Posts filed under ‘Cool Weather Garden




A Tree With Multiple Personalities

The fruiting mulberry tree is one of my all-time favorite fruit trees. Much prized for its size and the shade it provides, many gardeners enjoy its juicy, luscious fruit. There are red, white, and black mulberries. My favorite is black.

You can view an excellent photo of a branch of ripening black mulberries here.

The other thing I enjoy about mulberry trees is that they have leaves of many shapes. It’s like having a tree with multiple personalities. You never know what you’re going to see on new branches, the solid, heart-shaped leaf, serrated edges, or the fancier shaped leaves that look like three-piece cutouts. The leaf photo below shows some of the varying shapes of our black mulberry’s leaves.

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The black mulberry tree’s leaves are shiny and birds thoroughly enjoy both the leaves and the berries. Black mulberries are, in my opinion, the tastiest of the three varieties. They stain your fingers, your clothes, and the ground purple. Still, they are my favorite.

To protect the berries, we cover our mulberry tree with netting to keep the birds away. This year’s harvest arrived early, beginning to ripen in late May instead of June. Fortunately, our tree was so laden with fruit, we enjoyed mulberries well into early July, which is unheard of.

I took a walk through our yard yesterday morning. As the leaves on the rest of the trees in our backyard slowly begin to yellow and fall, our mulberry tree’s leaves are still going strong, making me feel like summer may just last a while longer.

To Your Gardening Abundance!

Cara

Add comment September 25, 2008

Autumn’s the Time to Plant Garlic–The Stinking Rose

As we head into fall, now is the time to plant garlic for next year’s garden. If you like to eat garlic as we do, you’ll want to plant as much as possible.

Apple trees love garlic, so if you have an apple tree, you may want to plant garlic around the base of the tree at its roots. The apple tree and garlic will provide mutually beneficial microbes to each other’s root systems, encouraging both plants to grow stronger.

All the way back to Greek and Roman times, garlic has been known as the stinking rose. In San Francisco, The Stinking Rose is a garlic restaurant whose claim to fame is that they season their food with garlic.

And so it goes–garlic’s popularity persists through the ages. This pungent, sharply flavored herb has many uses beyond the culinary. It has anti-virus and anti microbial properties.

Americans eat more than 250 million pounds of garlic a year. If this isn’t incentive enough to plant as much garlic as you can, I don’t know what is.

Join me this coming weekend planting garlic under every apple tree I can find on property apple trees.

To Your Gardening Abundance!

Cara

Add comment September 23, 2008

A Garden’s Labor of Love

Today is Labor Day and most Americans are celebrating the social and economic achievements of U.S. Labor by taking a day off.

Not so for gardeners. We are a hardy lot. Like good parents, we know that we must tend to our gardens daily to reap their bounty. So I was in the garden early this morning, weeding and watering, in anticipation of tonight’s early cold snap.

The fruits and vegetables look healthy in spite of the fact that the last two nights the temperatures have been dropping 20 to 30 degrees. Tonight the weather person predicts it will get into the 30s and recommends covering frost-sensitive plants. Three days ago, it was almost 100 degrees and it’s only September 1st. Isn’t weather amazing?

In spite of, or perhaps because of, our temperature extremes, I picked the makings of a great and very large salad for our afternoon picnic with some friends. It contained endive, romaine lettuce, Mexican squash, yellow straight neck squash, celery, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, green, red, and orange peppers, onion, garlic, both onion and garlic chives, basil, oregano, and savory.

I mixed olive oil and lemon juice for a dressing. Another dressing that adds zest to salads is Steel’s Gourmet Salad Dressings, which are available in Honey Mustard and Sweet Ginger Lime at CarbSmart.

One of the goals I set for myself each summer is to reach a point where the majority of the food on our table is from our garden. For today’s salad, everything except the dressing was from my garden.

How wonderful that felt!

To Your Gardening Abundance,

Cara

4 comments September 2, 2008

Frost Protection for Your Garden

Last week, I mentioned that my tomato plants often last through the first few frosts, as long as I cover them. One year, I planted the tomatoes next to the east side of our home where they could absorb heat from the house as the nights grew colder. Although it took longer for them to ripen because they were in sunlight only through the morning hours and shade from about noon on, they produced an amazing amount of tomatoes, more than 500 weighing between one half and 2 pounds. This, on only 6 plants. So I just couldn’t bear to let them die before their time. They’d been such good producers.

Amazingly, I was still harvesting tomatoes on December 31st that year, in spite of a few light snowfalls. And, much to my delight and surprise, the plants still had about 50 large green tomatoes on them.

By New Year’s Eve, however, I was tired of going outside each evening to cover those gorgeous plants, so I decided to pick all of the tomatoes and allow them to ripen inside. To this day, I still wonder how long they would have continue to produce tomatoes if I had continued to water and cover them. As far as I know, no one else in our area has had such a long tomato run.

My point is this: Autumn will arrive in a few weeks. Depending on where you live, you may have another 4 weeks or another 8 to 12 weeks of reasonably nice evening temperatures before the first frost arrives. Now is the time to purchase row covers if you haven’t already.

You can purchase row covers at local garden centers, Lowe’s, and local nurseries, as well as online at such web sites as Gardens Alive! which sells
Heavy Weight Row Covers that keep your plants protected from early Spring or late Fall frosts. Their polyethylene Tunlcoverâ„¢ Plant Protector can cover an 18-foot row of vegetables.

I recommend ordering row covers early and then setting them up, so you’re certain you know how they work. There’s nothing worse than being outside in the rain, sleet, or snow wrestling with the row cover and ending up in a frozen tangle.

Plan ahead and you can slow down your garden’s slide into Winter, as well as enjoy late tomatoes, peppers, and other wonderful veggie treats.

To Your Gardening Abundance

Add comment August 23, 2008

Planting the Cool Weather Garden

August is the perfect time to plant your cool weather garden. The wonderful thing about Autumn is that you can extend the growing season, even in colder climates, by planting vegetables that thrive in cooler temperatures.

Kale, some lettuces (such as Romaine), broccoli, peas, chard, endive, and spinach all grow well in cooler temperatures (see a list of cool weather vegetables below). I also plant more carrots, so the rabbits have something to nibble on. Amazingly, carrots I have planted in the fall have thrived through the winter months and have yielded both carrots and lush carrot tops in the Spring. So has endive, sometimes providing us with salad as early as February or March.

I buy my vegetable seeds in local stores and also from some seed catalogs. I’ve had success with both Burpee and Park Seeds. Both companies have online ordering as well as hard copy catalogs you can request.

Now is also the time to check the seed catalogs and seed company web sites for their end-of-season sales. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to visit some of those seed web sites to see what I can add to my Autumn and Spring gardens.

Here’s a list of cool weather vegetables you can plant now for harvest later this fall. Park Seeds has all of these vegetable seeds available on their web site.

Beets
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Collards
Dandelion
Endive
Escarole
Kale
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Lettuces
Peas
Radishes
Spinach
Turnips

Leeks also seem to overwinter well in our yard. If I plant them now and again in the Spring, we’ll have a Spring and Autumn harvest. If you’ve never tried leeks before, you’re in for a taste treat. They have a milder onion flavor than onions and you can use their green tops in soups and stews and as a garnish on meat and vegetable dishes.

For those of you who are diehard gardeners like me and refuse to let your gardens go fallow before their time, start planting that Autumn garden and you and your family will enjoy the fruits of your labor well into the winter months.

To Your Gardening Abundance,

Cara

Add comment August 18, 2008

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