Saturday, September 22, 2012

So, Autumn Begins

No complaints here about summer being over and autumn beginning. Since mid August, we've started to pay more attention to what needs doing if we want to extend our season. There's still lots to be done in the next few weeks, mostly though, the veg beds are growing along. To catch you up on what we are eating...most especially, a lot of beans...cold, hot, sautéed, steamed, you name it. One of my favourite ways to serve furry Scarlet Runner beans is to French them with my handy dandy Bean Slicer and Stringer. It cost five dollars at the Paderno Store in Halifax, and has made me a big fan. Each bean is pushed through the opening and pulled out the other side.
It takes seconds, meanwhile the stings are trimmed off either side, and the beans are evenly cut which makes good sense for cooking. Here is a bowl already sliced.
After that, they go into boiling salted water. When the water comes back to boil, I time them for two minutes, then drain and serve. I call them my green bean noodles, served with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, a drop or five of toasted sesame oil and splash of tamari. Simple yet delicious, hot or cold.
The salad greens that were planted out in the raised bed, have taken off. We put the cold frame cover over them two days ago, as we have had some very heavy rains and they were getting flattened and dirty. They are looking much happier now. We hope not to have frost for a number of weeks yet, but one never knows so it was time anyway, to put the cover on.
Lastly, we refreshed the kitchen garden winter bed with compost, and some hardy seeds were scattered in a few spots hopefully germinating as I write. *yes, radish are up! The bed still contains beets, carrots, kale, maturing lettuce and well picked over chard.
Here is a sampling of some of the seeds planted out in the raised bed with cold frame cover and the kitchen garden bed under the row cover.
Fingers crossed, the weather holds for awhile yet. We have semi-dwarf Westlandse kale in both beds. It has been fantastic, so soft and delicious...from William Dam Seeds Ltd. I would like to recommend it not only for it's manageable size but it's tender silvery green leaves. The packet says it prefers sandy loam..that's us!! We will see how hardy it is through the winter but I expect just as hardy as most kales in our area zone 5-6 here in Nova Scotia on the South Shore.

Friday, September 7, 2012

From Plot to Plate

This summer I had to rely on my local Hubbards farm market here in Nova Scotia, to supply us with salad greens on occasion, because either I had not planted the seeds on time, or when planted, they were not happy to germinate in the heat. Or.... they would germinate, just get growing and would be munched. Otherwise, we satisfied ourselves with red and green beet leaves, chard, baby kale, zuchinni, cucumber and others that do much better in the heat, but now, with the cool nights and crisp clean air of autumn around us, arugula and red oak leaf lettuce are coming into their own. The above were planted a few weeks ago way at the back in front of the bean wall, and this time, I tried covering the patch, after seeding, with a length of white fleece/horticultural cover. I thought this would help protect against insects, provide shade and help keep the moisture in.  It worked...strong germination and a great cut and come again garden for salads.

So... last week, I decided to plant the entire front raised bed with greens that will eventually be covered with the cold frame lid that sits on top over the winter. I have had really good success with extending my season by doing this. Already the following have germinated..tatsoi, mesculin mix, mizuna, mache, spinach, Winter Marvel lettuce and Juno carrot, one of Mark Cullen's new seed choices (available everywhere at Home Hardware). Again, I covered the bed with the white fleece, also known as Remay, and will continue to do that if the days seem too hot or even too wet. We had torrential rain the other day and I am sure the fleece kept the seeds from being pounded out of the earth.

The carrots won't mature this year...they will be my spring carrots next year..or early summer... assuming they make it through the winter. Last year, carrots had germinated quite late inside the fenced garden, and stayed alive under a cover of Remay, then straw and then, the plastic hoop covers over that. (This worked for beets also.)When spring came, they took off growing and we had carrots very early.

The raised bed behind this front one, was planted with seeds three days ago; you can see, I have the white fleece laid over it, tucked in around some bean plants still cropping, arugula and the cucumber plants that I must say, have done very well. I always lament I can't grow cucumbers to save my soul, but this year, they have proven me wrong!

So we are back to harvest time salads, enjoying again, the fruits of our labours. We keep it simple and let the leaves shine.... a nice vinegar to frisk up the flavor is probably all that's needed....mmmm...keepin' it local!