Saturday, March 27, 2010

BUILDING A PLANT STAND

About fifteen years ago I began starting various vegetable seeds
indoors.  What made this possible was the plant stand I built from
a sketch found by my Dad in a stack of old handyman magazines
he found at a yard sale.  This is a very simple design that can be
disassembled and stored away at the end of the seed starting
season.  Check out the drawings below for more details.  If you
still can't figure out how to put this together, send me an email and
I will be happy to walk you through it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

FAVA BEANS

On the same day that I planted peas I also planted a row of fava beans.  My wife Catherine has been after me for years to grow fava's ever since we saw the movie "Silence of the Lambs".  There is a scene in the film
between the character played by Jodie Foster and Hannibal Lector in which Hannibal recalls eating the liver
of one of his victims with some fava beans and a good chianti.  In Europe, fava beans are quite popular.  Each bean
is rather large (about 1" in diameter) and flat, somewhat like a lima bean.  The beans come encased in a pod
lined with fuzz.  In addition, each bean is wrapped in it's own little protective skin.  The pods stick straight up on the plants and make for a rather unusual site in the garden.

Fava beans are susceptible to leaf blackening which is a virus spread by aphids.  Control the aphids and your
fava beans will be fine.  I use a product called Safer Insect Soap.  It is approved for use in organic farming.

OK, so how do they taste?  Fava beans are great side dish with just about any meat or fish. This flavorful bean needs just a saute with olive oil and garlic.
 Very simple, very tasty.  As I mentioned above, start your fava beans at the same time you plant
your peas.  It is great to have two legume choices so early in the season.  Follow the directions on the
seed packet.  Make sure to begin spraying for aphids as soon as the plants are 6" tall and continue to spray once a week until the end of the harvest.

All the best,
Greg

Thursday, March 25, 2010

PLANTING PEAS

Spring is actually here.  I celebrated that fact by planting the season's first peas.  Peas are one of the best crops to eat fresh
from the garden.  If you are a home vegetable gardener and you
haven't experienced the taste and sweetness of garden fresh peas
do yourself a favor and give them a try.  Growing peas is relatively
simple.  Plant as early as you can in the Spring.  I make a trench
about 3 inches deep and about the width of a hoe.  I first apply
a layer of bone meal to feed the peas.  Then I plant the peas.  I
use an entire packet (375 seeds in a 15 foot long row.  I don't
get anal about the placement of the peas.  I just try to space them
about 1" apart.  Next, I water the trench enough to wet all of the
peas.  The final step before covering the seeds is to sprinkle a
granular inoculant over the seeds.  This provides active live
bacteria which improves yield.  I cover the soil, give the trench
another drenching of water and wait patiently for the seedlings to
emerge.

As you can see from the picture, I have driven some metal fence posts into the ground.  When the seedlings
start to grow I will hang "pea trellis" from the fence posts to support the pea vines.  The variety that I planted
is called CASELOAD and was purchased from Johnny's Selected seeds.  The peas were planted on March
18.  In the twenty years that I have been growing vegetables this is the earliest that I've ever started peas.
I will plant a second crop in about two weeks.  Put some seeds in the ground my friends.
All the best,
Greg