Tag Archives: Zucchini

Mini Greenhouse: Using Roofing Panels to Warm the Soil

Using Fiberglass Roofing Panels to Create a Mini Greenhouse, Extend the Season or Warm the Soil

A few weeks back we had a spell of warmer weather and I waited till the end of it to attempt a sowing of pole beans. A couple weeks after the fact I decided to look for the seed as nothing was coming up. I dug around and found…nothing. The soil didn’t look disturbed so I’m not thinking it was birds. I’m guessing it was just too cool and wet and the seed rotted. When the weather gods predicted another bout of warm weather I was on it. It occurred to me that I could possibly get a jump on sowing if I could warm the soil. Remembering a mini greenhouse I used in gardens past I made a trip to the lumber yard and came home with an 8′ long roofing panel. Once upon a time these used to be made out of fiberglass and perhaps you can still find them but any I’ve found locally have been PVC or ‘polycarbonate’. I’m hoping they will work as well (and last as long) as the fiberglass panels used to. I’ve used them to extend either end of the growing season when just a few degrees can make all the difference. My hope in using them this time is that they will help to warm the soil a few degrees so that the bush beans I plan to plant there will have a better shot at germinating should the weather cool again (a very real possibility around here).

Shopping List

  • 1 clear or semi clear roofing panel. 26″ wide and the length of your choice. Mine was 8′ long
  • 4 1″x2″x16″ stakes per panel
  • length of wire or twine to secure the panel

Preparation and Installation

  1. Cut a 1/4″ notch into each of the stakes, a few inches from the top. This will insure that the wire or twine stays put. I cut my panel into 2 4′ sections but they can also be left whole.
  2. Once you decide where you want your panel to sit, drive two of the stakes into the ground approximately 6-12″ in from each end of one side of the panel.
    Drive two more stakes in 12″ from the first two. If two panels are being installed next to each other you can use 2 less stakes as the middle stakes can secure both panels (see image).
  3. Gently fold the panel into an upside down U shape and set it between the two stakes.
  4. Tie string or wire, crossing over the panels. Thats all there is to it!

Garden Happenings

Harvest

2 large bags filled with lettuce, kale and spinach
The Palco spinach is showing signs that it is about to bolt which necessitated harvesting that 1′ wide bed. Since I wanted the space on either side of it I decided to harvest one of the beds of the Mild Mesclun mix that was ready. I also harvested the rest of the red and butter lettuce from the bed next to the peas. I ended up with two large bags of green goodness, one filled with lettuce and the other with spinach and kale. Way more than we will ever eat I decided to fill some 1 gallon bags for the local food bank. I ended up getting 8 1 gallon bags in total. 3 spinach, 2 kale and 4 lettuce. 8 to go to Helpline and 1 bag of spinach for us.

Sowing

It may be too warm but I sowed two short rows of Renee’s Farmer’s Market Blend lettuce in the shade of the peas.

On the balcony I started a pot of SMR-58 cukes, Astia zucchini and another attempt at “Italian Pesto basil. ALL of the batch I started inside this spring ended up dying. Not sure if it was a rot or ? Need to investigate that.

Cleanup

Today saw the bulk of the cleanup for this year. The zucchini and cucumbers came out as did one of the two half rows of carrots and the hybrid kale+whoknowswhat I planted this Spring. That was a disappointment. The leaves were a bit too thick for my taste and the flavor wasn’t great.

I ended up leaving a a few kale as this will be the last year I’ll be able to grow them. I also left the Helda beans as they have slowed dramatically but are still putting out beans. I stopped by the farmer’s market to pickup another head of garlic. Was hoping for Inchelium but found a huge head of Lorz Italian I’ll try this year. The green onions are doing great. I had started another batch about a month ago and those are very small but doing well too. They may end up going under cover later.

During cleanup I found a lone little lettuce seedling with about four leaves. I transplanted him to an empty spot where I had buried some refuse a few weeks back.

I didn’t take a pic of the garden after cleanup as it isn’t quite done. Instead I’ll add a sunrise pic I took on the morning commute.

Lessons Learned: 1. Just because a seed pack says great for containers doesn’t mean it won’t get large. Not sure the size of container they had in mind for those cukes. 2. Planting 3 zucchini plants in a hill for 2 people is too much. Go with 2 next time. 3. Carrots should probably be grown under cover here.

Downtime

September came and went without much going on garden wise. The temps cooled and the rains made a regular showing. Fred kept creeping along to the point of needing his own zip code. Helda kept putting out beans like crazy, more clubroot was found in the broccoli planted this spring and the zucchini kept getting larger and larger as the number of visits per week declined. One a positive note, large zucchini can be treated like eggplant (bake the slices instead of frying them) and made into a wonderful zucchini parmesan.

The milder temps were not soon enough for the spinach tho. It all bolted and ended up being dug into the garden to help enrich the soil. That is new for me. Typically garden refuse would go into the compost pile. This year I made trenches and dug it back into the garden. Everything went in except the brassicas (clubroot) and anything with seeds like the few large cucumbers I ended up missing over the summer. The lettuce I planted at about the same time also bolted. I cut it off at the ground level to see if there would be any chance of getting anything decent once the temps cooled. Doubtful but worth a try.

figlets2015-09-13 All of the three fig cuttings I started last Spring have figlets and are about a foot tall. I started with a bag of dormant 6″ long cuttings from the Brown Turkey and Petite Nigra container plants a dear friend adopted. Looking at these I’m thinking they are all BT. This is fine as I do prefer their flavor over PN.

The second round of carrots I planted ended up with little holes through most of them. A root maggot of some kind. Need to research that one. I’m thinking a floating row cover would be a good idea next time.

The Iditarod tomatoes took forever to start producing but once they did were pretty consistant and had a good flavor. The Celebrities were gone at about the time they started so we have had a good run of tomatoes from the two plants on the balcony.

The horseradish I planted in a clay pot and buried is HUGE. While I did have a horseradish plant I had never harvested any of it so that will be new for me. I know it is one whose ability to regrow from the smallest piece of root left behind. For this reason it was planted in a clay pot and buried. It remains to be seen whether or not that will work. There is, after all, a drainage hole at the bottom.

Lessons learned: 1. Wait to plant spinach and lettuce for fall. Mid July was much too early.

Overloaded

Garlic Braid - Silver White Garlic The garlic spent about a week in the garden after harvest. When it looked like it was going to rain I brought it home and laid it out on newspaper on the balcony. We have a rather large overhang and it worked well to keep the bulbs dry, allowing them to finish curing. I ended up with about 7 or 8 bulbs of hardnecked Turkish Giant. I didn’t realize it when I planted these but only the hard necked varieites of garlic have the flower tops. They are great cooked and purred in a milk based soup. A soft garliky flavor not to strong but very hearty.

Onion Harvest

I decided to pull the onions. They didn’t seem to be getting any larger and the leaves were starting to die back just a bit. I started out with 6, a pretty good haul. I’ll save the largest of these to plant this Fall.

On the 20th I planted two types of spinach Oriental Giant Japanese Spinach and Palco Hybrid. It is probably too early to plant fall spinach but, not knowing what the weather will do I decided to give it a shot. If we get an early cool fall it will be great. If the heat continues I’ll have a lot of bolted spinach.

Spider vs Bee

Last year and this year a nasturtium has volunteered in my plot. The leaves can get as large as saucers though they seem a bit smaller this year. Perhaps it is early or perhaps they are in need of some fertlizer. When I was taking this photo I didn’t have my glasses on. I saw the bee but didn’t see the spider till I looked at the photo later. Looking at later photos the bee seems to have made her escape unscathed.

Helda Pole Beans

The first harvest of the Helda Pole bean. I am amazed at how tender they are even when they are long. I tried one raw and I am not nearly as fond of it as I am the topcrops. They do cook up nicely though. They are advertized as only requiring 60 days to mature. Fairly quick for pole beans. I haven’t done the match so I don’t know how accurate that is in my garden. I do like the convenience of the pole bean and the little bit of real estate the vines occupy. Harvest is easy, the long beans are easy to see.

Blix Vika+

Today was all about harvest. There were several zucchini, enough beets for a couple of meals, all of the yellow potato (aka multiplier) onions, lettuce and two types of beans (topcrop bush beans and of course the helda pole beans). While I was filling my containers it had slipped my mind that my mode of transportation was my new electric bike. It wasn’t till I was overloaded that it hit me. I was afraid I was going to have to make a second trip to get everything home but I was able, with some creating packing, to get it all home in one load. Leaves flapping in the wind.

Carrots-a-Plenty

Tiny Carrots

Rock farm in June is such a beautiful sight. All of the gardens are going strong and the textures and shades of green are breathtaking. I like to wander between the rows and see what everyone is growing.

Having had zero experience growing carrots, I was in awe at how beautiful they looked in the garden. Their lacy leaves reminding me of parsley, the contrast of their airiness next to the other veggies made for a nice mix of patterns. They seemed a bit crowded so I thinned these and the beets, a good mix for some roasted veggies.

Baby Zucchini A 10×20 spot doesn’t give a lot of extra room for the myriad of squashes and vining goodies like watermelon and cucumber. Discouraged at finding the club root I decided to make the best of it and plant some zucchini that I had started in a mango container from Costco. I started with three plants in two hills and once production starts I’ll probably lose one of them. A person can only eat so much zucchini. I also started what are supposed to be container cucumbers in three hills. Not sure how they will do as they are currently somewhat shaded by the garlic.

Radishes The radishes I planted alongside the pole beans are doing well. These are tender, not a bit hot and a great size for a snack.

Garlic is another crop I haven’t had much experience with. I did get a crop grown in KY and mistakenly had it laying on the lawn the day our neighbor came to mow. The entire area smelled like garlic for a week. This year’s crop looks strong if the tops are any indication. I planted a short row of beans between the two rows of garlic as I had a few extra seed at the time. They are doing well, propped by the garlic. Not sure if their ability to fix nitrogen will have any affect on the garlic but I have high hopes.

The garden is coming along nicely. The peas are going crazy. I am getting more peas out of this half row than I did from last year’s whole row. Renee’s cut and come again lettuce mix is on it’s 2nd or 3rd cutting, the broccoli is going strong as are the bush beans I planted just before vacation. The pole beans got off to a slow start but seem to be picking up steam. Last year’s purple sprouting broccoli has sent up a new shoot. The basil is doing so-so, I think It is too shaded.

My garden, June 25, 2015

Moving into Summer

My vacation to the Cincinnati area early last month reminded me of a couple of the reasons I don’t want to live there.  The heat and humidity have become harder to endure the older I get.  It was only the second week in May and high 80s with high humidity was too much.  Thankfully it only lasted a couple of days while we were there but once Summer hits, temps any lower than the 80s will be the exception.  Summer here on the other hand, is mild and bright.  Great for growing what would be a Spring only crop all Summer long but not so great for tomatoes in the garden spot, as evidenced by last year’s attempt.   Lush plants with many green tomoatoes but not enough heat to ensure they would ripen.  I suppose I could have attempted some black plastic to heat the soil but I’ll stick with container tomatoes this year.  The single container plant on the balcony performed beautifully for me last year.

Impatience got the better of me.. I purchased a zucchini start. Yeah, I have those three cells in the mango package but they weren’t up yet and as before, I was tired of seeing the empty space. I’ll either find a spot for the three soon to be seedlings or give some or all a way once they are ready to go. I am refusing to do the same thing with the cukes. The variety I planted is a container variety that will take up little space unlike the starts I found at the garden center. Impatience aside, I do have my limits.

Suckers on Overwintered Broccoli
Suckers on Overwintered Broccoli

The two suckers of the overwintered broccoli are getting big. When the baby broccoli harvest starts I’ll cut the mother plant back and allow the suckers to do their thing. I have this fantasy of a perennial broccoli.

I spent some time researching lettuce that should do well here in the Summer. It seems the oak leaf varieties are supposed to do ok. I stopped by the local garden center and picked up some seed to try. A few went onto a moist then rolled paper towel. Once in a Ziplock bag, I placed it onto the cool floor of the garage on Thursday. The temps outside had been too warm to germinate lettuce and I thought this would work. It did and much faster than I anticipated it would. By this morning it had already sprouted to the point of it being nearly impossible to remove from the paper towel without breaking the fragile roots. I managed to salvage enough for three cells and direct seeded three more with another slow to bolt type. I’ll have to get the names of the varieties and edit this post.

The radishes and pole beans I planted together are coming up nicely. Looks like I may actually have to thin the beans. Yeah.

When I harvested a couple of heads of Red Sails lettuce a couple of weeks ago I used a knife to cut the plant off at ground level, leaving the base of the plant in the ground rather than pulling the entire plant and cutting the head off. When I went to water today I noticed that both plants have suckers coming up around the stumps. I gave them some fertilizer before watering. I’ll leave these and see what they do, if anything.

Cleanup, New Additions, Harvest and the Case of the Missing Zucchini

Recycled mango container for starting seeds.
A mango container from Costco mangos makes a great little greenhouse for starting zucchini and cucumber. Complete with drainage and venting holes.

The zucchini I seeded a couple of weeks ago had been peeking through the ground the last time I was at the garden. Now it is gone and empty shells remain. Not sure if it was birds or the raccoon whose footprints I see in my plot on occasion. Grrrr. I’m guessing the former as the remains looked a lot like what was left when I tried starting some cucumbers in a 4″ pot on the back patio. The birds relieved me of the seed, leaving the shell behind.  Needing something to protect the seed from the birds,  I fished a mango container out of the recycle bin after a recent Costco trip. The six celled contraption complete with lid and drainage should be enough to get the zucchini and cukes started out of harms way. I think once they get up and get some serious leaves on them the birds won’t be interested. At least that is my hope.

Container Tomatoes
Container Tomatoes

I potted up the two tomato plants on the balcony. One is Iditerod, a ‘dwarf indeterminate’ whatever that means. The other is….lost the tag and have no clue. :-/ Both look great and are enjoying the new digs.

I tried a cut-and-come-again type harvest on the Palco Spinach. I was able to get 3 cups of cooked frozen spinach and enough fresh to last us for a while. It wasn’t showing any sign of bolting but the leaves were large and tender and it was time. This was my first time growing this variety. Love the flavor and lack of bolting as quickly as the Bloomsdale. I’ll grow it again.

I pulled two of the three overwintering broccoli. I needed the space for the pole beans and we weren’t able to keep up with the harvest. The one I left is located on one end of the bed, tied to the tbar and leaning out of the bed somewhat. There are a couple of shoots coming up at its base. For now all are staying.

I planted Hulda pole beans. I opted for pole beans this year in addition to the bush beans. The idea was that the bush beans would give me a larger initial harvest to allow for some dilly beans while the pole beans come on more slowly, allowing for beans over a longer season. I planted them very thickly as the birds tend to like bean seed about as much as they do seed of the zucchini. I scattered some radish seed along the row of beans, they should be up and out before the beans need the space.

If the fridge wasn’t packed with lettuce, spinach, broccoli and kale I would thin these beets. Holding off till there is more room. No sense in pulling them and not eating them.

Beets in need of thinning.
Time to thin some beets.

I picked up another basil plant at the local garden center. One cannot have too much basil… At the same garden center I found a horse radish plant. I planted it in a clay pot that I sunk into the garden. As I understand it this will help insure no bits of root are left behind to regrow when it comes time to harvest.

Much of the garden time was spent cleaning up. This year I started burying anything that isn’t diseased back into the garden if there is bare space. The garden is a few ounces lighter when it comes to slugs too. In addition to the ones I found lurking about I applied another application of Sluggo. Bwahahahaha!

Harvest

The broccoli almost as tall as I am.
The broccoli almost as tall as I am.

Returned from vacation yesterday to a garden ready to harvest.  The overwintering broccoli is almost as tall as I am and was full of little purple shoots just prior to the pic.  I’ve been harvesting on these three since last month.  The flavor is a little peppery when raw but not so much when cooked.  The color doesn’t really remain when cooking.

Bloomsdale and Palco spinach
Bloomsdale (left) and Palco (right)

The lettuce is beautiful as is the spinach and overwintered kale.  I harvested all three today.    I had attempted to harvest a couple of heads of Red Sails lettuce, roots attached, before leaving for vacation on the 8th.  These were bagged and left in the fridge.  I returned home to find they had wilted and were a total loss.  I would have been better just to leave them in the ground it seems.  I was concerned the heat we had been having might cause them to bolt but upon returning they were beautiful with no hint of bitterness.  Two plantings of lettuce were ready to harvest.  A couple of more heads of Red Sails and also the lettuce mix.  The latter is a cut-and-come-again type that will keep providing leaves when you give the plants a ‘haircut’.  I scattered the seed in a 1′ x 5′ area and it is thick and lush right now.

Dill
Dill

The Bloomsdale spinach that was planted back in early Feb was harvested and the plants pulled as they were just starting to bolt.  I will Nigella flowers in the empty spot once I get some seed.  I had attempted to plant some with the dill back in March but they have been choked out by some very healthy looking dill.

I seeded the zucchini a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. I couldn’t stand seeing the bare ground any longer.

Harvest

Gooseberries, cherry tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries and a zucchini. A good haul. The spring crop of the raspberries is about over while the fall crop is being pollinated. The blackberries are just starting to ripen. The birds have found them as they do every year. Tonight I will have to prune back the new growth and net them if we are going to get much in the way of a harvest. The drought last year has really cut back the number of producing blackberry canes this year as was expected. Since the blackberry fruit grows on the second year’s growth, how the new canes grow this year will give an idea of a possible harvest next year. Barring a below normal temperature winter, next year should bring a great blackberry harvest. While watering this morning I noticed that the everbearing strawberries in the barrel on the back porch are in bloom again.

Harvests and THE best Chocolate Raspberry Brownies on the Planet.

Looking on the counter I see today’s haul. A dozen or so jalepenos for hot poppers, a quart of raspberries, a handfull each of blackberries and strawberries, a couple of zucchini and a few green tomatoes for frying.

The Weatherbug calls for the possibility of rain today. I’ve known about this for a couple of days but I’m not buying into it. There have been promises of water before and here we sit not a drop. Just a few miles either north or south of us seem to get it but often it misses us. So… I am watering anyway. Not a lot, just an inch or so to soften the soil a bit. It is so hard in some spots now any rain would just run off anyway. I can almost hear a distinct ‘ahhhhh’ coming from the garden as I turn on the water.

I am putting the propagation bench (see the archives) to good use. A coworker gave me some rose cuttings last week from her miniature rose bush. I have 5 in cups on the bench. Another 5 black knight butterfly bush cuttings are also trying to root. I also have some basil that never made it to the garden growing in cups. It actually looks much better than the stuff outside. I’ve been harvesting it along. I got enough day before yesterday for a pasta salad that I love. mmm.

On to the brownies…

I picked this recipe up from the net. I made a batch with a couple of minor modifications and OMG it is THE best brownie I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself 😉 ).
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Chocolate Raspberry Squares Recipe by Robert Rothschild Farm

1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 oz. Chocolate, unsweetened
1/2 tsp. Instant coffee
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup Fresh raspberries
1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. Flour
6 Tbsp. Flour
3 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted, melted
Garnish Robert Rothschild Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce and fresh raspberries
3 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For brownie layer: Combine 1/4 cup butter, chocolate and coffee in a small sauce pan and melt over low heat. Cook and reserve. In electric mixer bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup butter and sugar. Beat to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat just until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and flour. Pour batter in a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes.

For raspberry layer: In a small bowl, combine the fresh raspberries, walnuts and flour.

For top layer: Combine brown sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla, eggs and melted butter in a small bowl. Reserve.
Remove brownie layer from oven and distribute the raspberries and walnuts over the top. Drizzle the top layer over raspberries. Return to oven and bake another 20-30 minutes.

To serve, spoon some Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce on a dessert plate, place a raspberry square on top of sauce and garnish with fresh raspberries.

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When I made them I left out the coffee and raspberry sauce, substituted almonds for walnuts (didn’t have any walnuts) and probably used about 1 1/2 cups of fresh (just picked) raspberries. They turned out very moist and you could really taste the raspberries. I think they were even better the second day. This recipe is a keeper.

by: kerry