Growing Vegetables (26)
If you find yourself with an overabundance of corn in the yard, you may consider drying it for future use. Drying it is easy. After plucking the corn from the stalk, just peel back the husk and leave it attached to the cob. Use the husk to tie the corn into bundles and hang to dry. Keep the bunches loose and small to allow air to circulation around the kernels to dry them. You can hang them almost anywhere that will keep the moisture or rain off of them. Here we are drying them in the greenhouse.
When the kernels are fairly dry, bring them indoors and pluck the kernels off by hand, or get a corn sheller if you need to process a lot of corn. Cover the container of corn with cheesecloth, and let dry until kernels are completely dry. It helps to dry them in small batches in shallow containers, and to stir them occasionally.
When completely dry, it is time to grind into cornmeal or flour. For this, you'll need a grain grinder. A sturdy Vitamix might work if you have a container with a dry grinding blade. If the kernels are too tough or you have bunches of them, you may need to get a corn grinder. A small hand crank grinder may do the trick.
Winter is coming, and in some areas, it will be useful to put up a cold frame to have a few vegetables when the frost comes. If you're not able to put up an entire hoop house, then you may be interested in setting up a simple window frame, as my neighbor has done. They took some old window frames and made a triangular piece for the sides. Be aware that some old window frames may have lead paint that could chip and contaminate your garden. Here is the simple frame they made.
Squash are so easy to grow that you can end up with quite a bin full upon harvest time. If you cure them in the right wa,y they can last you all winter. Here are some quick tips for curing and storing squash.
1. After picking them, leave them out in the garden for a while. You can leave them out on a sunny garden path to dry. Better yet, put them in a greenhouse or up on a shelf or patio table where it is harder for critters to find them. Leave them until the skins are toughened up; at that point, they are cured.
2. Eat the less desirable ones first. Separate the prime squash from the ones that have no stem, have bad spots, or are still a little green, as these will not store as well.
3. Clean some of the dirt and bacteria off. Take some vinegar and water and lightly wipe anything off that may cause your squash to rot over time.
4. Find a place to store them. Set them on a shelf in a cool area that is not too humid. You can put them in boxes but keep them loose, as you want the air to be able to circulate around them. If putting them in a box, loosely cushion them with newspaper.
Winter squash is fairly sturdy, and can be kept for months on your kitchen counter and longer in a cooler, dry area.
Summer has ended, and fall is in full swing. I cleared out some of the summer garden things that were starting to get a bit ratty, and planted some fall and winter crops. Mike pulled out most of the old spinach that had bolted, some of the tomato vines, some kale plants that were getting really haggard-looking, and the vegetable mallow. We then planted three kinds of lettuce, three kinds of cabbage, collard greens, and garlic. Everything is starting to grow so nicely except for one type of cabbage that is being eaten by something. One variety of the garlic is coming up, and the stalks are looking quite large and impressive.
My zucchini, sandita, cucumbers, and one tomato plant are still producing. When those are done, it will be time to finish the fall cleanup of the garden beds by pulling the vines and any remaining weeds, and by putting a bit of wood chip mulch on. The peppermint patch is trying to come up again. I'll just let it be, and let it die out over the winter.
I love this time of year. The air is so crisp and refreshing, and it feels good to know that soon I will have a low-maintenance garden and can concentrate on my indoor projects for the winter. I do love the changing of the seasons, as it makes life interesting. Our Portland winters are fairly mild, and it is nice to have a few things that grow well here. I'm still enjoying the many parsley plants that I planted during the summer and spring, and will soon be enjoying that lovely lettuce I planted recently. They will go well with my cucumbers, zucchini, sandita, and orange cherry tomatoes until it becomes evident that I need to pluck them out. Early fall salads are always quite refreshing, as I'm always so surprised at how many things I find to put into them.
Here are some vegetables that are less time-consuming and overall lower-maintenance to grow. These plants are useful in all zones. They can even thrive in a cold climate in a garage over winter. Most gardeners are familiar with these perennial vegetables. You can find them growing in vegetable gardens everywhere.
1. Asparagus: These early spring vegetables are durable, and will grow through your early spring frosts.
2. Rhubarb: Classified as a fruit, but thrives in spring.
3. Sunchokes: These edible tubers act like fiber in a diet.
4. Artichokes and cardoons: They have an edible thistle that is surrounded by lots of seeds.
5. Endives: When roasted, endive can be used as a coffee substitute.
6. Tree collards: Collards are related to the cabbage family, and taste like broccoli or kale.
7. Sorrel and wood sorrel: These two plants are sweet and sour, and are common in the wild.
8. Crosnes: These can be harvested once.
These low-maintenance vegetables are suggested to be worth the time and planting. They require equal parts water and soil. They are useful in both sun and shade. They are not stubborn. There are many uses for these low-maintenance vegetables, and they can be used to spark up a salad or for the main course. They are less time-consuming produce than fruit. With more and more home gardens reaching popularity, extremely low-maintenance vegetables are much more attractive. Even professional chefs are turning to farm-to-table, where produce is the star, and is part of their restaurant-goers' diet. In fact, many chefs encourage more farm-to table-programs. It does not include the community, but the outside community. These vegetables keep people healthy.
I love when fall comes. I love the partly cloudy skies and cooler weather for getting out in the garden and planting my veggie starts.
I look for planting calendars online to get ideas on what to plant. Here is the one I used this year: Portland Nursery Vegetable Planting Guide
First, I clear out all of the plants that are no longer useful or are not producing anymore, and then I do a quick recondition of the soil. If I have not yet planted my seeds, I go down and get starts from a local organic nursery. This makes deciding what to plant easy, as they usually have what is ready to be planted out now. This yea,r I planted garlic gloves around my sections of lettuce, as it can help to deter pests. It feels good to get everything cleaned up and ready for fall and winter. Here are a few photos of some of the veggies I planted this year.
This is an odd year for me for growing cucumbers. My first batch turned out to be a white variety, which was a surprise to me. They were tasty and delicious, and I am eating a lot of them.
The second variety of cucumber that I planted seemed to have different leaves, and the fruits weren't growing larger than one inch long. I didn't think much of it until I saw a picture of them on the Facebook Plant Identification Group. That prompted me to finally look up the variety I bought at the local Organic Farm Supply store. I looked at my seed packet to get the variety, and then looked it up on the Uprising Seeds website. Sure enough, "Sandita" is not a regular cucumber; it is Melothria scabra.
The fruits get to be one to two inches long, and have a sour taste. The website also lists them as Mexican sour gherkin. They are native to Mexico and South America, and they are sourer when you pick them when they are tiny.
I usually like sour fruits, but these were kind of bland and too tiny to bother with. They were good to grow once, as a novelty.
I’m growing two varieties of zucchini this year. I forgot about this until I picked the first two from different plants and then noticed the color difference. They taste the same, and look the same on the inside. The only difference is that there are different colors of green, with different patterns. Still, it’s good to have variety.