August: What to Plant Now

Kale

Well by now the garlic is harvested, the lettuce has bolted and you probably have a bit of new found space in the garden, don’t let that loved and tended soil lay dormant quite yet.  There are still a number of great fall crops that you can plant now and enjoy well into the pumpkin season.

beets

Swiss Chard and Beets, they are quick growing and fairly frost hardy.  They can be sown in to late August and protected with frost or shade cloth.  The greens are great in salads while they are young and when given a chance to mature they are great in soups and stir-frys.

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Cilantro, if you planted this south west staple in spring you should have some seed developing by now.  Plant the dried seeds soon for your fall salsa recipes. Don’t forget to hold a few seeds back for next spring’s crop.

 

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Spinach and Kale are very cold hardy and some kales can be perennial in some zone 5 areas.  Tiered of kale salad? Try dehydrating seasoned kale leafs into kale chips or freeze the washed leaves for winter soups.
These are just a few of the great cold hardy veggies you can sow now for a fall harvest!

 

PS.. Don’t forget to order your seed garlic for planting in October, if you are in the North Okanagan we recommend Rasa Creek Organic Garlic Farm or stop by your local farmer’s market to find varieties that are tried and tested for your area!

Summer, Time to Obtain a Yield

 

beets

It seems summer is in full swing in the Okanagan. We have just gotten through our driest summer on record, just 1.1 mm of rain. Despite temperatures often exceeding 34 degrees Celsius, our crops are flourishing and the harvest is beginning to roll in. We are getting tomatoes daily, the plums are plump, peppers are almost ripe and the zucchini…oh the zucchini. To keep these crops producing longer you can simply harvest more often to keep the plants going.

It is inevitable some crops are finishing up such as: garlic, lettuce, peas and turnips. As you continue to harvest and crops finish, gaps start to open up in your garden and there lies an opportunity to get on succession planting. I know no one wants to think about it but it is also time to start planning for fall and winter crops.

Succession Planting

Succession planting is simply adding more plants to your garden where ever there is room. In Permaculture we refer to this as filling niches. Be sure to observe how much sun and shade a site is receiving and remember the days are getting shorter so that same spot my have more shade in a month or so. Also remember to observe your first frost date and calculate backwards to make sure you have enough time for your crops to mature. In Vernon, zone 5, we are reseeding beets, bush beans, carrots, cilantro, lettuces, mustards, radishes and turnips.

If you are really ambitious you can go right now and start fast maturing brassicas indoors and transplant them out at the end of the month. Some fall crops we are preparing to start include: asian greens, corn salad, kale, swiss chard, radicchio and winter lettuce blend. By starting now we can enjoy all of these crops into the fall, some even into December!

If you do not live in such a favourable climate or you would like to enjoy more veggies even later into the season the consider some season extension ideas.

Season Extension

To protect your crops well into the fall and even through the first few frosts consider the use of cold frames, greenhouses or row covers. Cold frames are basically garden beds that can be covered by a window or sheet of poly to keep the soil warm and retain heat during cool evenings. Row covers will essentially do the same but instead of glass or poly you will be using a cloth, usually made from UV stabilized polyester. Row covers will give you 1-2 degrees Celsius protection from frost. Finally you can consider planting your fall crops into a greenhouse to provide your plants with a controlled growing environment.

To take season extension to the next level look at the Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. Coleman uses both movable greenhouses and row covers to grow almost all year round in Maine (zone 5). He explains that each layer of protection you add, in the form of poly or row cover, you gain 1.5 growing zones. So a greenhouse will move you to a zone 6.5 and row covers inside a greenhouse will move you to a zone 8!  For the hardcore gardeners our there this is a must read.

Best of luck on your gardening endeavours this fall stay tuned for our next article on cover cropping to maintain your soils nutrients.

For more info on tips and tricks in the garden or to share your experiences with us join us on Facebook.

We found our thrill on Blueberry Hill!

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Last Friday Gord and I decided to duck out early for the long weekend, we had heard rumour of a fantastic farm offering you pick blueberries. We thought, what better way to start our long weekend than with some fresh berries to last us the season.

Blueberry Hill Farm is located on South Grandview Flats in Armstrong, not far past O’Keefe Ranch in Vernon. Upon arrival Gord and I would have both turned back, assuming we were at the wrong location if it wasn’t for the You-Pick/We-Pick Blueberries sign at the end of the drive. At first glance, Blueberry Hill did not have any of the classic farm icons, no big red barn, no livestock roaming the yard.  But after receiving our directions from the friendly farm owner and passing through a gate in the tall cedar fence, relics of a time gone by began to reveal themselves.  We began our decent to the berry patch, past a forgotten chicken yard and an old weathered barn accented with ancient, sun bleached cattle skulls. From there we crested a little knoll which guarded the farm’s best kept secret, rows and rows of 40 year old blueberry bushes laden heavy with their powdery blue burden.

Gord and I began picking and the berries literally rained from their branches.  We thought it best to set a ten pound limit on our harvest because it was very clear that we could easily get carried away.  We duck walked our way down the row, raking our way along the drooping branches all the while exclaiming “can you believe this?” or “look at the berries on this branch”.


As we picked, our basket grew heavier and our teeth got mysteriously bluer? We finally decided to raise the white flag and surrender to the unyielding bushes, there was just no way we could pick them all! So, we made our way back up the berry laden isles, past the ramshackle old barn and through the tall cedar gate to face the scale and weigh our harvest.

We held our breath as the scale needle rose, we were shocked, bewildered and a little proud as the needle sat teetering at the 17 pound marker!  So much for our ten pound limit. Our one hour harvesting session had yielded us enough blueberries to last us well into winter, a very fruitful afternoon, if I do say so myself 🙂

Blueberry Quinoa Salad

Blueberry Love!

Here is a great recipe for Blueberry Quinoa Salad that our host made at the Cob Oven Building Workshop in Vernon last week.
Enjoy!

3 C  cooked quinoa
1 C  fresh blueberries
1/3 C  sliced green onions
1/4 C  chopped walnuts
1 can  kidney beans
2 Tbsp  tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp  honey
4 Tbsp  fresh lime juice
2 Tsp  grated ginger
1/4 C  chopped mint
2 Tbsp  toasted sesame oil

Combine cooled cooked quinoa, blueberries, green onions, walnuts and kidney beans(drained and rinsed) in a large salad bowl and mix.  In a smaller bowl combine tamari/soy sauce, honey, lime juice, mint and sesame oil and stir until well mixed.  Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hrs.