Glut of Onions 5/27/2018

The Garden Patch

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In this picture the onions look a lot more full of life then they did when we got back from our trip on 5/27/2018. The majority of all the onion leaves had browned on most of the plants. I would have picked them a week before if I knew I could process them before our trip. We ended up with 27 lbs of onions after giving at least 1/3 away to friends and co-workers and steadily using them in the prior month and a half fresh from the garden. Next year I will try to figure out how to be able to either continually harvest onions by planting different varieties and/or plant storage onions so we don’t have a glut of fresh stuff that has to be used up within 20-30 days like we do right now.

IMG_1094Here the onions are spread out to dry for a day or two in the hot sun. This is supposedly supposed to help “cure” them so they keep longer. Honestly I don’t know if it helps or not for non-storage types. It may have shortened their life. At any rate, when the green tops had died back to brown they were all brought inside for processing. There is NO way that two people can eat that many onions in 20-30 days.

The majority of the onions are medium-ish in size, some are a little small, some are tiny and some are fairly large. They all got sorted into a few different piles with their different sizes for different uses.

Small onionsThe super small ones will be pickled like pearl onions. I only had a few of these, less than 1 pint.

Small/medium onions: The smallish/medium ones will be dehydrated in an attempt to make onion powder. This seems like a good way of storing a non-storage onion.

Larger Onions: Stored in pantyhose to figure out how long they keep and to be used in fresh cooking

Quick Pickled Pearl Onions:

  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt + extra for water
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

Prepare the onions, peel and cut an x in the bottom. Boil in salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool under cold water then put the onions in a jar. Put the thyme in the jar with onions. Put all other ingredients except thyme in a pan and boil for 2 minutes then pour liquid over the onions and let cool. Store in refrigerator. Since the onions are in a brine they should be good for a year in the fridge. This whole process probably took 15 minutes including going outside to pick thyme and bay. I got to use my fresh coriander for the first time!!

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Onion Powder:

Slice onions to 3/16ths of an inch and arranging them on the tray they dried at 125 degrees fahrenheit. Most sights say to dry between 4- 8 hours. This is going on 11 hours. They are still leathery and not crisp although they appear to be mostly dry.  I’m not entire sure how long this part will actually take. Good thing it’s a passive activity and I’ve got all weekend.

Either store the dried onions in a jar whole and blitz them in a coffee grinder when needed, or make immediately into a powder after onions cool and store in a dry air tight container.

The Texas Sweet onions ground more readily into a powder. I found the Georgia sweet had a higher sugar content and would actually not grind. They are stored whole and I’ll use them in sauces and just sprinkled on top of dishes. They are SUPER tasty on their own. They already taste caramelized.

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Whole Onions for Fresh Cooking:

Each nylon bag is knotted so you just cut off the bottom for a fresh onion. Pantyhose work perfectly for this (weird I know) but you can get a whole brand new carton for super cheap. A knot between onions keeps them from touching each other and they can be hung this way. I wrote a “T” or “G” on top of the sack so I know if it is a Texas onion or a Georgia onion and can keep track on the keeping qualities this way.

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If they start going bad quickly I’ll make some sliced refrigerator onion pickles and we can use them up that way.

Now to find a place to hang these…..

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Native Rock Rose

 

Veggie Patch 5/13/2018

The Veggie patch is now in Full-swing. Every few days I get to come home with a batch of fresh produce. There’s enough beets in the fridge for me to eat for a few weeks. That will be turned into some sort of beet soup for work lunches since the husband isn’t a fan. There are unfortunately still turnips in the fridge. I’m going to just roast and eat to get over with. In the corner to the left of the picture below you see the first pulled Rutabaga which may or may not have been a mistake like the turnips. Unfortunately there are even more rutabagas than turnips…. That is an experiment for later. One that my dear husband and I are a little hesitant to try…

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Onions are being plucked from the ground weekly. Only the Georgia Sweets are impressive in size. That is the impressive variety. Texas onions are still puny. The combination of a little later than recommended planting plus too much shade from the dill that has grown out of hand is likely the reason why they are suffering.

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Carrots are ready! Much to my surprise the carrots are ready to be picked. Equally surprising; they taste good even though it’s been in the 90’s for a few weeks. We roasted them with an onion and some new potatoes last night and MAN was that delicious! Sprinkled a little avocado oil and some of the rosemary-sage salt. My favorite variety just based off looks alone were the black ones but they are equally delicious.

Peppers are starting to produce like crazy too. The hot peppers aren’t really totally ready they are still smaller than full size but I’ve been using the Jalapeno’s for peach salsa.  I also picked some mystery peppers to try to figure out what they are. I’m guessing they are actually Hungarian yellow wax peppers.They are NOT Anaheim peppers. A few Anaheim peppers were picked too just because they were touching the ground since the plants were buried deeply and I didn’t want pest problems. The sweet peppers are still a little behind. Most are just starting to make flower buds, a few have baby peppers.

The beans are finally starting to gain some momentum. It is ridiculous how fast they are starting to grow now. The picture on the right was 15 days ago compared to the left which was today:

The climbing ones are starting to climb, some of the dried beans are starting to put on flowers and a few tiny beans. The first planted fresh eating bean is the french dragon which I got to try today for the first time.

Today I planted some squash (might be too late for that but I already have some at home.) And some melons. Here’s an overview of what the garden looks like right now:

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I even found a frog:

IMG_0969 2I love going out there. It’s much less work and much more enjoyable. Happy gardening!

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Staking peppers plot progress 3/31/2018

Pepper Beds

The hot pepper bed has really been taking off. I got some advise from my plot neighbors to stake the peppers because it gets extremely windy.

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They’ve already doubled in size since they were put in the ground. Most have little buds in their growing point and a few are already flowering.

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I planted them extra deep but now I’m wondering if that was a bad idea, The buds are fairly close to the ground. I might have to devise a way of keeping the peppers from growing down into the dirt.

The sweet pepper transplants are still dinky so maybe in a week or two they will get staked. There was not much change since last week.

Onions Carrots/Dill Beds

Look how wimpy the onions along the border to the left are compared to the right. The spacing is the same, They were purchased and planted at the same time. This is the difference between Texas Sweet (left) and Georgia Sweet (right). Both have the same watering schedule and have been supplemented with the same nutrients. I realized about two weeks ago I really messed up with the onions. These are all non-storage onions. Yeah. There’s about 200 of them total. My husband and I are not going to be able to use them all within 30 days…. I think I’ll be bringing them in to work and giving them away to friends if they actually produce. This prompted me to do research on short-day storing types. I was shocked at how limited the options were. I’ll be figuring out what to do about those here shortly to order seeds for fall.

the Carrots and Dill look like they are chugging away just fine. I’ll be starting to cut back the dill for salads here shortly.

Beets Turnips Rutabagas

This is the turnip and beet bed. These turnips have yet to produce a visible bulb but they are sure churning out the greenery. I’ll probably thin the greens and use some in a collard green recipe experiment here shortly. They are already shading out the marigolds! I’m not sure if they will bulb or not. It seems like they should have started by now.

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The Bulls Blood beets on the right had side have red leaves which was unexpected. They seem to grow slightly faster than the Flat of Egypt beets. Neither variety is bulbing yet.

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These are the turnip Nagasaki Akari Kabu which are giving me beautiful bulbs already. These are my favorite so far. They are surrounded by a most likely failed experiment of Rutabagas. The Rutabagas grow so slowly by comparison I doubt I’ll be able to keep them alive through the hot summer here. I’ll try planting them again in fall if they do not pull through to see if maybe they are a fall crop. Same thing with the really leafy turnip variety. Maybe I’m figuring out what will work in spring and possibly something different will work in fall.

Both of these beds were covered with shade cloth. The sun is getting so warm its 80 degrees and these plants like the 60’s.

Bean Beds

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The dry bean bed is doing great so far. The plants need to be thinned pretty soon but I saw some pricked out so I want to keep my numbers large until they are big enough to not be bothered by cutworms or birds.

IMG_0533The fresh bean bed is progressing nicely also. This is the first time I’ve done succession planting of the same crop. I don’t know if it works well for my situation yet but right now there are three fresh-eating beans in three different stages. full on little leafy plants, new sprouts and seeds just poked in the ground. The winged beans are planted in the middle row with the trellises in the center. They are the most sorry-looking of all the beans right now. I’m fairly certain they require more heat to really get moving than what we’ve had so far. They may have been planted a little bit early but I’m not familiar enough with the variety to know for sure.

Other beds

There’s some flower seeds that are starting to leaf out in their first true leaves, same with the parsnips. The hamburg parsley has yet to make an appearance. I don’t know if any of them germinated or ever will. Sunchokes have awoken from their slumber. I’m trying to decide if I want to plant flowers or a melon at the only unclaimed raised bed.

Things are really starting to take off. Its amazing how fast everything has grown this month!

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Crepe Myrtle

 

 

 

Sweet Peppers and Plot Update 3/24/2017

Another weekend day out at the Garden patch

The to-do list is short, but time-consuming.

  1. Transplant sweet peppers to their new home
  2. Plant the next successive week of bean plants in the fresh-eating bed
  3. Water the beds
  4. Try to finish mulching the pathways

Sweet Pepper Transplanting

The sweet pepper seedlings have hardened off over the past week and they are ready to go in the ground. I mixed on extra bone meal, blood meal and all-purpose organic fertilizer in each planting hole. They are planted extra deep with a mulch of worm castings. I’m going to do everything possible to try to help them out since I have no experience with sweet peppers in the area.

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Bean Planting

The fresh beans have not yet sprouted yet from the planting last week. It’s a little concerning, might need to re-do the first batch. The dry bean bed however has sprouted nicely.

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Watering the beds

There’s two methods of watering done here (hopefully soon to be three). For hot weather pepper beds where there are few plants but they are larger I’m spot watering, Filling up a bucket and deep watering them twice with a large splash of water right at the base of the plant. This conserves water and is fast. It also has a bonus of not helping weed seeds germinate around the peppers since they are staying dry. Because the peppers are planted deeply, I can ensure their roots get plenty of water and the soil above acts as a heavy mulch so the water they get does not evaporate. Also, this is fast which I’m a huge fan of.

The other beds were all started from seed so I use a different method of watering. Each seed-sown bed is wet with a quick initial spray. This is to make sure the surface will be receptive to water. if one area is soaked and the soil isn’t primed wet it has a higher probability of just running off the bed and down the sides not really soaking in. Then a successive two or three pass by’s of deep watering each bed  happens. I do this about every other day. It takes about 30-40 minutes.

Hopefully drip irrigation can be installed on a timer and that will limit the amount of time spent watering.

Mulching the pathways

IMG_0494Most of the interior pathways are done now. The remaining perimeter is going to be a chore. Things are starting to look more finished!

Progress

The turnips are starting to bulb out!! I’m so excited!!! I’m worried it will bet to hot and the bulbing will stop but for now it’s amazing how fast they are maturing! a few days ago a very slight purple spot was visible at the base of the plant. Now it’s definitely a bulb. A small one, but a bulb.

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The hot pepper bed has grown a significant amount in one week also. Most of the plants have immature flower bulbs in their growing point now. This Anaheim pepper is actually flowering. It’s awesome to think that at the end of April there might be some hot peppers ripening up.

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Observations

  1. The Georgia sweet onions appear to be much larger and faster growing than the Texas sweet onions.
  2. Rutabagas appear to be MUCH slower growing than anticipated. Either they are a whole year-in-one-place crop, or the weather is too variable or to hot too quickly for them to really get established.
  3. Sunscreen is a MUST going forward in order to avoid an even more horrific farmers tan.
  4. Parsnips are popping out of the ground. No hamburg parsley yet.
  5. I think the love-in-a-mist is sporadically germinating, unless they are actually weeds that I’ll regret leaving in the ground later.
  6. lychnis has germinated. (perennial flower)
  7. Sunchokes are popping out of the ground.

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Planting Seeds 2/17/2018

Results of Planning

I skipped garden activities for a few weekends. The husband and I were off traveling a little bit. Beds also needed to be weeded more before they would be useful. This put my seed planting behind schedule by two weeks. Better late than never!

There has been another 8 hours of weeding done at the community garden plot. All but one of the large side beds have been cleared. Most of the middle beds are still a mess.

The other night my master plan we worked out. Ultimately I want a beautiful functional kitchen garden space. A lot of googling and pinterest-pinning later I’ve determined the elements of potagers that I love that are:

  • boldly defined raised beds with clean lines & clear pathways – Lucky me my plot already has this bold line design, it’s just needs some tidying still
  • Flowers in every bed – these could just be for beauty or serve a purpose, use them as cutting flowers, have them attract beneficial insects or have them repel insects I don’t want. They can even be edible.
  • Even spacing – I actually used a measuring tape to make sure my spacing of seeds and flowers were evenly spaced
  • Straight planting rows that frame another type of vegetable – I used a string that i had measured the placement of and planted along the string to get straight rows and planted the same type of plant all along the outside of the bed so that eventually onions will frame the carrots all the way around for example.

So my super rough sketch of what goes where is as follows:

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Planting time

The time for planting bulbing onions was two to four weeks ago. Here’s hoping it still works. I picked out two varieties. They are now bordering four varieties of carrots to experiment with primarily because they come from India or other warm places and this is the year of experiments!  There is so much more work that needs to be done. Other than weeding the remaining beds and the pathway I’ve started to lay down a thick layer of mulch over cardboard to hopefully help suppress the grass in the pathway. So what you see below is a lovely combination of half-finished projects. Partially weeded beds, partially mulched pathway and wonky supports haphazardly stuck in the ground. But, it is the truth. Nothing looks beautiful when you just start out.

Allium/Umbellifer Family beds:

Onions: Spacing 4 inches apart 2 rows per foot staggered.

  • Bulbing Texas Sweet
  • Bulbing Georgia Sweet

Carrots: spacing oxheart 3 inches per short row 1.5 inches per short row all others

  • kyoto red,
  • Pusa Asita Black,
  • Pusa Rudhira Red,
  • oxheart

Dill: one line of thinly spaced seeds in will be thinned.

  • mammoth and dukat

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Brassica family beds:

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The bed to the right has turnips in the middle of the marigolds and has rutabagas around the outside. The bed to the right has different turnips in the middles and beets surrounding the outside.

Turnips: – every 4 inches two rows

  • nagasaki akari Kabu (purple)
  • Purple top white globe

Rutabaga: – every 4 inches two rows

  • Collet vert (yellow and green)

Beets: – every 4 inches two rows.

  • Flat of egypt
  • bulls Blood
  • Colorful beet mix

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Now I hope it keeps raining so the seeds are well watered.

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