Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ramps to Peas

Wild woodland harvest destined for the breakfast or lunch menu.

This is one of my Ramp harvest sites situated in a quiet woodland setting.
The trench for the peas is four inches deep and the width of the hoe.

The seeds are scattered in the bottom and then covered with an inch of so of soil.
Tamped down and ready to grow - ( plans for a planting board are at April 26, 09 entry)

Last weekend was warm and sunny - great for a foraging outing. With the daffodils in bloom that meant the ramps - wild leeks - were ready for harvest in the woods. These tasty but odoriferous relatives of onions and garlic make for a great spring harvest for cooking and eating. Susan and I set off for Kewaunee county to see if they were ready. We visited the spot on the Kewaunee
(Anadromous Fish Facility) River where the spring fish migrants come up stream. We saw nice Rainbow trout, a few large Northern Pike, and a huge quantity of Suckers. The pike were the most interesting sight as I am a pike fisherman and really enjoy seeing them in the river. That weekend I got the kayaks off the garage ceiling in preparation for fishing later in the season, so seeing those fish just made for more excitement.

We did find the ramps (Allium tricoccum) in fine supply and ready for harvest. I took enough to flavor several meal and spread my pulling throughout the patch so as not to take too many or disturb much of the area. Please harvest wild food responsibly - ask permission is needed, take only what you need, and disturb as little as possible for future harvesters and yourself.
The ramps mostly flavored scrambled eggs this spring, along with my French tarragon and some fresh rosemary. A little cheese into this mix and breakfast or lunch is a great treat. Here is an interesting site for wild plants -
The Forager Press - - This give some information on Wild leeks - Ramps.

The past two weeks I have been teaching a vegetable gardening class to the Learning in Retirement chapter of Elderhostel that we have here as UWGB. I had a nice sized class and presented basics and some advanced topics along with showing my cold frame and how important a garden tool they are as a season extender and as a place to harden off transplants. I had a great group, lots of questions, and I sure hope they go home and plant some veggies from this experience.

Some of my transplants are in cold frames already, but we have already had one big failure this spring. For some reason all my marigold seedlings did not make it through this week's cold weather. I discovered today that frost got them good. We have a backup planting but they are not the same variety so the front landscape bed will be Queen Sophia instead of Safari orange and yellow - it should work, but those 50 plants were looking real good and I thought they could have taken the weather. They had been out for over a week, but guess not.

The tomato and pepper crops are up and today I did some transplanting of empty cells with plants from other cells that had multiples so all the packs are full one plant per cell. The root stock for the grafted tomatoes was planted last week and a few days later the scion stock was planted so more on GRAFTED tomatoes as these plants get to size. This is one of our experiments this season so follow and see just what happens.

I finished the extension on the brick cold frame landing in front of the greenhouse this past week just in time for the heavy rain last night and today to help, I hope, settle everything in nicely. I had finished the space last summer but quickly saw that I had not made the space large enough so this spring I added over 200 more bricks. Now the cold frames fit and I can walk in front of them, something I could not do with the other landing. Oh well, at least I had enough materials to extend the space.

I finally got my peas, Cascadia, in the ground early this week and found them really soaked from the rain. The pictures show the trench method that will as the peas grow allow for me to fill in around them and keep their roots cool along with the much that I will add. The spinach and arugula in the hoop house is ready for harvest today so in between the moments of rain, I will try to get some for our dinner tonight.

I worked at a garden event for the Gardener's Club of Green Bay yesterday suggesting planting techniques for the asparagus that people were picking up. I tried to answer questions for these future asparagus growers and I want to just remind everyone that I have tried making the posting of questions on the blog as easy as possible. So question and comments (constructive please) are always welcome and we will try to help you or suggest some source for an answer.

Happy Gardening

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April Snow Makes for Really Green Grass

I think daffodils are my favorite spring flower - thanks to my Grandmother - she loved them too

These species crocus never come true to color in pictures
The PRO-GROW mat and the thermostat that controls the temperature

The hoop house crops, newly seeded above, seeded last fall below

House finch damage to my apple buds

This week we had snow - almost 4 inches. However, we live close to the bay of Green Bay and the water moderated the snow fall. Less than a mile up the road they got much more snow. Ours was enough to bend the daffodils to the ground and cause me to take the fig tree back into the garage. But that was back on Wednesday and all of that is gone and the grass looks great from all the moisture. My daffodils made a great show for Easter and I have some early species tulips starting to bloom now also.

My old heat mats have been retired and a new six foot thermostatically controlled mat is now in use. I have been thinking about getting one for some time and finally I decided, after two of the four old mats would not heat, that the time had arrived. I got a PRO-GROW propagating mat made in Brookfield, Wisconsin, but had to buy it from another source. So far the seeded flats are warm and I am waiting on parsley and tomatoes to sprout. I started peppers on the old mats but had mixed success so I am hoping that the tomatoes and other seeds that I will be starting in the next weeks will be better. Propagation mats are a good way to start those seeds that need warm conditions for optimum sprouting. My marigolds were up in four days on the heat mat.

Outside in the garden spring is moving along. The greens in the hoop house are looking good. Most of the seed planted several weeks ago is up and the fall planted spinach is getting close to first harvest. With the snow this week, we had strong winds after the low pressure system went through, and the plastic of the hoop house was tossed around a bit. I have hopes of making a new house this summer as I recently found out that a friend has access to a pipe bender - the hoop house dream tool. The current house is made of lumber and sags a bit when snow builds up on the roof. I have read that people who use plastic pipe have a snow load problem too so with access to a pipe bender I hope to make a metal hoop house. Time and $$$ will tell.

I planted onions and shallots today. I had seeded shallots last summer but the crop did not do too well. They grew well but had no size to them so I harvested them last fall and stored them in the basement all winter. I planted three or four dozen today with hopes of a much better crop. I also planted some small red onions that I had stored also, so we will see what matures. I have seeded onions growing in a flat in the green house for planting out later this month. I also planted some daikon radishes. I used the same method I use with parsnips - I make a nice cone in the soil, filled with potting mix and planted the radish seed. With a ready made root run, the daikon should be nice. The cuttings I started the last blog entry are just about ready to transplant. The spider plants are ready today. I will move the cuttings into two inch pots and grow them until they are ready for four or five inch pots in about a month or more.

The apples are budding and the house finches are back at my flower buds. The pictures show just what those little purple pests do to apple buds. So much for those pesky invasives.
Happy Gardening