Monday, January 30, 2012

Harvest Monday for January 30th, 2012.

Now that we're at the end of January, I notice that I still haven't put any protective covering over my lettuce and Swiss chard. The Swiss chard is coming along alright, but the lettuce is doing pretty good without anything on it so far. Now I'm in a quandry. Should I or shouldn't I put a protective cover over it at this late date? It would be some work but a significant expense for the little extension of time that it might get from having it covered. Lettuce isn't that expensive, so I'm leaning towards not covering it.

This is how my lettuce rows looked today just before I picked one of the "heads". (More of a bunch than a head.) Some of the ones that I harvested weeks ago are growing out strong.

This is the plant that I cut today and got 12 ounces of lettuce towards this week's harvest. Remember the smoothie I talked about making in a previous post?

Well, here it is! I was in a hurry to work on the broccoli and I didn't have all the ingredients I wanted to use on hand for the smoothie, so I just made it with what I did have. I mixed in two tablespoonfuls of flax meal, one and one-half cups of water with the lettuce, and that was it. Lettuce juice. That sums it up right there! I drank some and my son Jonathan drank a glass of it. It wasn't bad, but it needed some additional ingredients like perhaps apple juice instead of water, a banana, a cored apple, and some parsley and cilantro. Next time I'll have it all on hand before I begin.

Broccoli comes through again with a wonderful harvest! From my east plot where I have been doing all the broccoli harvesting so far, I got two pounds and seven ounces of broccoli. Yesterday, for the first time this year, I harvested from my west plot and got 13 ounces, for a grand total of three pounds and four ounces of broccoli for this week's report!

I blanched some of it for freezing and gave the remainder of it to my son Jonathan for his family. Here it is in the ice bath after blanching.

This is my Ziplock vacuum sealing system that I used to seal my four 12 ounce bags of broccoli for freezing. I think this system is absolutely the best! No electricity needed! That simple little air pump at the top of the picture really works great! The bags are resealable, and you can vacuum out the air the next time you use them. I use it to vacuum out the air in the bag where I store my unused oxygen absorbers for my food prepping. They've been sealed for about sixty days or so with no leaks. I haven't dicovered how many times the bags are reusable though. I'm not promoting them, I just like the system.

Be sure to visit DaphnesDandelions for more exciting vegetable gardening experiences.

That concludes this week's Harvest Monday report. Thanks for stopping by my blog and visiting and for sharing your comments.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 23, 2012

Harvest Monday for January 23rd, 2012.

This week's harvest is as productive as I hoped it would be when I was planning for it. I wanted to be able to get a little bit of broccoli each week during most of the winter. So far, it's been working that way. I know in February when it is the coldest time here, the growth will probably stop and then pick back up in March.

Although small in quantity, it is still nice to get fresh vegetables from my garden in January. Next year will see an additional two rows of broccoli to ensure the desired harvest is met... as long as Mother Nature cooperates.

The broccoli produced a 15 ounce harvest for this week. Recently our daytime weather temps are running between low 50's to mid 60's, and I'm very grateful for it.

I also picked 12 ounces of buttercrunch lettuce as part of this week's harvest. I'm going to try using this in a green smoothie along with some other ingredients and see how it tastes.

That's all the garden news for this week's report.

Thanks for stopping by to see how things are going in the garden during this time of year.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2011 Calendar Year Final Crop Report.

Once again it is the financial day of reckoning for the garden. This data is from my spreadsheets for calendar year 2011, and it is a complete and accurate accounting of all expenditures and harvests. The price per pound was gathered by visiting supermarkets with large organic sections in them, from organic co-ops and local farmer's markets.

I do my tracking in a simple manner. If I spend it this year, it goes entirely on this year's tally. I don't amortize my garden expenses.

In review of this past year I note the following:

I spent $283 for the Mantis tiller, not including the gift card from my brother Joe. That was a major expense.

I planted cucs this year using seeds AND plants, and didn't get a single cucumber. That's amazing to me. Seeds sprouted, vines grew, flowers came and then they all withered and died. I went through this exercise five separate times, all for naught. I even tried hand pollinating, but that didn't work either.

My tomato production was terrible compared to past years. This year I had about three times as many rows of tomato plants as in the past, and fewer tomatoes than in those same past years.

After caring for my grapes for three years, my two Reliance grape vines died. I think I overwatered them. At least that's what the cooperative extension thinks after analyzing everything.

Overall, my garden did pretty well. I would rather acquire my produce this way than buying it in a big box store, so I'm satisfied with it.

After all expenses were deducted from the value of the crops, I came out $424 ahead. Even if it was in the negative financially, I would still win. I know how to grow my own food.

Here's the tally:

Vegetable                                            Pounds            Price Per Pound     Total Value
Broccoli                                                  7.63                         $2.00                   $15.26
Collards                                                22.75                         $1.87                   $42.54
Lettuce                                                   1.38                         $1.76                      $2.43
Marconi Green Peppers                       41.31                         $2.01                    $83.03
Sorrel                                                     4.16                       $14.00                    $58.24
Fortex Green Beans                             97.25                         $4.00                  $389.00
Henderson Butter Beans                        0.28                         $2.23                      $0.62
Beet Greens                                            2.5                          $1.00                      $2.50
Swiss Chard                                           9.75                         $5.32                    $51.87
Sweet Corn                                             4.0                          $1.00                      $4.00
Blueberries                                             2.47                        $8.51                     $21.02
Figs                                                        1.04                         $4.00                       $4.16
Glenora Grapes                                      2.75                         $3.99                     $10.97
Himrod Grapes                                      1.06                         $3.99                       $4.23
Reliance Grapes                                    0.56                         $3.99                       $2.23
Raspberries                                           4.25                        $10.64                    $45.22
Chives                                                   0.25                          $1.00                      $0.25
Horseradish                                           2.5                            $4.97                    $12.43
Okra                                                      3.36                          $3.70                    $12.43
Onion, Green                                        0.37                          $1.98                      $0.73
Snow Peas                                            0.75                          $6.47                      $4.85
Banana Peppers                                  19.89                          $2.01                    $39.98
Red Beauty Pepper                               0.5                            $3.99                      $2.00
Salsify                                                  0.25                           $1.00                      $0.25
Tomatoes, Burpee Big Boy               25.19                           $3.99                   $100.51
Tomatoes, Cherokee Purple                1.63                           $5.99                       $9.76
Tomatoes, La Roma II                      21.06                           $2.99                      $62.97
Tomatoes, Park's Whopper               57.47                           $3.99                    $229.31
Tomatoes, Patio                                  0.27                           $5.32                        $1.44
Tomatoes, San Marzano                     6.94                           $3.99                      $27.69
Total Weight                                      344 
Gross Organic Value                                                                                      $1,242.00
Expenditures                                                                                                      $818.00
Net Profit                                                                                                           $424.00

Thanks for all the encouraging support during the past year, and I hope each of you and your families have a wonderful vegetable garden in the new year.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 16, 2012

Harvest Monday for January 16th, 2012.

Here it is mid-January and our garden is still producing. We have had just a very few isolated nights in the high 20's to low 30's, then it warms up during the day and the garden keeps going. Last week, a couple of the overnight lows were in the mid 50's.

Not much is going on in the garden this week. I'll be pruning back the grape vines while I have some time on my hands. After that, I'll cut back my heritage raspberries and mulch around them with compost.

I planted two Tifblue blueberry bushes this week. Now I have a total of six bushes and three varieties. I anticipate another good harvest of blueberries next year.

I harvested one pound three ounces of buttercrunch lettuce this week. A few leaves had the tips singed by the cold, but they can be trimmed. I'm procrastinating on getting them covered with plastic. I'll have to work on that!

I picked four pounds three ounces of collard greens this week. I'll be cooking them up with a nice country ham bone for seasoning.

The broccoli comes through again with a fine harvest of  two pounds five ounces. Fresh broccoli is so delicious! It's much sweeter than store-bought.

We've been enjoying our new fire pit at night. The flame is so high because I'm burning the twigs and branches that I pruned off our big oak tree out front. During regular use, the flame is only about one quarter of that height. It's a great way to dispose of the wood and after it sits a couple of days, I put the ashes on the compost pile.

And that's the news this week from Back Yard Organic Vegetables. I thank each and every reader for visiting and also those that share their comments with me. I hope all your gardens or gardening plans are doing well during this time of year!

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 9, 2012

Harvest Monday for January 9th, 2012.

We meet again for another harvest report during the month of January. After a few very cold nights in the 20's, temps have now returned to their normal range for this time of year. Currently the temperature is 47 degrees at 7 o'clock in the morning. A welcome change from those really cold nights!

Here's what I have to share with you about my garden this week:


The plants look so good that I thought I'd include some pics of them before the harvest.

Don't they all look nice?

Here is the harvest for this week. Two pounds six ounces of garden fresh, organically produced broccoli! Yum!

Here are two pictures of the broccoli plants that had the heads harvested last week. They're not wasting any time in producing more for our table.

I've already decided that next year I'm going to plant more rows of broccoli and a few less rows of collards. I have come to appreciate the versatility of the broccoli in that you can either eat it either raw with a dip, in a salad, steamed, used as part of other recipes, or even simply as a snack by itself. The collards may be used either as wraps, or cooked for a couple of hours with some seasoning meat the traditional way. Broccoli requires far less work after the harvest when compared to collards. I still like collards very much, so I'll always have them in my garden.

Here is a picture of the six 20 foot long rows of broccoli growing in my east plot. The plants look very healthy.

Here are two additional 28 foot long rows of broccoli in my west plot. These plants are three to four weeks younger than those in the east plot. I anticipate being able to harvest broccoli from these in about three more weeks.

A couple of days ago I pulled a dry line down my marconi pepper row and cut off the tops of the bushes at an even height. Next will be some light weeding and shallow cultivating, then the thick layer of compost will be applied to the entire row to hopefully protect the roots from the cold. Due to the forked trunks, I may have to forego my pipe insulation idea and just wrap the trunks with burlap cloth and tie it in place. If this idea works, I should have a very abundant crop of peppers next year. If this idea doesn't work, at least I will have learned something new.

This year I was able to harvest 455 giant marconi peppers that weighed a total of 41.3 pounds. Our freezer is full of peppers. Now it's time for some cooking!

That's all for the harvest report for this week from my back yard organic garden.

Be sure to visit DaphnesDandelions for more gardening experiences.

I hope you found the information I have shared with you interesting as well as inspirational towards your own vegetable gardening efforts.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 2, 2012

My First Harvest Monday for 2012!

We are starting out this new year with a harvest of broccoli and buttercrunch lettuce from our garden.

We picked ten ounces of broccoli yesterday. Today I am going to apply an organic fertilizer to the entire garden and then water it in. It hasn't been cold enough for me to drain my well pump so I'll use that today.

I picked eight ounces of lettuce this morning. I have more to pick later on for family members. I still have six plants left in their plastic pots that I haven't planted. I'll have to squeeze them in somewhere so they don't go to waste.

Now it was time for my field workers to do their jobs. I bought a garlic bulb from the grocery store and to find out if they would grow for us, we planted the cloves.

Two of my grandaughters each planted fifteen cloves in the prepared soil bed. They thought that was fun!  I poked a hole into the soil where each clove was to go in order to make it a little easier for the girls since it was getting dark.

Some of the garlic, if it decides to grow at all, will take longer because it will have to make a U-turn under the soil. I can wait...

I hope you enjoyed my first post for the new calendar year. Now I have to finish up my spreadsheets for tracking the 2011 gardening year and its associated expenditures. I'll report that in another post.

Be sure to visit  DaphnesDandelions for more gardening information.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK