Welcome to my Western Pennsylvania garden. Join me on a "Walk Down the Garden Path".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Veggie Garden Update ~ November 2008

I am amazed that I actually have something to report about my veggie garden in NOVEMBER! Although, it is admittedly, a short report. For more veggie garden going's on check out Tina's blog, In The Garden where you will find links to other garden bloggers reporting on their veggies.

I finally got around to planting my Egyptian Walking Onions and my garlic on one of the nice days at the beginning of November. While looking for someplace to buy garlic bulbs (other than the grocery store), I came across Egyptian Walking Onions and they sounded so interesting, I had to try them. The description, according to the Burpee site, is as follows:

"Each bulb produces a clump of stalks atop which form bulblets of hardy scallion-size onions. Held high above the plants these “floating” onions offer an early harvest of very sweet scallions in the spring. When left until summer they become much hotter in flavor. You can eat either end, but usually you eat the bulbs from the ground and plant the top bulbs for more onions. If not harvested the top bulbs will fall over and replant themselves, thus beginning their “walk” across the garden. "

So I will let you know in the spring how they turn out and we will see if they walk across my garden.

This year I really branched out when it comes to garlic. In the past I just planted the cloves from whatever garlic I may have had laying around the kitchen, even though this is not what you are supposed to do. And sometimes I wouldn't plant any garlic but bulbs left in the ground from the year before would sprout and that would be my next years crop. But this year I thought I would order some bulbs of the proper type for my area.

I found Gourmet Garlic Gardens on the web and since they offered several different variety packs I chose them as my garlic supplier. They also have a great website with all sorts of garlic history and information about many different varieties. There are two main types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. Softneck varieties are what are most often found in grocery stores. They store a long time, have many smaller cloves, and should be able to grow pretty much anywhere. Hardneck varieties form a stalk (scape) which curls at the top. These generally have fewer but larger cloves and tend not to store as well. But they do grow best in cold/cool winter areas (like Pennsylvania).

I ordered a hardneck garlic sampler which would grow best in my area. You don't know ahead of time what varieties you will receive, it's based on what they have available, etc. I received 4 varieties, with two bulbs of each one except one which had three bulbs. The varieties I received were Carpathian (Rocambole), Purple Italian Rocambole, Slovenian Rocambole, and German Extra Hardy (Porcelain). Rocambole and Porcelain are two of the three distinct families of hardneck garlic. Purple stripe is the third but I did not receive any of those. Rocamboles should store for 5-6 months, while the Porcelains store 8-10 months. I'm really looking forward to trying these different varieties.

I ended up planting one bulb of each of the four I received. That should give me plenty of garlic next year. I plan on using the remaining bulbs now so I can get a taste of what to expect next year. I can't wait.

Monday, November 17, 2008

There's more than frost on these pumpkins!

There is always something magical about the first snowfall. Everything looks so pure, so clean, so white, it's such a drastic change from the reds, then golds, then browns we have been used to as fall progresses. I think the only thing more magical is the first ice storm, transforming the world into a crystallized ice palace so beautiful it's hard to be annoyed at the inconvenience and danger it presents. But we have not been visited by the ice fairy yet, only the snow queen who is covering our garden with the first mantle of winter. This is hardly any amount of snow to be worried about, a dusting I would call it, but the little flakes continue to drift down making it the perfect day to stay inside and drink hot chocolate. Won't you enjoy a cup with me as I share some photos with you.

The poor Flowering Quince has been confused by the recent warmer weather and is now rethinking her decision to bloom.

The Coneflower seed head catches the snowflakes perfectly.

A miniature forest of Rosemary

My late blooming mums, laden down with snow. This made me think of snow covered swans.

While this is my first snow, garden bloggers around the world have already experienced their first taste of winter. To follow the snow trail check out Nancy at Soliloquy's Garden Blogger's First Snowfall feature.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remember Our Veterans

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Remember to honor our veterans today.

To all that are reading this who are currently serving or who have served in the military, you have my heartfelt thanks.

In the United States, Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th, honoring all military veterans. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. From 1919 - 1954 this day was known as Armistice Day in the United States, however in 1954 Congress passed an act changing Armistice to Veterans, in order to honor all veterans, not just World War I veterans. Information from Wikipedia.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Check out this Contest!

Fern at Life on the Balcony is having another contest this month. It's super easy to enter, all you have to do is contribute to the conversation by commenting on one of her posts. You can find all the details, rules, etc. on her site by clicking RIGHT HERE!

She has great ideas for container gardening and small space gardening and is always finding cool stuff on the internet to share with us. Go check it out, you might be her next winner.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Busy Bees

We have been enjoying some fine Indian Summer weather this week and it has allowed us to be busy, busy, busy outside. The leaves are almost all down now, so soon the raking will begin. But first, the deck must be cleaned and then coated with the sealer and it has been the perfect week to do it.

We are not the only busy ones outside. My late blooming mum (now pretty much the only flowers left) have attracted quite a bevy of bees the last few days. I have to keep a close eye on Lillian as she closely examines this plant every time she goes by it. She sees those bees and would like to grab them!

And look, isn't Lillian so helpful. Here she is trying to shake the leaves off the lilac.

And then she is ready to sweep up the leaves.

And finally, she was ready to set these seeds free as only a child can. Or maybe she is going to eat them.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gourds Galore!

One of the best fall decorative items can be grown in right in your own garden - gourds! From those big orange orbs we call pumpkins to the little warty, winged gems - they are all wonderful in my book. This year the deer decided that I wasn't going to have any homegrown gourds, well, almost. I did get a few little pumpkins and some white spaceship squashy things. These all went to the fall display, but a trip to the farmer's market would be necessary to "round" it out and to pick the perfect pumpkins for carving. I like going to the farmer's market for gourds and pumpkins anyway, they always have a great selection. Even Lillian was able to pick out the perfect pumpkin for her.

Picking out the perfect pumpkin!

The Fall Display seems to be missing something.

Oh, yes. A child - that's better.

Little White and Big Orange Pumpkins

Carving on Halloween's Eve

Friend or Foe ?!?

The Monster Mash

If you grew gourds in your garden for crafting (like birdhouse gourds), it's probably getting to be time to pick them. Be sure to leave some stem on and use sharp scissors or pruners so you get a nice clean cut. If you are going to dry them, make sure they have lots of good air circulation. It may take several months for them to dry. You will know they are ready when they are light and you can hear the seeds shake inside.