Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, July 14, 2017

August Planting Tips, Summer Greens and Around the Garden.

Dear Folks,

I'm sure that the idea of planting in August -- actually sowing seeds -- seems counter intuitive given the heat and humidity, but if you want fall foods like winter squash you need to understand the way the desert areas grow.

Seeds like either warm feet or cool feet and they germinate based on this concept.  Basil will not, for instance, germinate in cool or cooling soil.  We take control of production by starting seeds off in flats in the house or greenhouses where we control the environment.  But given natural preferences by the various edible plants, they germinate when the conditions are right for them, meaning soil temperature and moisture content of the soil.

Pictured are greens for the salads I made, fresh from the garden the other day:  Starting at the top clock wise is sorrell, roselle, Egyptian spinach, celery, two types of sweet potato leaves and some sweet basil in the center.  These greens are great and healthy substitutes for lettuce as they all love the heat, except celery.  In the case of the celery I have a pot in an afternoon shaded area in which I sowed a bunch of lettuces and celery seeds this base winter and I treat them as a kind of Micro-Green bed, cutting as needed and the celery has hung in there.  Sweet potato leaves, on the other hand, LOVE the heat and will provide you with a lot of greens during the summer, then give you the tubers in October/November.

Sow seeds in August in beds where you can keep them slightly moist.  Some will germinate mid-August, some may take a month, but they will give you a jump start on fall gardening.  Cover seeded areas with a fine mulch (crushed leaves) about 1 inch should be good, then sprinkle every evening.  When they start showing leaves, water deeper and then begin backing off the watering frequency to encourage deep roots.

Large selection of seed-only plantings. -- Anise; Beans, Snap (bush and pole); Bok Choy; Broccoli; Brussels Sprouts; Cabbage; Caraway; Carrots; Cauliflower; Chervil; Cilantro; Corn; Cucumbers; Dill; Fennel; Greens, all; Kale; Kohlrabi; Lettuce; Luffa Gourds; Mustard; Onions, Green; Parsley; Pumpkin; Purslane; Squash, Winter

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:  Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii); Nasturtium; Portulaca (Moss Rose); Stock; Sweet Alyssum

PLANTING CORN: One variety per season, plant in blocks (not rows) 6 inches apart. Can be planted with beans and squash (Three Sisters).

SUNBURN damage:  Like frost damage - do not prune until danger of sunburn is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

I used the greens to make salad, one to enjoy right away and the other to save for later, using the mason jar method.  (The usual way to do this jar salad it so put the dressing in the bottom with chunky ingredients in the bottom, then layering the lighter stuff on top, so it does not get soggy.) 

We have been enjoying our bananas!  Everyone we have shared this wonderful variety with (Blue Java aka Ice Cream Banana) has declared them the best.  They have a creamy some say vanilla flavor which is just amazing.  Don't be put off by the color of the skin, they have a different color hue than the store bought cavendish, and the birds sometimes get to them a bit before we harvest the bunch. 
This last bunch (thankful we have one more to harvest) had several "doubles".   We ate or shared more than half of the bunch shown here before I remembered to take a picture!

We have been delighted that a covy of quail has been showing up.  A lot of "teenagers" in this group. Normally we only see a pair with babies.  This has been a real treat to see them frequenting the yard.  In the picture are a pair and their 2 babies.  I have to take the pictures through the window to keep from spooking them.  They are getting a bit more used to the idea that we put out seed regularly.

A NOTE:  I will be traveling quite a bit in August, so I won't be posting as frequently but will get the September planing tips posted mid-month.

One last neat cooking idea.  I am waiting to have more squash blossoms to make something like this, either pancake or I may try my hand at rustic tortillas.

I purchased these squash blossom tortillas at the farmers market a couple of years ago, put them in the freezer and forgot about them!!! (That's me!)  So when I found them I decided to do our Sunday eggs on top of them with a slice of cheese between the egg and tortilla.  Yummy!  Squash blossoms are a nice treat, crispy and refreshing eaten raw, or filled with something and cooked.  Many plants put out an abundance of male blossoms initially to attract the pollinators, so you should have spare ones to try using them like this.  Remove the stamen before using. 

You can purchase my gardening calendars and books on the sidebar here on the blog. 

Enjoy your garden and its rewards.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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