The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

December 21, 2012

Picking radishes in December

Filed under: Vegetables — bob @ 3:22 pm

I picked the last of my radishes today — the first day of winter.

Even though we had some night time temperatures dip into the teens, we’ve had a mild fall season overall.  The radishes seemed to do quite well under those conditions. They grew slowly but did manage to reach harvest size.

The radishes are about one inch in diameter -- big enough to eat.

Earlier this fall I planted them as an afterthought and forgot all about them until now. The bed they were growing in is not covered or mulched and  is directly exposed to the weather.

Sometimes it pays to spend some extra time in the fall to sow  leftover, cool-season seeds. Most years, nothing finishes growing before it gets frozen.  But in years when you do get a crop, it really is a pleasant surprise.


Taking Care of Sauerkraut Crock

Filed under: Storage and Preservation — bob @ 2:20 pm

Sometimes it feels like I’m still gardening even though the growing season is over.

For example, I’ve been tending my batch of sauerkraut for nearly a month now. Every couple of days I check it to make sure everything’s going OK. The anaerobic bacteria that ferment the cabbage can’t tolerate air so, I need to make sure all of the cabbage is covered completely with cabbage juice.

Mold likes to grow on the surfaces of the crock — or food-safe plastic pail — and the plates I use to cover the kraut. Mold has to be cleaned off as it appears. It’s sort of like removing weeds from a garden as they start to grow. The mold is not only unappetizing, but it can spoil the kraut too.

Now that it has fermented for a while, I harvest a smaller layer of kraut every time I check it. If a minuscule amount of mold or aerobic bacteria try to get started there,  it gets removed. Of course, I throw out any that is spoiled.

It took 12 heads of cabbage from my garden to make five gallons of sauerkraut.

So, I’m tending a garden that has billions and billions of probiotic bacteria and they need to be well cared for.

I made my first batch of sauerkraut way back in 1978. It was so successful that I’ve continued to make it ever since. It’s something I look forward to every fall.

I eat my sauerkraut raw, straight from the crock. It has a satisfying crunch and a tangy flavor that is different with each batch. Now, if I cooked it, I’d kill all of those probiotic bacteria I’ve been nurturing.

By the way in my Polish family, everyone calls it kapusta, not sauerkraut.


December 7, 2012

Planning Ahead for Spring Evergreen Planting

Filed under: Shrubs,Trees — bob @ 2:30 pm

This week I’m helping a friend decide where to plant some evergreens in his yard.

Now is the perfect time to make those decisions because the leaves are gone from the trees and bushes in the yard.  Since evergreens keep their leaves or needles, their deep green color will stand out from the rest of the vegetation during the winter. So, it’s important to place them in the right spot. We’re trying to  get a better idea how an evergreen will look in the yard space next winter and the following winters.

The other reason we’re doing the planning now is because we won’t be distracted by all of the spring time foliage of the other trees and shrubs. It’s too easy to get fooled into picking the wrong spot for your evergreen and regret the choice next winter.

We’re going to visually survey his yard and try to imagine how the evergreens will look in a different places around the property. Also, I keep reminding him that we need to keep in mind how big the trees or shrubs will get as they grow through the years.

Once we make the final decision, we’ll drive a stake in each spot to remind us of the planting spots. The actual planting will take place next spring.

This is not a fool-proof method but it gives us more information to help us make the best planting decision.

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