Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall/Winter Vegetable Garden

For a successful second harvest, I try to plant vegetables late in the summer so they will have sufficient time to root well. By doing this, we will have fresh vegetables to pick through the mild winters we have in Tidewater, Virginia. We are fortunate to be included in the northernmost part of Hardiness Zone 8a. In addition, the exact geographic location is directly in line with the warm winds from the Chesapeake Bay to raise our temperature between 2 to 4 degrees higher than the "official" temperature, which is recorded at the Norfolk Airport. That makes a tremendous difference when planning ahead for anticipated frosts and cold weather.

I thought I would share a look around my garden to let others see what I have planted to get us through to springtime. It's not fancy, but functional. My garden harvests will provide vegetables for many meals during this time of year. The canned produce will provide meals later on in the year. I hope you enjoy browsing through the pictures.

The leeks to the far right are growing, but they are growing slowly. You can't tell, but this end of the row has plants that I grew from seeds. The other end were transplants. Currently, those from seeds are smaller than a pen refill's diameter. The seeds were planted in a flat on September 14th. According to the charts, they are supposed to be ready for harvest on the 13th of December, six weeks away. I don't see that happening. In the center of the picture is a row of Rainbow Swiss Chard. They were on sale, so I bought a whole flat of them. They were large and had broken leaves and stems, but I thought I'd take a chance on them. If you get multiple harvests from them anyway, why not cut the leaves back to stems that are about one inch long and plant the large root deep enough so that it will have plenty of surface area under the soil to root itself better. That's what I did and it looks like it is paying off. The stubs of these plants were planted in my garden on October 10th. They look very healthy, don't you agree?

To the right, I have a row of broccoli planted at the same time as the Swiss chard. It is looking pretty good. To the left and far left are two rows of Brussels sprouts. I may have some ready before the end of December, but I really anticipate a harvest after the first of the year.

My second crop of Fortex snap beans (or green beans) is doing very well so far. Since October 7th, I have picked 27.5 pounds of them. I canned some in my pressure canner. I cooked some to go with our meals and I gave some to an elderly friend. They are really delicious! They are heavy bearers and the individual beans are as much as eleven inches in length, and are absolutely stringless. I get my Fortex green bean seeds from the Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog in Maine. I've been doing that for three years.

These two pictures are of the sugar pumpkin vines. They're supposed to be great for baking and soups. They should weigh in at around five pounds apiece. Unfortunately, I already had one 2 inch pumpkin turn yellow and come off the vine due to the soil being too wet after all the recent rain.

To the right in the picture and at this end of the row, I have butter crunch lettuce, a first time grower this year. The remainder of that row is filled with more rainbow Swiss chard. Towards the center and also to the left in the picture, I have two rows of Vates collards. They are always a hardy plant for winter growing in this area.

The slicing cucumbers don't know what to do. Between some chilly nights and all the rain, they look like they want to give up and die. I still hope to get a handful of cucumbers off these vines, even though over half of the plants are already destined for the compost pile because they are already dead.

These two rows are broccoli planted on September 10th. They are coming along satisfactorily.

This is another row of Brussels sprouts. The cabbage moths have given me a lot of trouble this year. After verification of organic origin, I applied some Bt to impact their assault on my crops. At least the damage is slowing down.

These are giant marconi green peppers. They are a little longer and narrower than the standard green bell pepper. I have always had great difficulty in growing green peppers. I don't know what was different this time, maybe it was the type of pepper plant or the weather. I don't know, but I have already harvested 112 green peppers weighing 15.95 pounds since June 14th. As you can see in the pictures, they are ready to pick again.

It won't be too many more weeks before the horseradish is ready to harvest. I have one large two year old plant and about 11 one year old plants that my Mom sent to me earlier this year. I cut off the root and left the crown (top) about an inch long with an angled cut, indicating that was the bottom of the root. I didn't want to get them mixed up and plant them upside down. It really makes some great horseradish!

This is my chayote plant, or vegetable pear. Any harvest from this will be a gamble this year. The summer heat almost killed it, but then it came back. It's continuing to grow more and more vines with tiny fruits on them. You can see some of them in the pics. Whether or not they will grow to harvest size remains to be seen. I'm hoping so.

These are my Ruby Queen beets planted in a barrel. My last potato plant was eaten by a caterpillar, so I decided to try beets in a barrel. Although they're a cool weather crop they are growing slowly. According to the charts, the scheduled maturity date is November 17th. I realize that this time of year, nothing is guaranteed, but it's worth trying.

The Heritage Red raspberries are producing their second crop this year. Since they were planted so late in the year, I really didn't think there would be a second crop. The plants are small and we're talking about 131 red raspberries so far. At least they'll have a head start for next year. I planted them in the space between my driveway and the house foundation. It tapers out from 8 inches to 14 inches wide, but I figured I would rather give this a try as opposed to just cutting the grass there. I think it will work. After all, I have 131 more red raspberries than I did before.

The lemon grass, or schav, needs to be transplanted into the ground instead of being in a container. There, I think it will spread out nicely and I will get a better harvest. It's great for soups with its sour, lemony flavor.

I was sent a plant from my mom's garden in upstate New York. It had something else growing in the pot with it. The little leaves looked familiar, so I picked one. I rolled it between my fingers and smelled it. It was spearmint! I was delighted to have it. I carefully took it out of the pot and snipped the main root of the spearmint. Each leaf had a piece of the original root with it. I planted those cuttings in small individual containers so they could root well and grow into larger plants. You want to have mint in containers because it spreads by the roots. Some consider it to be invasive. If it is in the ground, it is said that it will take over everything around it.

This is what is left of my carrots after the caterpillars of the swallowtail butterfly visited for a few days. It was crowded in there when they were here. There were as many as 17 at a time on the carrot tops, chowing down. They were using it for food to grow on and that is fine with me. I like the carrots, but swallowtails are beautiful butterflies! I don't mind feeding them at all. The carrots will probably grow more top foliage anyway.

I planted chives in a container. The roots will develop and then I can plant it in a permanent location. As a perennial, I want it in the ground by springtime.

The grapes are finally slowing down in vine growth. I'm hoping that the root systems have developed as well as the vines did. The vines are three years old now, so next year I expect to begin harvesting a lot of grapes. When I bought my grape vines, it was a holiday deal: Red, White and Blue. The red grapes are "Reliance; the white ones are "Himrod"; and the blue ones are "Glenora". All of these are of the seedless variety. I had one cluster of Glenora grapes this past summer and they were delicious! My youngest grandaughter loved them. Can't wait for all of the vines to begin heavy production.

The scallions of the green onions will be ready for one more harvest before the cold weather really inhibits their growth. These are from the green onions I bought at the grocery store. I used the scallions from them and instead of throwing the leftover bulbs on the compost pile, I stuck them in a container. The next cutting of the scallions will be the third time I've cut them this year. It has been well worth the little time it took to pot them.

French Tarragon has grown well this year. It has already been clipped once but I will probably make one more cutting and use it to make a vinegar for salads.

Here are some containers with fennel growing in them. My goal is to make a planting of it in a corner of our yard and let it stay there year after year without harvesting. I saw the ones at Bluebird Gap Farm in Newport News. There were hundreds of butterfly caterpillars all over them. Allowed to grow year after year without harvesting, it gets quite large and tall. I was told it was about ten years old. The cluster appeared to be four feet wide and seven or eight feet tall. It was remarkable! The caterpillars were having a feast. To support butterfly population growth, that's what I'm going to do too.

These are the remainder of the leeks that grew from seed that I planted in a flat. I'm going to find a place to put them in the ground, hopefully they'll grow. They are NOT a fast grower by any stretch of the imagination.

To summarize it all, this is my entire plot behind my shop. Simply due to geographic location, I refer to it as the "West Field".

"And now, the rest of the story." This area is geographically positioned on the east side of our property, so I refer to it as the "East Field".

After all is said and done, the remaining plant material after the veggie harvest ends up here, the compost pile. I was able to find six big bags of grass clippings in the nearby neighborhoods yesterday. I'll be blending those in with my compost this afternoon to get it cooking. You can see the apple peelings that came from making dehydrated apples. Most of the brown pile you see is what's left of the tomato vines I mulched with the lawn mower a few weeks ago. You can hardly identify them now.

Once again we come to the close of a posting, and as always, I thank you for taking the time to visit. I hope you enjoyed it!

Have a great gardening day!

Veggie PAK


  1. Yeh!!! You got it working!!! You really have a big beautiful garden. I am jelaous!! Oh, I started the leeks seeds inside on 2/19/10 and just harvested the first last week. So, I think that you have a little time to go.

    Love your garden!

  2. I guess you're signed in at Gmail so you can post a comment. Apparently, if others want to leave a comment, they should join Gmail and sign in too.

    Thank you for your kind words about my garden. I have a LONG way to go for my leeks.

  3. Thank you for the tour, you have a big and beautiful garden.

  4. Mac, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for visiting!

  5. Oh wow, I love love love your grape vines! They look great. We are growing 4 types. Also Glenora, Reliance, Cayuga and Concord. However we only have 4 plants, it looks like in your photo you have 9 plants? It looks wonderful. Our grape vines are only 1 year old so we have much to wait.

  6. meemsnyc, Thank You! I only have 6 grape vines, two of each type, all seedless. I have to prune the vines in the spring before the sap starts rising. With the vines having grown so much this year, I want to make sure I do it right. It just seems wrong to cut off so much, but all the directions say that. My Grandmother had Concord grapes on her farm! They had several rows totaling hundreds of feet in length. Concords make the best juice and jelly! But, oh! the seeds! I had to go seedless. Read up on how to care for the vines, and be sure to read more than one person's opinion on which way is correct.

    Good luck with your grapes and all the rest of your gardening efforts as well!

    Veggie PAK

  7. Do you have a good online resource that talks about pruning grape vines? Next year will be our 2nd year for grapevines and we are due for a pruning as well. I also saw that you grew horse radish too. That is awesome. How do you know when it is ready to harvest?

    Oh, and we do have neighbors really close to us. In this post, you can see that we live right next door to a "condo" development. So instead of 1 neighbor we have 9. ;) Luckily, most of them are nice.

  8. meemsnyc, visit:

    They are the local Co-operative Extension Office in your area I think. Co-op's are a wealth of information. Each state has them that I know of.

    Horseradish is similar to potatoes in that when the plants are brown and fallen over, they're ready to harvest.

    Good luck with your grapes! Email me and let me know what you think of the Co-op. veggiegardenblogger@gmail.com

    Have a great day!
    Veggie PAK