Tag Archives: Ann Arbor Gardening

Planting Time: Reflections on Last Year

OK. I have high hopes for my garden last year and I even experimented with some “Time saving” strategies for growing potatoes, my main crop. The idea was to grow potatoes and sell them at my booth at the farmers market.

There were a few issues with the idea. The first was that I used only straw to cover my potatoes, which resulted in a disaster.

(see my enthusiastic before the fact post on horizontal potato growing method.)

The second was that I was planning to sell potatoes, a commodity crop, and most other farmers at the market were selling them and many customers at the market told me that they had a sack of potatoes in their kitchen already

What happened is that along with potato beetles, that ate the leaves , I discovered a centipede bug that ate the tubers.

Potato Beetle not full grown, without distinctive yellow strips

I was really good at picking off the potato beetles and they did not actually kill too many plants, so I figured that I would still get a nice harvest of potatoes.

Centipede bug that ate my potatoes especially my yukon golds

But the real damage were these guys above, a centipede like bug that ate the potatoes.

I was told that my straw mounding method, instead of mounding with soil, is what did me in.

Apparently, what happened is that these centipedes have a hard time getting around under soil, but my nice and moist and loose straw created a perfect home for them and they ate 75% of my potatoes especially my Yukon Golds.

I harvested over 10o pounds, but I should have had 300-500 pounds or more.

Potato harvest

Also my second experiment, potato bags where a total wash.

The plants look great, but yielded no potatoes.

 I literally had less tubers than the seed potatoes I planted. Potato bags are really hit or miss and for me, this being the second time I have tried, it was a complete MISS. Both times, I had no potatoes.
The lesson here is to grow potatoes the traditional way.
That means digging a trench, planting and covering them and mounding them up with soil as they grow.
Then forking them up. 
This takes some effort, but I have found all of the experiments to not be worth it.
As a side note, I used to work for a garden catalog company that sold a potato bin that boosted 50 pounds of potato yields. The company had to issue refunds and was doing a test of 200 of the bins to see if the product worked.
I opted to use good old soil and planted my potatoes in a 3 x 3 foot space giving them a square foot per plant for a total of nine plants. I am pretty sure I out grew any potato bins.

Eat Your Garden Veggies

Garden season is here again and that means veggies.

One of the good things, yet challenges with gardening is the amount of fresh veggies that seemed to all come in at once.

I have been thinking about this dilemma ever since I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I found myself with a random section of veggies that I had to figure out what to do with.

I needed a way to get a variety of veggies into my meals before everything went bag (and to make room in the frig for the next CSA BOX)

Out of this came what I call: 

Gardeners Essential Veggie Recipes/Techniques.

I felt all gardens needed to know them to best use their veggies. The list is not complete, but here is a start.

Recipe will follow in later posts.

Cole Slaw

Veggies: (Cabbage, carrot, radish, onion, scallion, beets, turnip, apple etc…)

Cole Slaw is not just green cabbage and mayo. In fact, you don’t need to use mayo at all. I prefer an Asian slaw made with a soy vinaigrette. The great thing about a slaw is that it will keep for a few days and you can use a food processor to prep the veggies.

Curry

Veggies: Root veggies especially potato, squashes, green beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower, onion, peppers, broccoli, spinach and leafy greens, mushrooms

There are a number of types of curry like Indian and Thai. Serve over rice, with meat, seafood or in a soup

Pizza

Veggies: Tomato, onion, pesto herbs, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, spinach, etc…

Pizza is one of those great way to sneak veggies into a meal for kids

quiche

Veggies: Spinach, dark leafy greens, broccoli (kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, chard), onion, tomato, root veggies, peppers, corn etc..

Quiche is a two-fer because it also allows you to use up all of those eggs on a CSA or if you have chickens. They also freeze well. They are a great way to use up all of those dark leafy greens you have especially late in the season when your kale is on the tougher side.

Roasted root vegetables

Veggies: Potatoes, Onion, garlic, carrot, celery root, sweet potato, radish, turnip, squashes, parsnip, parsley root, beets, rutabaga, pumpkin, corn

Roasted root veggies make great leftovers, so make a big batch. They can be a huge mix of veggies. I rarely use just one veggie anymore. This is my go to when the veggies start pouring in. And it works with a ton of meals like chicken, steak, fish, tofu, sausage etc.

Stir Fry

Veggies: broccoli. carrot, celery, peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbages, eggplant etc..

Stir fry is similar to curries. It is served over rice or noodles. A huge number of veggies can work in one dish. The trick is timing when you put in the veggies, so they are done at the same time.

It can be all veggie or served with beef, fish, chicken or tofu and top with nuts and seeds for a more satisfying vegan meal.

Salad Dressing

Veggies: Fresh Raw veggies, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, in slaw, etc…

Lets face it. Most of our fresh veggies are going to be washed, cut and eaten raw, so having a list of some basic salad dressing and stocking the frig is an order of the season. A basic vinaigrette of good olive oil, vinegar (or citrus) salt, pepper, red pepper flake and fresh chopped herbs is my go to.

Mashed Veggies

Veggies: Root veggies

Mashed veggies are an alternative to roasting. The veggies are boiled until tender and mashed. You can selected a combination of veggies or just one. Add butter, salt and pepper and a touch of maple and honey and you are good to go.

Others:
Omelettes
Pot Pie
Soups

 

Image

cole slaw

cole slaw

Ann Arbor Blueberries

Here they are. This is our first harvest of blueberries this year. They came off of two blueberry plants that are yet to be planted.

I live on a street in Ann Arbor called Blueberry Lane. Everyone asks me if there are blueberries lining the streets when I tell them where I live.

Until this year the answer was always no.

My thoughts were toward the black berries bushes that have taken over Oregon. Just about every non-majorly landscape area/streets will have a huge blackberry bush in Portland.

I figured someone should plant some blueberries to make the street name official, so after a really, really late start in the garden because of all of that Spring rain this year (remember that), we decided to get a few blueberry bushes to make up for the lost early Spring harvest.

So far we have enough for about one bowl of cereal.

CB