American Gardens: Winding Up The Season

Tim's new raised beds! If DIY isn't for you, consider Lehman's Space Saver Garden Beds.

Tim’s new raised beds! If DIY isn’t for you, consider Lehman’s Space Saver Garden Beds.

As the days are growing shorter, our American Gardeners are sharing their end of season experiences. Two had great seasons, one was disappointed, but they’re all ready to start growing again next spring.

Tim, from Ohio says that he’s getting tomatoes, and a few other things, but the rabbits at his retirement land got fat and sassy on his carrot and lettuce seedlings. “Rabbit tastes pretty good, though,” he writes, “and I guess I got some harvest from the garden in the end.” Continue reading

Lactofermenting for the Time-Challenged

Stainless steel bowl available at Lehmans.com.

All the root veggies are washed well, not a speck of soil remains. Then they air-dry. Use a colander, or spread on your counter on a clean dishtowel. Stainless steel bowl for photo spiffiness only! (Lehmans.com has ’em.)

Alrighty then, it’s that time of year. The garden is starting to really gear up and I have more produce than we can eat before it goes bad. My plan for filling the pantry with wholesome and delicious foods that have less than 5 ingredients, none of which came out of a lab, is working.

Pickling for people disinclined to boil vinegar
So, what is a girl to do with all this bounty?

I know, I’ll lacto-ferment it all. I like lacto-fermented veggies, so does the hubbin, and I really actually find cutting up veggies to be enjoyable. I’m weird that way!

And as a completely unrelated bonus, lacto-fermenting things is so incredibly easy that even I can’t mess it up. Though I thought I had and threw out the first batch I ever made: more on that later.

Lacto-fermenting is what creates sauerkraut, kimchi and cocktail onions, to name some of the more commonly known results of the process.

Sandor Katz The Art of Fermentation at Lehmans.com

Make your own healthy, pure lacto-fermented veggies, vinegars, pickles and more! Pick up The Art of Fermentation now at Lehmans.com to get started fast.

It is a bacterial process, utilizing critters that are present in any environment that has not been completely sterilized (it will not work in outer space, so those of you reading this from the Mir Space Station, sorry, try it when you get back home), so yes, when I first got into this process I had to get over my germophobia and embrace the little things (metaphorically speaking). It’s similar to the fermentation that creates alcohol, just with different microbes.

Which brings me to examine exactly how one goes about lacto-fermenting, rather than creating carrot booze accidentally.

We want to attract the right kind of microbe, so we have to create the right kind of environment. Think of it as very, very small game trapping, because the microbes are all there, hanging out together. We want to encourage the lactobacilli, while discouraging the yeasts (alcohol) and other things that would spoil our food. Continue reading

American Gardens: Buckeye Garden Nears Harvest

Tough Cherry Tomatoes survived well. They're in the front bucket.

Tough Cherry Tomatoes survived well. They’re in the front bucket.

American Gardener Tim sent us tons of new pictures–we’re saving the “how to build a raised bed” for the planning days of wintertime.

Right now, let’s take a look at how his gardens are growing. He’s managing two–one small one in the suburban home where his family now lives, and one on land he and his wife will retire to in a few years. There are photos in the gallery below.

“Things are growing so fast now, and I’m just trying to keep up,” Tim says. “Thanks, Lehman’s, for sending me seeds to grow. I had a fail on the cukes, with that late cold snap. And squirrels kept digging up the carrot starts in the suburban garden.”

“I’ll tell you what, though. Those Black Cherry tomatoes are seriously hardy. I wasn’t able to get water to all my tomatoes for about four days recently. But look at that picture! The front barrel are all the Black Cherries. The rest–well, they aren’t. I know for sure I’m coming back to Lehman’s for tomato seeds next year!” Continue reading

American Gardens: Southern Harvest Starts Up

Our Lazy Housewife beans! We're eating some fresh, putting some up. Thanks, Lehman's!

Our Lazy Housewife beans! We’re eating some fresh, putting some up. Thanks, Lehman’s!

The garden is doing great, and I’m starting to harvest lots of goodies!  Since I’m furthest south, I’m thinking the first American Gardener to harvest.

The Lazy Housewife beans have done really well, despite the June Bugs and Mexican Bean beetles (which I’ve had to really stay on top of this year). I love that the beans can be cooked as green beans, or canned (which I’ve done a lot of!), or you can let them get larger and dry out for shelling beans.  Continue reading

American Gardens: Ohio Gardener Plants His Way to Independence

Ohio’s American Gardener Tim has been busy–there’s the garden at the house, and then there’s the “Buckeye Garden” he’s planted at the land he and his partner have purchased for their eventual off-grid retirement place. The soil there hasn’t ever been farmed, so he’s looking for some good garden results. He’s put some of his Lehman’s seeds in, but the overall garden contains just about any crop an off-gridder would want. Check it out.

Continue reading

American Gardens: Birke’s Garden Diary Hilarious, Helpful

Radishes gone to seed...at least I can save the seed!

Radishes gone to seed…at least I can save the seed!

Thoughts on the Garden: May 19, 2014
For us, this gardening season (so far) has served as a reminder that we are not in charge of our garden and how things will work out. There’s been rain, sleet, heat-then-freezing-temps-back-to-back, and my Indianapolis garden plot is looking battered.

Despite months of planning, re-arranging, re-planning and…let’s call it dreaming about the perfection that will be this year’s garden, we are now officially 3 weeks behind plan.

We have harvested a grand total of three (you read that right, 3) radishes, and they were minuscule, because everything is either languishing in the chill or bolting to seed before setting full roots.

The peppers and tomatoes went in on May 19, 2014, the latest I have ever planted anything, and it’s because I didn’t want the poor little plantiwuzels (totally a word) to freeze in the ground, but I had to get them in, because they were starting to not like being in seedling pods.

And don’t even get me started on the sunflowers just poking their little leaves out, because those are the support system for the cucumbers, so those JUST got seeded out. Slackers all around me. I NEED cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, fresh from the vine, for my continued happiness. Does Nature not understand my needs here? And no, buying them is not the same, I have been forever ruined for hothouse produce. Continue reading

American Gardeners: Downeast garden is going!

Three Heart Heirloom Lettuce Seeds

Three Heart Lettuce greenhouse planting.

In spite of cool, cloudy spring all of my seeds have sprouted, thanks in no small part to the small greenhouse that protected my tender seedlings from some late frosts. I have found some winners here and I can’t wait to share what I have learned.

Three Heart Lettuce: This is a big hit. It emerged early and the germination rate was excellent. I planted it along with seven other varieties of lettuce and this was the first to poke up. The color is fabulous. The bright, light green is nearly fluorescent and the flavor is very mild with a good crunch. I will definitely let some of this go to seed. I planted the first batch in the greenhouse and another patch outside on the same day. The greenhouse lettuce is much bigger and ready to lightly harvest while the outside patch will provide mid-summer salad. I’m guessing that this variety will not bolt as quickly as some other lettuce does in the heat but time will tell. Continue reading

American Gardens: Mountain Garden GROWS!

Radish and carrot plants.

Radishes and heirloom Dragon Carrots from Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, growing thick and fast!

In the foothills of the mountains, between the borders of North Carolina and Tennesee, there’s a nifty little microclimate. In that area, our gardener Kendra is having some great results! She’s sent two updates, one from mid-May, and one from the end of the month.

May 13, 2014:

The radishes and carrots were growing thick, so I harvested the radishes a few days ago to make room for the carrots to grow.

The lettuce is looking gorgeous. I haven’t harvested any yet, but I expect to be able to in the next few days.

Lazy Housewife beans thrive! Heirloom seeds were provided by Lehman's.

Lazy Housewife beans thrive! Heirloom seeds were provided by Lehman’s.

The tomatoes are loving this hot weather, and are looking lovely.

On April 24th I planted the beans. They’re about six or seven inches tall now.

On May 6th I planted the cucumbers, which I’m still waiting on to sprout. So far no problems with pests yet. Keeping my fingers crossed! Continue reading

American Gardeners Seeing Some Green!

These Black Cherry Tomatoes made their appearance April 4 for Kendra!

These Black Cherry Tomatoes made their appearance April 4 for Kendra!

Kendra, NC-TN Mountains

We’ve enjoyed a good rain, and the seedlings are thriving. My carrots are just emerging from the soil, and are finally making an appearance among the radishes in the garden.

The lettuce is also making its first showing, safely covered with chicken wire to keep the cat from scratching in the bed. I was excited to find my Black Cherry Tomatoes sprouting indoors recently. The seedlings are now warmly growing under fluorescent bulbs on my kitchen counter. Continue reading