Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden Work/Seed Planting & Tips on rooting Basil from the Grocery Store

Yesterday I planted "Salada Musume" Gobo (牛蒡 or ごぼう, burdock) seeds. They are a short variety and don't get as long as the normal burdock which can get as long as 4'!  They were planted in the back area of the pond bed. That area was *supposed* to grow Echinacea, but all but one plant failed to grow!  I never seem to have luck with Echinacea...  We purchase supplements from our Nutritionist and thought how great it would be to grow our own, but alas we've failed once again. Sigh....  I'll keep trying though. Does anyone have any tips besides placing it in the fridge in moist potting soil for 4~6 weeks?

Today, I started trimming the Loquat tree. It's hard work to trim trees and I run out of steam quickly, so I'll be doing in over the next few days.  We've decided to cut the branches far back so we can keep the tree small and the fruit accessible.  I transplanted a few bulb onion seedlings to the carrot bed, I don't know how they'll do, I know Anne and Kathy commented that I should be starting my seeds in Dec, but I'm learning as I go.  They *may* be ready to bulb next year. I also planted Four Seasons Lettuce in a few gallon sized pots and placed them on our seedling rack which has been moved to the shade for the hot summer months.

I also planted a few Comfrey seeds under the fig tree (yes, they can be invasive) but they are said to be excellent compost/mulch makers since they draw up minerals from deep within the soil. I want to use it as a slash and mulch plant. It's a vigorous grower from what I read and it can be slashed to be used as mulch and will grow back quickly where you can get 3 "harvests" of mulch in a season. Why under the Fig? Our fig, (we think it's a dwarf strain of Brown Turkey) has a very shallow root system, and we thought it can benefit from the deep rooted Comfrey's ability to draw up the minerals from beneath. The fig tree roots are so shallow, we can't plant anything there unless we seed it directly. Comfrey can be used medicinally, it's alternate name is "Knitbone" as it has potent ability to hasten wound healing, but there's a warning to those with liver problems to stay away from it.

We have some yellow 4 o'clocks planted there under the fig tree also (yes, they can be super invasive as well!) as they have very tap root systems.  My Mom dreads that I have brought home the seeds from one of my walks around the neighborhood, because they are so prolific.  4 o'clocks bring back childhood memories of wild ones growing right by my house across the street in Japan.  They were hot pink or yellow or streaky ones with with both hot pink and yellow. The young leaves can be boiled and eaten, but only in emergencies (It's just not yummy).

I  planted Mexican Coriander (Culantro), Dill and Cumin. All these are part of the Carrot Family (Apiaceae). I plant seeds, yet sometimes I'm caught trying to figure out WHERE I'm going to grow these plants once the seedlings are large enough.

I planted 2 pots of Asparagus Pea just to try. Supposedly they grow fine in the heat. I've also planted Spilanthes which is a creeping ground cover that is supposed to have benefits to the immune system and is called the "Toothache plant".  I seeded a few Purple Orach as well in small pots to start them, and will prick them out as they grow.

Tomorrow I will plant the Blue Basil cuttings since they have rooted only from letting the cuttings sit by a  bright window sill in a cup of water.  Try this next time with Sweet Basil too! If you don't have any Basil already, this is a FAST way to get a new plant going, and you'll get to use most of the basil leaves before you do it so you're getting food and a few plants!

1) Purchase some Organic Basil in the herb section of the fresh produce area inside)
2) For each sprig of Basil herb, take off the larger leaves and side shoots. You can use this for your culinary purposes. Leave only the top  3~4 leaves (they will be small; just be coming out of the tip) 3)Keep them in a clean glass of water by a bright window and in a week or 2 you'll have roots growing from them.
4)Once they have roots, you can transplant them into pots and harden them off for a few days and you're ready to plant them outside if it's warm enough.
This is a great way to multiply your plants quickly, as growing them from seed can be frustrating as they do take some time to grow and are susceptible to slugs.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Harvest Updates Friday, May 27th

Green Shiso
Lettuce, Cuke and Strawberries
Garlic Chives
Broccoli Leaves and the rest of the Bok Choi
More Strawberries!
Shungiku (edible chrysanthemum) and some Yu Choy
Swiss Chard, Ckues and more Shungiku
Oregano for drying
Here's our Drying Station, our "formal" dining table
Lettuce, Cukes, Zukes and Strawberries

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden Updates, May 24th

Here's the bed with Chard and Bush beans. I'm trialing the Lupini beans here too.
The taller "In-N-Out" palmtree (image link is not mine) looking things are mature Romaine lettuces we're collecting seeds from.
Just cleared the Celery from this bed. We're planning on planting Bulb Onions here. We use a LOT of bulb onions but haven't had much success growing them.  We buy Short Day varieties but, they don't grow well.  I think the soil may be lacking sulphur and phosphorus.  According to other sites, onions need these to bulb well.  Not sure how to acquire those elements though.
The bed that had the potatoes now has a new look: Peppers!
The not so great bed. This has 2 Kabocha pumpkin plants growing along with Komatsuna and Yu Choy. The Kabochas are not thriving at all. There's one that has one baby punkin growing but the other is turning yellow. We think it's a nutrient deficiency. Pumpkins require enormous amounts of compost. They prefer growing in nearly raw compost!
Royal Purple Bush Beans. We're letting them mature to collect the seeds.
Herb/flower Garden: Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Shungiku (edible Chrysanthemum), Dianthus, Lavender, Oca, Pelargonium, Alpine Strawberries, and Garlic Chives in the back left
We'ee in the process of moving our compost bins to under the Loquat tree. We have 3 bins all together. 2 have been placed. Just waiting for the 3rd bin's contents to finish composting, then it'll be moved.
Sleepy kitty lounging on the bench

Harvest Updates, Tues. May 24th

It's been rather overcast and cold these few days, but the Garden is still producing well. It feels like a it's JUST becoming spring rather than the actual season this time of year, where summer should be just around the bend.

Here we have Rosemary & Camomile for drying, Zucchinis, Cucumbers,
Royal Purple Bush Beans, and Strawberries
We had to dig up the Potatoes early since the Bell Peppers just couldn't wait for the bed that Tim's been working on.  Got a decent harvest but, a bit on the wanting side for 3/4 of a bed. I suppose it's not bad for 2 months in the soil, we planted the seed potatoes around March 16th. Here's a pic of the seed taters on March 14th.  The larger ones we harvested, we'll NOT eat. We're going to dry them and put them in the fridge to let it "over winter" for a few weeks then plant them again.  This is experimental, as I don't know if potatoes like our scorching hot summers.
Mom LOVES potatoes, got too excited about the potatoes and cooked them and ate quite a few before I got around to take pic of these little potatoes!
Some strawberries and an under-ripe lemon to compare in size
 Cucumbers, Lettuce, Shiso (Perilla) and Strawberries
 Celery, Bok Choy, Yu Choi, Green Onions (Wakegi type), Cilantro and Cukes
 The line up: Strawberries, Zukes, Cukes, and the volunteer Tomatoes.
The Toms don't look pretty, they've got that dingy brown Brandywine color but, they are sweet and a nice bite size snack.
 Mint, this type goes well with meats

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Homegrown Meals

Made some Mochi
The inside has "An" made from Broad Beans we harvested.
Daikon radish leaves being pickled
All veggies here are homegrown: Carrots, Chard, Chives and Yu Choy

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today's Harvest

The strawberries just keep comin' (no not complaining at all!) Front yard berries
Some berries from the backyard, the last of the Loquats , some Yu Choy, Komatsuna and a Japanese Cuke hiding behind the Komatsuna leaf
Daikon Radishes, Daikon leaves and LOTS of Bok Choy

Garden Updates, May 18th

They say April showers bring May flowers but, we've been getting quite a bit of rain these past 2 days.  We got a total of 2", which I think is rare for this time of year.
The Daikon radishes and most of the Bok Choy were pulled this morning.
You can see the holes where the fat Daikon roots were.
I've planted some carrots in between the Bok Choy and Daikon and many of them  have sprouted. 
The Spanish Black Radish and Cilantro have become monstrous and is caving into itself. Still flowering profusely and attracting a lot of honey bees and beneficial insects like the parasitic wasp.
The volunteer tomato agains the back wall is a very productive vine. I think it's crossed between a Roma Tomato and Cherry Tomato.
Big Max Pumpkin growing steadily.
Japanese Cucumbers are doing well.
Looks like it will be a sunny day tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homegrown Meals

Hot Pot meal for a colder night: HG(home-grown) Carrots, Bok Choy, Shungiku, Green Onions and Zucchini.  Bought items are the Coho Salmon, Ground Turkey, Organic (O) Ginger, (O) Garlic, Sea Salt & (O)Short-grain white rice.
Chinese Stir-fry with LOTS of HG Bok Choy and HG Carrots.
Bought items are Button Mushrooms, Garlic, (O) Chicken,
Sea Salt, Potato Starch for thickening the broth & (O)Short-grain white rice.

My Mom and I take turns cooking, and we don't always take pictures of what we make for dinner, but most of our meals includes at least one thing from the garden.

Garden Updates; May 16th

Green Grapes coming along nicely, this vine is in a 15 gallon pot
Some of the Eggplants were planted where the Broad beans were growing.
Current garden; note the middle bed in the foreground has Yardlong beans growing but they have severe  mosaic virus infestation. We will probably pull the plants up and boil them to kill the virus off, but we may have to solarize the soil in that bed too. We'll keep an eye on this bed.
Tomatoes growing strong and the cucumbers (next bed over) aren't being wimpy either.
Edible Canna lilies: Canna Edulis grown from seed
Just a view of the herb/flower garden