Friday, September 30, 2016

Free Parsley and The Black Moon

It is a dark, cool (3 degrees), rainy day with snow (up to 10cm) forecast for the weekend.  Knowing the weekend would be wet, we dug up the remainder of the potatoes and leeks yesterday and I brought some of the sunflower heads indoors to dry.  The only things remaining in the garden are parsnips, a few tiny beets, parsley, and sunflowers.

I have had an abundance of parsley this year.  I dehydrated enough to fill several mason jars, gave some away, and traded some with people for garlic and a zucchini.  There is still plenty left growing - it somehow has made it through the last few frosts - so yesterday afternoon I put a sign on the mailbox:  FRESH PARSLEY - FREE.  I hate to compost produce if there is someone who would enjoy having it.  So far, a former neighbour, the newspaper carrier, and a Jehovah's Witness have helped themselves!  

One of the North Georgia Candy Roasters had to be used sooner rather than later due to some frost damage and cracks on the bottom where it was laying on the ground.  It was loaded with seeds, which I planned to set aside to dry. Most of the seeds were dimpled or cracked, though, and not suitable for saving.  I picked out about 20 that looked the best and will try drying those.  There is one squash left; hopefully, the seeds in that one will be intact.

I peeled and cut up the squash.  It almost filled our spaghetti pot!  It cooked quickly, in less than 15 minutes, and mashed up nicely. Very smooth and a cheerful yellow.  It tastes more like acorn squash to me than pumpkin (I was expecting a pumpkin or a butternut flavour).  Then again, it didn't have a chance to "after-ripen" for several weeks.  Maybe the remaining squash, once it has been stored for two or three months, will have a deeper/richer flavour.

Tonight, we'll end the month with a Black Moon (the second new moon in a month).

Dreamer - Larisa Strelkova

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Garlic Bulbils

August 25, 2016 - This week, I ordered some garlic bulbils from the Seeds of Diversity garlic collection.   They keep a collection of dozens of heirloom varieties are seek growers throughout the country who will grow out these varieties and report back as to which varieties did well in their region.  

An excerpt from the Garlic Collection section of their website:

      Seeds of Diversity's Great Canadian Garlic Collection is a national project that explores and documents the many varieties of garlic grown in Canada.

     There are well over 100 varieties of garlic that are suited to Canadian growing conditions. Our goal is to grow as many varieties as possible in all of Canada's major agricultural areas and to record their success and characteristics. The collected information will be posted to our web site for use by all. In 2014 we harvested 153 different varieties. 

     Garlic grows differently in different climates. Some varieties have particular colours, shapes or other characteristics in certain areas of the country, but not in others. For instance, some varieties grow scapes in the east but not in the west. Some have a purple or red colour when grown in certain climates, but are white elsewhere. More importantly, some varieties grow better than others in different regions.

In this month's newsletter, they wrote that they have over 30 varieties available this Fall.  For a $10 shipping fee, they send at least bulbils of 5 varieties to anyone interested in growing them.  The catch?  It takes 2-3 years before full-grown garlic can be harvested (as opposed to being able to harvest garlic yearly when planting cloves).   Seeds of Diversity has written a really good article about how to grow bulbils. 

Beyond knowing that hardneck varieties do well in zone 2a, I do not know much about different types of garlic.  I asked them to select some varieties they felt might do well in this gardening zone.  We'll see what arrives!

September 2016  

September 21 - My garlic bulbils arrived today.  I am glad I placed my order early, as the note that was enclosed with the bulbils stated that Seeds of Diversity had an overwhelming response to their offer and that their supply ran out in only a few days.  The varieties they sent me are Siberian, Central Siberian, Kiev (same as Kyjev?), Brown Tempest, and Baba Franchuk's.  I'll have to work up a spot in the garden so I can plant my pots of bulbils in the ground in the next week.

September 25 - The garlic bulbils (in pots) were planted in the north garden.  I also planted two rows of garlic cloves (Red Russian and Northern Quebec).  The pots and cloves were covered with leaf mulch and grass clippings.  Nice and cozy for the cold weather ahead!
Baba Franchuk’s – large bulbils
Kiev – medium bulbils
Central Siberian – medium bulbils
Siberian – small bulbils
Brown Tempest – very small bulbils


May 2017 (Update

We had a relatively mild winter.  Most of the snow we had fell in March/April. The first three weeks of May have been mainly cool and overcast, with lots of rain.

May 1–15  Kiev (about half that I received have germinated), Baba Franchuk's (several have germinated; these look robust), a few Siberian and a few Central Siberian have germinated. None of the Brown Tempest bulbils have germinated.  I planted quite a few, but the Brown Tempest bulbils were very small.  Perhaps most of them rotted in the soil

May 22 - One of the Brown Tempest bulbils has germinated.  Better than none at all!

I am glad I followed the planting recommendations outlined on the Seeds of Diversity site.  The growth that has emerged from the bulbils does look and feel exactly like blades of grass.  It would be difficult to know what to pluck out and what to leave if they were planted directly in the garden.

August 2017 (Update)

August 10 - I dug up the Kiev rounds that grew from the bulbils planted last Fall.  They are 1.5 - 2 cm across at their widest point.  Of the Kiev bulbils I planted (should have recorded the number), 6 germinated and formed rounds. I was surprised at the length of their roots!  They have been hung to dry and will be replanted next month or early in October.

August 14 - Dug up, labeled, and hung the rest of the garlic rounds to cure.

Siberian - Measure about 1 cm across at their widest point. Of the Siberian bulbils I planted, 10 germinated and formed rounds.

Central Siberian - Very similar to the Siberian rounds.  They also measure approximately 1 cm across at their widest point.  Of the Central Siberian bulbils planted, 5 germinated and formed rounds.

Baba Franchuk's - These are the largest of all the rounds.  They measure about 2 cm across at their widest point.  The largest one is almost 2.5 cm across.  Of the Baba Franchuk's bulbils planted, 5 germinated and formed rounds.

Kiev - These are the second largest rounds, each measuring between 1.5 - 1.75 cm across.  Of the bulbils planted 6 formed rounds.

Brown Tempest - These are the smallest of all the rounds, generally measuring slightly less than 1 cm across at the widest point.  Of the Brown Tempest bulbils planted, 12 germinated and formed rounds.

Odds and Ends...  one container had 4 rounds in it are a mix of Siberian and Central Siberian. They are so close in size and appearance, that I find it hard to tell which is which.


September 201

September 25 - I planted the Siberian, Central Siberian, and Brown Tempest rounds (from last Fall's bulbils) in pots again.  These rounds are still quite small, and I don't want them overtaken by weeds or accidentally mistaken for grass and pulled out of the patch.  The Kiev and Baba Franchuk's rounds seemed large enough to plant directly in the ground, so I planted them beside the regular cloves of garlic.  

In total, 44 rounds were planted (33 in pots and 11 in-ground):

Kiev - 6                        Baba Frankchuk's - 5
Central Siberian - 5     Siberian -  10
Brown Tempest - 13    Mixed (Siberian & Central Siberian) - 5

Just need to mulch the garlic patch with chopped leaves later this week!

Squash and Cucumber 2016

June 23 – Weather since late May has been cool, overcast, and rainy for the most part, with a few hot sunny days in between.  I have had to sow the squash (and sunflower) seeds several times (and then finally start them indoors on heat mats, under lights!) because they rot in the ground rather than germinate. 

Gelber Englischer Custard Squash (summer squash)
Date direct sown:   May 25 (3 seeds)
July 26 – These, as well as the zucchini, are behind this year.  The G.E.’s are still quite small and there are no signs of flowers on them yet.
PACKET SAYS they are heavy feeders and do best with mulch/compost.
Bush variety summer squash.
Approximate date harvested: 
September 25 – only managed to harvest 1 of these this year!  This was not the year for summer squash…
Would grow again?  Yes.  Very tasty, usually quite prolific.

North Georgia Candy Roaster  (winter squash)
Date sown:   April 21 – 3 seeds in a milk jug greenhouse, kept indoors on a heat mat.  (Update – all 3 germinated, but one was weak/misshapen, so I pulled it.)
May 21 - Planted second batch of 3 seeds indoors on a heat mat.
June 10 – have four plants in two round, green beds in back yard.
July 26 – Three female flowers were pollinated and we think they have set, and this morning, I
discovered three more female flowers!  I had read that this variety was a good producer, and that seems to be the case.  I only hope that September is mild and relatively frost-free this year so that the squash have time to mature.
September 25 – got my wish for a mild September.  Harvested 4 of these squash. The largest was 12 lbs.
Would grow again? Yes!

Cucumbers“Patio Snacker” (hybrid)
Date sown:   April 21 – started in a milk jug greenhouse, initially kept indoors on a heat mat.
May 24 – transplanted into large container outside (3 transplants).  Also planted 1 transplant
from greenhouse (English cuke) into a large container outside.
Observations:    The cucumbers started early, hardened off, and planted in a container outside
ended up being zapped by frost. Ahrg!  I sowed 5 more seeds directly into containers outside in early June, and they began to germinate around June 10th.
July 26 – These have only just now started to put out flowers.  They are nearly as early as I
expected them to be.
Would grow again?  Maybe

Zucchini (heirloom, not sure which variety)
Date direct sown:   May 25 (2 seeds)
June 23 – Seeds did not germinate.  Started three more indoors on heat mat (1 was transplanted out today, the second 2 will be transplanted outside within the next week).
July 26 –  All the summer squash plants are about a month behind this summer.  This time last year, we had plenty of zucchini to eat and give away. 
Two female flowers bloomed, and no male flowers to pollinate them with!  I ended up using male flowers from the North Georgia Candy Roaster plants. [Update: that didn't work!]  Another female flower is about to open in the next day or two, and still the male flowers look underdeveloped.  These plants are from seeds I saved from last year’s zucchini, which I received in a trade and which I understand to be heirlooms (though now, I wonder about that). September 25 – We managed to harvest 4 or 5 small/medium zucchini this year.
Would grow again? Yes

White Scallop Squash 
June 23 – The seeds I sowed earlier this month outside did not germinate.  Started 3 more seeds indoors on a heat mat under lights today.
September 25 – We only got 1 squash from the 3 plants I started!  
Would grow again?  Not sure.  I prefer Gelber Englischer Custard and zucchini.

Root Vegetables 2016

POTATOES  (planted May 14th in the East garden)

Yukon Gold - Haven't tried these yet (as of September 29th).  The potatoes are a good size, but we sure didn't get many of them.   
Red Norland - These were my favourite!  Large potatoes that didn't dissolve into mush when boiled, even when cooked within days of being dug up.  Slightly waxy texture, perfect for potato salad, pan-fried potatoes, latkes, etc.  Definitely want to grow these again next year.    
Blue Russian - These potatoes were all very small and were hard to spot when digging them up. Their skin was the same colour as the dirt!  I haven't tried these yet (as of September 29th).  I grew them as an experiment.  Unless the flavour is out of this world, I likely won't grow them again next year.
Russet - Our old standby.  Will likely grow these again next year, but fewer than we have in years past, in favour of Red Norlands.

Harris Model Parsnips (heirloom)
Date direct sown:   May 22 in raised bed along driveway
September 29 - haven't harvested these yet.  They are smaller than they usually are by this time of year, so will leave them in the ground as long as possible.
Would grow again?  Yes, though likely not next year.

Detroit Red Beets
Date direct sown:   May 23 in cabbage bed (rock bed near currant bush) and in small section of one of the raised beds along the driveway.
Would grow again?  Yes - these are always reliable and tasty.

Chioggia Beets
Date direct sown:   May 23 in cabbage bed (rock bed near currant bush) and a few in the square raised bed by the car.
Would grow again?  Not sure.  These take longer to mature than the Detroit Reds and many did not germinate.


July 26 – Carrots are growing well, though the harvest is going to be smaller than I’d hoped.  I’m glad I planted them with lettuce seed again this year.  The combination works well!
September 25 - Harvest the carrots over the last two weeks.  Most were peeled, chopped, and dehydrated.   A lot of work, as most of the carrots were small this year (Jaune Obtuse du Doubs and the white carrots were the exception).  Hoping to sow them earlier in the season next year. The Chantenay carrots are stubby but very reliable and grow well in heavy soil.

Scarlet Nantes, Amarillo, and Mixed Rainbow Heirlooms
Date direct sown:  May 30 in raised bed along driveway, with tomatoes and peppers.
Scarlet Nantes, Amarillo, and Kaleidoscope Blend (hydrid – Burpee)
Date direct sown:   May 30 in raised bed near currant bush, with tomato plants.
Chantenay Red-Cored
Date direct sown:   May 24 – around base of peppers outside plant room.

Tomatoes 2016

Started hardening off tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, herbs, and cucumber on May 6th.  Began with 25 mins.  Due to erratic weather, hardening off plants took weeks this year!

Bonny Best (red, round, heirloom, meaty, canning/slicing, indet.)
Date sown:  March 29
Transplanted:  May 30
Observations:  Not as early to mature as I expected, but they ripen well indoors and these tomatoes resisted cracking/splitting from all the rain we received.
Would grow again?  Yes

Early Annie  (red, heirloom, 3-inch round, canning/slicing, DETERMINATE.)
Date sown:  March 29
Transplanted:  May 30
July 9 – So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by this variety!  Very robust, producing lots of flowers, growing well in large containers, stays compact, and hasn’t needed staking.  This variety was the second to produce a tomato this year (Mazarini was first).
Approximate date harvested:  First one ripened August 17th.
Would grow again? YES!

Principe Borghese  (red, heirloom, small, dry, few seeds, good for sundried tomatoes, DETERMINATE)
Date sown:  March 29
Transplanted:   May 30
Approximate date harvested:  First one ripened August 17th.  Harvested second handful
August 25th.
Lots of tomatoes on the plants and the plants are fairly compact.
September 25 – About ¼ of these tomatoes ripened on the plants.  The rest, we brought
indoors to ripen.  Very prolific, cute little tomatoes (slightly larger than cherry tomatoes).  A fairly bland flavour, though they might be good if dehydrated.
Would grow again?  Maybe

Sungold Cherry  (orange, cherry, sweet, Hybrid/commercial, indeterminate)
Date sown:   March 29
Transplanted:   May 30
Observations:  Planted two Sungold cherry tomato plants.  One is planted in a relatively shallow bed, so I planted the roots/half the stem on it’s side.  (large green container in the back of the house)
August 26 – Plants are sprawling and bending tomato cages – loads of flowers and the start of tomatoes, but slow to ripen.  Great flavour.
Would grow again? Not sure.  They take up a lot of space.

Amana Orange  (orange, heirloom, large, beefsteak, indeterminate)
Date sown:  March 29
Transplanted:   May 30
July 9 –  I planted this variety on impulse, but these are among the healthiest tomato plants this summer – healthy looking foliage, sturdy.  Not many flowers yet, though.  I hope it produces well.
August 26 – more foliage than fruit, that is for sure.  No sign of ripening yet.
September 25 – ripened several indoors.  A beautiful, sunny orange flesh.
Would grow again?  Maybe

Speckled Roman  (red w/orange stripes, potato-leafed, elongated, heirloom, fresh or paste,
Date sown:   March 29
Transplanted:  May 30
Observations:  Transplanted 1 in a raised bed along the driveway.  Potato-leafed – I find the
foliage frail and prone to wilting. 
July 9 – Not loving the potato-leaf foliage.  I find it tangles and is hard to prune back.
August 17 – There are a number of small to medium sized tomatoes on this plant.  Some have blossom end rot, but a number have remained untouched.
September 5 – Starting to ripen, but all have blossom end rot
Would grow again?  No

Red Zebra  (red w/orange stripes, round, heirloom, indeterminate)
Date sown:  March 29
Transplanted:  May 30
Observations:  Transplants (from seed) nice and robust.
August 26 – tomatoes look great, but there is still no sign of ripening.
September 25 – Ripened several of these indoors. The label on the envelope (received during a trade) said they were Red Zebras, but they are Black Zebras.
Would grow again?  Maybe, though there are other black tomatoes that ripen earlier.

Mazarini  (pink, heart-shaped, heirloom,  few seeds, meaty flesh, paste, wispy foliage,
indeterminate, rare Russian tomato)
Date sown:   March 29
Transplanted:   May 30
Observations: Of the ten varieties I started from seed, Mazarini was the first to develop flowers (indoors, before transplanting).   The foliage seems more delicate than most of the other varieties (except Speckled Roman) and is the first to droop/wilt badly if lacking water.
July 9 – This variety was the first to produce a tomato this year.
Approximate date harvested:  First one ripened and picked August 15 – weighed 1 lb 2 oz.
September 25 – Had to ripen most indoors.  Many large fruit.  Great for cooking down for sauce.
Would grow again? YES!

Pomodoro Roma Nano (red, pear-shaped, Hybrid/commercial  – “Gusto Italia”/McKenzie seeds, paste/sauce, indeterminate)
Date sown:   March 29
Transplanted:  May 30
Observations:  Robust, healthy leaves.  Transplants (from seed) didn’t become as “leggy” as some of the other varieties I grew.
September 5 – LOTS of tomatoes on the plant, but they haven’t started ripening yet.  I would have thought a hybrid that indicated “short season” on the packet would be ripening by now!
September 25 – Still none have ripened on the plants. Brought them inside to see if any will ripen in boxes.
Would grow again?  Not likely.  Wasn’t very impressed with this one.

“Deep Space”  (black paste, early, heirloom (?), indeterminate-received in a seed trade)
Date sown:   April 11
Transplanted:   May 31
Observations:  I got these seeds in a trade.  I can’t find any information on this variety online – I think it’s a variety the grower developed on their own.  Not sure if it’s a plum, beefsteak, cherry, or…?
September 25 – these turned out to be a large plum (more or less).  A few ripened on the plants, most had to be brought inside to ripen in boxes.  More foliage than fruit on the plants.
Would grow again?  Neat experiment, but doubt I’ll grow these again.

(Didn’t Plant This Year)

Paul Robeson (black, heirloom, beefsteak, indet.)
Carbon (black, heirloom, indet., slicer, 10-14 oz fruit, great flavour.  First heirloom tomato I ever grew!)
Black Krim (black, heirloom, indet., beefsteak)
Black Plum  (black, heirloom, sauce/slicing, indet.)
Yellow Taxi  (yellow, heirloom, ball, det.)
Eva Purple Ball (pink, heirloom, ball, det.)
Moskvich  (red, heirloom, ball, indet.) 
Emerald Evergreen (green, heirloom, beefsteak, fresh/slicer , indet.)