Thursday, January 20, 2011

Broccoli in the Celtic Ozark Garden.

It is time to think about broccoli in the Celtic Ozark Garden. BROCCOLI (Brassica oleracea Cymosa) is a yummy vegetable that deserves a place in any Celtic Ozark Garden. I hope that you will consider adding it this spring. Here are the basics you need to know.

The big heads of broccoli you see in your store is of the 'Calabrese' type. By far, it is the most popular type of broccoli grown. Buy seedlings if you have never grown broccoli before, as you will have a better chance of good growth. If you want to get experimental, you will need to start your seeds soon. You can start the seeds 8 weeks before your last frost, to give them time to grow. You’ll need plenty of sun, as the shoots emerge. You can also plant the seeds a month before your last frost, and let them take in the garden. Sow the seeds directly into the soil about ¼”, and let them do their thing.

Modern hybrids are fast growing, and if they are subjected to prolonged stress of drying, they may form tiny heads prematurely, and the plants come to nothing. That is why I always recommend that you use an heirloom style seed. You may not get a head of broccoli the size of a football, but you stand a better chance of getting a nice overall crop.
You need to provide a fertile soil and don't let the soil become dry. You can look through the archives of my blog for my soil recipe for raised bed gardens. I touched on this subject in the last blog. Add plenty of lime for the broccoli, as they like a pH 6.5 to 7.5. That is their 'ideal' range.
Plants growing in Spring, especially late spring, are prime targets for the green caterpillars that come from the white butterflies in your garden. A light netting can help to keep the butterflies off your broccoli. In about 90-100 days, your crop should be ready to go.

Sprouting broccoli can also be a good alternative crop to grow. Not many people grow this heirloom variety. You can find green, purple and white varieties of the plant. We like the white variety, because it looks a bit like cauliflower.
Spring is the time to grow this one. Sow the seeds directly into the soil, as noted above. You will need to watch for insects. But here is the cool payoff: your crop should be ready to eat in around 45-60 days. The small heads of the sprouting broccoli plants make it easy to go and pick just a portion for supper. You’ll have to grow plenty for freezing, as this crops is easy to use every day, leaving less for real food supply type considerations. Ah, but what a feast in the meantime.

Spring is the time people in cooler areas should sow sprouting broccoli. It is grown through the summer and carried over winter, for an early spring production the year following sowing. The advantage of sprouting broccoli is that, while it is not cauliflower, the white forms produce cauliflower like curds more easily than growing cauliflower itself, and the multiple small heads means that the serving sizes are right, with no waste. The disadvantage is the long time it sits around in the garden before it does anything.

There are a couple of other varieties of broccoli, but I will confine this installment of my blog to the two types I use. Good luck with your broccoli crop, and I will blog more soon from the Celtic Ozark Garden.

Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January in the Celtic Ozark Garden

It is well into January in the Celtic Ozark Garden. Yet, spring seems like it will never arrive. I am ready for the Spring Gardening season to begin. Luckily, there is something I can do to help soothe this itch to garden. Now is the best time to get ready for your Spring season vegetable garden.

Spring vegetables are those that can thrive during the shorter days and cooler temperatures of spring, Lettuce, collards, snow peas, cabbage and broccoli are a few examples of Spring vegetables. The Celtic Ozark Garden will also include onions, carrots and potatoes, because they can grow underground.

As a general thought, vegetables need around seven to eight hours of sunlight to get going. Spring vegetables will even do okay with just 6 hours of light. If you are planting in partial shade, take this into account.

Make sure your soil is ready to go also. If you are a fan of raised bed gardens, as I am, have your frame ready to go with half of your old soil, 25% manure and 25% compost. The leavy vegetables of the Spring Celtic Garden will love the manure. Be careful with too much manure, though, around your carrots, onions, and potatoes. You want roots, not leaves.

In my area, it can take as long as April 30th to get past the last frost. Until then, I have to really watch my garden. I plant anyway around St. Patrick’s Day with root vegetables. Here is a breakdown of some last frost dates. Zone 3 – May 31, Zone 4 May 30, Zone 5 April 30, Zone 6 April 30, Zone 7 April 30, Zone 8 March 30, Zone 9 February 28, Zone 10 Jan or before. Zone 11 are the lucky bugs, they are frost free throughout the year. A good additional source of local, reliable advice is your area's County Cooperative Extension Service or check with knowledgeable members of local gardening clubs

I will write again soon on when to plant the vegetables. Until then, happy gardening, and don’t forget your seed order!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spiced Peach Cobbler

Today we have decided to use up a quart of the wonderful spiced peaches we canned last summer, in the form of a spiced peach cobbler. The peaches were really meant for Celtic Christmas dinner, but we forgot to set them out. I guess it is a curse of getting older.

Canning fruit from the summer is a great way to enjoy the tastes of summer all year long. We put away a bushel of peaches last July. That has given us a dozen wonderful quarts of product. Fruit is very easy to can, because you do not have to own a pressure cooker to do it. The natural sugars help to create an envirnoment that keeps out bacteria.

My favorite cobbler is the dump cobbler recipe that my father used to make. I have seen his cobblers go for $10 a piece a church bake sales, and he died in 1989. So, that should give you an idea of how popular they are. The recipe can be found at the Celtic Ozarkian.