2024 Food Garden

Anyone still awake? :grin:

Happy New Year! Wishing us all success in all our endeavors.

I am trying hard necked garlic yet again; Creole varieties, which are supposed to be feasible in warm climates.


Collards update


Potatoes, mostly fingerlings; sometimes they make it, sometimes not.

On of two plantings of shallots, both French red, the larger sets are in the Earthbox , and maybe 10 times the size of the others


Favas emerging

Sad “Sumo” orange

Flowerless Meyer lemons

Stonefruit trees
Blenheim apricot

Pluto with “gummosis”;

Die pluot tree, die!


Daughter harvested some of the lettuce this morning.

Any pointers for harvesting so that you can “cut” and it will “come again”?


My New Years resolution should be to do a better job of harvesting my garden. Our winter has so far been mild so my kale and collards are still in good shape. Last year was my first year growing collards and I have not really cooked with them before. My husband does not seem to enjoy them as much as other greens which is why I still have so much of it left. The leaves are pretty big, about 12x9." It there a point at which they are too big to bother cooking? They taste pretty good raw. I imagine I might just have to cook them longer to get them tender. I’m just wondering if there is some general rule of thumb about how big is too big.


The ones I buy at the grocery store have leaves the size of my forearm, but I can’t imagine eating them raw, and I cut out the central “vein”, and cut off the stems. I then cut them into wide strips, then accross to mouth sized pieces. There’s ways to not spend too long on it. The way they stand up to a long cook is part of the appeal. The ones I grow haven’t gotten that big, and I’m more likely to slice them very thin and cook more briefly in a way I think of as Brazilian.

I think there is a thread with various perspectives somewhere on HO.

I haven’t tried this particular recipe, but it seems about right.


Strangely, we haven’t had a killing frost here in southwestern Ontario (Plant Hardiness Zone 6a).
My Swiss chard and parsley are still green.
My Brussels sprouts I never harvested and the plant looks alive but battered.

I won’t plant anything until St Paddy’s since we will get snow. We have had some freezing rain and wet snow, but nothing is staying.

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I’m considering planting my tomatoes in straw bales this year to free up my small garden for mostly flowers.


I used large containers filled with container garden soil from the store, for our backyard tomatoes last year, to try to prevent August blight, and it worked. We grew less tomatoes, but much healthier tomatoes.

In 2022, I started zinnias and marigolds from seed in my veg garden, then transplanted then mid summer to the front flower garden. Last year I didn’t have good luck with my zinnias, that I planted too early.


We’ve done it. It works. Just be prepared to clean-up the pile of composting straw at the end of the season.


What’s the impact to the yield of a given plant?

I started out growing tomatoes in containers, and once I planted them in the ground of course I saw an increase in yield. How do straw bales compare?

Oh, it’s been so long I don’t really recall the numbers. I don’t remember it being anything substantially different - more or less - than growing them in beds or pots. We did it as a novelty - once.

Ah, so you didn’t enjoy it.

Your milage may vary! I grow tomatoes in containers every year, and still have more than I can use.

But your climate, and what you can do when, are important. I use sub irrigation planters, think bales would dry out too fast, and felt when I did grow indeterminate tomatoes in the ground, they were a lot more work ( than “self watering planters” on a drip).

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Well, the long and the short of it was we didn’t think it was worth the clean-up at the end…


We have never used straw bales for tomatoes, but we have for bush beans. It makes it so much easier to harvest the beans when they’re a couple feet off the ground than at ankle level. We don’t mind the end of season cleanup, either: the bales kind of fall apart, and the more intact bits get scattered on the pathways between beds, and the looser, more composted bits go into the compost bin to finish breaking down. We try to place the bales strategically, putting them near where their breakdown products will go at the end of their useful life to reduce the amount of stooping, scooping, and redistributing duff.


It took us years - decades really - to finally figure this out. This year we are (for the first time) taking a raised bed where we traditionally plant greens, cukes and the like and will put the pole beans there. This will bring the bean roots about 18" above ground level. My back can hardly wait!

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This is very smart. We had thrown ours out in the front yard, far from the garden beds. It at least got the neighbors talking…


Mrs. ricepad is a gardening genius. Not only were the bush beans easy to harvest, she also set up some climbing beans on a special trellis made from a repurposed patio umbrella. The fabric had long given up the ghost, but the frame was still in great shape, so she put it in the garden and tied strings to the ends of each spar, staking down the ends in a circle a little larger than the spread of the umbrella. The beans climbed up the strings to the umbrella spars, then toward the middle of the umbrella. There was enough space between the plants to squeeze under the umbrella and harvest beans hanging down in the middle, and grabbing beans around the outside was a cinch, too.



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Brilliant. We’ve always done a bean pole, and I’ve often thought about how wonderful it would be to go in and pick (and not on my knees).

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