Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

November Planting / Sowing Tips and a Fall Soup.

Greens and Herbs Harvest
Dear Folks,

November planting and sowing is very similar to October, only later and that is an important point when you choose vegetables for their maturity date.  It is VERY important to get long maturity veggies like head cabbage and similar in the ground or sown asap so they have the full cool weather months to grow to harvest size and use.  If these edibles are sown or transplanted later than best time, then you have them growing into the warming times which can stilt the growth or cause them to blast into flower before you get to harvest 

FREE SEED SHARE coming up November 3rd - details below,  click on this link to read on facebook.

Garlic cloves going in!

If it is still October when you read this get YOUR GARLIC cloves planted by October 31st for the same reason as the head vegetables -- they need ALL of the winter chill to develop beautiful heads in the late spring.  Pictured planting on October 8th- I usually try for October 1st.

Successive sow all of your green leafy edibles along with cilantro, dill, chervil and parsley for a continuous harvest all winter and well into spring.

Don't forget to successive sow sugar peas!

Now that we have had some really nice rain this week, and cooler than normal temperatures, I am seriously hoping my belief and those of the weather folks will come true - a stronger El Nino and more rain and snow pack in the mountains this winter.  AND while many folks including myself, don't enjoy real cold, a cooler-than-last-year winter will be good for the gardens, pushing back pest bugs and energizing many of the plants.

November PLANTING:

Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Ornamental
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Garlic (only as green garlic)
Kale, Ornamental
Lemon Verbena
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French


Carnation (Dianthus)
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet Alyssum
Sweet William (Dianthus)

Seed Share and Q&A With Catherine, The Herb Lady at Mesa Urban Garden

Saturday, November 3, 2018
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Mesa Urban Garden (MUG)

212 E 1st Ave (NE Corner of Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, AZ 85210
(602) 370-4459

QUESTION and ANSWERS  Catherine will answer your questions on transition gardening with edibles and sowing in the cool garden.

When to sow
What is successive sowing and why
Maturity dates - what do they mean and why is it important

SEED SHARE -- FREE -- Pick up some seeds to get growing or expand your garden.

I had some organic celery and cut the roots off, let it sit in water for a couple of days to get re-growing and planted them.  Why compost, or worse toss, when they will re-grow and give you harvesting later on!

GARDEN TIPS for November
    First frost date average is around November 17th.
    Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple cloth sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them.  Never use plastic covers as the plastic transmits the cold to the plant tips.
    For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the first frost day is moved forward 10 days.  The possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur, although at 2000 feet or lower this is still a rare occurrence.
    Frost pockets in the Valley can surprise gardeners.  As a matter of practice, if the weather forecasters predict an overnight temperature of 40 F, I prepare for frost by protecting my sensitive plants with cloth or paper covers This is because heat retention by buildings and walls dissipates by early morning (4 or 4:30 a.m. to dawn the temperature can drop 8 degrees plus or minus).
    Frost danger continues until about mid-February.
    Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through the end of November for a continuous crop through next spring.
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture. 
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.

The best way to think of frost damage on your edibles is the damaged plant material is now a partial protective cover to the underlying growth.

As mentioned in prior notes, frost damage in the lower desert gardens is usually limited to 'soft' frost which is controlled by simply putting cloth or paper covers over the plants at night, or if containers, moving them under evergreen trees or onto the patio.

IF, however we get hard or killing frosts, of extended periods or days, die-back will occur even on protected plants.  The reason is the radiant heat retained by structures and even the soil dissipates completely, leaving the plants exposed to too-cold air.

Whether the frost damage is from soft or hard frosts if the plant is still alive DO-NOT-REMOVE-THE-DAMAGE.  Doing so risks damaging the growth still alive under the top die-back.  I don't remove even dead plants until spring.  I have found basil seedlings coming up under a large dead basil plant killed off by a hard frost.

Obviously we like our gardens to look pretty most of the time, but selectively resisting the urge to pull something a little bedraggled gives you, the gardener, access to earlier production of the warm weather plants because of their larger root systems.

Nasturtiums!  Are yours starting to come up or have you planted seeds yet?  What, no nasturtiums?  These great edible plants should be in your gardens for their taste and benefits to your plants as they help keep pests at bay.

"The Essential Herbal" blog is a great site.  Their newsletter today is all about recipes using nasturtiumsGive a look.   One of my favorite recipes is making "Dolma" stuffed leaves which usually is grape leaves but the nasturtiums are great as a substitute.  Check out my recipe here, and get your nasturtiums growing!  (Sow the seeds covered, they germinate in the dark.)

Two great soups to use your garden bounty.

Herb Soup
From the book : “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady” - by Catherine Crowley

    A wonderful blend of herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheese. The beauty of this soup, besides its fabulous flavor, is the ability to vary the herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheeses for different flavors. I developed this recipe from Provencal soups.

While this soup is not pureed - it is an option as shown in the following, similar soup recipe.

1    shallot, finely chopped
2    tablespoons butter, unsalted
4    cups mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used Thai basil, cilantro, parsley, see note below*)
1    package spring lettuce mix
1    teaspoon coarse salt
1/8    teaspoon black pepper
6    cups boiling water (can use broth - but try the water the first time)
6    cups croutons (any stale bread diced will work too - some day-old nice artisinal breads would be great for this)
3/4    cups Parmesan cheese

    Set aside 1/2 cup each of herbs and lettuces for garnish. Divide croutons and cheese into 6 soup bowls.
    Saute shallot in butter for 1 minute. Add herbs, salt, and lettuces all at once and cook—stirring for 5 minutes. Add boiling water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes—stirring occasionally. Ladle greens and broth into soup bowls. Add garnish of herbs and lettuces to each bowl. Serve and enjoy. Serves 6.
    *Traditional recipes call for sorrel and chervil or any combination you like - the Thai Basil has a tarragon aspect to it which mimic the chervil with a kick and cilantro's citrus back-note mimic the sorrel.

Green Harvest Soup - a pureed soup
Another soup version  February 2009

I adapted this from a recipe I saw in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  Since I am not overly fond of cooked spinach (in reality after I developed this recipe - I discovered I'm slightly allergic to spinach and beets), I chose a sweet potato over a regular potato (as called for in the original recipe) to sweeten the soup — worked beautifully and the arugula adds just a nice amount of nutty bite.

Green Harvest Soup
1 large shallot, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons - 1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence or Italian herb blend
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 cups de-fatted chicken stock - homemade is best - can substitute vegetable
1 large sweet potato, cleaned, peel left on, chopped
1 package (approx 4 cups) mixed greens or baby spinach, rinsed well and dried - set aside 1 cup, torn into bite size pieces
1 cup arugula, torn into bite size pieces
Parmesan cheese curls
edible flowers for garnish (I used pansies, calendula petals and sweet alyssum)
baguette slices
salt to taste

In a heavy pot, melt butter and olive, add shallot, onion and dried herbs and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the stock and sweet potato, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered until the sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes.  Begin adding all the greens (except for the reserved 1 cup) a little at a time until incorporated and wilted.  Remove from heat and let sit to cool for about 5 minutes.

I used an immersion (stick) blender, but you can use a regular blender or food processor to puree the soup. Careful! Don't burn yourself - I do love my immersion blender - once you get the hang of it you are not dirtying another container (blender)*.

Taste the pureed soup for salt - you should not need to add any or only a very little.

Ladle into soup bowls, top with a bit of reserved greens and arugula, edible flowers and cheese curls, and serve with baguette slices.

There are so many healthy benefits to these foods, it is almost a sin to not serve it whenever they are available from your local growers.

I hope you try one of these soups.  If you do let me know and also how you may have changed it up to be "your" harvest/herb soup.

. . .

You can have all my gardening tips at your fingertips with my gardening book and/or calendar

My Calendar and Book Links

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Beginner's Southwest Gardening Book


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Have a great day in the garden and kitchen with your bounty.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Sugar Peas, If You Please!

Picture taken October 9, 2018
Dear Folks,

I am readying my monthly planting post for gardening in November (with two great harvest soup recipes), but I wanted to get this information to you ASAP.

Get your sugar peas in NOW and then successive sow every 2-3 weeks for a continuous harvest into late spring.  Each plant will continue to pump out pods for months as long as you keep them picked regularly.

I love Sugar Peas!!

In fact I love them so much I wrote a block post several years ago (link below) in my Ode To Sugar Peas.

Harvested Last March, pods, peas, shells for dinner.
From tender skinny pods all the way through to harvest green shelled peas (I even use the shelled pods for slivering in salads or cooking as an added vegetable) to saving the dried brown seeds for cooking or sowing later, everything about this vegetable is just wonderful.

So, I have been growing them for quite a few years, successive sowing every 2-3 weeks (more going in today) following the old 1 pea per 4-6 inches in sowing and then I found this wonderful youtube channel a couple of years ago and - bingo - I realized I had been denying myself a true bounty of peas to harvest.

First, the video is on growing English (spring) peas, but the technique is the same for Sugar "Snap" Peas.

Second, while the video highlights a genius method planting LONG rows, it is the seed spacing I want you to pay attention to.

Third, I did this last year and had a huge and continuous crop of sugar peas through March/April, far more in the same of garden area, than in prior years.

TIP:  Soak your pea seeds for a couple of hours - but no more than 8 - to speed up germination.

I hope you find the video and ideas helpful.

Huws Nursery (UK)

My Blog Post "Ode to Sugar Peas"

Find my books and calendar purchase links on the side bar here on the blog.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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