Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The Start of a Pumpkin Patch

April 25, 2014

Well it’s that time of the year again. The pumpkin patch has been planted. Now let’s hope something actually grows! MaryEllen is a huge gardening help so far, so I actually have some hope.

Pumpkin harvest of yesteryear.

Now I have some pretty old seed that I just can’t bear to throw away. So, there are a few hills that we’ll keep an eye on. If nothing grows in two weeks, we’ll put something else in them. One that I’m pretty sure will not grow is King of Mammoth. This is the largest variety that I’ve ever grown. They are not as large as the modern giants, but that is OK with me. I’m not going to spend that much time on feeding the thing extra to make it a giant. The King of Mammoth pumpkins are more round and not as ribbed like the typical pumpkins that we’re used to seeing around Halloween. I obtained these seeds years ago from Baker Creek Heirlooms seeds, but don’t recall seeing them in the last few years. This variety dates back before 1824.

We planted one hill of old Rouge vif D’Etamps which is also known as the “Cinderella” pumpkin. I haven’t bought any more of this seed in the last few years because it wasn’t the best tasting pumpkin that I’ve grown, but it did grow well. I really don’t think this seed will grow either due to its age.

Charlotte several years ago with a squash plant.

Another very old seed that I planted on hill of is Kikuza. I obtained this seed years ago from Seed Savers Exchange. This is a tan ribbed pumpkin that I can’t recall ever successfully growing (I’m sure that is not the fault of the seed). But, just can’t stand not to give the seed a chance.

In 2011 I bought some seed and never used it. So, I planted a few hills of North Georgia Candy Roaster. This seed came from Southern Exposure. The descriptions say it has an elongated banana shape and makes great pies.

On to the new seed….

I am really excited to try and grow Amish Pie Pumpkin. This seed came from Seed Savers Exchange. A few of the things that attracted me to this variety was that it is said to be an excellent keeper, has minimal pest problems, and grows well during dry spells. They say it comes from Maryland, but we’ll see how it does in Tennessee. The pumpkins typically grow about 15-45 pounds.

A squash plant from a few years ago.

This year we planted some blue varieties which are popular in Australia (so I’m told.) Each year, whether anything is planted or not, I pour over a few seed catalogs. My favorite is Baker Creek because of their pumpkin and winter squash section. It was very difficult to narrow it down to 3 blue varieties. So, here they are.

First of all the Blue Hubbard Squash. I have been wanting to stuff a hubbard for Thanksgiving for years now. Perhaps this year I’ll have one to stuff. These are expected to be 15-40 pounds. They are from the north east, so I’m not sure how well they’ll survive the heat and abundant squash bugs. The seed was obtained from Baker Creek.

A baby pumpkin from several years ago.

The next blue variety is Crown. This is suppose to be a very sweet variety. It is expected to weigh about 12 pounds and is sort of a flatter shaped pumpkin.

A third blue squash is called Queensland Blue. The pictures I have seen of this look like it has an interesting shape and it should grow to about 12 pounds as well.

In the typical pumpkin category, it was a toss up between Connecticut Field Pumpkin and Howden. I ended up purchasing Connecticut Field Pumpkin seed from a new-to-me seed company called St. Clare Heirloom Seeds. This grew well in our first pumpkin patch in 2007, so I’m hoping it does well this year for us too.

If memory serves, this plant is a Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash plant.  They grew really well here, but I was afraid to try them, as “The Complete Squash” listed them as good for cattle feed.

Next is Greek Sweet Red from Baker Creek. When I first grew this in 2007, there were no pictures to be found. Now there are. This is suppose to have excellent flesh. I don’t remember getting any the last time, but we’ll just chalk that up to inexperience and hope for the best this year. The thing that really attracted me to it, besides being yummy is that it is said to be very resistant to the squash beetles! Lord knows we need that around here. Another source said it is resistant to vine borers. I’m hoping the prolonged cold this year helps that bug situation, but I have my doubts.

The pumpkin patch a few years ago.

Even though we have Blue Hubbard seeds, St. Clare’s made the True Green Improved Hubbard variety too good to resist. This was introduced in the 1840s, so that is a plus. (I have this dream of having a War Between the States Era garden. Maybe someday.) It says it’s an easy grower and and excellent keeper. Also, Baker Creek had a wonderful picture of it in their Seed Year Book. If only we could grow a Hubbard like that!

Oh yes, Long of Naples!!! My daughter keeps asking me about the flavor, and I keep telling her that I don’t know. We grew a few of these babies one year, took pictures, put them in the barn, and then left for Ohio the next day. When we got back home, some other creature(s) had gotten to them. So, we are hoping to try eating them this year! big-squashThis is from 2008 or 2009.  Long of Naples.

New this year is the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. We use a lot of Butternut squash around here and this is suppose to be very similar to it, but with more flesh in the crookneck. It is said to be a favorite of Amish and a favorite of Baker Creek.

Of course, we cannot plant a “pumpkin” patch without Waltham Butternut. These grow for us every year, whether we plant them or not! If we don’t have a garden per say, they grow out of the compost pile. They get used quite a bit in this household.

Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins did well in our first pumpkin patch. There is a book called “The Complete Squash” by Amy Goldman that I have read several times. Ms. Goldman has nothing but good things to say about this pumpkin. I personally love them myself, just for looks and for pies. They have a white netting on them that makes them look a bit unique.

Pumpkin plants from years gone by.

The last thing that makes up our little patch is small squash. Delicata and Sweet Dumpling Squashes are both so little and yet so sweet! What a treat. I have grown a few Delicata before, but the sweet dumplings are new to our garden.

The last little one may or may not grow due to the age of the seed is New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins. They are about 4 or 5 pounds. We’ve not grown them before either and if they grow, I’ll be very happy to see how they do. They were introduced in this country in 1865.

A squash or pumpkin blossom from a few years ago.

Oh, and last but not least, is Kabocha Squash. These are little green pumpkins with very sweet flavorful flesh. They are a staple in our kitchen. The last time we had one about a month ago, I saved the seeds. We planted a few hills of those seeds.

That about wraps up our Pumpkin patch preview. In choosing these varieties, I study the seed catalogs and the book The Complete Squash. Winter squash and pumpkins are some of my favorite things to grown. How about you? What varieties do you like?

Some of the harvest from our first pumpkin patch in 2007.

The Other Day in the Garden, May 26, 2010

May 31, 2010

Well, I am already falling way behind in both weeding and posting here!  Here are some garden pictures from the other day.  Again, they had not been watered yet for the day, so everything looks dry.  And, yes, there are plenty of  weeds in there.  Truth be told, we have been so busy, there is a chance the weeds are now taking over.  We have not been out there in a few days and it has been raining regularly, so those weeds are getting a lot of water.  I am also hoping that the bugs have not gotten too out of control.  There are a lot of green caterpillars on the collards.  They will do a lot of damage, but it will come back later in the season, so I’ll keep the unsightly plants growing there until it cools down a little and keep drowning those caterpillars that I catch.

Before I post garden pictures, the children and I took a little pilgrimage with some other homeschoolers from the Nashville area last week.  We started at Ave Maria Grotto and also went to St. Bernard Abbey’s church.  We then picnicked and went on to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  It was a joy to meet those ladies and their children.  It was also a pleasure and a privilege to pray for  many of our friends’ intentions there.  I have not been taking too many pictures, but here are just a few…

First at the Ave Maria Grotto…

Then at the Lourdes Shrine at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament…


The next day MaryEllen was at the creek and found a little tiny salamander.  It was the smallest one we’ve found here so far. 


Now onto the weed patch garden…

one of the many bean circles growing     beets 

marigolds around the border   carrots  

remember my first pepper?  In this picture it is hiding behind the leaves, so you must look carefully.  We have already picked it and two new pepper are big    

 radishes…we already picked a few 

summer squash      tomatoes and petunias

more tomatoes and petunias  


moon and stars watermelon.  You can tell by the yellow markings on the leaves

In the pumpkin patch…The plants are starting to get their leaves…


Although part of me is afraid to go in the garden to weed tomorrow, another part of me is very excited.  How big will the plants be?  We have had plenty of rain and sunshine, so everything should be growing well.  The other day I was trying to plant.  (I still have so much to plant yet!)  Gathering sticks is enjoyable and I like to mark little patches of plants with them.  That was my goal, planting.  First I got sidetracked by weeding.  Then I got sidetracked by the grass clippings on my way over to get sticks.  Then I got sidetracked by more weeding.  Then the sweat bees were so bad that I finally went in after killing about 50 of them.  Better luck this week.  Hopefully I’ll have an update with a lot of big plants and relatively few weeds!  Have a great week.

Today in the Garden, May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010

When looking at the blog archives for old gardening posts, the one thing I regret was not posting more pictures.  Time is already tight, so I don’t know if this year will be any better or not, but I’m going to try.  From looking at the archives, it appears that the pumpkin patch was planted at least 2 weeks earlier than in previous years.  I’m interested to see if that will help with the squash bug problem.  Interestingly enough, I suspect squash bugs around the summer squash already.  Why?  Because I smell them!  Belive me, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would know what a squash bug smells like, but after squashing them so much, they have a distinctive smell.   It has been 2 years, but it is recognizable to me.  I did take some yellow beetle things off of them today.  There is a name for them, but it escapes me now.  They look almost like lady bugs, but are thinner and yellow with black stripes.  MaryEllen was there so she knows what to squish them now too. 

Anyway, on to the pictures.  These were taken before the evening watering, so they look very dry.

 beets      tiny carrot leaves

 collard greens     cucumber

 here is that first hot pepper again.  I tried to get both the pepper and the flower in the shot.

 zucchini     watermelon

Beauregard Sweet Potato     radishes.  Tall ones in the middle are daikon.

 Chinese red noodle beans      and up close

 This petunia finally got a permanent spot in the garden today.




Today in The Pumpkin Patch…

This morning’s walk up there revealed some cracking in some of the hills which indicates sprouts are trying to shoot up.  It was particularly exciting because 3 of my favorite varieties were the hills showing this:  Butternut squash, Kubocha squash, and Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins.  In the evening, may of the sprouts had sprung.  One of the Howden Pumpkins and Long of Naples squash had also sprouted.

 John and James watering.     

 Looking from the opposite end.  The part nearest is the empty part.  When speaking of planting a few more hills, Kevin yelled, “Oh no!”  He thinks 114 hills are enough to water. 

 Winter squash sprouts    

 Kuboach squash sprouts    

Howden sprouts      This one gives a better idea of how tiny they are.

Back at the house it was chaos as usual.  Veronica had a late nap and MaryEllen carried her over to me.  They looked so darling and I was going to take a picture of them, for they were both dressed in pink.  However, Veronica was not at all happy and would not smile for a picture.  MaryEllen, the bright, cheerful child is always ready to smile for the camera.  So, as not to have all garden pictures, I present MaryEllen…


Happy Birthday to my Mom who turns 83 today.  Happy Birthday to Irene who is still in her 20s.  It is her first birthday pregnant.  And last, but certainly not least, Happy Anniversary to Fr. Pokorsky.  May you all have many more!

First Garden Post of 2010

May 15, 2010

Happy Feast Day of St. Isidore the Farmer!  It is fitting to put up my First Garden Post of 2010 today, don’t you think?  I got lost a little while ago looking in the archives of this blog at the previous garden posts.  Looking at them, I think I am at least 2 weeks ahead of previous years for planting winter squash.  I’m hoping that is a good thing.  In the meantime…on to the rest of the post…

This is so exciting, this time of year.  Last year we did not get a garden in at all.  The year before we barely kept the garden up.  This year the children are all helping and there is the hope that exists before things start to go wrong (like squash bugs, Japanese beetles, etc.)  We have been working very hard in the garden trying to get things in before it’s too late.  Our garden is once again surrounded by marigolds and hot peppers, which help keep the deer out.  We actually had to get some more marigolds because we spotted a deer print and figured he came in close to the compost pile.  We put in a few more “barrier” plants closer to the compost pile and have not seen any more deer prints. 

What’s out there this year? 

Collard greens…Georgia Southern from seed purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (my favorite seed company!)   (You may click on the pictures to enlarge them.)  They are growing quite well despite little tiny black bugs trying to eat them.  (If you are wondering what the white thing is, that is a rose.  Charlotte has been decorating the garden with some of the roses she is picking.)  They were the first thing we planted sometime last month and we surrounded the little plot of them with bricks from our creek (of all places.)  It was a good thing the kids got them when they did because the remainder were washed away in the last flood. 

 (New this year, a “white” marigold.)

Radishes…several kinds.  Once again the garden features Cherry Belle, Pink Beauty, and German Giant.  They are growing well.  We also have some Japanese Minowase Daikon radishes.  I use daikon on a daily basis so we’ll be planting several rows of these throughout the summer.  I’ll probably order some other kind that is better in the cold for the fall and winter.   In the late summer, if all goes well, Watermelon radishes will be planted as well.   We already have those seeds waiting.   Here is an old post about radishes.  One of the best things about radishes is how well they seem to grow, and fast, too!

(First hot pepper of 2010.) 

  (Another hot pepper plant.)

Carrots…they are coming but it will be interesting to see how big these get.   They are such tiny little plants now.   This year we have some St. Valery, Chantenay Red Core, (both from Baker Creek) and Early Nelson hybrid from Johnny’s Seeds.  I picked the Early Nelson because my friend Sue grows them and the taste is just out of this world.  The kids love them too.

 (Strawberry Patch 2010.)

We have a few beets growing, but it is hard to tell what kind.  We planted several rows, but only 2 are coming up nicely.  We had some older seeds and figured we’d use them up.  We’ll be planting some more in a few weeks anyway.  We have Detroit Dark Red and Bull’s Blood waiting to be planted (and I’m sure they are the ones coming up right now.)  We like the redder color to go in our Chocolate Red Velvet cakes


Cucumbers….So far we have 5 hills of cucumbers growing.  The seeds have all sprouted nicely and the little plants are growing well.  Once again we have Early Russian and Japanese Long.  The reason for the Early Russian is that I read in a catalog once that they are never bitter.  It seems to be true as I don’t ever have to worry about bitterness with those, at least any that I have ever grown here, where as other types were not as forgiving.  The Japanese long have always tasted good as well and we got used to the longer cucumbers with less seeds from buying the ones that Costco sold.  Both of these varieties were purchased from Baker Creek (as was most of my seeds!) 

 (Summer Squash or Cucumber.  Funny how they look so similar in the beginning.  And to think I only took the picture yesterday and can’t remember!)

Summer Squash….There are several hills of summer squash growing out there.  This year I chose to plant only one hill of lemon squash.  A few years ago, the lemon squash did so well that I got sick of seeing them!  We have Early Prolific Straightneck  for yellow,  Black Beauty Zucchini and Green Bush Vegetable Marrow green zucchini.  Two years ago all the zucchini died for some reason.  I’m hoping to have better luck with it this year. 


Beans…Most of the beans will be delayed this year as I seem to have misplaced the Kentucky Wonder seeds.  The children and I were in WalMart the other day.  That is usually not big deal, but that trip the girls were whiny and Veronica was not settling down at all.  I tried to find some organic pole bean seeds but they didn’t have any.  I went looking for regular bean seeds and saw several varieties.  Most were no good because they were bush beans and I needed pole beans.  James had already assembled 3 sets of poles for me.  We picked some out, and believe me, it was difficult!  We ended the trip with the self checkout register giving me $20 back when I had asked for $0!  Ugh!  Anyway, I digress!  This morning I’m out in the garden planting these seeds around 6 poles.  When finished, I pulled a label out to mark the beans and to my horror…Tendercrop Bush Beans!  Agh!  I then proceeded to pull out the poles and relocate them .  We’ll have a nice circle of bush beans.  After that it was to the internet to Baker Creek to order what I want!  In the meantime, my friend Jennifer in New Jersey sent me seeds for Chinese Red Noodle Beans.  They were planted the other day around one set of poles.  They are long red beans and, if the Japanese beetles aren’t too bad, should look really, really interesting in the garden.  (Today I noticed that the red beans have begun to sprout!)  The other day we also planted a few Royal Burgundy bush beans.  We have had pretty good luck with those in the past. 

Watermelon…We are all so excited about the watermelon, especially because they have been sprouting the last few days.   Baker Creek once again carried Ali Baba.  This variety originally came from Iraq and it has since been impossible to get seed from that country due to the wars.   We have grown it before and it is quite tasty.   This year we thought we might try a smaller, earlier variety.  Blacktail Mountain is the one we chose.  The Baker creek catalog said that this variety is heat and drought resistant.   The next variety is Georgia Rattlesnake.  This is another that we have grown before.  The last (from Baker Creek) is Wilson’s Sweet.  The Baker Creek Catalog has so many to choose from, it is so hard to limit what to plant!  On top of that, I went to Walmart one day and they had organic Moon and Stars variety.  I just couldn’t pass that up!  So, if the weeds don’t take over, we should have plenty of watermelon!

 (Watermelon sprout)

Tomatoes…I didn’t grow tomatoes for a while because we really don’t eat many of them.  However, I like them from time to time in the summer.  I started several thinking not many would sprout because the cups and soil I put them in were kind of old.  A friend of mine gave me two plants and then a bunch sprouted!  We have tons of tomato plants!  The varieties are Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa (that came free with a Baker Creek seed order), Pink German Tree,  St. Pierre, and Roma Rio Grande.   Just the other day we learned that petunias are a good companion plant to tomatoes since they help deter tomato horn worms and their leaves make a good natural pest spray for veggies.  We just happen to have some petunias that were waiting to be planted, and they are now near the tomato plants.   Yesterday I went out and one of the baby tomato plants was gone!  I think the ants took it.  They also took one leaf from another baby.   Southern ants are not the passive little creatures like northern ants are.  Since we moved to Tennessee, I have lost my fear of spiders and gained a fear of ants!!

 (One of the petunias planted near the tomatoes.)

In the pumpkin patch…Well, it got bigger today.  Joe had to plow it again because the first time was just a little too early.  Originally we were going to have the patch next to the old one, so that was where he plowed.  The other day he re-plowed that along with the old patch.  It was heavenly to plant in that nice tilled dirt.  I have so many varieties of pumpkin and winter squash that even with double the size, I’m not sure where I’ll put them all.  Two days ago several hills of butternut squash were planted along with Kubocha squash, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins,  Black Fusto squash, long of Naples squash, and one hill of Mammoth pumpkins.  There is a lot more planting to be done up there.  I’ll have to find the time to do another Pumpkin & Winter Squash post to introduce you to all the new varieties.  Until I find that time, here is the old post.  Some of those same varieties have been planted again this year. 


I nearly forgot to mention the sweet potatoes!  We have the Beauregard variety once again as they did well the one and only time we grew them, several years ago.  (Yes, and we still really like the Confederate general with the same name as well.)  The day the plants arrived it was storming and there were tornado warnings.  However, they looked so pitiful in the box that I just had to plant them.  Frustrated because there were no instructions on planting, only a few sheets with recipes in the box, I figured I had to get them in the ground ASAP.  Planting in the mud can be messy!  About 20 plants were planted in a little plot set aside just for sweet potatoes.  When finished planting, I looked over all the paperwork again and found the instructions.  They said don’t worry about them looking bad, they are very strong and will most likely survive.  However, if it is windy, wait to plant them.  Well, you know in that stormy weather it was mighty windy.  For many days I wondered when they would all start dying.  They didn’t.  There were even two little plants that were practically cut off, I don’t know if some bug ate them or what, but I told the boys to keep watering them anyway.  A few days ago, two little leaves came from them!  It was so exciting.  Perhaps we’ll get some sweet potatoes after all!

I wrote most of this post the other day.   There is still room in the pumpkin patch and we now have about 114 hills planted.  Tomorrow is Sunday so I won’t be up there, but perhaps we’ll put a few more in this coming week.  I’m looking forward to seeing the growth and all the bees buzzing around the flowers when it is time.  This year we’re thinking about taking some to the farmers market, if they do OK.   Only time will tell.  Happy Gardening!

Around the House

September 2, 2008

I actually meant to post some of this before Veronica was born, but, you know how that goes.  We started school shortly before she arrived.  MaryEllen and I have been having fun with Serendipityand their Along the Alphabet Paths.  Here are some pictures from A week.

A is for Apple Pie.  (Yes, it is macrobiotic and it was yummy!!!)  Oh, and the apples came off our tree this year!

A is for Angelina Ballerina, St. Anne, and Mrs. Applebee.  These are MaryEllen’s pictures.  (You can click on any of the pictures in this post to enlarge them.)


Then Veronica came and the pictures of school stopped.

Aunt Ann sent some lovely baby clothes and a box for the children filled with art supplies.

At our local church we had a seminarian visiting for a month.  We all really liked him and we made it to Mass on his last day in our town, the Tuesday after Veronica was born.  In case you are wondering, James did not want to get in the picture.

Now, onto the garden.  If you saw the looks of the garden, you would not guess that anything was growing in there.  But the cucumbers have been really good and the winter squash is coming along nicely.  I cannot wait to show off our “Long of Naples” squash.  They are not quite ready yet, but they are doing the best and I am surprised by their size.

In the meantime, 2 watermelons.  First, the one that John was so excited about…Ali Baba.  The seed was saved from Iraq, before the war.

The next variety is Georgia Rattlesnake (named for the pattern on the outside.)


Next we have the harvest from August 28th (cucumbers, acorn squash, 2 delicata squash, kale, green beans, and yellow lemon summer squash.)

Last, but certainly not least, my long daikon radish, the basket of squash and the Georgia rattlesnake (watermelon and radish just picked today!)

That picture was taken today while Veronica napped.  What, no pictures of that adorable baby?  No, not yet.  Yesterday she was Baptized, it was Kevin’s birthday, and the Labor Day Festival at church.  Joe’s camera has all the Baptism pictures and as soon as he can stop mowing the lawn and being otherwise busy, he’ll put them on my computer so they can appear here.  Until then, enjoy the produce!

In the Garden, end of May, beginning of June 2008

June 15, 2008

  What is so special about this plate of kale?  It was the first that was picked out of the garden in May of this year.  It is growing well enough now that I can usually fill up the plate with a good 2 helpings every morning, if not more. 

The second thing we got out of the garden were radishes.  Lots and lots of radishes!  MaryEllen was so excited about them, that we took her picture.  They are almost done now, but we have certainly enjoyed them.       The daikon radishes are still growing.  The variety I got said they tolerated heat well.  We shall see as most of May and June has been in the upper 80s to the 100s.  That being said, yesterday and the day before there were scattered storms and we did get a good deal of rain.  I am very late with the pumpkins and winter squash this year, but finally got started on Friday.  About a third of the way through big rain drops started.  That ended my gardening that day. 

Kevin has been a huge help in the garden in regards to weeding.  He is very good at that.  John came up with a plan on where to plant things this year, so I let him run with it.  He has done a lot of the planting, along with his siblings.  One evening when he was directing planting (and I was weeding) Kevin said, “Mom.  I think it’s kind of funny that you are taking directions from John.”  Well it is and John was bossy for the rest of the week as well!  But, he still did an excellent job.  Now we wait to see if the watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers, soybeans, and more Royal Burgandy Bush beans come up. 

Speaking of those Royal Burgandy Bush Beans, we have gotten several of those.  Joe was afraid to eat them because they are purple.  I assured him that they do in fact taste like green beans.  He looked like Mikey taking a little tiny bite because he was sure he wouldn’t like them.  Well, he liked them!  They are green on the inside and they will turn green when cooked as well.  Yesterday my brother came over.  He looked even more like Mikey, except I didn’t think he was going to eat a bean at all.  But, he did and he found that he liked them too.  Those men are sometimes worse than kids when something looks different to them.

Radishes Today

May 7, 2008

Today the radishes were planted. 

There are two rows of Daikon, a Japanese white long radish that resembles a carrot.  These radishes are really, really good for digestion.  They have a peppery taste when raw and a sweet taste when cooked.  I love to eat them in miso soup.(Photo from

In the next row of the garden are Pink Beauties.  The picture of these radishes looked so girly and cute when I saw it, they reminded me of my daughters.  I thought they would especially love those.   Here is a description of it from my favorite seed catalog (Baker’s Creek Heirloom seeds).   (photo from

For the next row we have German Giants.  Once again, my heritage played a role in selecting this radish.  (We have a lot of German blood in us.)  This radish is said to tolerate drout like conditions, which I am hoping don’t happen this year, but just in case!  Also they can get pretty big and not split, have a  mild flavor and don’t get woody.  They grew well for us last year. (Photo from

 The last variety that are planted (for now) are Cherry Belle radishes from Pinetree Seeds.  They are advertised as a southern performer and the name reminds me of Southern Belles, which I would love to be some day.  It is said these radishes are round and brilliant red.  They keep crisp in the fridge and have a lovely, mild flavor. (photo from

The red radishes we get are usually used for quick pickles or pressed salads.  Our favorite thing to pickle with is Umeobeshi Vinegar.  Umeobeshi vinegar is made from a Japanese plum and is very medicinal.  They are good for digestion and digestive problems such as indigestion and heartburn.  Pressed salads can be made with a variety of veggies.  Our favorites are radishes, red onions, bok choy, and sometimes grated carrots.  These vegetables are cut as thin as possible and placed in a bowl.  Then some Umeobeshi vinegar is added.  After that the salad is kneeded together gently.  Next a plate or bowl is placed in and a weight (like a gallon jug of rice syrup) is placed in that and the salad is pressed.  After is sits for a period of time (whenever the rest of the meal is completed), the juice is drained and the pressed salad is ready to be eaten.  Delicious! 

For later this summer and early fall we have Watermelon radish seeds that we’ll plant.  (They are officially called Chinese Red Meat.)  We discovered these lovely radishes this past winter and can’t wait to grow some.  We were even more pleased to see that Baker Creek Heirloom seeds offered them this year!  They tend to be large, have red insides with a layer of green surrounding the red, and some white on the outside.  They give salads such color in the cooler weather. 

Here is what I think is a neat article on Asians eating giant radishes.

Here is an article about growing radishes.

In the Garden Today, May 6, 2008

May 6, 2008

I finished planting the 3rd bean tee-pee.  As I was finishing, Kevin, the reptile hunter, moved a piece of wood and found this…

  It is the biggest Black Widow Spider I have ever seen.  I didn’t get to see the red hourglass on her underside, but I didn’t have to.  You just know these things when you see them.  Fortunately they are not aggressive.  Here is a picture of some of her with a match box car.  The black widows that I have seen in the past have been about 1/2 the size of this one. 


The Seeds have Arrived

March 6, 2008

Now, may I ask you, what will we do with 12 varieties of winter squash and 6 varieties of pumpkins?  Did someone here go a little squash crazy?  Perhaps.  Did a book by the name of “The Compleat Squash” inspire someone here?  Maybe.  How about those lovely seed catalogs in the middle of winter?  Tempting. 

 Once again this year it was Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and The Seed Savers Exchange that got our business.  Those are the two catalogs that I pour over, especially the squash sections. 

 Most of these hardy winter squash like water.  Since the horses now occupy the field where our pumpkins used to grow we will be moving them to the lower pasture, in between the water house and the creek.  It is usually moist down there.  All will be well if the “creek don’t rise” (as they used to say in ole Virginny) and if there is not another record breaking drought.  Only time will tell. 

The varieties this year: 


Amish Pie, King of Mammoth (making it’s second appearance here at Ten Gates Farm), Rouge Vif D’Etampes (a.k.a. Cinderella, another for the 2nd year in a row), Howden for a second time, New England Sugar Pie, and once again, the infamous Winter Luxury Pie! 

Winter Squash:

This is the big one, folks.  There are many sizes, shapes and colors that I really hope will grow this year.  I will NOT be planting Tennessee Sweet Potatoes because they grew so well that we don’t care to see anymore for a while.    We WILL be growing once again Buttercup, Red Kuri, Butternut, and Delicata.  For the first time we will attempt to grow Jumbo Pink Banana, Kabocha (so very excited to see this variety is Baker Creek, new this year for them!), Blue Hubbard, Long of Naples, Kikuza, Black Futsu, Greek Sweet Red, and Table Queen Acorn.  That should keep me plenty busy until the baby arrives!

Hopefully later I will get a nice post with the pictures and history of these lovely squash.  Next step, planning where each variety will grow.  We are certainly looking forward to another growing season here. 

This Week in the Mail

December 16, 2007

I love this time of the year when the mailman brings all sorts of greeting from people not heard from in a year or so.  There have been many cards and we just love them all, especially those with pictures in them!   However, that is not the most exciting thing.  This week my favorite seed catalog came!  Yeah.  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds!!!  The most exciting addition to their catalog (in my ever so humble opinion) is Kabocha winter squash.  Now I can order all my seeds from one place.  Already in the works (in my mind, anyway) is planning the pumpkin patch, which also includes winter squash.  This year the pumpkin patch will be in a new spot, as the new horses are going in the field where the patch used to be.  The children may loose a little more of their “football field” this year, but they always seem to appreciate the pumpkins that come from the garden.

One little note about Baker Creek.  They are not only a seed company, but are activists against GMO foods!  Their catalog is also filled with interesting quotes.  My favorite being one from Ronald Reagan:  “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are:  I’m from the gonvernment and I’m here to help.”

While I’m at it, speaking of politics, have you checked out Ron Paul for president?  If not, you might want to. 

 On a lighter side, our foyer is filled with blankets and pillows.  The boys have made countless numbers of paper guns of all kinds.  The girls are carrying these paper guns as well and all the children are playing “bear hunting.”   Charlotte has a hat from an armour costume that the boys wore.  It is pretty cute.  (But then again, when isn’t that girl cute?)