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Welcome to My Garden

Welcome to My Garden

Plant Your Hardy and Semi-Hardy Vegetables Before the First Frost

Planning a vegetable garden for the colder months requires a little bit of information and strategy. First, you need to know what your hardiness zone is and then you need to know the first frost date and the first freeze date. Once you have this knowledge at hand, you can begin to plan your garden so that the vegetables you plant will be safe and thrive during the cold harsh weather of winter.

Hardiness Zone

Every location has a hardiness zone. The hardiness zone is a measure determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a standard for the likelihood of a particular plant’s ability to grow successfully in a particular geographic location. The hardiness zone takes into consideration the minimum likely temperature for each region. The USDA has an interactive hardiness zone map that allows you to look up your hardiness zone by entering your zip code.

First Frost and Freeze Dates

Once you determine your hardiness zone, next you need to know when the first frost and when the first freeze are expected to occur in your area. I have found an easy to use source to generate this information. Whenever I want to know the first frost and first freeze dates, I go to The How Do Gardener. This is a helpful and informative website that utilizes information gleaned from the National Climactic Data Center and uses an interactive service, much like the USDA interactive hardiness zone map, to provide you with the first frost and first freeze dates. You simply enter your zip code and the dates are automatically presented to you.

Plan Your Cold Weather Garden

After learning your hardiness zone and the first frost and freeze dates, you now need to decide what to plant.

I live in northern California, in Hardiness Zone 9. I need to be sure the vegetables I plant on October 1, 2015 will mature before the first freeze date which traditionally follows about two weeks after the first frost date. Since the first freeze date in my zone is December 1, 2015, I need to select plants that will become mature and will be able to be harvested before December 1, 2015. Most seed packets have the number of days to maturity and other helpful planting information on the back.

Note that hardy plants can tolerate freezing temperatures. Even so, they need to be planted in order that by the time freezing weather occurs, the plant is mature enough to withstand the harsh, excessive temperatures of 32° degrees Fahrenheit or below or 0° degrees Celsius or below.

Table of my October Planting Schedule

I selected these plants because of the number of days to maturity. These plants will be mature before the first Freeze Date, according to my location.

My Oct. 2015 Plants

What I Planted in Oct. 2015

Protect Your Garden From Cold Weather

The first frost date in my area is November 11, 2015, so my biggest concern is keeping the vegetables from being harmed by the harshness of cold weather.

Although the vegetables you plant in October are considered hardy or semi-hardy, they still need a small level of protection from frost and freeze. Prior to the first frost date, place some type of mulch on top of the dirt at the base of the plants. Mulch is a ground cover that can help keep the soil from becoming overly cold. Types of Mulch include hay, straw, alfalfa, barks, hulls, grass clippings, garden clippings, dried leaves, recycled wood, and gravel.

As well as using mulch to cover the soil, place a protective barrier such as plastic or a fabric made specifically for outdoor weather over the plant. This should be sufficient enough to protect the plant from frost. When using plastic, be sure to remove the plastic when the sun comes out. This will allow the plant to breathe and let excessive moisture evaporate.

Whether you use a mulch, a plant cover, or both, your plant should have enough protection from becoming harmed by extremely cold temperatures.

Plant What is Right for Your Region

With proper consideration and planning, you should be able to enjoy fresh vegetables even in the cold winter months. Before planting, think about the following:

  • what you like to eat
  • frost and freeze dates
  • cold weather protection
  • how long your vegetable plant will take to mature

Happy Gardening!

No matter what season, you can put delicious fresh food on your table all year long.

Simple Zucchini and Grape Leaf Salad

Simple Zucchini and Grape Leaf Salad

Recipe: Simple Zucchini and Grape Leaf Salad

The joy of gardening includes walking out and picking something to include with a meal every day. Zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, and radishes are still producing and so I can make a delicious salad from these vegetables.

I also grow grapes in my garden and while grapes are a fruit, the grape leaves can be cut and eaten raw. So while I am waiting for the grapes to mature, I can use the grape leaves in the salad without harming the actual fruit.

Here is a recipe for a very simple salad using zucchini and grape leaves.

Zucchini and Grape Leaf Salad Ingredients

Zucchini and Grape Leaf Salad

Ingredients:

  • ¼ Head lettuce, torn to bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ Cup Radishes, sliced thin
  • ½ Cup Zucchini, sliced thin
  • ½ Cup Grape leaves, torn to bite-sized pieces
  • ½ Cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste preference

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a medium sized-bowl. Toss and serve with your desired dressing.

This recipe makes a large dinner salad for two people or a small side salad for four people.

Related Gardening Articles:

What to Do in the Vegetable Garden in October by Marlene C. Bertrand

How to Reuse Potting Soil Safely by Jill Spencer (The Dirt Farmer)

SOURCES:

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

The How Do Gardener, http://www.howdogardener.com/439-2/freeze-and-frost-dates

The National Climatic Data Center, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/

University of California Master Gardeners, http://ucanr.edu/sites/scmg/Mulch_A-Z/Types_of_Mulch/

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CabbageRemember the Cabbage Patch Kids? Me too! I’m growing cabbage this year and every time I walk past the cabbage patch I think of the Cabbage Patch Kids. I can’t seem to get those cute little images out of my mind.

Last year, my cabbage patch did not do well. I rotated my crops this year and so the cabbage is now located in a completely different area of the garden. It is doing very well in the new location. Last year, I grew lettuce where the cabbage is growing now and the lettuce produced moderately well. Honestly, this year the cabbage is doing better in this location than the lettuce did last year.

My husband and I enjoy coleslaw, so it is only natural that we grow cabbage. In our garden, we also grow onion and carrots. We pick those and add them to the coleslaw. We make coleslaw that doesn’t have a lot of ingredients and is quick to make.

We like to shred the cabbage and carrots very thin and the onions so thin you can almost see through the slices. The texture of these thinly prepared veggies, creates a dance on the tongue that makes this dish fun to eat.

You can serve this vegetable combination with Ranch Dressing and a little cracked pepper and it will taste divine.

We like a vinegar based slaw and more than that, we like to make our own dressing because then we know what’s in it.

D & M’s Vinaigrette Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded

Instructions:

  1. Place vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Whip with a fork until blended well. Set this dressing aside.
  2. Place onion, cabbage, and carrots into a large bowl. Toss until the veggies are distributed well.
  3. Pour dressing over veggies. Toss until veggies are well-coated with the dressing.

That’s it!

One time, I made this coleslaw without the sugar and it tasted alright, but it didn’t have the flavor punch that I expect to have when I eat coleslaw. So, while I don’t like the added sugar, I do like the added flavor. I also tried making the dressing with a sugar substitute; that didn’t work either. So now, while I’d prefer not to have the added sugar, I put the sugar in the mix. Flavor wins! It’s a compromise I’m willing to live with.

I hope you enjoy your coleslaw.

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Salsa Salad Harvest

Salsa Salad Harvest

Normally, when my husband and I are planning the night’s dinner we look in the cupboard to see what is available to put together a flavorful meal. But, now that we are growing a garden, we have to go outside to see what is ready for harvesting and then we plan the meal around the vegetables or fruit that are ready to be picked and prepared for eating that day. Tonight, we saw that the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers were begging to be picked.

At first, we thought we’d make a simple salsa as an appetizer, but then we saw that the lettuce needed to be harvested, as well. The lettuce suggested that we make a salad. The peppers and tomatoes suggested that we make a salsa. Perhaps, we could marry the concept of a salsa and salad to form a complete concept. Salsa Salad!

We tore the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and put that into a bowl. Then we chopped  up some onion and cilantro and placed that into the bowl of torn lettuce. We diced the peppers and sliced the tomatoes. We added the peppers and tomatoes to the other prepared veggies. Our Salsa Salad was born.

It’s a salad, so we felt at liberty to add a chopped boiled egg to round it out. Then, we served this salad with Newman’s Own Caesar Salad Dressing. Oh… my… goodness! This is the best combination of ingredients I have ever thrown together in a flash. Try it. I am sure you will enjoy it. It’s simple, fast, and easy.

I don’t have a picture to show you because we made the salad and then ate it. It wasn’t until we were done that we thought it would have been a good idea to take a picture. Sorry! We’ll try to be better food bloggers in the future. In the meantime, make your own Salsa Salad and enjoy it. Let me know how you like it.

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Grow Veggies101I just launched my new website called GrowVeggies101. The reason I developed GrowVeggies101 is because my husband and I had differing opinions on how to grow vegetables. We had seed packs, we had plantlings, we had raised garden ideas, and we had watering ideas, but what we didn’t have was any idea of how to grow vegetables.

We read an insane number of articles and blogs about growing vegetables and we watched an insane number of videos trying to learn how to grow vegetables in our back yard. What we discovered was that many of the articles, blogs, and videos did not deliver on their promise to show us how to grow vegetables, so we started keeping track of the blogs and videos that we found helpful. We compiled them into one place for easy reference. Realizing how valuable our pile of reference was to us, we thought it would be great to share this information with others. So, we created a website and called it GrowVeggies101.

GrowVeggies101 is a compilation of blogs and videos that show gardeners how to plant, grow, and harvest vegetables. Vegetables are listed alphabetically. Each page is dedicated to one vegetable with blogs on the left side and videos on the right side. So, depending on which way a gardener prefers to learn, they have a choice that suits their preference.

All blogs and all videos are used with permission through a web curator process. Furthermore, all blogs and videos are read, viewed, and approved prior to being added to the website.

My husband and I use our own website as a reference guide to growing vegetables and we hope others will find the website helpful, too.

When you need to know how to grow vegetables for your back yard, visit GrowVeggies101.

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Snakes – Dangerous or Not?

When I moved to the country, one of the first creatures to greet me was a garden snake. I am not ashamed to say that when I saw it I screamed like a little girl. But, after reading this article about snakes, I have a new appreciation for snakes. I learned that most snakes are harmless and are happy if they don’t come in contact with us. To learn more about snakes, click here.

Is a Garden Snake Dangerous?

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