A Few New Things This Year

This is my third season growing a garden, and my desire to grow more in the garden include growing more varieties of plants.  This year, I’ve expanded the area dedicated to some plant, and have added several new ones.

Seed pods on the turnips

Seed pods on the turnips

I mentioned in my last post that I overwintered turnips, and I am letting them go to seed.  In the past few days, the flowers have started disappearing and the seed pods have arrived.  The plants are producing what looks like a large amount of seed, to the point that I should not need to buy turnip seeds again.  I’ve also noticed that the turnips seem to be a nest of bugs: I’ve counted no less than 11 lady bugs on the plants, for which I am very grateful.  Less desirable are the multitude of what looks like could be Harlequin Bugs.  I still need to check the bugs against the pictures I have found of these bugs before I will trust that I have the correct identification.  I hope it does not turn out to be a big problem.  As long as I get seed from these plants, I will be okay with the rest of the plant dying.  More of a concern is that I have cabbage planted elsewhere in the garden that might be affected by these bugs.  For now, they appear to be content to hang out in the branches of the turnip tops.

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Preserving Onions By Dehydration

Onions, straight out of the garden.

This is the post I was intending on writing before I found out that pretty much every one of my zucchini plants was dead.

Three days ago, I needed decided it was time to thin out the onions so the remaining ones could grow large.  Because I didn’t have anything I could use them for immediately due to a fridge full of leftovers, I decided that I was going to preserve the onions.  There are probably other methods of doing so, but I use dried onion a lot and I have a dehydrator, so that is what I did.

Diced onions on the dehydrator.

After washing the dirt off the onions and removing the half-eaten ones, I diced them so that when they dry, the onion pieces would be conveniently shaped for cooking.  I ended up needing one of the trays that is supposed to be used for making fruit leather because the individual pieces kept falling thru the normal tray.

The completely dehydrated onions.

A word of warning to others that attempt this: dehydrating onions will make the entire house smell like onions for a few hours and some of that is the substance that makes your eyes sting.  The end result of the drying was nice onion flakes that I will use for cooking.  Onions dried like this will keep for a year or two on the shelf, but they get eaten a lot sooner than that.

Pole Beans? Onion Seeds?

Storm clouds right before some much-needed rain.

This last week has had quite a bit happen.  I finally have a fully functional riding lawn mower and it only took me six months.  Mowing an acre and a quarter with a push mower takes a little more than a day.  The week also gave us just over an inch and a half of rain.  I am very grateful for this as it gave me a bit of a reprieve from watering the garden manually and it also refilled my rain barrels.

Turns out the pinto beans are pole beans.

Well, it turns out that the pinto beans I got from the whole foods store in town ended up being pole beans. Growing these beans has been rather interesting as the source of these was a package labeled for food purposes and not seed. No instructions or information about the pinto beans.  Within the past two or three weeks, the bean plants have put on flowers, started making bean pods and started growing vines out the top of the plants.  The last part caught me off guard as I only had a handful of bamboo stakes to use as poles for the beans.  Thankfully, the tree in my back yard where I keep the dogs likes to grow somewhat straight branches which I helped myself to.

A line of small pinto bean plants.

This past week, I also planted the last of the beans I will be starting this year for food.  If I end up planting any more beans, it will be as a green manure cover crop to provide fertilizer for next year.  Unlike all my previous pinto bean plants, these were planted directly into the garden rather than be started in the greenhouse.  It has gotten so hot in the greenhouse, up to 113 degrees farenheit.  The seeds don’t like it that much and are not germinating very well.  Because of this, I have stopped using the greenhouse for germinating seed and have put everything away until the fall if I decide to try some fall crops, or next year if not.

An onion seed head. Perhaps I will have better luck with these than I did with the packet I found in the shed.

The previous owner of my house left a lot of things here when he left. Among them was an onion in a plastic pot sitting next to the greenhouse.  I haven’t paid much attention to this plant until recently when it flowered and then formed a seed head.  I believe this is a yellow onion, but I will be waiting to check this until after I have collected the seeds to use for next year.