Advantages of eating in season

Advantages of eating in season are many, but If you are willing to harvest from your backyard orchard, and/or vegetable garden or visit your local u-pick farm and preserve your food you can save a great deal and eat better too. Even purchasing in season at your local grocer can save your family money.

Here is a quick list of some of the benefits:

  • Your produce will taste better.  Produce harvested when it’s naturally at its best will mean it will also taste its best and give you the optimum nutrients.
  • It will save you money. In-season produce is often on-sale produce and or less expensive for a quick sale. Especially, if you are willing to visit the local farmer’s market or visit the local u-pick farms and replace money with a little family work and exercise.
  • You’ll discover new, fruit and vegetable choices. The world of fruits, vegetables, and roots is a larger one than most of our shopping habits indicate. Eating in season will introduce you to new types of fruits, vegetables, and roots and give you more knowledge of nutritious choices. Many heirloom varieties do not ship or store well and therefore will not be in the supermarket.
  • Eating in season also tends to support local growers, which helps the local economy and reduces pollution. Also, as you get to know your local farmer and you will be helping to keep what remains of the local family famil alive for the future. In speaking and making friends with your local farmer you may find there are other opportunities to broaden your diet as many raise heritage livestock, which can make their way to your table. They can let you what crop will next be available and when.

Perennial – How To Grow Garlic (Chinese) Chives

Garlic (Chinese) Chive flowers
Garlic (Chinese) Chive flowers

Garlic Chives or Chinese Chives (Allium tuberosum) are a quick growing, hardy, plant which needs very little maintenance or care. They are a prolific grower, and 1-2 plants are generally enough for a home garden. They are a good choice for a beginner garden and, also, add value to established gardens. They look especially beautiful as a border around a garden with their bountiful blooms. The garlic chive is similar to regular chives, yet, is distinctive for its garlic flavor as opposed to regular chives, which taste like onions. They are also called Chinese chives, Chinese leeks, or allium chives.

Garlic Chives Description

  • Chive plants grow 10-20″ tall. The plant sports tall grass-like foliage that is flat and narrow. As it grows, the leaves curve downward with their tips pointing to the ground. This creates a fountain of green foliage that remains orderly and pretty all through the growing season. At the base of each leaf, the stem is a small white bulb which is edible, as are all parts of the plant.
  • In the fall or late summer, they produce beautiful white flowers that bees and insects adore. The flower stalks emerge from the base of the plant and stand tall above the green leaves. A round bulb-like ball forms with dozens of tiny star-shaped flowers. Flower heads should be removed before going to seed since they self-seed easily and can quickly spread and become an invasive if not monitored.

Are Chives Perennial?

  • Yes! Garlic chives grow in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. They have a long growing season and will grow all year-round in climates where the ground doesn’t freeze. In climates where the ground freezes, they will die back during cold weather and reemerge in the spring.

Growing Chives

Location

  • To begin, choose a space in your garden which will be a good permanent place for them. Since they are perennial, they will need a designated spot. They need between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. They like rich, well-drained, soil yet are adaptable to growing in a variety of soil types.

Planting

  • Garlic chives can be grown from seed or started from divisions. To start them from seed, plant them 1/4″ deep and 6-8″ apart. Garlic chives grow slowly, just a few inches a year until they reach their mature height of 10-20″.
  • To start growing chives from a division, carefully dig out a mature plant. Divide the plant into sections and plant each section in its own location with plenty of space. When you plant from divisions, hold off harvesting any leaves for the first year as they establish themselves.

Maintenance

  • Once they are established, garlic chives need little care. They are very hardy and tolerant of heat, cold, and drought. Sometimes the center of the plant will die when it gets too large. If this happens, pull up the plant and remove the parts that are still good. These can be replanted as divisions.

Harvesting

  • The leaves can be cut and used as soon as they are 3” tall. Cut down the leaves to the base, leaving just a bit of green showing. Like most greens, the leaves should be cut back on a regular basis to encourage new growth. The flower heads of Garlic chives can be cut off and used in salads. The small bulb roots can be pulled up for use in cooking. They have a strong garlic/onion flavor that can be used for a variety of culinary purposes.

Related References

How To Grow Parsnips

Parsnips On Cutting Board
Parsnips On Cutting Board

Parsnips (Pastinacea sativa) have been a neglected route both in my garden and in my kitchen in the past, however, the last couple of years they have found a place in both. They can be a little hard to get started from seed, but once you master that there are no harder to grow than carrots and can be grown in much the same way.

Lifecycle

  • Parsnips are Biennial plants grown as an annual

Culture

  • Parsnips like a deep, loose, easily crumbled soil produce long, straight roots.
    Improving the soil with, humus-rich, well-rotted compost helps improve growth and overall plant health. Fresh manuring or additional fertilization is not recommended, to prevent parsnip roots from producing too many root hairs.
  • Sow Parsnips at a rate of 20 seeds a foot, ½ inch deep, in rows 24 inches apart.
    The parsnip is a root vegetable that takes four months to mature. But because frost enhances its sweet, delicate flavor, it is a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons where they are planted in early to mid-spring.
  • In fact, if the soil is mulched well enough so that it does not freeze, parsnips can be left in the ground and harvested all winter.
  • If the ground does freeze, they can be dug up the following spring.
    In Southern regions where winters are mild, parsnips can be planted in the fall for use as a winter crop.
  • Thoroughly mixing a packet of Parsnip seeds with a cup of dry coffee grounds, adds extra bulk to the seeds and make the seeds easier to sow.
  • Parsnip seeds normally require 2-3 weeks in damp with a ground of 50-68°F to germinate. The optimal germination range 58-68°F. Do not allow the soil to dry out before emergence.
  • Thin parsnips plants to between 2 and 3 inches apart.
Parsnips interplanted with carrots in a disused pole bean bead in my fall and winter garden.
Parsnips interplanted with carrots in a disused pole bean bed in my fall and winter garden.

To Harvest

  • Cut off the tops of the parsnips, the with a potato fork or shovel, dig deeply and well away from the roots to avoid damage.
  • Parsnips require a full season of growth, and their sweet flavor is brought on by cold weather. Dig in the fall or leave in the ground through the winter.
  • When harvesting in early spring, dig before the tops begin to regrow for the highest quality roots.

Storage

  • To store in the refrigerator, trim the top greens off and place an open container or vegetable (perforate) bag in the vegetable drawer at about 32-34°F and 90-95% relative humidity.
  • To store in a root cellar, keep very cool and humid (see guidelines for refrigeration) and away from strong drafts. Parsnip will keep, properly stored in bins of clean straw or pitch free wood chip through the fall and winter.

Caution

  • In rare instances, contact with the foliage may result in a rash.
  • When working with the Parsnips on hot, sunny days, protect exposed skin by wearing gloves, long sleeves, and long pants.
  • Additionally, bathing or, at a minimum, the washing any exposed skin as soon as possible after contact with Parsnips is strongly recommended.

How to Eat Parsnips

  • Parsnips can be eaten in much the same way you would carrots, rutabagas, turnips. Parsnips can be eaten as soups, as roasted roots (my favorite way), make since stews, or steamed mashed and mixed and mashed potatoes

Related References

Buttery Baked Carrots

Buttery Baked Carrots Side Dish
Buttery Baked Carrots Side Dish

I found this recipe in one of my old cookbooks from the 1940s and it makes a quick and easy side when the weather is cool in the fall and winter. Especially, when you need to put a side dish on the table for a holiday celebration like Thanksgiving or Christmas. This can be a really easy side dish to make, if you take advantage of the shortcut method and replace the grating stage with matchstick carrots which simplifies the process and saves time.

Buttery Baked Carrots Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Fresh Carrots
  • ½ cup Maple Blended Syrup
  • ½ cup Butter or Margarine, Melted
  • ½ tsp. Salt (Optional)
  • ½ Pepper (Optional)
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon (Optional)

Buttery Baked Carrots Recipe Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Wash, peel and coarsely grate 2 lbs. fresh carrots, to measure 8 cups.
  • Place grated carrots in a 2 1/2- to 3 qt. Casserole pa
  • Add maple syrup
  • Add melted butter or margarine
  • Add salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  • Toss gently until thoroughly coated
  • Place in oven to bake, covered
  • Use a pair of tongs to stir after about 15 minutes.
  • Return to oven for final 15 minutes, until carrots are tender
  • Stir before serving.

Buttery Baked Carrots Servings

  • Serves 6 to 8.

Buttery Baked Carrots Notes

  • Turnips, rutabaga or parsnips provide ideal alternates to the carrots in this delicious recipe
  • As a shortcut, the grated carrots can be replaced with matchstick carrots, which is a serious time saver.

Avoid green skinned potatoes for cooking

Potato With Green Skin
Potato With Green Skin

For food and cooking purposes potatoes with green skins should be avoided as they can contain glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids are considered toxic.

However, they are perfectly fine for use in the garden as seed potatoes.

Ask The Cook – Which Carrots are the most nutritious?

Baby Purple Carrots from My Garden
Baby Purple Carrots from My Garden

Generally speaking, the richer and dark a fresh carrot is, the more nutritious the carrot will be.  So, not only have the purple carrots been grown longer than the traditional orange carrot, it is more nutritious, as well.  Something to consider, when choosing your garden seed or have a choice of colors in your local market.

Related References

How To Grow Sweet Onions

Sweet onions
Sweet onions

Sweet onions refer to several onion varieties, including Walla Walla, Vidalia, Sweet Spanish onions, and more. These varieties of onions naturally tend to be less pungent than others. The best commercially grown sweet onions like Georgia and Vidalia come from parts of the world that have naturally low levels of sulfur in the soil which they got their name from. Sweet onions are starting to become wildly popular and growing them can be a little tricky.

Some of the most important things to remember about growing sweet onions are that they need plenty of sun, and fertile well-draining soil.

Getting the Garden Bed Ready

Have the intention of planting from early to mid spring. Planting onions can be done between four to six weeks before the last frost. As soon as the ground can be worked in March or April, prepare the garden bed for planting and don’t plant onions until the temperature ceases to drop below 20 F (-6.7 C).

Plant your onions in a bright, non-tree, or other plant shaded sunny location that exposes your onion to direct sunlight of about 6 to 8 hours per day.

Soils should be amended with compost. A loose, fertile, and well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8 gives your onions the best chance. Break up the soil in the garden bed with a tiller and Spread 2 inches (5 cm) of matured compost or aged manure over the garden bed and work it into the soil with a tiller. The use of compost to amend the soil will add nutrients and allows for proper draining of the soil.

Don’t forget the loose grounds allow sulfur to drain through. Otherwise, the onions won’t be as sweet. Addition of fertilizer to the soil to amend the soil with extra nitrogen. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer like blood meal should be sprinkled over the soil and Use a rake to mix the fertilizer with the soil. Sulfur-based fertilizers should be avoided when growing sweet onion to avoid making the onions more pungent

Planting and Caring for Sweet Onions

Use your hands or a spade to build the soil up into rows that are 4 inches (10 cm) high after creating space in the soil and use your hands or a spade to build the soil up into rows that are 4 inches (10 cm) high. It is important to Plant sweet onions in rows or raised beds as this helps drain the water better and produce sweeter onions. It is not necessary to create rows before planting because you have completed your control over the soil medium in the container.

Plant the onions in the rows. Use a spade to dig 1-inch (2.5-cm) holes in the rows. Space the holes, so they’re 6 inches (15 cm) apart. Place an onion set (A small onion that was grown and dried the previous year), in each hole and cover the roots with soil. Planting must not be more than an inch (2.5 cm) deep so the leaves won’t rot and bulbs will grow large.

Cover the soil with a thin layer of mulch as this will help to eliminate weeds from the area and keep the soil consistently moist, which is ideal for onions. Good mulches for onions include a light layer of grass clippings or straw.

When the onion bulbs start to grow, sweep the mulch away from the bulbs to keep the onions dry.

Keep the soil moist as the onions will need regular watering to keep the soil damp because these plants have very shallow roots. Provide the onions with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water each week, minus whatever water they get from precipitation. You’ll have to provide even more water if you didn’t add a top layer of mulch. If the leaves start to yellow prematurely, waterless because this means they’re getting too much.

Use a rake to mix the fertilizer in with the soil before watering. Side dress the onions again when the tops reach about 8 inches (20 cm). When onions flower, it means they have bolted, or are going to seed, so they need to be removed. Flowering onion bulbs that are left in the ground will start to rot.

Harvesting and Storing Onions

Once the bulb reaches maturity, the scapes and leaves start turning yellow and fall over. Wait for the scapes to die back for mature onions. Onions that are left in the ground to mature will eventually start to form larger bulbs. This shows the onions are ready for harvest. The onions might be ready anywhere from 90 to 110 days after planting depending on the variety

On a sunny morning, pull the onions from the ground. Place your hand on the scapes and leaves of the onion near the base, pull it from the ground gently and Shake the onion a bit to remove excess dirt from the roots. Ensure you harvest the onions by late summer since the cooler temperatures of fall will only cause them to spoil.

Curing is the process of allowing the skins to dry, and it will facilitate more extended storage. Because sweet onions don’t keep as long as pungent onions, you don’t have to cure them for as long. Cure the onions. After you’ve harvested all the onions, expose them to the air and sun by spreading out on the soil. Leave the onions to dry in the sun for nearly three days, until the crown and skin are dry. The skin should also be examined to have a uniform texture and color. Cure the onions inside in a well-ventilated area during wet weather

Sweet onions should be used within six weeks since they don’t tend to last as long as regular onions. Wrap the onions individually in paper towels and store them in the refrigerator to elongate the shelf life up to 8 weeks.

With the tips above, you can now start you sweet onion planting in your garden.