Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Winter Hardy Plants

I just read the greatest article in Mother Earth News. If you don’t read that magazine, you really should.  It is a great source on how to grow food! Anyway, here is something I had never thought of: grow your own winter hardy veggies.

Now this will not work for the summer veggies like tomatoes and squash, but the cool weather veggies have a shot at this. It makes sense in that it is just natural selection, but here is how it goes.

Plant your fall garden as usual. Harvest the product like normal, but leave just a bit on each plant. The ones that survive a serious freeze are the seeds you want to save.  Isn’t that the most incredible and simple idea? I love it. The whole article is great but here is the link to the specific section I referenced: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/fall-garden-zm0z11zmat.aspx?page=5

Good luck on your fall garden; we have had a rugged time with our summer garden this year. We moved just at the beginning of the garden season and then we had horrible heat. You just can’t water enough when it is 114°F to make plants happy. In fact tomatoes will not set blossoms at that temp. So I am really looking forward to fall.

It is finally getting cool enough to plant the fall crops; it takes awhile for the soil to cool off enough to make the broccoli and spinach happy. We now live far enough south, that I can plant cool weather crops in late August or early September.

 I am going to plant corn salad again this year too. This great green is also called Mache, so if you can’t find corn salad, look it up by that name. These greens have a great flavor and will tolerate a much cooler temp than normal lettuce and spinach will. We like the corn salad that grows as rosettes the best, but we eat both kinds. It is a great addition to any food supply garden. Mache can stretch the season without the need for a cold frame or a tunnel. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tullamore Returns to the Celtic Ozark Music Scene

Tullamore, one of my favorite celtic ozark music groups will be returning to the SW MO Celtic Heritage and Music Festival on September 10, 2011. Read more....http://ping.fm/Qv0v1

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Keeping Tomatoes Alive in High Heat

Keeping tomatoes alive in high heat is very difficult. Tomatoes are tropical plants so they love hot weather, but they do not like brutal heat. These super hot days are hard on every living thing. Especially when there is no real cooling at night, there is just no rest for anything.

We hit 114 in Arkansas yesterday which was record heat.  It is unbelievable. This has been a hard season for us to grow tomatoes. We had a cool wet spring in Missouri which rotted the first batch we planted. Then we moved to Arkansas, still in time to plant tomatoes, but late. Our plants look great, just really setting good blooms and now into the blast furnace.

So what can you do to save your tomatoes? Healthy plants have the best chance of surviving. So if you have any sick plants you have been babying, you may have to have a hard heart and let them go. Keep your plants healthy by watering at the base of the plant and not on the leaves. This helps prevent mold and rust. This will also conserve water. We don’t have water rationing yet, but that may be coming. Keep the garden mulched to help prevent evaporation. This also cuts down on weeds that will compete with your tomatoes for water and food.

A drip irrigation system is really the best for a large tomato patch. However, if you have just a few in a square garden type of arrangement, you may want to water twice a day morning and mid afternoon, by just pouring the water around the bases of the plants. I use a clean milk jug. This lets me put the water only where I want it. I can also add some worm tea or compost tea if I want to.

Do not fertilize during the brutal heat. Let the plant rest as much as possible when it is incredibly hot. When it cools off again just a bit, you can fertilize if you need to. If you have just a few plants, a sunscreen may save your plants from the unrelenting sun. Let the plants get the morning sun and put the sun screen up around noon. This will let the plant get enough sun for photosynthesis, but save it from the brutal afternoon sun.

Just remember, fall is coming and that has potential for more fall garden goodies. It's not easy to know how to grow your own food in this kind of climate. So remember: not every year will be the optimal growing year. It certainly makes bumper crop years a true blessing.