vegetables

Winter Gardens

| December 15, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Hydroponics with a winter crop of KaleYou don’t have to wait until spring to have a healthy and productive garden. The weather in your area might actually be perfect for leafy greens, root crops, and herbs.

Kale, Cabbage, Collard Greens, Carrots, Beets, Radish, Turnips, Kohlibri, Swiss Chard, Parsely, Spinach, and various herbs all have a place in a winter garden.

If you live in a warmer climate it is possible to grow potatoes in raised planter beds. The raised beds, tote boxes, or even tires, as well as planting mediums like straw provide some insulation, and allow potatoes to thrive through cold spells.

Our winter gardens are often a combination of leafy greens, root crops, potato boxes, and whatever we can continue to produce beyond fall. We are fortunate enough, within our microclimate in Southern California, to produce both tomatoes and corn into December.

Potato Boxes can Survive WinterIn some zones it may be unrealistic to produce anything outdoors very well. Of course there are hydroponics and indoor growing alternatives, and mini-greenhouses, but it could just be a great opportunity to fix nitrogen with a cover crop or let fall leaves compost and enrich your soil.

If you waited until December to take action on a cover crop, you may be too late. You could try and get a late start on Field Peas, Winter Wheat, Ryegrass, Oats, or Clover, but you may not get them going as you might have in September, October, or even November.

If you get your winter cover crop growing, be sure to mow down or top plants before they go to seed, or you will end up competing with your cover crops as they germinate in spring. We till our soil, and try and let the soil sit for at least a week before planting or sowing seed.

While there are some proponents of no-till techniques that you can experiment with, we have always had great success tilling cover crops and fall compost into our soil, so we are sticking to it.

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IncrEdible Color

| April 13, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Garden vegetables don’t have to be green and boring.  The right selection of plants can produce vibrant edible color.  Check out our suggestions for some fresh ideas on colorful veggie fare.

Famrers Market

Amaranth: (Amaranthus Caudatus,generically known as Love Lies Bleeding pictured on homepage) Amaranth is a flower ranging from gold to red to purple, with edible leaves and seeds.  The seeds are also a gluten free psuedograin.

Beans: Purple Podded Pole Bean, Swiss Heirloom, Velour Dwarf Purple French Bean Bush, Homer Nelson Family Pink Tip Half Runner Bean, Mosaic Yard Long Bean, Swiss Landfrauen, Purple Italian Marconi Stringless, Cascade Giant Pole Snap Bean, Cosse Violette Pole Bean.

Cabbage: Purple Cabbage, Red Cabbage

Carrots: Selective breeding can produce a plethora of carrot colors

Purple Carrots

Chard: Chard is available in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow, to orange, red, and purple. It’s aesthetic both in the garden, and on a plate.

Corn: White, Silver, Bicolor, Ruby, Pink Blue, Red, Black, and Streaked.  The hybrids and varieties are nearly endless.

Garlic: Heirloom Garlic has a white with a purple ombre

Kale: Purple Kale

Lettuce: Red Leaf, Red Frilled, Belgium Endive

Okra: Red and Burgundy Varieties

Peppers: Bell Peppers, Pri Pri, Thai, Tabasco, Habanero, Cubanelle, Scotch Bonnet, Datil

Potato: Rasalind, Blue Swede, redskin

Radish: A lot of varieties offer different shades of color, and slice patterns. Interesting varieties include: Bunny Tail, Plum Purple, Watermelon, and Daikon.

Squash: Yellow Summer Squash, Yellow Crookneck.

Tomatoes: Yeah, we know! Botanically they ARE fruits, but we usually treat them like veggies so they make our list.  Tomatoes exist in a lot of hybrid, heirloom, and modified varieties.  They introduce bright colors, unique shapes, and a range of sizes into your garden fare.  Looking for a more unique or aesthetic variety?  Try and find some Black Sea Man, Snow White Cherry, Yellow Pear, Ida Gold, Black Krim, or Garden Peach.

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