}

October 29, 2012

Late Autumn Vegetable Harvest

Organic Chinese Cabbage 'Minuet' (F1) is a fast growing mini variety which is best grown as a fall crop in the north. 

As the storm rages outside, I thought that I might share some of the late crops which we are harvesting before the storm today. The garden can provide some excellent food crops for home gardeners in the fall. Everyone things about planting seeds in the spring, but more often than not, cool-growing crops grow better in the autumn, since the shortening days and colder weather keeps insects at bay, and reduces the likelyhood of some varieties 'bolting' - going to seed before they are mature due to hot weather. In fact, Chinese Cabbage and rutabaga are often only grown in the fall.

 Many gardeners call it a day once the tomatoes freeze, but we replant fall crops in our raised beds  each August, often while tomatoes are still being picked. Seeds of lettuce, turnips, Chinese or Napa cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard and radishes are sown as soon as soil is made available. These crops can all handle light to heavy frosts, and they mature in less than 50 days, so they are perfect for quick-crops in the fall as the weather begins to cool. Best of all, many veggies grow best when planted in late summer for fall harvest - take the Chinese Cabbage for example. A spring sowing will often bolt to flower as soon as the weather becomes warm, but when sown in late August, the plants form heads easily in the cool weather. Also, insect damage is less likely to occur, especially when crops are covered with fiber coverings, as I did this year. 

Grown under Remay fabric to discourage pests, the only pest left to bother the Chinese cabbage this year, was slugs. With the outer leaves removed, the inner core shows no damage at all. We soak the heads in salted water for an hour to kill any hidden slugs in the outer leaves.
Napa Cabbage, or Chinese Cabbage is a fast crop. 'Minuet' (F1) is a smaller growing variety which matures in only 48 days when sown in late August.  These heads will make many sweet, crispy salads.


'Livigna', a green Lolo Lettuce is often pricey in high-end markets. Known as a European mini head or a garnish lettuce, many prefer it's crispy, green curled leaves better than any other lettuce variety. Pansy seedlings can be seen on the left.


 Lettuce is another plant that often grows better in the autumn. I like the fancier European mini heads of lettuce such as the Lolla series. We can often harvest lettuce right up to Christmas, especially if we cover it with remay fabric. The longer nights and cold weather makes the lettuce grow denser, less lush yet more in-character to well-grown fancy lettuce found in gourmet markets and restaurants. Sometimes seed can be costly for these fancy varieties ( $8 per packet) but when a head costs $6.00 at Whole Foods, one doesn't seem to mind so much!


'Red Cash' is a new variety of Red Romaine bred for the commercial restaurant trade. This organic seed-raised variety forms beautifully dense, tiny heads for the specialty market, or, for ones home kitchen.



Hurricane Sandy is blasting at the coast here in Massachusetts, but so far, we are only getting wind gusts to 65 MPH. We still have electricity, but I am not confident that we will have it for long.


I'll probably think otherwise once our power goes out, but so far, Hurricane Sandy isn't living up to the hype. Sure, like most people in the eastern part of the US today, we are hunkered down, watching the weather channel, and trying to get some remote work done on the computer before we lose power, but as far a storms go, this might as well be a mid-winter nor-easter. Which reminds me - have you heard that this year the winter storms are going to be named? 

Autumn in the greenhouse -  as the hurricane roars outside the glass, the Nerine sarniensis bloom feeling rather safe, even though a tree could fall on the greenhouse with the strong winds coming from the east. I feel that the storm is about a strong as a typical nor-easter in the winter, but seeing that we have few leaves left on the trees, we might be OK.

Green Chrysanthemums (Kermit) and some Japanese mini bonsai-style mums bloom along with the Nerine bulbs as the hurricane blows outside. Maybe we are getting used to these late October fierce storms, as we seem to have taken fewer precautions with this one. At least it isn't snow. Still, with a glass greenhouse which sits next to tall spruce trees, it's a little disconcerting.

 Lydia Puppy Update.

Sad news - we lost the two small males last night, but clearly they had problems anyway. We felt now that we did all that we could. The one small female is finally feeding by herself, which means not only is she getting the nutrition that she needs, it also means that we now can get some sleep!




October 28, 2012

A Superstorm, A Litter of Puppies, And a Giveaway Winner...



ISN'T IS FUNNY HOW KIDS ARRIVE AT THE MOST INCONVENIENT  OF TIMES - LIKE DURING  A HURRICANE. HERE IS LYDIA AT 4:30 AM TODAY WITH HER NEW LITTER OF PUPPIES. SHE'S BEING A GREAT MOM. AND FOR NOW, EVERY THING HERE IS ABOUT WHELPING. 


SO, SO TINY, AND SO WEAK. THIS YOUNG MALE IRISH TERRIER WAS BORN SMALLER THAN HIS LITTERMATES. 24 HOUR CARE IS REQUIRED FOR A FEW DAYS.


I'll make this quick, not because we are waiting for the 'Superstorm' to arrive...( is it me? Or is the media making a bigger thing of this than any other storm in history?, or because I can't wait to get more pictures of Lydia's new litter of puppies, but because I am just plain tired....Lydia went into labor at 9:30 Saturday night, and her first puppy arrived at 3:00 AM. The rest followed, with the last arriving as a still-born at 6:30 am. She gave birth the 5 live pups, but two are barely hanging on. We rushed her to the medical center at 8:00 am, and although she is fine, the two puppies have a slim chance. Still, we are trying the only thing we can at this point - some hand feeding, since they are not suckling.
ONE OF THE BOYS, THE FIRST BORN IS SO SMALL, THAT HE IS TWICE AS SMALL AS HIS BROTHERS. WE ARE ADMINISTERING PLASMA TWICE A DAY, AND LIQUID DIET EVERY TWO HOURS AROUND THE CLOCK TO TRY AND BRING HIS HEALTH BACK TO NORMAL, AS WELL AS HIS SIZE. WE'VE DONE THIS BEFORE, BUT IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK OUT. FINGERS ARE CROSSED FOR THIS LITTLE FELLA.



This part of the venture has been interesting since our vet hospital has us trying some canine frozen plasma (FFP)- which is rather state of the art, which is like magic food for young puppies only good when used in the first 36 hours after birth. It comes from W. Jean Dodds, DVM HEMOPET in Garden Grove, CA, and is is provided to the patient orally. One important use of blood plasma is to provide a source of globulins ( plasma protein antibodies) to protect weak, fading or orphan newborns against the common infectious agents to which they are exposed.  Joe and I are taking turns feeding them with a stomach tube which we've done before, but it requires us to feed them every two hours around the clock. It's fine, but this first day is difficult since we've already been up more than 24 hours.

So far, so good. The rest of the new family is fine and healthy, Lydia has been an amazing mom so far, eating and drinking like crazy, and caring for her infants.

Now...for what we've all been waiting for ......the winner of the Gas Powered Leaf Blower  provided by the great folks as Troy-Bilt, is AMITY BEANE! I will try to contact you directly for shipment info, but if you read this, please feel free to email me your shipping information. Congratulations!


And thank you all for entering!


October 25, 2012

Free Giveaway: Troy-Bilt Gas Leaf Blower and Automatic Engine Starter


WILL THIS AWESOME GAS-POWERED LEAF BLOWER FOR FREE!



Thanks to the good folks at Troy-Bilt, you can win a free Troy-Bilt Gas Powered Leaf Blower plus a free automatic JumpStart™ Engine Starter, which features a rechargable 12 volt lithium battery, which will eliminate the pull start often required with gas-powered gardening tools. We have one of these ourselves, and if you have never used a gas powered leaf blower, you don't know what you are missing. They are much more powerful than rechargable cordless ones, making the task of blowing leaves incredibly easier. We never considered even getting a leaf blower until our tree-workers pulled one out of the truck one day to clean-up after cutting down a couple of our tall trees. 




All you have to do is three things ( if you haven't done it already). First, leave a comment on this post, as this is how randomizer will select the winner at 9:00 PM on this coming Sunday night. Second, join Growing with plants' Facebook Page, and third, follow this blog by "joining it as a follower" on the grid box with the little pictures in it on the right hand side of this page. These all may seem like silly rules, but each one helps me tremendously, in building SEO ( Search Engine Optimization) as well as improving my blog status in ratings. After all, it's all a numbers game! As as I am currently the number 14 ranking gardening blog worldwide, wouldn't it be great to be rated in the top ten!

If you are selected as the winner, Troy-Bilt will send a brand new Leaf Blower and Automatic Starter (nearly a $200 value!) directly to you next week!