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3 of the Best Winter Crops – Onions, Garlic, and Cabbage

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Cabbage is a great winter vegetable.

This article will give you an overview for 3 of the best winter crops – onions, garlic, and cabbage.

In the past I always assumed that my garden would just lay dormant in the winter. After all, what produce really grows in the winter? But, I was wrong.

There are actually quite a few varieties of plants that can be planted in the fall to be harvested in the winter or early the next season. Before planting in the fall, be sure to amend the soil to make sure that you have plenty of nutrients for the winter crops to thrive on (for a soil amendment recipe, see tip 3 of this article: 3 Tips on How to Prep for the New Growing Season). One other thing is that these plants grow best in areas that have a mild winter – meaning that there are nights that might get below freezing but not severe freezing for weeks and weeks at a time.

So, what are 3 of the best crops to grow over the winter? Here they are:

1. Onions

Onions are a perfect winter crop because they take very little effort to plant and maintain. Simply plant the onion in the amended soil so that the bulb is covered (about 1-2 inches deep). You can plant onions even as late as October or early November depending on the weather. Once you have planted the onions, cover the soil with mulch. This will help to keep the soil moist and slightly warmer. Water the plants a couple times per week if the soil is dry in your area and until the first freeze. Then, just leave the onions for the entire winter. In the spring, you can harvest the green part of the onion to use in soups and other dishes. Once the tops turn brown, your onions are ready for harvest.

2. Garlic

Garlic is also an easy plant to grow in the winter. You can even just buy a large garlic from the store and break each of the little cloves a part (called “cracking”). The larger each of the individual cloves, the bigger the garlic will be when harvested. Each clove will  become a whole garlic for the harvest the next summer. When planting, it is important to plant the bottom of the clove down and the top facing up. You can plant garlic in October or November depending on the weather in your area (you will need to plant garlic 3 weeks before the first hard freeze). Plant at a depth of about 2 inches below the surface and then cover with mulch.

3. Cabbage

Cabbage is a plant that will grow and be ready for harvest in the winter. In order to do this, you will need to plant the cabbage from seed in late Spring, or you can buy starts in the late summer or early fall from your local nursery. Make sure your soil has lots of nutrients. The Savoy Cabbage is among the hardiest of the cabbages and is a perfect one to grow in the winter. When the cabbage looks big enough and the head feels firm, you can harvest it in the middle or late winter.

There you have it. There are lots of other plants that can grow in the winter. If you don’t want to grow produce in the winter, then try growing a cover crop. Cover crops help put nutrients back into the soil for the next growing season and they help with weed control. Check out this article to find out more about cover crops: Cover Crops.

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Bread Machine Pumpkin Bagels

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Pumpkin Bagel

Have you ever wondered if you could make bread machine pumpkin bagels?  Here’s a quick seasonal how-to:

I like to cook bread, but I am really not a baker, so I cheat all the time and use a bread machine. I know this isn’t as purist as some people like, but hey, it works … and most people can do it too.

(By the way, if you want some really really really good bread recipes, check out http://www.girlversusdough.com/. She is my new neighbor and an excellent blogger.)

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On occasion, I make bagels because it is one of those breads that I can make successfully. Today, I am adding a seasonal flare to them by using some pumpkin pie filling in the dough.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pumpking pie filling
  • 3 cups flower
  • 2.25 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • pot of boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • Cornmeal (to cover a baking sheet)
  • 1 egg white

Combine the water, salt, sugar, pie filling, flower, and yeast in your bread machine in the order it recommends. Most bread machines will ask for the order I listed the ingredients if you are not sure. One tip is to make an indent in the top of the flour to pour the yeast into. This will keep it dry until the machine starts. This is especially important if you have your machine set on a timer.

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Now, when the bread machine is done, I like to let the dough rise a little more (:30 ish). This gives the bagel dough a little more fluffiness.

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Now, cut the dough into about 9 pieces. Rub some flower on your hands and shape the nine pieces into bagel shapes. I like to make kind of a patty with them and then use my thumb to make a whole and work it. Adding a twist can make some nice texture to your bagel as well. Let them rest while you boil the pot of water.

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As soon as you are done shaping the dough, start boiling your pot of water. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar to the pot to sweeten it. When the water is boiling, transfer the bagels to the pot. Boil for 60 seconds, turning once. The idea is to cook the outside  only! You might have to do a couple of batches to boil them all. When you take the bagels out of the water, I highly recommend placing them on paper towels to soak up any extra liquid. This will help keep them from sticking to the pan when they bake.

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Cover a baking sheet with cornmeal. Arrange the bagels on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk one egg white and brush onto the tops of the bagels on the baking sheet.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

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This article comes courtesy of Dan Ashbach’s great site.  Check out more great articles here:   http://www.livedan330.com

 

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Tips on Harvesting Pumpkins and Saving the Seeds

Hewlett-PackardHere are some great tips on harvesting pumpkins and saving the seeds for next year.

 

Here in the Northern part of the country Fall is in the air. It is a great time of year with warm days and cool nights. Being Fall it also means a whole new batch of goodies from the garden will be ready soon. One of the most popular crops is Pumpkins. They are easy to grow and come in all sorts of colors and sizes.

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Here are some tips on harvesting and Storing Pumpkins:

1. Leave the pumpkin on the vine until it is the color you want. After you pick it the color stays the same.

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2. A couple of ways to tell if the pumpkin is ripe other than color preference are first to see if the skin of the pumpkin can be pierced by your fingernail. Another trick is to check the stem. If it is withering and cracking the pumpkin is “done”.

3. You could also be a very laid back gardener and just let Mother Nature do her thing and let the pumpkins and vines be. The vines will eventually dry out and you won’t even have to cut the pumpkin off the vine to harvest it.

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4. Pumpkins can get really big. Be careful to support your prize pumpkin with both hands. Holding your pumpkin by the stem could lead to a disaster if the stem breaks.

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5. Store your pumpkins in a cool dry place (no frost) and don’t let them touch as the skins of  pumpkins touching can lead to rotting. The pumpkins should last for a few months if properly stored.

 

If you are planning on saving the seeds:

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1. Collect the seeds and wash the pulp off of them.

2. Allow them to dry thoroughly. Place them on a rack or screen where air can get at them for drying.

3. Once dried the seeds can be stored where there is air but no sunlight. Recycle an old envelop for this and you can mark what the seeds are right on it.

4. The seeds should last a few years if stored properly.

This article comes courtesy of Dan Ashbach’s great site.  Check out more great articles here:   http://www.livedan330.com

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Behind the Scenes at Thicket

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Today we thought we’d create a short photo essay taking you behind the scenes at Thicket – our local gardening center.  We showed up to create a quick video for our Kickstarter project but – as luck would have it – we were quickly hit with a classic Portland downpour.  Does this mean summer is officially over?

Here are some great shots of her space from the shoot:

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We really like the recycled materials used to create this unique gardening center.  Note the blank chalkboard wiped clean by a few minutes of rain.

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This gardening center took over a vacant lot and has transformed this space into a thriving neighborhood destination.

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Adria Sparhawk, the owner of Thicket, has so many unique and wonderful plants; many I haven’t seen elsewhere.

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Another unique plant in a very unique space.

Here’s a link to our Facebook page with a short video giving you an idea of how much rain came down on us:

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https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=575402562494961&set=vb.355717401130146&type=2&theater

And another short video (sideways – sorry about the iPhone malfunction) showing a cup filled by the downpour:

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https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=575408605827690

If you are in Portland, I highly encourage you to stop by and see Adria’s shop.  But be careful:  You can spend a lot of time looking at all of the amazing plants and garden accessories she has.  Oh, and bring an umbrella!

About Thicket:

Thicket is a garden boutique filled with a lush selection of flowers and plants along with a clever assortment of vintage ephemera and modern craft curated to inspire life lived in the garden.

Spring has sprung! We are now open
Thursday-Monday 11:00am-6:00pm

Address: 4933 NE 23rd Ave PDX 97211

TogetherFarm Blocks:  Kickstarter update!

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

The TogetherFarm Team has been hard at work the past 4 weeks getting the word out about TogetherFarm Blocks. Our Kickstarter campaign continues to progress towards being fully funded and there’s still time for you to pledge and receive a garden kit of your own. The Kickstarter Campaign will end on September 23rd at about 9pm. So, hurry on over to the TogetherFarm Kickstarter page and make your pledge before it is too late. Be a part of a movement that is empowering more people to grow their own produce. Follow this link to make your pledge now:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/togetherfarm/turning-plastic-into-produce-togetherfarm-blocks

 

 

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