Friday, May 30, 2014

Wyatt-Quarles Seed Catalog

I examined my small purchase of Mezla Pole Butter Beans that I recently bought at Clark's Feed and Seed in Hampton Virginia and found that they came from Wyatt-Quarles Seed Company.  I had to check the Seed Company out and found that they are a wholesale company located in North Carolina with listings of retail stores in Virginia, North and South Carolinas.

I was very much impressed with their on line seed catalog for vegetables, flowers, herbs, field seeds such as buck wheat, clover, cow peas and more, and grasses.  Further more, there is a Vegetable Planting Guide that I particularly liked which included locations of retail stores in the named states. It tells the variance in planting time between the states, including mountain time.

I also liked that the same kind of vegetables e.g. Bush Snap Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes had a synopsis, or short introductions, giving the general idea for best planting conditions, watering and mulching, fertilization, and best time to plant.  The guide did not include north Florida but I found it most helpful just to know what plants or seeds grow best during what season.

In addition, a description is given for the various vegetables, letting you know if it is a heirloom for example, the cost, maturation time, best time to plant, best soil condition, and so much more..

The University of Florida's Agricultural Department have a long list of the recommended vegetables to grow in Florida and my husband compared that list to what Wyatt-Quarles offered and I saw a lot of check marks in the 32 page Seed Catalog I printed.

The Wyatt-Quarles Seed Catalog is definitely worth checking out and I think that you will find the rest of the information on their on line page interesting, too.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mezcla Butter Beans

I may finally have found a replacement for the Sieva Pole Butter Beans, also known as Carolina Beans, and it is called Mezcla.  It is believed that the commercial growers have switched to Mezcla because of resistance to nematodes which have plagued the Sieva production.

Last year, I bought what I thought was Sieva Pole Beans and I expected them to climb up the bean poles but they did not even reach half way.  There is no difference in appearance and taste of the beans but the climbing Sieva produced more, was easier to pick, and took up less space in the garden.

I've called several nurseries and garden centers along the East Coast, including Monticello in Virginia, but they did not carry the Sieva and they could not give me an explanation as to why they did not.  I have checked on seed catalogs on the Internet, but to no avail.

Recently, my husband and I spent some time with his brother in Hampton Roads and he called around to find seed stores.  He was successful in finding Clark's Feed and Seed in Hampton, Virginia.  We all went there and I liked it long before I got out of the car.

It was the kind of place where gardeners hunker down and talk about weather and growing conditions, how that seed or plant did, and what fertilizer to use--no hurry and no worry.
The Clark's had rows of large jars filled with seeds and my eyes immediately fell on Mezcla labeled "a replacement for Sieva Pole Butter Beans".

 I bought a very small bag of beans, enough for replacement of the Butter Beans that we have already planted.  I sowed them in two rows on either side of the wires and strings attached to the poles and between what we believe to be Sieva Bush beans.

We doubt that the Butter Beans that we have planted and are coming up but without runners are pole beans.  We are indeed going to have a very tight two rows of bush (?) beans on the outside of two rows of pole beans flanked by the bush beans; that is, if our hunches, weather, water, and fertilizer will help.

A gardener is always optimistic with visions of the best vegetables dancing in his/her head.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cucumber Sandwiches

My husband is a tenacious gardener and he was determined to set out some cucumber plants which have a tendency to ramble.  He thought that if we cleared off the previous spot for the compost pile, the plants should get plenty of nutrition and grow well in such a fertile soil.  It was impossible to separate the plants so he put all six or nine plants in one place.  If they grow, fine; if not; he didn't lose much.

Time went by and the plants took off, rambled and bloomed, and when we came home from our recent family reunion, we found two (!) small but plump cucumbers close to the ground.  Wow!  That is more than we have ever had.  We did a wild cucumber dance.

Yesterday, I made cucumber sandwiches.  I peeled off the skin of one cucumber; it was a bit knobby, and sliced as thinly as I could leaving the seeds.  I spread Light Mayonnaise on whole wheat bread and covered two slices with the deliciously green cucumbers and put the top slices on and patted them down.  I held the sandwiches steady on the cutting board and with a serrated knife removed the crust.

I made tea for us and set the table with pretty linen, flowers, and candles.  I also put out some chocolate cookies and served a glass of sherry in some fancy glasses.

My husband and I were having a tea party in our summer kitchen. Needless to say:  we enjoyed the cucumber sandwiches.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Preparing for The Memorial Weekend

I hope that you all have arrived safely and soundly to your destination for this weekend to be filled with fun and laughter and good food and drinks to share with friends and family.  I also hope that all your shopping, cleaning, and preparation is finished so that you may have a wonderful holiday.

A post on my Facebook appeared titled "Flags In" in preparation for this very important holiday at the Arlington National Cemetery and I would like to share it with you.  After all, this is a holiday to remember and honor our soldiers who fought and died for our freedom.

At the Arlington National Cemetery, for the past forty years, the 3rd U.S. Infantry has honored America's fallen heroes each year by placing more than 260,000 flags in front of gravestones; 7,300 flags at the Cemetery's Columbarium; and another 13,500 flags are placed at the Soldiers and Airmen's Cemetery.  It takes them about 3 hours to do this work. (See Website for the National Cemetery.)

The Old Guard Soldiers remain in the Cemetery throughout the weekend to ensure that a flag remains at each grave stone.  (See Website for the National Cemetery.)

Give proper honor to our fallen heroes.
Enjoy the weekend.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

The Common Onion

The common onion or the bulb onion, you know--the yellow onion is the most widely cultivated of the Allium species.  I have waited eight years to get a good crop of yellow, red, and white onions and this is the year.  My onions have never come near the featured pictures in magazines and seed packets and they don't look anywhere near store bought onions. I have always referred to them as spring onions.

Let me quote this from Wikipedia:  "the bulb at the base of the plant begins to swell when a certain day-length is reached."  I thought this was interesting information.  I have never heard this before.

I don't want to claim that this vegetable  in particular or that vegetable prevents various diseases and ailments:  I don't know that for a fact. But I have heard that onions might increase bone density.

I understand that onions are known as power houses and should be eaten often either cooked or raw, sauteed, fried or any other way possible.  It's always good to incorporate onions with celery and tomatoes in tuna or salmon salads.  Add onions to meat balls and toss some on the grill when grilling steaks or hot dogs.

In the past years, I have left the onions in the ground as long as possible only to find that they became "cooked" because of the rain and the heat.  So I have used the onions ever since they turn as somewhat of a healthy green spring onions.

 Let me know how you use onions.

It is tricky to store the onions.  Do you put them in the fridge where it may be too cold or do you store them in room temperature where it might be too warm?

Again, I will leave the onions in the ground as long as possible, then pull them up leaving all the skin and dirt on the onions and put them out in a basket with layers of newspapers making sure that the onions don't touch each other.

I have also heard that the outer most skin is the most nutritious.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hearty Sausage and Vegetable Soup

On the way to the Family Reunion in Virginia, my husband and I stopped by our good friend's house and we couldn't visit without bearing gifts and knowing that he would cook for us, we brought a sack of red potatoes from our garden that I had recently dug.  I also picked kale on the morning we left and brought that along with some onions.  He was delighted with the vegetables.

My friend asked if we would like a Sausage and Vegetable soup.  He must have seen that I turned my nose up at that combination but he assured me that it was quite good.

He removed the skin from a pound of sausage and tore the sausage into small bite size pieces. He stir fried the sausage with onions and minced garlic from a jar. While the sausage was browning, he thinly sliced some of the potatoes and leaving the skin on them; sliced the onions; and cut up the kale.

He added chicken broth to the cooking pot.

When I replicated the recipe at home, I was short of broth so I added water to my soup. Also, I  tore the sausage into bite size pieces-- keeping in mind what I'd like for them to appear as in the soup.  I found that I could add as much potatoes and kale as necessary or as I had broth.  One pound of sausage, any kind, is plenty.

So, to get back to my friend's cooking:   the sausage and onions were browned, broth was added, the sliced potatoes and cut up kale were also added into the soup pot.  The soup was seasoned with garlic and I added pepper to taste for my soup.  My friend brought the soup to a boil and let it simmer gently for no longer than 15 minutes.  He checked to see if the potatoes were cooked by inserting a paring knife into the potatoes.

The soup was delicious and it was served with a tossed salad and Asiago bread.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014


A few years ago, the local newspaper carried an article about the pomegranate and I rushed to the nearby garden center to find out if they had it.  A few other people had also read the article so the center had to make a special order and would call us to come and pick the pomegranates up.

The pomegranate is a deciduous small leaved bush or tree depending on how it is trimmed.  To leave the pomegranate as a bush, only a few trunks are trimmed and the "bush" shaped.  To leave it as a tree, most of the trunks are cut and only a few remain to let it take the form of a small tree.  It does not grow but a few meters tall.

The pomegranate originated in Iran and around those geographical areas with a rather warm and dry climate.  In 1769, the pomegranate was introduced to California by Spanish settlers.

Fruitless varieties are grown for the beautiful abundant red/orange flowers that covers the bush or the tree.

Fruit is in season from September through February in the Northern Hemisphere.  The edible fruit is at best the size between a lemon and a grapefruit.  The pomegranate bush or tree is treated very much as a citrus tree given the same type of fertilizer and watering.

The delicious but hard to get fruit is best eaten over the sink, but it is easier to score and cut the pomegranate into sections with a sharp knife and tap on the shell so that the seeds will fall out.  See if that works, and let me know.

Another way is to separate the seeds in a bowl of water:  the seeds sink and the inedible pulp float to the surface.

It remains to find out if we have a fruit bearing or an ornamental bush on the Back Forty Garden and Park.  Either way, it is rather beautiful with all it red/orange flowers.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My May Garden

The green, yellow, and purple beans have been put in the freezer; I made several batches of three bean salads; and I gave some of the purple beans away to a dear lady whom I thought might enjoy the color as well as the beans.  I was surprised at the abundance of the beans but enough is enough:  I finally had to cut down the spent plants with the lawn mower and turn it into the soil for green manure.

I also pulled up all the potatoes besides the beans.  They were the potatoes I had bought at the Farmer's Market some time ago and they had developed eyes.  Apparently the farmer did not use spray to inhibit the growth of the eyes.  They came out without blemishes but with a rather brown and tough skin.  It didn't matter because when cooked, they were delicious.

My husband and I prepared the soil where the beans and potatoes had been so that we could plant Silver Queen corn, our favorite white corn.  It is better for pollination purposes to plant corn in blocks of rows rather than long rows of one or two.  My husband prefers to add fertilizer to the soil at planting or sowing time while I rather wait until the plants have established themselves and grown a few inches.

I am also delighted at how well each of the nine plants of kale and mustards have done.  I am still picking or pulling kale but the mustards are blooming.  I am trying to attract the neighbor's bees but I have yet to see them.  If kale and mustard plants are available this fall, I will definitely use plants and not seeds.  I think "they" call this lessons learned.

I have also planted five eggplants near the greens and they are blooming.  Although eggplants are self-pollinating, it doesn't hurt to help them along by shaking them up a bit.  Just gently grab hold of the stem and shake, not too vigorously.

Happy gardening.
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