Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Much Does a Garden Grow: First Quarter, 2016

And we're back with another installment of "How Much Does a Garden Grow."  I've left this column alone for a quarter because there really wasn't much to report over the winter, but we are getting started now.

This is the season of expenditures, and thus far I've spent $53.78 on seed starting and plant orders.  I'll need lots more, of course, but this is a good start.

The interesting things is that I harvested 3 ounces of tomatoes from the plant I brought inside last fall.  I know I got about that much last year after harvest time too, proving that it is probably not worth it to purposely try to nurse a tomato plant through the winter in our climate.  However, if you have one in a container with fruit on it and a place to put it, like I did, it makes a fun diversion.

The beans did not fare so well over the winter, so I won't do that again, and the jury is still out on the pepper plants I brought inside.  They are looking rough, but they are alive.  We'll see if I manage to get them to come back this spring.

Otherwise, I have greens about ready to harvest, and I'm getting ready to plant peas in containers.  As you can see, the tomatoes are ready to be transplanted too.  So, the garden is seriously underway!


Total Expenditures: $53.78

Harvest: 3 oz./0.1875 lbs.
Harvest value: $0.75

Cumulative savings:  ($53.03)

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring in the Garden

Spring has finally sprung in the garden! I've withheld doing a tally of harvests and expenditures because there was not much to write home about during January and February, but March is full of promise:

  • The garage potatoes died due to an unexpected growth spurt in the warm fall, followed by vines that didn't make it through the winter. But you know how potatoes are. The existing planting could resprout, or I will add additional potatoes to the containers to start my 2016 crop. Regardless, Mr. FC&G moved the potato containers out to the makeshift cold frame a couple of weeks ago.
  • I started kale and spinach in the sunroom last month, and it has finally started to take off, as you can see from the picture at the right. Just a couple more weeks, I estimate, until I can start munching on the baby kale I love so much. That will make for some wonderful (and cheap!) lunches, as I've been craving a greens sandwich.
  • The peppers and tomatoes have sprouted and are under grow lights, trying to get big enough for their May and June plantings. We did have one literal misstep, when a tray broke and spilled tomato seedlings everywhere, but I managed to get them sorted out.

Next up:

  • Peas need to go into their container and then move outside as soon as we stop getting these ultra-cold nights.  I've learned from hard experience that I need to wrap them in hardware cloth to keep the critters from eating the luscious little sprouts.

So, finally we are on our way to a much-needed reduction in food budget around here for a season.

What's growing in your garden?
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Growing from the Compost: Regrowing Garlic

One of the most popular posts on this blog is how to regrow romaine lettuce, and I understand why.  There's something magical about taking the scraps you thought you were throwing in compost and getting more food out of them.

Garlic is another of these foods that you can regrow from scrap.  A head of garlic regrows from a single clove; if you order garlic to plant in your garden, you will get a couple of heads of garlic that look very much like what you can buy in the store.

In fact, you can regrow from what you buy in the store, especially if you aren't particular about every clove being successful.  (If you are, definitely order seed garlic.)  What you see at the right is some garlic sprouts coming up from cloves that I could not use in cooking.

Have you ever had your garlic start to sprout on the kitchen counter?  It gets that little green tip and a little green "core" through the clove, and you might think you need to get rid of it?  You don't, actually, but if you judge that your clove is a bit greener than you like to use in cooking, just take a pot full of soil, stick the garlic clove in with the pointed end up (and what was part of the flat end of the head down), and let it go.

Garlic does not tend to get very "wide," so a single clove will make a head about as large as the original head you bought.  It also doesn't form too much of a root ball, making it ideal for pots.  I've put mine in some decorative pots as you can see here, but you can also put it in any old container or in the ground.

It will take several months for the garlic to form a head, but, in the meantime, you can carefully snip some of the sprout leaves off if you wish to use for some garlic flavor in your cooking.

And there you to!  Just one more project from the compost pile, turning waste into value.  My kind of thing!

Editors and bloggers:  If you would like a high-resolution file of this photo for your publication, click here or contact me directly for purchase.
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