November 2, 2011

Gardening Update

I had hoped to get this update posted by the end of October, but it didn't happen. We were just too busy with the house, getting our winter wheat planted, and then rain, so I didn't get my picture taking done.

Gardening activities definitely slow down this time of year, but there is still plenty to do. October's gardening consisted of some planting, some harvesting, and some cleaning up. The fall garden is coming along, and I still have a few things I'm waiting on from the summer garden. I still have summer beds to clean out and mulch to apply. The deer have been back in the beets, though I've been covering the beet bed most nights. They have pretty much demolished my buckwheat. All that aside, here's what's been going on.

Planting. This has included more lettuce (1st planting didn't do well), radishes, garlic, and these....

Multiplier onions

These are multiplier onions. I got them from Territorial Seed Company. I've tried for three years to grow conventional bulb onions, with unsatisfactory results. We like onions so I am trying several new types like these Egyptian Waking Onions...

Egyptian Walking Onions

These survived post office abuse, so I'm happy so many of them are coming up! The other type of allium I'd like to try is ramps. These are a wild leek and native to this area. They grow in shade, which we've got. Perhaps with all these plus wild onions, I won't need to grow the conventional type.

Our big gardening news is that just the other day, we planted our winter wheat, 46 pounds worth.

Newly planted wheat field in the background

It's in the background in the above photo, on the other side of the fence where the field corn used to be. Nothing is coming up yet, so there's nothing to see. We got it in later than I'd wanted, but there just isn't enough time in a day.

Growing. Most everything is coming along, some things better than others. I mentioned the deer damage to the beets, and am thankful they didn't get them all. I only wish more seeds had germinated (or that I had planted more).

Beet & Collard bed: beets in front on left, collards on right behind them.

Those are collard greens, to the back right of the beets. I planted them for the goats this winter. This is the first time I've grown them and we think they're tasty. More importantly, they are supposed to be very cold hardy with a flavor that improves after frost.

Also growing well are mangel beets for the goats and broccoli...

Mangel beets in front, broccoli behind 

The broccoli desperately needs to be thinned. These, like my beets, turnips, carrots, lettuce and radishes, are growing from saved seeds. A packet of Dwarf Siberian Kale seeds (pictured below) was a freebie with one of my Baker Creek orders....


The yellow-orange flowers in the photos are marigolds I planted last summer...

Marigolds & Swiss chard in the old Roma tomato bed

This bed is where my Roma tomatoes used to be. They companioned the marigolds, calendula, and Swiss chard. Once the tomato plants finished producing and were pulled, the marigolds took off.

Even though I had great success with my companion group gardening over the summer, I planted my fall garden in monoculture beds. This will make it easier to find my root crops when the leaves have died back and everything is covered with mulch and/or snow.

Turnips on left, cabbage collards on right, & weeds in the middle

Turnips are a stand-by around here (we love sauerruben), but the cabbage collards are something new. I thought they were cabbage plants when they bought them, but they weren't. I'm curious as to what kind of sauerkraut they'll make. Amazingly, I have one cabbage still to head, planted last spring...


I'm still getting Hutterite Soup Beans, though the plants were frost damaged so that is coming to an end. I haven't gotten a lot, but they made a second showing after the hot weather passed. I also harvested my second bed of sweet potatoes last month.

I harvested my 2nd bed of sweet potatoes.
These are Porto Rico bush.

This is the type I had problems with black rot last year, so I'm keeping my eye on them. They are Porto Rico, and this year's batch is tastier than I remember last year's to be. I reckon we'll eat a lot more sweet potatoes this year, since my white potatoes didn't do so well.

My sweet peppers and tomato plants are in the front yard, in the herb garden. First frost forced the early harvest my sweet peppers, but the tomato plants don't appear to be damaged much....

Green tomatoes that will never have a chance to ripen on the vine.

Fried green tomatoes anyone? Last year I made Farmgirl Susan's green tomato relish with them, but Dan doesn't think tomato relish should be green, so I'm the only one eating it ;) (Wonderful on scrambled eggs, BTW).

Cleaning up. Nothing goes to waste. The pulled plants are relished by the goats, including those sweet potato vines and okra plants...

Goats feasting on the pulled okra plants.

A few melons were found, but in my experience late season melons don't sweeten up like summer heat ripened ones. The chickens and the goats think them a treat however.

Except for days of welcome rain, I couldn't ask for better weather. And now that the leaves are turning, it's just a great time of year to work outdoors.


  1. What a blessing to have such wonderful gardens! Everything looks so yummy and can tell you have spent lots of time working in them.

  2. Have you tried chow-chow? I love it on pinto beans!

  3. My neighbor gave me onions that she has grown for years and I wondered why they didn't turn out like the ones from the store but are more clovelike as garlic is. They must be what you are showing as Multiplier. They really did multiply! They are smallish but I am thrilled with them. Your sweet potatoes look great, I don't think we can grow them here..I'd better look into it as we have started going more towards those and less of the russets. xo

  4. Have you tried picked green tomatoes? That might help solve the "green" issue since pickles are green. And, they're good. I've never made any myself but have eaten them several places.

  5. You've gota lot going on yet! My garden is long time put to bed already. You'll have to keep us updated on those multiplier onions -- I've been thinking about planting them.

  6. While we have had pretty good success growing regular storage onions I also started growing Egyptian onions as a backup a few years ago. They are doing good and I love how cold hardy they are. Do you think the yellow multiplier onions could be overwintered in the ground like we do the Egyptian onions?

    My reason for wanting a few backup varieties is that try as I might I have not had the best of luck saving onion seed in the quantity I would like and am totally at the mercy of the seed companies until I get a better handle on saving my own onion seed.

    Also, have you considered scallians, ours are not quite as prolific as the Egyptian onions, what is, but are easily divided for further propagation and very cold hardy and tolerant of various unfavorable garden conditions.

    Loved seeing your garden update and hearing your thoughts on the onions...those onions are a lot bigger than I thought they would be. Oh, and I think you will love those Egyptian onions.

  7. Peggy, I feel very blessed indeed. I confess to still having a long chore list though, LOL

    Michelle, no, I haven't! I'm thinking though, that I have my great-grandmother's recipe for it somewhere. Pinto beans sound tasty that way.

    Sherri, I'm very glad to hear that. I'm sure she told you to save the biggest to plant again(?) Check on sweet potato varieties for your area. I know some, like Georgia Jet are supposed to do well farther north. We have way more SPs this year than whites, so we'll be eating a lot of them.

    FFG, no, I haven't! That would be a good idea though. I made plenty of salsa/relish last year, so something different would definitely be in order this year.

    Dr. Momi, I will do that. I have high hopes that they will perform well and be easy to perpetuate. I'm not sure about storage, but I'm willing to learn. :)

    Mr. H, I have the same concerns about onions as you. I'm glad to hear you like the Egyptian onions; someone else that I talked to was very negative about them. The directions for the multiplier onions was to plant in fall, so I'm assuming they'll do well that way. I've never tried scallions, but you've convinced me to give them a go! Sounds like another easier option, and the way I use onions, they'd be a good choice I think.

  8. Those multiplier onions are interesting. Are they more like a shallot? Looks like they have a clove type quality to them

  9. Nice garden! Love that the animals get the left overs...mine just go to the compost pile. When our 3rd snow melts, I'll check our onions. I should see if the ones that stayed in the dirt (one "crawled" out of the dirt with only the roots underground) are any bigger...these were all volunteer onions from the flower that grew last summer.
    My chives went to seed this year, so hopefully I'll get a bunch of those next year.

  10. Wow you've got so much food growing for this time of year. What zone are you in? I'm interested in those multiplier onions. Will they overwinter. You sure work hard. Happy gardening!

  11. i want ramps, i saw some at Oikos Tree Crops, but i don't have any place to put them...

  12. Jane, I've never grown shallots, so I really can't compare. The are clove like, and I did separate the "cloves" to plant. I'm hoping they do well because they may be my answer for sustainable onions, LOL

    Renee, the compost pile is good too! I love that you got volunteer onions. I've never been so lucky. :(

    Jody, I'm in zone 7b. The multiplier onions are planted in fall, so I'm guessing they'll overwinter very well. I'll mulch them like I do everything else and wait and see what happens next spring!

    Icebear, thanks for the info! I've never seen them in a seed or nursery catalog. I'll have to take a look and see about ordering some.

  13. I just checked the Oikos Tree Crops website. Ramps are out of stock. :(

  14. Leigh,
    Last week the weather was warm (75and sunny) and as written in my last post, spent the day weeding the raised beds. Still have 3 to clean out.
    Friday the temps went down to 52 and lower that night. I'm glad I got the rest of the sweet peppers harvested, as the plants are now dead. I will pull them tomorrow and add them to the compost.
    I will be writing a post about harvesting worm casts next, stay tuned.

  15. After 2 feet of snow last weekend, it is so refreshing to see someone is still able to be planting and growing! Thanks for sharing Leigh:) You brightened my day!

  16. It's no wonder your days are never long enough. You have so, so much going on. Although I grump about our very short growing season up here in NE Minnesota, I'm not sure I wouldn't get tired of having as LONG a gardening season as you do. Well, not tired of gardening per se, but rather wanting and needing that down time to do inside stuff (quilting!) in the long winter which is never long enough around our house!

  17. Tom, it's that time of year, isn't it? I'm looking froward to your next post on worm farming.

    Stephanie, 2 feet! Good grief. Of course, we never get that so it amazes me no matter what time of year it is!

    Mama Pea, sometimes I think we have too much going on. Logically, we should have maintained a small garden and focused on house repair. But with the way things are, we agreed growing as much food as we can has to be a priority. True, we have a long season, but last year I wondered if I shouldn't try to do much during the hot dry months. That I should focus more on winter, spring, and fall crops, saving summer for the things that seem to do best in our climate. I don't know how I'd actually manage that, but it's what I'm thinking about now, gardening-wise.

  18. Hi Leigh, i think they are either a spring item or a late summer. They have had them for the last 3 years tthat i have known of that company, so i'm sure you'll be able to get some in a coming season, soon.

  19. I planted some of those cabbage collard plants too! I've never even seen them before..I understand they get very large < hope they taste good :o)

  20. Icebear, I will have to keep my eye on that. I bookmarked the site because it looks like a wonderful resource.

    Ginny, Me too! My collards are getting huge! I read they get bitter if they get to big. I also read they get sweeter after a frost. So far the deer haven't touched either one, but the goats definitely seem to like them. :)

  21. Such beautiful marigolds! I always love reading your garden updates, thanks so much for sharing them :)

  22. What a lovely garden! I am most jealous of your winter wheat--I wish I had that kind of room. I would love to grow my own wheat!

  23. Tinner's Rabbits, thanks! The marigolds have withstood two light frosts too, so they are hanging in there with some lovely fall color.

    Craftsteader, thanks! We are very fortunate to have 5 acres. It's a lot to keep up with OTOH (you can read "overrun with weeds" into that ;)


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