Picture Snob

July 19, 2011

Thinking ahead by planting Fava Beans


Some Fava Beans can be planted in late summer to get an early spring harvest. Favas are broad beans that have a long and storied history in the Mediterranean where they were on the first cultivated plants. They can also be grown as a cover crop to prevent erosion and because they are legumes, they fix nitrogen in the soil.

If Windsors or Negreta favas are planted in the late summer, they will overwinter in areas where winter temperatures as they are very frost hardy. Windsor will take temperatures down to 12 degrees! They take about 240 days to mature and so they will be ripe in spring before most any other crop is ready. The plants stand 3 to 4 feet high and have large pods.

The beans can be eaten when young and tender or cooked when mature and pureed into a variety of tasty snacks and dips when mixed with garlic and spices. Now they have become common in this form in gourmet restaurants. Their versatility of uses as a cover crop, an early vegetable and a gourmet treat make them worth a try in your garden.

At Windsor Fava Beans

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July 18, 2011

Orchid Rock Rose is great for a dry, rocky spot


Here the Orchid Rockrose flower is just awakening for the day. Each flower will flatten out, reveal its inner markings, and then fall petal by petal gracefully to the ground with the increasing heat of the afternoon. The next morning the show will start all over again. This lasts for about 4 weeks in early spring.

Rockrose family is a group of shrubs which are covered with flowers that open in the morning and whose petals have fallen by evening. This is a Mediterraen plant that does well with hot dry summers. They also have adapted to the wildfires that frequently eradicate large areas of forest. The plants cast their seeds in the soil during the growth period, but the latter don't germinate right in the next season. Their hard coating is impermeable to the water, and thus the seeds remain dormant for a long period of time. This together with their small size allows it to establish a large seed bank rather deep in the soil. Once the fire comes and kills the vegetation in the area, the seed coating softens or cracks as a result of the heating, and the surviving seeds germinate shortly after the fire.

Perhaps the most beautiful of all rockroses, Orchid Rockrosegrows up to five feet high and as wide. It spills over rocks and hillsides. It is good also in large open spaces. Orchid Rockrose can layer and root along its stem and spread out indefinitely. The plant sounds perfect for the cut bank in back of my house. I started looking for sources and came up with only one.

At Orchid Rockrose

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July 15, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished

Here's an article from Time that is at once amusing and distressing.


A Michigan woman is being charged with a misdemeanor offense and is facing up to 93 days in jail. Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden--in her own yard. Her front yard, that is.

Like many consumers today, Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Mich., appreciates the taste and healthfulness of organic vegetables, but isn't much of a fan of how much going organic costs at the store. So, like many health-minded consumers, she planted a vegetable garden on her property.

Read more

Read More in: Industry News

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July 11, 2011

Buckwheat makes a great summer cover crop

Buckwheat is an unusually fast-growing crop with a variety of uses. Most buckwheat is ground into flour and used for a variety of foods, including noodles in Japan and pancakes and breakfast cereals in the U.S. Russians and eastern Europeans make a wide range of foods with buckwheat, most famously, buchwheat groats or kasha.

But for our purposes, buckwheat can be used as a cover crop. It will smother weeds and improve the soil. Buckwheat flowers profusely, making it popular with bee keepers and an attractive crop in the landscape. Its flexibility and wide adaptation led it to be grown on more than a million acres in the U.S. in the late 1800s, even though it is not native to our country. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were two of the first American farmers to grow buckwheat and recognize the benefit to their crop rotations.

You might try it on a bare section of the garden or between the rows.

At Buckwheat Cover Crop

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July 8, 2011

Save the taste of summer with a pressure canner


Here's a real deal. This is a three hundred dollar canner for under $200! As you know,
a pressure cooker is generally recommended when canning vegetables and nonacid fruit, since the high heat that can be generated will kill more bacteria than a regular hot water bath. This canner is made from cast aluminum, with sturdy screws to seal the lid to the pot and because of this, it requires no rubber or plastic gaskets or rings. Its 21-1/2-quart capacity holds 19 pint jars or 7 quart jars. A three-setting pressure regulator valve is included, and the pressure gauge gives a clear reading.

It has a geared steam gauge with an automatic overpressure release. It has settings of 5 psi, 10 psi, and 15 psi. The size is 15-3/8 inches high with 12-1/4-inch inside diameter. These canners are made in the USA which is something to be aware of. No made in China on this pressure canner!

At All-American 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner

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July 7, 2011

A Harvesting Bag to bring in the garden bounty


This harvesting bag is lightweight, durable and roomy. More importantly it's wearable. You can put it around your waist or over your shoulder and have your hands free to weed or pick the day's harvest. It has a patented ring held opening which keeps the bag open as you go along the rows. It holds five gallons of weeds or fruit and vegetables.

The opening is 10 inches in diameter so there's no fumbling around, trying to fit the fruit in the bag and it's almost two feet deep so there's plenty of room to bring in all you can eat and more. All parts of this product, including the packaging, are certified recycled materials. The design is extremely well thought out. It even has a Velcro pocket for your phone or ipod.

At Harvesting Bag

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July 6, 2011

Vine clips are easy to use and effective


This packet comes with fifteen durable clips that can support your flowers, vines and other plants as they start to mature. I have some newly planted trees that need these vine clips badly to keep them from bending into a C shape. The clips can be used for training roses, wisteria and grapevines as well as any other climbing plant.

Once the clips are in place they provide support while holding the plant securely in place.
You don't have to fool with twine, rope, wire or any other the other makeshift means we often find and grab when we need to keep a plant stable and upright. A very handy addition to the gardener's tool kit.

At Vine Clips

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July 5, 2011

Territorial Seed fall catalog arrives on the solstice


Summer planting means winter harvest is the by line on the magazine and so we get a reminder that now is the time to plant for fall. That is very hard to believe this year because the weather only now has turned hot so it's hard to think about cool weather crops when the tomatoes and peppers are just starting to prosper.

There are several mid summer chores I'm ready to take on. I'm going to till up the strawberry beds, both of them and get new plants. I'll build up a raised bed with a lot of chicken manure put in and all new plants. They should be bearing well next year when the grandchildren come and I look forward to starting all over again with strawberries. They are one of my favorite crops and i really like to have enought to freeze for winter and to make jam and that hasn't been happening for several years.

I noticed that my garlic is starting to make flowers heads and reminded myself to cut those off to let all the energy go to the bulb. The flowers on the swiss chard can be trimmed off also and a side dressing of manure is called for on the carrots.

But the first page I turned to in the Territorial seed catalog was the spinach. They are selling an organic an heirloom seed called Galilee which is heat tolerant and very suited for summer growing. The leaves can be used for salads and also can be cooked.

I think this is worth a try.

At Galilee Spinach

Read More in: Garden Thoughts | Plants

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July 1, 2011

Yellow Trefoil is growing well in rocky soil and drought


I would love to find some seeds for this plant but the only place online I found them was in the UK. These little clover like plants have established themselves in my rocky barren soil where the topsoil was scraped off to build the house. They grow low to the ground and are covered with small yellow flowers.

With some research I discovered they are considered invasive weeds. I should be so lucky. The picture above shows an upright plant, but they usually creep along the ground, making a nice ground cover and all the while fixing nitrogen in the soil. Yellow trefoil is native to Europe but has spread to North America and is often mixed with red clover seed. It may have come in the package of wildflowers I bought and scattered last fall. At any rate, I am very glad to see it and hope I can find a outlet that sells the seeds. If anyone knows of such, please let me know.

Read More in: Plants

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