Archive | March, 2013

I Think I’ll Try Artichoke

24 Mar

Each year I like to grow something new.  Even if I haven’t eaten it before, I find that if I grow it, and eat it fresh picked, I usually find myself falling in love with a new food.  This year I am going to grow artichoke for the first time.  What prompted this was a photograph I saw in a magazine of this beautiful vertically growing flower in a garden filled with brightly colored flowers.  Kind of a contemporary cottage garden feel, but these tall vertical plants didn’t have a bright flower on top; they had tall sturdy stems with more of a ball shaped flower.  I looked closer and saw that it was an artichoke.  It looked amazing in the garden, so even if I don’t eat it, the texture and visual appeal that it adds to the garden is worth learning how to grow this new plant.

artichoke

Globe Artichoke, Cynara scolymus L, is a member of the Sunflower Family.  Low in fat and higher than most vegetables in protein, this flower is a delicious treat.  I have tried it steamed and was taught to peel off the petals of the immature flower and scrape the fleshy portion along my bottom teeth, eating only this part and discarding the rest of the tough “skin”.  I was told that if I dipped it in mayo, it was even better.  This was new to me, tasted good, but I haven’t tried it since.  As far as world production, Artichokes are grown primarily in Italy, Spain, and Argentina.  So probably because it is not a very common vegetable at my local farmers market, artichokes fell off of my edible radar.

artichoke seed

artichoke seeds

Artichoke is a perennial to zone 7, but can be grown as an annual in cooler zones if you choose the right variety.  Artichokes bloom during their second year when grown as a perennial.  Eliot Coleman writes in his book The New Organic Grower that you can trick your plants by starting the seeds and growing them in warm conditions for 6 weeks, then placing them in cooler conditions for up to 6 weeks.  The plant will then think that it is a two year old plant.  I don’t have 12 weeks!   Johnny’s Selected Seeds suggests vernalizing  seedlings by planting them outside with nighttime temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 6-8 days while also providing protection from frost. I am growing Imperial Star, which Johnny’s says is easiest to grow from seed. These should bloom in about 85 days.  I’ll try that since my frost free date is in about 7 weeks.  I am behind!  They will just mature later in the season if I can get them outside at the beginning of May.  The urgency I am feeling run through my veins is increasing each day!

Check your seed starting plan.  Next week is going to be a big one, but for now, get your artichoke seeds planted!

6166166013_jpg

17 Mar

Not a whole lot of changes since I first posted this last year. Time to get busy and sow those seeds!

My Urban Farmscape

Pepper, Capsicum annuum, belongs to the Solanaceae family, also known as the Nightshade family. Peppers originate from the warmer regions of the Americas and are used in kitchens all over the world. You may prefer the fresh cool crisp of a sweet bell pepper, or the spicy flavor of a hot pepper. Whichever it is, peppers are easy to grow in the garden, in containers and make a great addition to your Urban Farmscape. There are even some varieties used primarily for ornamental purposes.

If you like to start seeds indoors, now is the time. Plant seeds about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep in a shallow container of a sterile seed starting media. Once the seeds are planted and watered it is important to keep moist at all times during germination. This can be achieved by using a plastic dome or with plastic wrap. I keep a spray bottle of…

View original post 694 more words

March Mornings

10 Mar

chickadeeChick-a-dee dee dee.  Chick-a-dee dee dee.”  This is the sound I hear on the day I can sleep in. Outside my window, a repeating call. The mornings are lighter, and the noises are different…..My mind wanders as I fall in and out of consciousness…are these the sounds of migrating birds?  Or maybe a mating call of a familiar bird that has changed its tune for the season….. I’m not a morning person, and it was nice to wake up early enough to listen to nature. “Whooo, who-who.   Whoooo, who-who.”  A dove sings it’s softly spoken song. Daylight savings time has started. I don’t understand why we do this. Someone please help me. I don’t know what the real time is. Just when I have no problem waking up in the morning, we have to move our clocks forward an hour. Now I will struggle again to wake up and rush to work on time. Why can’t we live by the sun? Like the plants and animals. They seem to do just fine without looking at the clock. What tells them to start growing or traveling to and fro? So my friend tells me “the good news is that our evenings will be lighter later.” It still doesn’t help with the struggles of waking up an hour earlier. Can I just lie in bed a little longer? The ground is frozen anyway. I attempt to pull the blanket up around my neck to get a few more minutes in, but the dog has positioned herself like a rock on the blanket at my feet preventing me from doing so……….Longer days ahead mean more time to work in the garden after I get home from my day job. I have attended enough garden education, garden shows, done enough garden reading and planning, it’s time to get outside and get my hands dirty. Oh geez, there’s still a foot of snow in some places, and if I see any soil, it is frozen solid. I would need a pick to break it apart. I need to make sure my low tunnels are ready so I can sow spinach and arugula seeds, and transplant the onions I sowed a few weeks ago…….I didn’t plant anything in the fall, maybe this year I will……. Once the snow melts and I can work the soil, in go the peas. I think that I will give the peas a little jump by planting them in a low tunnel to get them started…… Hmmm. Is my garden plan done? Maybe I should get out of bed and make sure. I need to look at my seed sowing calendar. When am I starting peppers? Is it this week? I think there is one more garden show coming up………..I think it’s raining.  Almost spring, try to stay calm.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: