STIR FRY!

My hugelkultur garden row was put in late and the seeds didn’t happen to go in it right away so I totally missed the opportunity to grow turnip greens in my winter garden. I love greens!

I used half the row to plant bok choy, tatsoi, red and green cabbage, radiccio, Russian kale, and green onions that are red instead of green (Red Baron Hybrid).

The bok choy, tatsoi and Russian kale are large enough that I’ve been making some most excellent stir fry dishes with the addition of some squash and garlic.

I particularly like the tatsoi, which were new-to-me seeds and I’m experimenting to see if they are cut-and-come-again veggies. As you can see, the tatsoi leaves are short, compact and shaped like a rosette.

Tatsoi
Tatsoi

Tatsoi is a cool season crop which can be sown from late spring through autumn according to the seed packets. I just about fall down laughing when I see such instructions. In North Florida, we can have 80 degree days in December. Comments on the Baker Heirloom website indicate it bolts at the slightest hint of warm weather so I might be able to grow it from November to mid-February. Next year, I’ll try planting some in heavy shade to see if I can prolong the growing season.

In addition to stir fry, tatsoi can be used in salads. I gave some to Mrs. Golf Cart who said it was excellent in her fresh salad.

I figure it has slightly more nutritional value than the bok choy because the stems are green but I happen to have more bok choy seeds than tatsoi so the bok choy seeds are going in the ground.

bok choy with white stalks
bok choy with white stalks

 

tatsoi with green stalks
tatsoi with green stalks

MY HUGELKULTUR

You will recall from my post on Eat Your Yard Jax that I was fascinated to learn about hugelkultur. I didn’t want to toss chunks of trees in my hugelkultur plot because covering it with soil in my low vegetable garden would have been enormously expensive but I liked the idea that hugelkultur would raise my garden above the flood plain while we are in the “wet” years. I opted to experiment with a one-row version of hugelkultur using sticks and twigs from the yard that usually go out to the curb for pick up.

Fortuitously, Priss was coming to town for Thanksgiving and announced that she would be visiting with me on Friday. This put me in charge of the entertainment and immediately, the left side of my lip twisted into a smirk while a resounding pop filled the air as my horns put in an appearance. Yes indeedy, I had just the thing for my bona fide, card-carrying, architecturally licensed sister with the Master’s Degree. A little grubbing in the dirt. Hee hee.

Before you scream about me being the older, meaner sister, I did warn her to wear old clothes because I could use a little help with weeding in my veggie garden patch.  In her family, they have something called the Good Sport Award where you do something that might not really appeal to you for the benefit of another family member. And that is how I got my one row hugelkultur experiment started.

After weeding, I dug a trench with the hand plow and we tossed in the twigs:

hugelkulture with twigs-112223

Then we emptied the contents of my two compost trash cans on top of the twigs:

hugelkulture with compost-114524

I am happy to report that she was a Good Sport about helping with my experimental project. A few days later, I purchased 3 cubic feet of potting soil and added that to the top of the compost and twigs:

hugelkulture w 3 cu ft potting soil-0029

It then took me two weeks to plant my seeds — bok choy,  red and green cabbage, red bunching onions, Russian kale and tatsoi. Five days later, the bok choy looked like this (only the onions haven’t sprouted):

first bok choy sprouts on my hugelkulture-0037

GREEN PERSIMMONS

Always, I have suspected that the squirrels were responsible for my persimmons disappearing from the tree before the fruit ripened.

persimmons green-6229
green persimmons

However, it didn’t make sense because an unripe persimmon is bitter and astringent. That means it causes soft organic tissues to contract. In other words, Momma washing your mouth out with soap can’t compare to a green persimmon turning your mouth inside out. That being the case, you can understand why I questioned the possibility of squirrels raiding my persimmon tree. As I’ve seen them around the yard feasting on other edibles, none of them appear to have a stainless steel mouth.

I had a bumper crop of persimmons this year and I asked my brother, known here as Bubba, to fashion a prop that would help support the tree. The weight of all those persimmons had caused the branches to drop down to the ground. I reasoned that a prop would raise the branches off the ground making a persimmon raid a greater challenge for the squirrels or whatever critter was stealing me blind.

Bubba quickly built a prop from boards he found in Poppie’s garage.

persimmon tree prop
persimmon tree prop

A few days later, I happened to be staring out my bedroom window, for no particular reason, and caught a squirrel jumping up onto one of the lower limbs, extracting a persimmon from my tree, and scampering off with it. Now it was fact rather than suspicion.

Zorro has been no help with the squirrels.

Zorro
Zorro in the liriope

This photo of Zorro was taken July 30th. I chose not to show the other half of him because his seal point color is coming in here-and-there. Poor thing has two dark patches on each hip. You should see his feet! If they get any bigger, he’ll be able to wear my shoes. It’s tempting to take a ruler to his clodhoppers but I don’t want to give him a complex.

Young and energetic, Zorro hides in that liriope and chases anything that moves. Anything. Most of the lizards around here have stubby tails and the odd snake or two fares no better. Just last week, he pestered a Black Racer snake so bad that the snake looked like a cartoon character with an overly wide open mouth aimed at striking Zorro. But chase a squirrel? I have seen Zorro chase one squirrel. Useless cat.

I suppose the best I can hope for is a bunch of squirrels with their mouth turned inside out!

OTHER REASONS FOR FRUIT LOSS

In addition to critters making off with your green persimmons, fruit drop also occurs in persimmons. Fruit drop happens when:

  • the tree is getting too much or too little water (mulch!)
  • the tree is getting too much or too little fertilizer (DO NOT fertilize while the tree is bearing fruit — too much nitrogen)
  • it may be a young tree
  • it might shed a large crop it does not have the ability to ripen, or parthenocarpy may be the issue. Parthenocarpy is when fruit is produced without fertilization (pollination) and no seed is produced. Bananas, figs, navel oranges and persimmons can produce fruit without fertilized seeds.
  • it may bear in alternate years because of all the energy required to bear fruit
Persimmon tree heavy with fruit
Photo taken October 3, 2019 — this is the heaviest crop I’ve seen on this tree; it dropped a third of its green fruit. Next year will probably be the alternate year when it takes a rest.

You can read an overview on some of these here:

To get fruit that hangs on until it ripens, choose a pollinator variety such as the ‘Fuyu’ persimmon and plant it nearby so that you have two persimmon trees.

LAST MEYER LEMON

What you see here is the very last of my 2014 crop of Meyer Lemons from my two-year-old tree. You will recall from Dingbat Certificate that I had a whopping crop of 3 lemons. I still haven’t eaten it. Being the very last one, it must, for a while, be visually savored each time I open the ‘fridge door.

last 2014 meyer lemon-5965
Photo by Gary Jones

 

GOLD POTATO HARVEST

I’ve been wondering if those weeds in my veggie patch could break into my house and take over. It seems a grim possibility given my level of laziness. I am seriously unmotivated to do anything but read thrillers and eat watermelon. Shameful.

I did finally get outside to harvest my potatoes before the vines completely rotted away, leaving me no clue where to dig.

Since my Uncle introduced us to Yukon Gold potatoes, I no longer eat white potatoes. My gold seed potatoes from Wal-Mart were planted late, due to rain, and mostly ignored. Still, they grew and then bloomed.

Gold potato blooms-2452
Potato blooms – June 11, 2014

The yield was not what I would have expected — it filled less than half of this 1.5 or 2 gallon nursery pot after I chunked the bad ones. The weather has been a dicey affair for the second spring in a row. Too much rain!

gold potato harvest
gold potato harvest – July 18, 2014

Having just admitted to a prolonged state of laziness, I did not want you to see my potatoes with dirt on them. I knew to allow the dirt to dry and fall off naturally while the potatoes were “curing.”  Just because I knew this didn’t mean you knew it and I could hear your gasps through the computer screen. “Why, she didn’t even wash her potatoes!”

It takes two weeks to cure potatoes — allowing minor cuts and bruises to heal and the skin to thicken. Rather than have you horrified that I was too lazy to wash my taters, I got out there and tried to scrub the dirt off with my hands. You can see the results in the lower front of the photo – I broke the skin on a few!

Despite the small harvest, I’m always happy to pull anything from my little patch of dirt. It’s an accomplishment, like winning one for the home team.

Useful tidbit: according to some educational facility way out west, sugary potatoes can be restored to their natural flavor by removing them from the ‘fridge and leaving them at room temperature for several days prior to use.