We planted carrot seeds in early August, and this week, we got to taste the fruit of our labor. We harvested the carrots pictured in late November, and they measure about six inches. Carrots are a very satisfying crop. With a little planning and patience, you can be enjoying home-grown carrots in 2013. In Zone 6, where we are, you can start seeds in mid-March for late June harvest. They take up to 3 weeks to germinate, so be patient, and keep the bed well watered until they germinate. Sow thinly, three inches apart, with rows several inches apart. We have had some success with the six-row seeder available at Johnny's Seeds. The six-row seeder helps alleviate the hassle of spacing out the seeds very thinly, but next year we will be trying other seeders to see which works best for us. Thin to three inches apart after about 30 days. THINNING IS MANDATORY. It may seem like a waste, but carrots need room to grow, and if you don’t thin, your carrots will BE thin. Make sure your soil is loose, fine, and free of stones. Too much organic matter can create multi-legged or hairy carrots, so go easy, but organic matter does help you get bigger carrots. Ensure that the carrots have one inch of water per week. Be adventurous with different types of seeds. We have used Napoli, Purple Haze, and Cream Delite, all with good results. Keep your bed weeded. Harvest after 70-80 days, when carrots are one half inch or more in diameter. Scrub, trim the tops off, and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep several weeks.
If you want to grow winter carrots for your family next year, count back 75 to 80 days before your first winter frost. We use October 5 to 10 as a first frost date, and therefore, plant carrot seeds at the end of July to the beginning of August for harvest in November through January. Once the weather turns cold, that is, freezing temperatures for prolonged periods, cover the carrots plants with ground cover fabric like agribon or use leaf mulch or straw mulch to protect the plants. Carrots develop spectacular sweetness after going through a frost, and our winter carrots taste like candy. Once the carrots reach maturity, they can be left in the ground until you are ready to harvest. In Zone 6, we take them out before February, or they become stringy. We serve winter carrots raw and plain as a treat at our Christmas gatherings. They are that good.
You went to the doctor, and the news was bad. She told you to eat more vegetables! Experts say that half your plate at each meal should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Vegetables for breakfast? Some shudder at the thought! However, eating vegetables at breakfast is a great way to get a jump on your daily vegetable intake.
Here are ten easy ways to enjoy vegetables with your breakfast.
1. Serve fried eggs with refried beans topped with fresh tomato salsa. Add fresh cilantro for an antioxidant boost, and slice some avocado on the side.
2. Add sautéed sliced zucchini, minced garlic, and sweet onions to your scrambled eggs or tofu scramble.
3. Cut an acorn squash in half and bake it, cut side down, until tender (350° for about 45 minutes). Top each half with butter, honey and chopped walnuts or pecans, and eat with a spoon right out of the shell.
4. When making home fries, add fresh red and green pepper and onions during the last five minutes of cooking. Throw in some chopped fresh parsley when the potatoes and vegetables are done.
5. Steam fresh green beans, cook up some bacon and onions and add to your home fried potatoes during the last several minutes of cooking.
6. Make zucchini pancakes instead of potato pancakes. Use your potato pancake recipe and substitute grated zucchini.
7. When you are eating out for breakfast, if you want to skip the toast, ask if the waiter you can have some sliced tomato instead.
8. Make a green smoothie. Ice, a handful of spinach, half a banana, lemon (or lemon juice), some water or fruit juice and some honey. You will not taste the spinach, even though it is green. Works well in a high power blender. There are many variations on the green smoothie idea, and they are well worth trying, especially if you dislike the taste of vegetables.
9. Use last night’s leftover vegetables in an omelet. Any combination of vegetables works.
10. Grilled vegetables, like asparagus or zucchini planks, go great with Eggs Benedict.
Hopefully these ideas will help you get creative with vegetables at your breakfast table. Enjoy!
We grow Hardneck garlic in Cleveland. It is superior in flavor to the Softneck garlic varieties that shoppers find at the supermarket, although the drawback is that Hardneck has a shorter shelf life.
Hardneck garlic grows in colder climates and Softneck garlic is grown in warmer climates. Surprisingly, most of the garlic found at the supermarket has been grown in China. Cleveland, Ohio is in hardiness zone 6 and is too cold for Softneck garlic.
There are many varieties of Hardneck garlic. At Lucia’s, we have grown Music, German White, and German Red. You can find out more about varieties of Hardneck garlic here. We have had success storing our garlic for up to ten months. Usually we have enough garlic stored to take us until late spring when the garlic scapes come out. This autumn we planted another variety called German Hardy that we have not tried before. We will make German Hardy available to you when we harvest next July. When cooked, all these Hardneck varieties taste similar, although one will definitely notice the difference in flavor between Hardneck and Softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic is juicier, more fragrant, and has more intense garlic flavor than Softneck garlic.
AUGUST and SEPTEMBER--Decide how much garlic to plant and measure out your plot. Allow room to place each clove 12 inches apart, and allow extra room for a walking path. Prepare your soil in late summer by adding compost or another fertilizer of your choice. We use composted horse manure. Till the compost into the soil to about a foot deep to loosen it up and make it easier for the garlic to form and develop roots. We let the compost set in the soil a couple weeks to further break down before we plant the garlic. Buy garlic for seed or select seed from your last harvest. Select large, well-formed heads and break them into individual cloves. Select the largest cloves for planting. Use ONLY unblemished and undamaged, perfect cloves. Damaged cloves will produce a crop with insect damage and disease. Each clove will grow into one head when mature.
OCTOBER--Schedule planting around the third week of October. We use landscape fabric that we pre-cut with rows of four inch wide holes as a weed barrier. We measure and cut the holes ourselves. We lay out three to four rows twelve inches apart, allow extra room for a walking path, make three to four more rows, a walking path, and so on. Preen makes a landscape fabric that is heavy enough to be used for several planting seasons. Tears in your landscape fabric can be patched with duct tape. You can use mulch instead of landscape fabric, or use nothing, but be sure to weed the bed no matter what. Garlic will grow larger if the bed is kept weed-free. You can pre-treat to deter pests and disease by soaking each clove in a mixture with liquid seaweed, baking soda, and water and then dipping in rubbing alcohol or vodka before planting. Instructions can be found here. Plant each clove blunt side down, pointy side up, about six inches deep. There is no need to water after you plant, unless rainfall is abnormally low. In most years, the autumn weather brings sufficient moisture without the need for irrigation.
NOVEMBER to MAY--Check on your beds to ensure that the landscape fabric is secure. Sometimes squirrels will dig up a clove, but when they see that it’s garlic, they will stop digging. Leaves will begin to grow during the winter.
MAY to JULY--Keep the beds weeded. If rainfall is insufficient (less than one inch per week) you must water regularly if you would like large bulbs. Fertilize with liquid seaweed fertilizer. We use Maxicrop. Last year we applied liquid seaweed fertilizer one time early in the summer with good results. Some growers recommend more frequent fertilizer applications, but each situation is different. Scapes, the seed pod of the garlic, will form in late spring and early summer. Trim them off and use them in soups, stir fry, and salsa. If left to grow, the scape will produce a seed which can be planted, but will take two years to produce a bulb of garlic. Removing the scapes will produce more vigorous, larger bulbs.
JULY--When the leaves begin to turn brown, your garlic is ready to harvest. The first or second week of July is usually the best time to take the garlic out of the ground. Do not leave the garlic in the ground too long or the skins will become thin and the cloves will begin to separate, which will make your garlic go bad more quickly and reduce its shelf life. Remove the landscape fabric, clean it, and save it for next year. Loosen the ground around the plants with a pitchfork. Be careful not to touch the garlic with the pitchfork. Carefully pull the garlic, shake off the soil, and rinse thoroughly. We carefully remove the dirty looking top layer of garlic skin from the bulb and stem. We found that removing this layer significantly reduces mold and mildew formation that can occur when the garlic is drying. Sort the bulbs by variety and size. Bundle them with the stems on, and label each bunch. Hang to dry in a well ventilated area for two weeks. Save your biggest and best bulbs for next year’s seed. Garlic can be eaten immediately after harvest. This drying procedure is used to maximize the shelf life of the garlic when you store it.
AUGUST--Once your garlic is completely dry, you can cut the stems and roots off. Trimming before the garlic is dry invites pests and decay. You can store trimmed garlic in net bags or hang it with the stems attached. Keep it in a cool, well ventilated area. Enjoy your harvest, and after a little break, make your plans for your next year’s garlic patch.