My craft project for Christmas decorations this year was a tree skirt. I pieced it together and machine quilted it. Here it is before I cut the hole in the middle for the tree.
It fits well around the tree and other gift projects have taken precedence so I won't get a binding on it until after Christmas. Then it will be all ready for next year. And here is our tree we cut down the day after Thanksgiving!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Coat Rack

When we cleaned out the attic in late October to prepare for insulating, we found this interesting drawer. It had no bottom to it, nor any pulls but the crackled paint on the front seemed very interesting.
I'd seen a coat rack in the Gardener's Supply Catalog that was made from recycled wood and so it gave me the idea to make this interesting drawer front into a new coat rack.

First I tore the rest of the drawer off, and then glued the crack in the front to make it stronger. Then I put one coat of polyurethane on it to protect the beauty of the paint. I bought some simple trim and painted it white. But when I set it next to the drawer front, it was too stark. So I did a second coat of a brown, and then wiped it with a rag to give it a textured appearance.
With the pieces ready to go, I handed off the project to my husband and my dad who was in town for Thanksgiving. They mitered the corners of the trim and tacked it on. They also set in places where the screws to the wall would go. Then the hooks were put over the screws so you don't seem them when it is hung.
We hung it in the front hall. Now we have more places for coats when friends and family come to visit. And I think mine looks better than the one in the Gardener's Supply Catalog!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Difference of a Day

Yesterday I wrote how the weather was balmy. It didn't stay that way for long. The snow started yesterday evening. We only got about two inches but it is the first significant snow of the season. Here's the garden today. Unfortunately the window in the attic that I usually open to take a clear overview of the garden is now frozen shut. So you get a bit of the screen in this photo from the bedroom window.

Quite a contrast to yesterday's photo (see post below).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Harvest Monday 12/13/10

Today the garden looks like a mid-November day instead of a mid-December day.I would have preferred that all precipitation we got yesterday was snow instead of rain. However, the balmy temperatures today (48 F) had an advantage, namely allowing me to work in the garden. I went out this morning to harvest carrots (10 oz) and leeks (9.75 oz) that had been frozen in the ground last week. I mulched the smallest of the leeks to see if they might overwinter. I also opened up the cold frame and removed any damaged leaves I could see. I'm leaving it to air out so it doesn't have that fish-tank alge smell as much.I read in Elliot Coleman's book that the texture/taste of the Brussels Sprouts decreases with the very cold temperatures. So I decided to harvest 5 of the stems, choosing the ones furthest in the bed and the ones that were lying down. The others I'll leave so we can see how long we can keep harvesting. Also I the 6 remaining plants would make more Brussels sprouts that we can possibly eat. As it is, I'm putting these stems in the cool basement to see how they'll keep. I'll weigh the sprouts as we use them. This may be my last harvest for 2010 as we are traveling for the holidays. Maybe we'll bring Brussels sprouts with us :)

Total these past 2 week: 1.3 pounds + un-weighed Brussels sprouts
Total this year: 461 pounds
You can see what other gardeners harvested this week at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harvest Monday 11/29/10

Last week I got the last pound of tomatoes that ripened from my green tomatoes. They were a little shriveled but worked fine in sauce.
This week I harvested 4 oz leeks, 13 oz of kale( not pictured), and 1 lb 2 oz of golden beets.
We got a bit of lettuce,
and 2 pound 13 oz of brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving dinner.
Our Thanksgiving dinner also included our own mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie from one of my pie pumpkins. Yum.

Total these past 2 week: 6.06 pounds
Total this year: 459.67 pounds
You can see what other gardeners harvested this week at Daphne's Dandelions.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Snow!

The blog has been quiet lately because of travel and preparations for Thanksgiving. I'll be back with more next week, but for now here are photos after the first snow today.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jean & Corduroy Quilt

When I picked the name for this blog, I choose greens for the gardening and jeans for the crafts because I like to make things out of jeans. It seems like there has been more greens than jeans and in fact, few crafts made of jeans at all. This quilt remedies that.

It's for my cousin Lucy and her husband Keith for their wedding today. It is made re-used corduroy and jean pants. Each square is made from a center of corduroy, surrounded by strips of jeans sewn on log cabin style. When I laid out all the squares, I put the corduroy colors in a diagonal pattern.
I also turned the squares to be facing different directions so not all the short or long sides would be facing the same way. I tied the quilt with a cotton yarn in the middle of each square.
I used the gray corduroy to make a border around the squares and then did another border of strips of jeans. I bound it with a charcoal gray fabric and backed it with a fun green print to brighten it up.
It measures 55" by 73".

One thing I love about jean quilts is the weight they have when you are under them. There is something very comforting about that.
I enjoyed making this quilt and it reminds me a lot of the last one I made with jeans. It also inspires me to maybe make a queen size jean quilt for the bed for winter. It would be a big project but it would be nice and warm. We'll see if I act on that inspiration or not. I still have curtains that need to be sewn.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hoop House Experiment

The days are getting shorter and snow could come any time now. As we finished cleaning up the yard for winter on Sunday we took advantage of the sunny day to put plastic on the hoop house. We used 2x4s and a staple gun to attach the plastic on the two sides. That way I can roll the plastic up around one of the 2x4s and they weigh the plastic down.
Most things that I tried to seed were eaten by the slugs. So I've been transplanting other things into the hoop house. Here's what I have.
Bok choy, broccoli, Italian danelion

Red Acre cabbage, tatsoi, Red Kale, a few spinach seedlings in the back.Radicchio & lettuce. The Radicchio was a surprise. It came from a mesclun mix and for some reason when I pulled the rest of the lettuce this summer, it didn't look like it was bolting, so I left it behind. Recently it began to turn red in the center. I pulled off the outer green leaves when I transplanted it. Maybe we'll get a head of radicchio to grill. We used a few leaves in a salad and they are quite bitter.
This is mostly an experiment to see how things do and to see if it gives an earlier start in the spring for some of these plants to begin growing again.