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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday

I'm a week late for Wildflower Wednesday hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone, but she has graciously left it open so I'm adding to her list.  Join us there for other posts on native plants and wildflowers.  Not much is blooming in my yard now so here are some rose hips from the rose that grows wild in my woods-
Some other native plants in flower or fruit can be seen on my post for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, here.

I'm starting some more seeds now in hopes of getting some blooms next year, I know the Fragaria vesca, Alpine strawberries, will bloom and fruit.   I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving, I had dinner with 5 of my 6 grandchildren, so that was great.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Low Carbohydrate Prolific Turnips

Most of my vegetables I grew this summer are now blackened by frost, but not so the wonderful turnips and kale. These turnips were planted at the midsummer window, July 15, for sowing cool season plants so that they will attain sufficient size by frost to overwinter in my zone 8 (but with lows sometimes in the zone 6-7 range) garden.   This year I tried a new turnip, Bianca Colleto Viola, from Gourmet Seeds of Italy.  It is elongated and so ends up actually larger than round turnips I have grown, like Purple Top, and sticks up out of the ground, very easy to size up for harvest.  They get very large, these I picked today weigh 4 lbs. (1.8kg)  together.
 Even though large, they are nicely textured on the inside, juicy, sweet, and tender-
They can be grated for a mild radish-like addition to a salad, dressed up with herbs like dill as a stand-alone salad, or used in strips for a vegetable tray.  Since they are lower in carbohydrates than potatoes, 5.1g per 100g  versus 20g  per 100g, they are excellent as a replacement in diets to avoid raising the blood sugar, like the Zone diet, or other health diets.   Potatoes have a glycemic load of 9 and an Inflammation Factor of -59 (Nutrition Data)  while turnips are healthier with a glycemic load of 1 and Inflammation Factor of -1!    Turnips can be substituted for potatoes in most recipes, though they are higher in moisture content so adjustments may be necessary, or they can be grated or sliced and salted for a while to drain off or squeeze out some water.  Turnips are very good mashed like potatoes, but steaming will result in drier cooked turnips that will mash better.  Milk, cream, or sour cream can be added along with butter, and herbs of your choice, like dill, rosemary, or parsley, along with pepper and salt as preferred.  Or use olive oil, coconut oil, or your favorite vegan choices when mashing.   Turnips can also be used in stir fries, or fried in butter until brown and simmered until tender, alone or with onions, meat, or other vegetables.  They can be made into gratins with a white sauce, onions, and cheese.  They can be roasted alone or with meats along with onions, whole garlic cloves, carrots, celery, seasoned with bay leaves, thyme, and pepper.  The Victory Garden Cookbook, by Marian Morash, is an excellent source of recipes for these and other vegetables.

So, in addition to enjoying a seemingly endless supply of turnips from my two thickly sown 15'x3' beds, I like the greens and especially the new growth that will spring forth in late winter/early spring.  By then the roots will not be edible but the abundance of greens and flower buds will supply vegetables for the table when otherwise there would be none.  Bon Apetit!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and Fall Fruits

Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!  Join the many gardeners for bloom day on May Dreams Gardens and thanks again, Carol, for hosting!   I like the blooms best on my Christmas cactus also, except I think it was a Veteran's Day Cactus this year.
I use my concrete east-facing porch for overwintering things in pots, here are some pansies that didn't get set out yet, left from my Swedish Mother-in-law's 100th birthday celebration-
My tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is blooming its small fall blooms-
And surprise, one of my 10 year old Camellia sasanqua's, Apple Blossom, is finally setting some blossoms, still buds,  though Yuletide seems to have none.
An alpine strawberry has a few blooms, I'm starting a lot more of these for next year-
Marie Pavie rose blooms on in the cold-
But main attractions at this time of year are the late fruits.  Here is the decorative inedible berries of Viburnum davidii-
There are a few fruits ripening earlier this month that round out the gardening year, and provide some special tastes when everything else is gone.  Pawpaws, Asimina triloba,  are a real treat.   They are the largest native North American fruit, an important fall food to the early settlers and the Lewis and Clark expedition.    They are lower in water content than most fruits except the similar in consistency banana.    The other members of the Custard Apple family are tropical, and Pawpaws have an alluring tropical taste.    I can tell when they are ready to pick because they start falling on the ground.  At that point they are still hard and green, but I check them often for softening, at which point they are ready to eat.  I have two large seedling trees from Burnt Ridge Nursery, but strangely only one fruits.  Perhaps its pollen is not compatible with the other tree.  I also have a small 3' grafted tree which grows very slowly and has not flowered yet; perhaps when it does it can pollenate the other tree.
Another fruit ripening late and able to go through some frosts is the hardy kiwi, Actinidia arguta.  It has much the taste and internal appearance of the larger fuzzy kiwi, but doesn't need peeling.  Male and female plants are separate so a male is required.   I grow them without a trellis, just supported by a very tall heavy T-post, and allowed to weep in an umbrella-shape.  They will grab onto any nearby tree.  A strong trellis would make them much easier to manage.
Another fruit that is very late and variable in ripening so only part are ripe at present and many are green, is the native Huckleberry.    I have a transplanted bush from the Olympic Peninsula, and it is quite large now and bears heavily on the end of branches.
It is very fiddly to pick the berries, they are very close and with short tight stems, and not all ripe at the same time.  Plus there are little dried brown mummy berries mixed in and abundant spiders hiding on the stems that fall into the bucket, and refuse to come out again.  So the picked berries require picking through to clean.  
Not so the wonderful Aronia, which seemed to start getting black earlier this year, and are a little over the hill by November.  Plus I didn't get around to picking the berries in the top of the bush since I needed more room in my freezer, and the birds or squirrels managed to strip the remaining berries off the bush.   But the Aronia berries are such a dream to pick, in nice discrete clusters hanging from a single stem, all ripe at the same time on the whole bush.
A very late ripener, still green, is the Azarole, Cragtaegus azarolus.  I hope the weather will permit them to ripen.
That wraps things up from the PNW, cold and expecting snow at higher elevations. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall a Great Time to Start New Beds

Here in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), spring is a good time to plant some annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, but since there is a dry season starting in late spring that lasts until the fall rains start, plants that are sensitive to drought or heat, or that need to develope new root systems, such as new transplants, often do better started in the fall.  I'm working on a new bed that will have a border of these seed-grown Dianthus 'microchip' plants, here shown from another bed planted last year.

This bed has been a rose bed that has become overgrown with grass and other weeds, and backed by an overgrown garlic bed that I am digging.  Part that is not yet dug is being kept dry to dig later.
The new bed will have a row of daffodils, and for more of the front border, some rooted cuttings of Dianthus Alwoodii alpinus-
and will also feature a gorgeous Rozanne hardy Geranium-
Calluna vulgaris 'Hillbrook Orange, which will hopefully bloom next spring'-
I'm also planting some seed-grown Aquilegia formosa, the native red and yellow Columbine; Erysimum wheelerii, a native wallflower; some strawberries, variegated Oat grass, oregano, thyme, Veronica, and some transplanted tall bearded irises and daylilies.  The irises and daylilies are from clumps that needed dividing.  Irises can stop blooming if they become too crowded, I replant the newer actively growing tips and discard the old mother rhizomes.

Another bed I am continuing to work on is my new bed under a Big Leaf Maple for a Berberis darwinii.
I'm transplanting some Lingonberries that have become overgrown and stopped bearing in another location.
Hopefully they will do well here.  I wanted to keep a look of dark green shiny evergreens here, and also want to transplant some Wintergreen-
So, happy fall planting!