November 28, 2008
We're on a big kick with these mushroom kits - they are so cool!
Here's one for pearl oyster mushrooms. In 2 weeks, you'll be enjoying an abundance of home grown Pleurotus ostreatus. In the spring, spread it throughout your compost pile and keep harvesting mushrooms for a few more months. Available at Amazon for $24.99.
November 25, 2008
Here's another shiitake mushroom kit but this one comes with a soaking tray. The tray seems quite helpful and keeps the log self-contained. Harvest mushrooms from this log every 2 months for years if you water it every two weeks and give it a little light. These kits make great gifts although you must open it right away so it can get air and light. Wrap it at the last minute and make sure the recipient understands that it is a living organism and can't be neglected for too long. Available from Amazon for $30.50.
November 24, 2008
This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while.
With the Shiitake Mushroom Kit, you can grow your own mushrooms. It consists of sterlized, enriched sawdust fully colonized with a select Chinese strain of Lentinula edodes (shiitake mushroom). Hmm, we're having shiitake mushrooms tonight in beef barley vegetable soup, although the mushrooms came from a plastic container wrapped with plastic wrap. It would be much nicer to pick some from my own patch!
This kit comes with illustrated instructions. Harvest every 2 weeks for 16 weeks. That just about covers the whole winter if you give it as a Christmas present. The Shiitake Mushroom Kit is available from Amazon for $29.99.
September 18, 2008
(photo via Christine Peterson for The Boston Globe)
We were not imagining it - this has been a very wet year. GardenSnob has noticed it primarily with tomatoes but pumpkin growers are also having a bad year. There has been so much rain that pollination rates are lower because bees don't fly in the rain. Then, fruits become so waterlogged, they fall off the vine early and rot. Read more about New England pumpkin farmers in this article by Michael Levenson for the Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/09/18/a_crop_so_waterlogged_its_scary/?page=1
If you're looking for a pie pumpkin, we had good luck with the Long Pie pumpkin this year which is available at Fedco Seeds, a quirky co-op seed catalog. This heirloom pumpkin is shaped like a large zucchini and hails from Maine. When it is still dark green but sporting a circle of orange on its side, the pumpkin is ready to be picked. After a few weeks in storage, it turns a vivid orange and keeps well into the winter. It also has a voice that sounds a bit like James Brown, but it only speaks out in the field so you'd have to visit next year to hear that. :)
September 14, 2008
Now here's a site to get lost in - at least I did. Lots of bulbs, good prices and good information about growing, planting, etc. My favorite bulb is scilla. They are small and maybe a little expensive for their size, but they are one of the longest lasting bulbs.
The site recommends planting them under spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons but I like to plant them in the lawn. After they've naturalized for a few years, they create a beautiful spread and blend with the spring green grass. Plus, you don't have to mow the grass until after they stop blooming. I mean, who would want you to mow down flowers?
To make sure you don't order more bulbs than you have time to plant, here's a way to estimate the work load. Time yourself as you dig a hole with your bulb planter, add bone meal or whatever you like to add, stick a rock or, better yet, a gold coin in the hole, and tamp it down. If it took you 1 minute and you want to order 300 bulbs, plan on spending a minimum of 6 hours planting bulbs. Another way to get the job done is to make a crock pot full of chili and some corn bread and invite people over for a bulb planting party. If everyone plants 30 bulbs, you need 10 hungry people.
September 9, 2008
Even if you have a small garden, 10' x 20' or even smaller, you might want to consider planting a green manure in the fall. This practice helps to prevent erosion and adds valuable nutrients to your garden soil.
There are many types of grains and legumes that can serve this purpose such as crimson clover, red clover, white clover, field peas, alfalfa, rye, oilseed radish and hairy vetch (pictured above). Sow cover crop seeds in the fall after you've pulled all the dead vegetable and flower plants out. Rake lightly to slightly cover the seeds. Come spring, till this crop into the soil before you plant your spring veggies such as lettuce, carrots, peas and other cold crops. Lots of options are available at Johnny's Seeds.
September 6, 2008
If you planted a fall crop of peas last week, they probably look like this now:
We planted these on Aug. 27th - well, stuck them in the ground in 30 seconds and barely covered them - under the dying vines of the cucumbers and they are just about 1" high (in front of the stick). Not bad for day 9. They will climb up the cucumber trellis and we'll dine on fresh peas for a couple of months.
September 3, 2008
If you plant these now, you'll see them bloom this fall. This is an heirloom bulb which will multiply freely and help stretch the summer with its happy, yellow flowers. From White Flower Farm, 12 for $16.50.
August 29, 2008
Our bees are going crazy over the blooming sedum in the front garden. Goldenrod, joe pie weed and loosestrife are among the last flowers from which bees can collect nectar. Sedum is another late season source for honeybees and, if our bees are any indication, they love it.
There are many different kinds of sedum available. Although planting perennials might not be the first thing on your list right now, it's a great time to buy sedum because you get to see the actual color of the flowers instead of examining the i.d. tag photo. Here are a couple considerations:
Dragon's Blood Sedum
August 27, 2008
It's not too late to get one last crop of snap, shelling, or snow peas in for fall harvesting. Sow two months before frost which around here has been early as Sept. 7th in 1993 or as late as Oct 20th. Peas can handle colder weather and it's always worth the cost of a packet of seeds ($2.95 from Johnny's Seeds in Albion, ME) to try and beat the weather. You can always throw a sheet over them at night just in case. If that's too much bother, and/or the frost is early this year, at least you've given your garden some extra nitrogen and have something to till into the soil for next year. Or divide it among the pigs and goats for a light afternoon snack.