Thursday, September 20, 2012

Collecting Seed

I let my parsnips go to seed this year. The inflorescences reached 10 feet tall and the flowers are like Queen Anne's Lace--both are in the carrot family. It was a lovely site in my early spring garden and soon the seeds started to set.

But with early spring came rain and wind. The stalks were constantly blowing over and crashing into my other plants. At this rate, I wouldn't have any seed to collect. And now the pressure was on. My neighbor at first thought I was growing dill. But when he found out it was parsnip I was letting go to seed, he asked for some. I'm always willing to share.

As planting season approached for summer veggies, I had to start pulling out my parsnip patch. I wasn't sure I would have seed for next year as this rate. I managed to save a couple of plants next to one of my roses. That way if the rain and wind continued, they'd have support. Luckily they were only about five feet tall.

Seed stalks!

A few days ago I harvested the seed and placed them in envelopes. I slipped one into my neighbor's mailbox. I hope they get a good crop. I know I'm looking forward to planting parsnips again!


I didn't think it was possible to grow artichokes in the Pacific Northwest. There's always the threat of summer never arriving. The weather gets warm but just not enough for ripe tomatoes, eggplant, etc, etc. Why would I want to grow artichokes if all I'll get is a spiky bunch of leaves? And a marginally hardy bunch of leaves that may end up dying.

I'm always up for a challenge so this year I thought, "Why not?" I was able to get some Imperial Star plants going from Territorial Seed. I chose Imperial Star since most likely won't be able to overwinter artichokes here and will end up growing them as an annual. I always have more starts than I know what to do with and shared some with friends. I was shocked while at their house a few weeks later. They already had an artichoke. What?! How did they do that?! Will my little bunches of leaves ever amount to anything?

Let's just say I was a little green with envy...

I kept checking my plants doing well in the ground but not exactly showing any signs of promise. Not one hint of a little green globe of goodness. Two things that were growing: my envy and curiosity. I know it's silly, but I couldn't shake it. So I finally asked how was it that they already had an artichoke so soon?

"That plant is pretty old. It's not from the starts you gave us."

Oh what a relief! And so I've gone about my business in the garden, harvesting red ripe and yellow tomatoes, making sure everything is staying relatively happy with the lack of rain. Until I was walking up to my house a couple of weeks ago, and something caught my eye...

...a little green globe of goodness!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Happy Accident

This is my first year growing winter squash. I didn't think much about providing a support for the Delicata vines to climb on. I thought if I just provided enough space for them to scramble along, I'd be fine. I also thought that the squash would be too heavy to need support. Wouldn't they'd be better on the grround?

Well, as you can see, the vines found my fennel. You can see it against the blue-green stems of the infloresence (fancy botany speak for flower stalk).

I saw it flowering a few weeks ago, but didn't really pay much attention until this caught my eye while watering yesterday...
Whoa! When did that happen?! Amazing. Well, it looks like next year, I'll provide better support for the Delicata squash. Maybe a tee-pee trellis. I may have a bumper crop this year so lock your car doors everyone. This squash doesn't store well so I'll be giving them away.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

More tomatoes

All my worrying over my tomato crop was for nothing. I'm happy to say that I have a decent amount this year even though it's September. Better late than never!

I tried several new types this year including Estonian Yellow Cherry (EYC) and the Columbianum Wild Form (CWF). I found these through Adaptive Seeds.

The EYC have a sunny yellow color and have almost a citrus undertone to their flavor. After enjoying Sun Golds during lunch today, these lack depth in tomato flavor.

I gathered at least 30 of the CWF's. My son was helping me and said "We have enough tomatoes!" Unfortunately, I sliced and roasted them before I remembered to take their picture. Hey...I was hungry and it was dinner time! Straight off the vine, these are a tad mealy. It may be that I have skimped on water, but I've been stingy with watering other tomatoes before (ie: Black Cherry) and haven't had a problem. I acutally like stressing out tomatoes because it brings out their flavor.

Of course, I'm already thinking about what tomatoes I'll grow next year. I've enjoyed the Indigo Rose tomato from Let Us Farm. They grow the most gorgeous lettuce you've ever seen and have amazing tomatoes, too.

And it's been brought to my attention (and I should had known this--thank you readers!) that Sun Gold are a hybrid so the seed from the tomatoes will not come true. Read more on this forum. That's all the convincing I needed to gobble up all the ripe ones off the vine earlier today. Yum!