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Food

Winter Beans

beans1Fart scenes in “Blazing Saddles” notwithstanding, beans are good for you.
Need more fiber in your diet? Reconstituted dried beans are definitely your friend.
Want to move away from meat as a protein source? Ditto.
Looking for natural sources of trace minerals? Ditto.

And don’t think you have to eat soy beans (and the processed foods made from them) in order to get the benefits. Yes, soy beans are protein power-houses, but a lot of people are concerned about GMO soy beans By 2012, the US Department of Agriculture estimated that 94% of all soy beans grown in the US are GMO. (more…)

Working in the garden at Christmas

BLACKCURRENT1First, hello again and your Aunty hopes that your holidays this month (whichever ones you celebrate, and Aunt Toby believes that in these chilly and dark days, that we need to do our utmost to keep spirits up, flags flying, drums beating and bonfires glowing) have been wonderful, warm, and filled with hugs, warmth, a big of peace and terrific food.

Ours, believe it or not, have been filled with working out on the farm, mostly pruning apple trees (more on that for another time) because it has not been its usual ferocious cold and snowy time here at Chez Siberia. Ordinarily, we’d wait until most of the way through the winter but since a) we have discovered so many apple trees (and again, more on that for later) that need major weeding out that we’d never finish by the time they’d break dormancy in the spring and b)the weather has been basically so warm that we figured we’d get to it early when it’s a lot more pleasant to get it done (rather than standing out there in the wind and 25-degrees F with pole saws). (more…)

Fall Garden Report

fallbeets This fall at Chez Siberia has been ‘one for the books’ as they say. We are within a couple of weeks of Thanksgiving (US) and it frankly is a beautiful sunny day in the upper 50s. As a matter of fact, I did some gardening earlier today when I discovered that I’d missed a couple of garlic bulbs in the garden and they’d all sprouted (more on that in another paragraph here). For anyone out there who is somehow doubting that there is climate change, I have to say that our garden certainly shows that the climate is not what it used to be. When your Aunty was just a young person, by this time up here, we already had snow on the ground and it was sticking. The ground might now have been frozen all the way down but the top couple of inches were probably frozen enough that the snow did not melt. As a matter of fact, we used to take a yearly trip down to just north of New York City and the temperatures there on Thanksgiving Day were colder than it is here today. We definitely had to wear our winter coats in New York – no one is wearing a winter coat here today – it’s in the 50s.

This is not to say that we have not had any hard frosts – we’ve had several temperatures down to the low 20s here, which killed off anything not hardy – but certain veggies in the garden are still going strong, so I recommend them to anyone who is thinking about doing some fall vegetable gardening next year – if these will survive for us here, I think we’re safe in saying that they will do ok for anyone south of the Canadian border. (more…)

Peppers to Paprika

paprika1Well our gardening season took a long time to finish up. The peppers just seemed to hang there and not turn red (or yellow or whatever color the particular peppers were meant to be), but finally we got enough ripe ones or mostly ripe ones that I decided that we were tempting fate (i.e., a frost) here if I left them on the plants any longer. So, this week, I tore up all the pepper plants and hung them upside down in the greenhouse (this will ‘mature’ the peppers a bit, let them give off a bit of moisture and some of them will get more ripe) and then yesterday, the DH and I started to process the sweet ones for paprika. (more…)

Evaluating Tomatoes – and other things

tomato1Well, your old Aunty got skunked. Oh yes I did. My fault, completely – nothing like saving tomato seeds and then not labeling them properly. Somehow ‘Paste Tomatoes from 2014″ just doesn’t cut it because what I thought I was going to get were plum-type past tomatoes (like San Marzano), but instead, I got THESE!

Now, technically speaking, these ARE paste tomatoes – they are much dryer than salad or beefsteak-type tomatoes, but you tend to get far fewer on a plant, which is pretty annoying if what you are looking for is big production for canning or freezing sauce.

Grumble. (more…)

Garlic Number 2

Vietgarlic1] So, the garlic harvest and testing keeps rolling along. This is the second variety to mature and is called “Vietnamese Red” (because of the skins on the cloves are a purplish color).
Now, even while growing, I could tell that these were going to be big bulbs. First, the stems were much thicker than the stems on Susanville, which matured first. The stems on Vietnamese Red were thicker than my thumb, whereas the stems on Susanville were only the thickness of my pinky finger. More leaves makes for more photosynthesis which makes for bigger bulbs.

Which they were, both on the individual side and on the total production side. Again, recall the rules of this particular game: 8 ounces of cloves for each of four varieties, all planted under the same conditions (all at the southern ends of the garden beds so theoretically, they all got the same amount of sun and I watered all of them several times during dry spells early on). Now, all of these varieties were described in the catalog as ‘mid-season’, but Susanville was definitely earlier in terms of maturity; the other two varieties are dying now as well, so from that aspect, Vietnamese Red and the last two varieties are more of a piece than Susanville, but we will see how they do when we harvest them. (more…)

Purple peppers and other garden notes

dead garlic Although we really are coming into our gardening season where the veggies are really starting to produce, produce, produce, there are a couple of things which are starting to wind things down.

Like this bit of plot at the back of one of the garden beds. Well, this looks pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? This, my friends, is garlic ready for harvest. It is the first of four varieties that we are trialing here at Chez Siberia (because if it will grow here, it will literally grow anywhere), Susanville. Now, in the catalogs, this is referred to as a ‘mid-season’ garlic, but it’s died back very early here. This growing season (and for garlic, as you recall, we planted the cloves last fall, so the growing season went through the winter and our very chilly and wet spring as well) has been very challenging. Although the garlic was under heaps of snow during the winter, it still was extremely cold (minus 27 degrees F. a couple of times) and we got a couple of late frosts in the spring. So, we are very curious to see how all of the garlics handled the non-perfect growing conditions. (more…)

Evaluating veggies

ripetom It’s always good to take a look at what’s happening to the vegetables in the garden as well — where are they in terms of development? If they aren’t where you think they should be at this point (mid-July, which for us is mid-point in the growing season), what do you think caused it? Anything to be done to help at this point?

In this photo, you can see the Tumbling Tom ™ tomatoes in their hanging baskets. “49 days from transplanting” is what it says on the package and I think we’re pretty close on that. And considering what a horrible May and June (9 inches of rain in June alone – great on the water side but not much on the sun side) we had, I’m thinking these are one terrific tomato for container growing. Not exactly what I’d call a ‘cherry’ tomato – they are slightly larger and more ovoid than those are but so far, a very good deal. They are still setting tomato flowers, so with some attention and judicious watering, I think we will be able to get production all through the rest of the season. (more…)

Garden Journal

milkweedbeeAt this point, we are entering ‘high summer’ here and things are, shall we say, disappointing.

It was a rainy and cold spring. And, it’s become a rainy and chilly late spring and then it warmed up a bit the last couple of weeks and it rained some more. We had 9 inches of rain in June, alone. I could not get out in the garden because frankly, it was mud and then when it warmed up and dried out a bit, the weeds just went nuts, so I spent this weekend weeding. Now, I hate weeding, but it’s the best we can do in order to keep the competition down. Yes, I could use row covers, but I like to keep the amount of plastic down. (more…)

E-scape to the wild side

scape If you do your shopping at farmers markets or even perhaps a fancy local grocery, you might be seeing these particular items now or in the near future. They are called ‘scapes’ and are a clever by-product of growing garlic. (more…)

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