Saturday, November 20, 2010

Roots time

With colder weather setting in Thanksgiving week, it’s a good time to explore your underground growing success by digging root vegetables. Beets are a good example, the cool weather causing them to be extra sweet.

‘Chioggia’ beets named for a town across the bay from Venice are pictured here. They are a 65 day, Italian home garden variety with festive red and white striped interior rings. Try them roasted with feta cheese. Sweet!

Carrots are another mainstay. ‘Nelson’ (pictured) is a half-long variety well adapted to growing in our shallow, clay soils. A Nantes type, it grows 5 to 6 inches long in 58 days. It consistently produces smooth, high quality roots with great uniformity.

Make fresh harvested roots a part of your November vegetable menu.

You can store roots in the garden longer into December and even January by covering them with a blanket of mulch. A foot deep layer of fallen tree leaves weighted with wire fencing or staked with netting to hold them in place should do the trick.

Photo credits: Dug 'Chioggia' beet root, 'Chioggia' beet slices, dug 'Nelson' carrot - all Carl Wilson

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Garden cleanup

Extended warm weather with many pleasant days has allowed ample time for garden cleanup. Though several hard freezes have killed warm weather crops, cool weather crops are still producing. If plants have overstayed their useful life, remove them. When cold-hardy cabbage family crops and others are finished, gather and dispose of all debris, preferably to the compost bin. If diseased or severely infested with insects, disposal off the property may be desirable.

One reason for a thorough fall cleanup is to avoid overwintering insects in your garden. For example, aphids overwinter as eggs as can be seen in the photo of kohlrabi, above right. Cabbage aphids (pictured left) and turnip aphids are the prime species found on cabbage family crops. Removing debris heads off an early spring aphid infestations. With some aphids on vegetable crops, it also eliminates the virus diseases that they can carry.

Photo credit: Cabbage aphids closeup (Brevicoryne brassicae) Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, ; Aphid infested kohlrabi, Kale and kohlrabi debris, Raking debris – all three Carl Wilson