Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sowing Seeds: December

Winter Garden at The Cove in San Antonio by The Kitchen Gardener


Hiya- Welcome back. Want to know what you can plant in your garden this month?

Lots of greens! You can plant lettuce and spinach. The cool thing about growing lettuce in your garden is that there are so many more variety options than you can find in the grocery store.

There are three main types of lettuce; leaf, butter head and head lettuce. Head lettuce is romaine, ice burg, etc. You can cut it once and you are done. Butter head is similar but has softer leaves. I love this kind and it costs a fortune in the store. Leaf lettuce is the kind you can cut the leaves and they will come back again and again. If you pick leaves from the outside of any lettuce, you can treat them all like cut and come again. Then you always have greens for salads, sandwiches, casseroles.

The other thing you can plant in December in Texas is FRUIT TREES! We have planted over 15 fruit trees this month alone. I am looking forward to having a backyard orchard down the line.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cover Crops


Hairy Vetch Cover Crop

Bean Plant Cover Crop growing out of the Kitchen Gardener trailer.
Cover crops are a great way to improve your soil without adding a lot of compost. They also help cover up a dirt patch in your yard and improve that area for next seasons garden. You want to avoid bare soil in your yard or garden.

Some great examples of cover crops are clover, vetch, rye, buckwheat, beans, and cow peas. Beans and cow peas are great because they add nitrogen to the soil. Some people use the "green manure method," where the gardener chops down the plants when they are small. This gives your soil a nitrogen burst but is not our favorite method because the improvement is short lived. If you let the plants grow until they die back on their own, you will have durable organic matter to improve your soil. 

We love to throw out cover crop seeds right before it rains so the rain will water in all the seeds. You will have a field of greens in no time. So this weekend and week is a great time to throw out your seeds in Austin.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sowing Seeds September


Hi folks.

It's September! Sometimes it's hard to get inspired when it is still so hot inside. But believe me cooler weather will (eventually) arrive! And you want your veggies beds ready to go so you can plant your seeds and transplants when the time is right. Clear out those weeds, fight of that Bermuda grass and pull out your dead plants that the heat killed off. Once the heat breaks a little, your garden will have a fighting chance.

Also, you can trim back your Zinnias, Peppers, Basil and Eggplants and then fertilize them with an organic granular slow release fertilizer. We like ladybug 8-2-4. Then water them really well and they should pop back for the fall.

So what can you plant this month and next?

Artichoke Crowns- *hot tip: artichokes take up a lot of space in the garden, so give them room. Even if you don't love artichokes to eat, the flowers are amazing.
Beets
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Broccoli
carrots
cauliflower
Swiss Chard
Collards
Kale
Kohlrabi
Mustard
Green Bunching Onions
Snow and Snap Peas
Radishes
Turnips


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quick Tip + A Winner!


Saving Lettuce Seeds
This is a super quick post to let you know our favorite way to reuse old envelopes. We have a giant stack of old envelopes that we use to save seeds! Easy. Free. Label the envelope with the variety and date saved. Store in a dark, dry place. Enjoy free seeds next season/ year!

And who will be enjoying saving their own seeds on us? Equestrian4jc! Congrats! Please email us (contact@theaustinkitchengardener.com) your address and the gift certificate to Baker's Creek Seeds will be on its way. (This was not sponsored by Baker's Creek in any way- We just love them!)

Happy planting!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sowing Seeds: June + Giveaway!

 

Hi friends- Happy First Day of Summer! Wondering what you can plant for your Summer garden right now?

How about melons, pumpkins, okra, malabar spinich and cow peas.

This is a really great time to put those pumpkins in to have your very own homegrown Halloween pumpkins! There are lots of cool varieties you can test out. We grow mini-pumpkins, white pumpkins, Cinderella pumpkins...you can have the coolest pumpkins on the block by growing your own.
 
Also, it has been a year since I started writing Sowing Seeds! If you are ever wondering what you can plant now, click the Sowing Seeds link at the top of the blog and you will have a whole years worth of information at your disposal when you need it.

I often post short notes on our facebook page and twitter to let people know what they can plant in their Central Texas garden now. Growing in Texas is a whole different ball game and we are here to help!


As a thank you to all our fans, followers and readers- we are going to host a giveaway to celebrate!

Want to win a $20.00 gift certificate to Baker's Creek Seeds to pick out some fun heirloom seeds for your garden? Leave a comment telling me about your garden or plans for a future garden! I want to hear how you are growing over there.

Want extra chances to win? You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or re-pin this post on pinterest. If you are already a facebook fan or twitter follower- thank you! Please tell me that in the comments and you will get an extra entry as well. Make sure to come back and leave me a comment telling me which additional things you did.

We will pull a rabbit winner out of hat on Friday June 28th and announce it on the blog- so please leave us a way to contact you if you win. Good luck my gardeners and Happy Summer Solstice.

Friday, May 31, 2013

What is a Hugelkultur?







And how can it help your vegetable growing?

A hugelkuture is a high raised beds filled with organic matter that can include bulky wood, compost, sticks, leaves, sod, brush and more.  The idea is you dig a trench and fill it with organic material and then some so the trench will be full plus a mound above ground. Then you use the dirt you dug up to cover the whole mound. You want the hill to be steep. It is suppose to have sloping sides. That keeps the soil on top from getting compacted because the whole pile will be decomposing and settling as you go.Then you seed a mix of plants to help tie it all together. The growing roots will help hold the loose pile together. Tubers such as potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes are good option for this. Then you can plant it as you would a regular raised bed or you could continue to seed it polyculture style. Polyculture style means keeping all your seeds mixed together and throwing them out in a mumble jumble on the bed. Kids love doing this. 
So why would you do this?

Hugelkutures are great way to keep water in your garden. The trench fills with water when it rains and the decaying organic material holds on to the water like a sponge keeping your seeds and plants watered. It really cuts back on how often you need to water and is great for our dry Texas climate. It is also a great way to compost any large tree branches on your property. A hugelkuture also provides many different micro-climates- this just means, some sides of the bed are shadier, cooler, warmer, or sunnier. This gives your plants lots of good environments to grow. The fun part of polyseeding is that when you mix up a combination of seeds and just throw them on to the bed, different plants will pop up on differnt sides of the hugelkuture depending on what micro-environment the plants prefers.

So what do you think? Are you interested in trying a hugelkulture in your garden?

If you are interested in learning more, you can look up Sepp Holzer's Permaculture Hugelkuture method. He is our go to guy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Trellis


Malabar Spinach
We had a good question over on our facebook page about what to do with an bare trellis over the Summer.

You have an empty trellis too? Do you want to make a trellis and use it over the Summer?

OK! Let's go.

You can plant our favorite Summer Green climber- Malabar Spinach. Beautiful red vines and tasty greens.

Or look for a climbing variety of Cow Peas. Cow peas, also called Black Eyed Peas, also called Southern Peas, are a great nitrogen fixer for your soil if you want to rest the area before your fall plants go in. Plus, you get black eyed peas out of the deal. Make sure you find the climbing variety if you are looking to use your trellis. Regular cow peas are great too. Dry them and save them for the new year.
My first baby with a Chinese Noodle Bean.

You can also plant Chinese Noodle Beans- which are comically large and add some fun to the garden. These are great in stir fry.

Or you can try melons that you trellis with old pantyhose

What is growing on your trellis this Summer? If you have any gardening questions- please feel free to ask here in the comments! That's what I am here for!