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Why bother growing your own?

onionseedsIn the grand scheme of things (to flog a oft-used phrase, along with ‘at the end of the day’ and so on), why bother to grow your own vegetables. Or, for that matter, flowering plants?

Well, I’m not going to even discuss the issue of ‘cheap food’. I still think we can produce garden vegetables at a lower cost (again, we are not charging our own time) than we can buy them in the grocery store. But that is not the issue here. (more…)

Desperate for spring

orchid1Your old Aunty knows that this time of the year can be mighty difficult. Too cold to garden outside in most places except for the Southern Hemisphere. And still short days; I don’t care where you live, but when you have fewer than 10 hours of daylight, it’s just depressing.

So, here at Chez Siberia, I try to get in as much ‘indoor gardening’ activities as I can. Planning the vegetable garden with the seed catalogs all spread out before me is one activity that I think all gardeners indulge in at this point in the year, if for no other reason than they want to beat everyone else to the newest and best and what is in short supply. But another thing I do is to do a bit of ‘housekeeping’ with the houseplants. (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…)

w88 wolves sponsorshipEvaluating 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…)

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…)

Evaluating the garden

frontwalk1Something everyone who gardens (and even if you are getting someone else to do the ‘sticking their hands in the dirt and planting’ part, you are gardening) should do, once a year, is look at what you’ve got, evaluate what is working, not working, and so on. I went out this morning (and pardon the fog in the photos – very foggy this morning, which is a real function of where I live in general — Upstate NY has plenty of moisture — and in specific — where Chez Siberia is located is a valley so we tend to get serious fog conditions here if there is any moisture in the air at all) to take a look at the walk in front of our house. (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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