Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First Fall Garden

I hope you like my title picture this time. This is my first real attempt to grow a Fall Garden here in South Central Kansas. After trying to make a small Hoop-House and experimentally grow a few "Cool Weather" crops  2 winters ago and having some encouraging success, I decided to Make an English Cloche - Which is an English hoop-house of sorts except that instead of protecting a few plants, I am trying to protect a whole plot.

That would be the far plot in the picture with the Romaine Lettuces showing. The near plot probably will just have to winter under a layer of leaves, mulch etc. The near plot has about 30 new cloves of garlic planted and 50 or so onions that were culled from the onion harvest this year but were too small to use. I just plunked them back in a new patch to see what would happen. Nothing happened for almost 2 months. Then they started to sprout up and are growing like crazy! I am hoping they will continue to grow at least through November and produce at least 2 inch table slicing onions.

  I also have several Herbs that I hope will winter over in this plot. I know the Stevia probably won't survive but I have several growing indoors that I hope to plant out in Spring. This was my first year for trying to grow Stevia ( the Sugar Plant). I was amazed the first time that I nibbled on a leaf. So sweet it was almost bitter! I put about a half of a teaspoon of ground up Stevia in a big cup of hot tea and it sweetened up very nicely - but next time I will put it in a tea ball or small cotton bag. It floats around the top of the tea and doesn't settle!  It was like having Green Pepper in your teeth!

Next year, I plan to try the powder in baked goods and will attempt to extract oil from the dried leaves.  A couple ounces of the oil will run you about $12 in the store and it takes two drops to sugar a cup of tea. 

Over in the far plot with the Romaine Lettuce, I have picked most of the 3rd crop of Radishes and planted seed for Green Onions (Bunching Onions). I also planted another 30 or so garlic cloves. I just went to the Home Land Grocery store  and picked 3 big whole garlics. Each one gave me about 15 or so cloves to plant about the size of the first joint of my thumb.  My plan is to see these come up in the Very Early Spring about March and make my daughters a bunch of garlic for their kitchens. If I get the Clothe covered in time, I hope to have fresh Romaine Lettuce and Green Onions in time for Christmas Dinner.

As to the Cloche. I am racing the first hard freeze getting it ready. Tomorrow - I put on the plastic cover and have already set it on the 4 x 8 ft. plot  and I promise you that I will at least try to show you a picture in the next week or so. It's very inexpensive to build and just about anyone should be able to build it fairly easy. I hope to have plans ready also so you folks in the warmer zones can at  least build one for yourself if you like in time for this winter and early spring. Sound fair?  Hopefully,  you folks in the cooler Northern zones can at least get a Cloche for Early Spring.

Set it out. Let it solar heat  the soil for a week or so and start your  cool weather crops. Maybe you can even get some Tomato plants  and Peppers started 3 or 4 weeks earlier next spring! That's what's nice about Gardening. Hope Springs Eternal for Real Gardeners! 

That's all for now. Hope your keeping warm where ever your at and I sincerely wish you all  a Wonderful Thanksgiving!.


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