Tag Archives: Planning

Outsmarting the Heat…Or Not!

Outsmarting the Heat…Or Not!

The weather is warming up considerably in East Texas. We’re to reach temperatures of 85° by weeks end. It’s so pleasant to be out that it’s beginning to be a struggle to keep everyone, including myself, inside to do those indoor tasks that must be done, like school and cooking.

I’m learning to outsmart the heat though. For one thing, I’ve begun to incorporate school with outdoor tasks again. The boys usually walk a mile or two for exercise, this has been changed to garden chores like hoeing and digging. Poor Jonathan is ready to start walking again. He said yesterday he would be happy to go three miles. He’s not getting off though, I want the chives in by Wednesday. Poor boy.

Garden wise I’m doing a few things to beat the heat as well. As most of my regular readers know, I have a love hate relationship with growing lettuce. In Arkansas I never had a problem with bolting. I had more of a problem keeping Ryan from eating it straight out of the garden. When I moved to South Texas, I planted all the things I had grown in Arkansas. It didn’t work. Year after year I had lettuce gone to seed before we could taste it. It was just too hot.

Now that we’re further North, in relatively the same climate as we were in El Dorado, I’m crossing my fingers for some “real” lettuce this year. I had gotten in the habit of growing micro-greens, which, don’t get me wrong, are delicious and quite nutritious, but I want a head of lettuce. We always want what we can’t have, don’t we?

So, under the cucumber trellis in Patrick’s garden I’m growing Tom Thumb lettuce, and they’re coming along beautifully. So far, so good. But I’m also trying some other things I think will satisfy my longing for those beautifully developed, Mr. McGregor type garden plants I’m looking for this year.

I’m trying many of the offerings from a great company called Kitazawa Seed Co. from California. This company has an interesting history and I’m a sucker for interesting history. They also have a large assortment of Non Genetically Modified seed, so that rocks.

I’m growing Pak Choi (called Bok Choi also) for the first time this year. I’ve read that it

Extra Dwarf Pak Choy from Kitazawa Seed Co.

will be tolerant to heat until it’s pretty warm, so I’m thinking to keep it in until about the beginning of June and then switch to tomatoes for the summer. I’m planting about five feet a week to ensure a continuous crop for a few weeks. Again, so far, so good.

I’m also trying Nappa Cabbage for the first time as well using the same five foot method. I’m growing “Blues” which is a hybrid variety, and “Tenderheart” which is an heirloom. Both of these varieties are early maturing which will help me get them in and done before it gets really hot around here. My family adores Nappa

Tender Heart Nappa Cabbage from Kitazawa Seed Co.

Cabbage. We have been using it as a lettuce substitute for the last couple of years. When we have BLT’s they are actually BCT’s. We use it for everything except Taco Salad. Taco Salad insists on having “real” lettuce. What a snob.

I’m growing cilantro now, but will stop probably about the middle of May. It too, loves to bolt, even the “Slo-bolt” varieties I use.

I have a funny-ish story about my cilantro from last year.

At the beginning of December there was a “hard” freeze heading to our area so I decided to pull up the remaining basil and start a “lasagna” bed so it would be ready for spring planting.

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Lucky Clover, and Other Green Manure

Lucky Clover, and Other Green Manure

Happy Leap Day! Don’t you feel lucky to have been given another? Luck always makes me think of clover, four leafed of course. Clover makes me think of...leprechauns?…Ireland?…nope. Manure. Green Manure of course.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the Green Manure issue. I’ve used just one of the myriad of cover crops. Only the Red Clover. You may be asking, “Why? Why have you not taken advantage of a centuries tested approach to extending the fertility and productivity of our growing spaces?” The answer would be one word. Ignorance.

I simply do not know enough about cover crops to warrant sewing my gardens with fava beans or Buckwheat every year. It seems to me that cover crops may be a farmer’s tool not as much a gardener’s tool.

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A Time to Reap. A Time to Sow. Timing is Key!

A Time to Reap. A Time to Sow. Timing is Key!

“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

“A plan is a list of actions arranged in whatever sequence is thought likely to achieve an objective.”

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining outside when Noah built the Ark.”

We’ve heard it all before. We must make a plan. Planning is good.

I must say though, in gardening, plans can change. This is sticky for me. I’m not obsessive as to be diagnosed as such, but I have tendencies. You know, I’m the kind of person that makes a list of the lists she needs to make. The kind of person that when she realizes she has left it off of the list, writes it in to cross it off. Yep. I’m that girl.

At this point you either, know me, hate me, or are me. I completely understand all three of these. I know…that meticulous planning helps me feel in control when there is no way to completely be in control. I hate…that I make myself and my immediate family crazy obsessing about seemingly inconsequential details. I am…aware that is just how I am and I, and my immediately family, are just going to have to deal with it.

As this is not a post about psychological awareness per se , let’s get to the garden.

There are certain gardening schedules that we really must be very strict about in order to get a good result. On the other hand, there are some things that we can loosen up about without adversely effecting our outcome or ruining our lives. As with most things in life, it seems we must do our best to prepare for an outcome, then adapt and overcome if it all goes pear shaped. It’s the ballet of the garden.

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Seeds! Glorious Seeds!

Seeds! Glorious Seeds!

The seeds are beginning to arrive.  The garden plan is drawn. This years plant selection has been chosen for some time now. Some seeds were saved from last year, others have been purchased and are now beginning to arrive.

I have been so excited it’s ridiculous. You know the kind of excited where you can’t sleep and you can’t sit still and all you can think about is (insert obsession here)? That’s how I’ve been about these seeds.

Why? For me, it’s all about the possibilities. When I knit or crochet one of my favorite things is picking the patterns. It’s the same with everything I do. Recipes are beautiful, lesson plans divine, don’t get me started on fabric!

The seeds are safe in their warm dry paper packets with the brightly colored illustrations of the mature plants they are meant to become. The possibilities boggle the mind. For me it’s not just the possibility of the seedlings or even the plants, it goes far beyond these. My thoughts go to the pickles I’ll put up, the salsa I’ll create, the tabasco sauce I’ll attempt to make again this year, the soap I’ll make with the lavender oil, the pesto I’ll give as Christmas presents, Rosemary pizza dough…and so on…and so on…ad infinitum. It’s all of this and so much more!