Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity

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The Old Guy's Garden Record

The Senior Garden - November 14, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Broccoli headThree heads of broccoliI'm amazed that we haven't yet had that hard frost that stops everything growing in the garden. I cut three giant heads of broccoli today, and there are still two more that can be cut any time now. I blanched and froze two of the heads, saving the third for when we get the munchies. It's still that sweet!

Lettuce, spinach, etc.Asparagus bed mulchedI also had to pull four lettuce plants that had gone to seed. We still have plenty more, but I really hate to waste anything in the garden. At least they'll add to the volume of our compost heap.

I did what I hope was our last mowing of the year yesterday. I had to stop repeatedly to clean the mower deck, as the combination of lots of leaves, grass clippings, and wet ground produced a coating on the deck that will turn to near concrete if allowed to remain and dry. I'd hoped to mulch our asparagus with grass clippings for the winter, but what I put on the patch was more oak leaves than anything else. I also added a couple of inches of cow manure to the asparagus bed last week.

New Recipe Posted

Asiago Cheese & Tortellini SoupWhen I was substitute teaching last week in Terre Haute, I mentioned to one of the teaching assistants our recipe for Asiago Cheese & Tortellini Soup. I was able to give her a rough idea of how we make the delicious soup, but really hadn't ever taken the time to measure and write down amounts for the recipe.

I got the amounts down today, so the recipe is there for anyone who wants to try it (and can afford the calories and cholesterol). We love it!

November 14, 2009 - The First 2010 Seed Catalog Arrives

Thompson & MorganOur first seed catalog of the new gardening season came in a week ago. I already knew what I wanted to order from Thompson & Morgan, but when I went online to place the order, the hard-to-find Double Brocade Gloxinia shown in the catalog wasn't listed! A letter to their customer service produced a prompt, helpful phone call from Celia in customer service. They are experiencing some problems with their US web site and also are out of stock of the gloxinia seed. Celia directed me to submit my order for other items and note in the comments section to reserve the #8266 gloxinia seed.

Geranium - Top 6 MixAlong with the comment to backorder the gloxinia seed, I ordered just one packet of Thompson & Morgan's World's Top Six Mix geranium seed assortment. While the catalog states that you get 5 seeds of each of six varieties, I found last year that they included a few more seeds in each packet! When the seeds arrive, I'll start them immediately, as I need to redo our Growing Geraniums from Seed feature. It turned out to be a bit of a disaster last year. I also placed an order through Amazon for a heat mat thermostat to prevent future disasters of cooking my seeds.

If you're not already on the mailing list of your favorite seed vendor, now is definitely the time to request a free catalog. Our list of preferred vendors appears in the October blog archive.

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November 15, 2009 - Tulips

Flower bed in SeptemberEven though our front flower beds still looked pretty good, I pulled most of the flowering plants from them this week to make way for planting tulip bulbs. I left our perennial dianthus plants and even moved a couple that had grown in the garden to the front flower beds. (The photo at right was taken in September. The flowers didn't look quite that good this week.)

Ready to transplantSince our front flower beds have been worked up thoroughly the last two years and mulched this year, there wasn't a lot of soil preparation to do in them. I raked the wood mulch forward and used it around the dianthus plants. Then I scuffle hoed the surface of the cleared ground to remove the few seedling weeds in it.

Spacing and plantingI often spend a good bit of time laying out rows for our flower beds. But for tulips, I went with the naturalizing effect and just pitched the bulbs on the ground and spaced them out a bit. The ground was soft enough that I was able to use a bulb planter to dig the holes for the tulip bulbs. The bulb planter goes down to the right depth and holds the soil as you pull it out. I seem to get fewer (yesterday, none!) blisters with the bulb planter than I do when using a garden trowel.

Each hole got a tablespoon or so of bone meal before the bulb went in. I bopped the soil out of the bulb planter, crumpled it a bit, and pushed it back into the hole to cover the bulb. Since we had a couple of trees cut this spring and the stumps ground, I had plenty of hardwood mulch to cover the beds. Moving the mulch was the hardest part of the job!

November 16, 2009 - Combining Beans

Combining beans

No, Annie and I have not started farming. The photo above was taken last Friday when the "big boys" came in to harvest the beans in the field beside the Senior Garden. When we were farming, it was all I could do just to stay on row with the cornpicker and not drop the bean head down and pick up rocks when picking beans. I always enjoy seeing a combine and grain wagon doing their dance down a row as the combine dumps its beans "on the fly."

I added the shot above to my page of free Desktop Photos.

Desktop Photos

November 25, 2009 - Lettuce and Cabbage

A year ago my goal had been to keep our lettuce going under the cold frame so we could have some of it on Thanksgiving. This year I'm still picking lettuce (broccoli and cabbage) the day before Thanksgiving without having any protective covering over the plants! But...we're supposed to have a really hard freeze tomorrow night, so that will probably be it for the lettuce.

Lettuce on Nov. 25!

Often when picking lettuce, keeping the dirt out of it or brushing off bugs is a challenge. Today there were no bugs, and I managed not to get any dirt on the lettuce. But I did have to pick oak leaves out of the loose heads of romaine and the red lollo leaf lettuce.

For a kale lover, it's strange that I'd not grown ornamental kale ever before. I tried it this year, but didn't get it transplanted until mid-August. I think I'm now hooked on growing it. Every time I go out to the garden, the ornamental kale surprises me with its dazzling splash of color in a now rather colorless garden.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American CookingI also picked a head of savoy cabbage. We still have two more yet to pick that should be okay even through the predicted heavy frost tomorrow night. I picked the cabbage to make garden slaw for our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. The recipe is from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking. Our copy is a bit worn, but it probably is our best cookbook. The photo below is from a batch of the slaw I made in June. (Note: The text link above is to the newest version of the cookbook. The link on the cookbook photo at right is to the older version...which is still available used at a considerable savings over the new version.)

Cookbook and slaw

We still have four broccoli plants with tennis ball sized main heads that I hope will continue to grow just a bit. We're also still picking sideshoots from our first fall broccoli plants. Our cauliflower has leaves wrapped tightly around what I hope are maturing heads, but I fear they won't survive the frost.

One of my other tasks today was to make rolls for tomorrow's dinner. The recipe for Grandma Wood's Yeast Rolls is a dandy. I also just about got frostbite even with gloves on getting veggies out of our big freezer for tomorrow.

November 26, 2009 - Happy Thanksgiving

Like many of you, we will be with our family on Thanksgiving Day and will be celebrating the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us. We continue to be in reasonably good health, and our children are all healthy and doing well. My father, now 96, had a very mild stroke two weeks ago but has made an amazing full recovery. Our garden was, of course, amazingly bountiful this year.

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing Give Thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2009 - Planting Garlic

Planting garlicWe've had a gorgeous fall day today with temperatures in the low 60's and not a lot of wind. I took advantage of the good weather to plant our garlic for next year.

The normal planting time for garlic in our area is in mid- to late October or early November. I'd waited in hopes of properly working up the ground for the garlic with a garden fork or even the rototiller, but the soil just never was dry enough to suit me. So today I raked the area and scuffled hoed it as well to slow down a few weeds that had gotten started.

This year's planting has a new wrinkle for us, as all of our garlic sets come from last year's crop rather than having to purchase them. I was shocked last fall at the price of elephant garlic!

Planting more garlicAfter the light soil preparation and a quick check with the pH meter, I was ready to plant. Even though we'd grown tomatoes this summer on the ground, the soil pH ran from 6.8-7.0 in the areas I checked, ideal for garlic or most other garden plants. I wonder if we didn't have the soil a bit "too sweet" (to high a pH) for the tomatoes this year.

I marked my 15' rows with string, spacing the rows just 8" apart. I used the same bulb planter I'd used earlier this month to plant tulips to dig holes for the garlic sets. I spaced the holes about 9-10" apart and really thought the bulb planter might make too deep a hole. I'd forgotten what large and robust elephant garlic sets we had! After putting a small handful (maybe a tablespoon or two) of bone meal in each hole, I set the garlic sets in and refilled the hole with soil being careful not to upend the sets into an upside down position. The tops of the elephant garlic sets were just 2-4" down, while the much smaller German garlic sets had a good bit more soil over them. Both will need a protective cover of leaves or mulch of some kind.

DianthusFor a final touch, I moved a couple of dianthus that had grown at the ends of our row of kale to the corners of the garlic bed. Dianthus are perennials, although moving them this late may do them in. But I thought it might be worth a try, as the flowers are very pretty, and I was able to move the entire root ball with a good shovel.

I'm about ready to begin moving all my tools and gardening supplies into the garage and basement for the winter. I still would like to get some edging in on the east side of our house before planting a box of daffodil bulbs I picked up this fall. I have about eight pounds left from a ten pound bag of bone meal I bought at Rural King on one of their senior citizens' sales (20% off). So if the weather holds, I'll probably have one last posting about planting this fall before all of our gardening efforts move inside.

October, 2009

From the at Senior Gardening


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