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Ensure
Your Bounty of Peas

Gardening
Activities for February

Cool
Season Gardening in Containers

Giant
Daikon Pickles


Ensure
Your Bounty of Peas

by Arzeena
Hamir

Keen gardeners here on
the West Coast often mark Valentine’s Day, February
14th, as a day for planting garden peas. While the weather
may be mild at this time of the year, the soil is still
quite cold which often results in poor germination.
In addition, peas started in very cold soil are more
susceptible to root rot and other soil-borne diseases.
However, with a little planning and a few shortcuts,
even gardeners who have to wait for a thaw to plant
can get a jump on their pea harvest.

The hardest decision to
make is choosing a variety. If you prefer shelling peas,
I would recommend Maestro, Green Arrow, or Progress
#9. These varieties are relatively early and give
good yields. If you have a cooler season & are willing
to wait for your peas, Alderman (Tall Telephone) is
amazingly sweet. For snap peas, Sugar Snap is an old-time
favourite with excellent taste. However, the vines are
often 6ft tall. For a shorter earlier-maturing variety,
try Sugar Mel or Sugar Ann. Finally, for snow peas,
I love Oregon
Sugar Pod as well as Oregon Giant. Even if some
of these pods get lost in the foliage and end up forming
peas, I’ve found them to be quite sweet.

Although peas can survive
weather down to 40 F, the seeds still require warmth
to germinate. Cold, damp soil will retard germination,
making the seeds susceptible to fungus & insect
damage. An easy trick is to start the germination indoors.
Pea seeds are easily sprouted between damp paper towel
and once the root appears from the seed, it can be planted
outside with a higher chance of survival. In colder
areas where the ground is still thawing, the seeds can
be grown as transplants for a couple of weeks longer.

Some sort of trellis will
be required and should be erected before the plants
emerge. Most peas grow to a height of 3 ft although
many of the heirloom varieties can reach 6ft or more.
Pea netting or even fish netting is ideal to allow the
tendrils to form a good grip. If trellising just isn’t
in the picture for your garden, I would recommend growing
a semi-leafless pea variety like Novella II. The plants
produce an abundance of tendrils and can support themselves
if planted about 1 inch apart.

Ultimately, temperatures
will rise and will support growth outside. Whether you’re
direct seeding or transplanting, peas grown in early
spring will benefit from the addition of inoculant.
Peas, like other members of the legume family, have
the ability to supply their own nitrogen from the atmosphere
through a relationship they have with Rhizobia bacteria.

Although rhizobia are
naturally occurring, in cold soil, they are not very
active. Inoculant contains millions of these rhizobia
bacteria and often comes in the form of a powder. Gardeners
can either coat the seeds directly (like “Shake &
Bake”) or mix inoculant into the soil where the transplants
will grow. Either way, you will see a benefit. In trials,
inoculated pea plants yielded 77% more peas than uninoculated
plants. One word of caution, once the inoculant is moistened,
use it all & do not let it dry out or you will kill
the rhizobia.

Since peas can fix their
own nitrogen, they require less nitrogen in their fertilizer.
A fertilizer too rich in N (the first number) will promote
leafy growth and delay flower & pod production.
Before planting, compost or aged manure can be dug in.
Peas also respond well to the addition of phosphorus
(the middle number) so digging in bonemeal or rock phosphate
will help with pea production.

Pre-sprouting, inoculating
and extra phosphorus will all help your peas to get
a jump on the weather and produce a bounty of harvest.

Purchase your pea seeds
on-line by clicking here


Gardening
Activities for February

  • The geraniums you’ve
    been nursing indoors probably are getting tall and
    leggy due to the lack of natural light in winter.
    It’s a good idea to cut them back to one foot tall.

  • Get your seed orders
    in. Remember to keep your summer vacations in mind
    when choosing planting dates – you don’t want to be
    away when everything matures.

  • Branches of forsythia,
    pussy willow, spirea, and dogwood can be forced for
    indoor bloom. Make long, slanted cuts when collecting
    the branches and place the stems in a vase of water.
    Change the water every four days. They should bloom
    in about three weeks.


     

    Cool
    Season Gardening in Containers

    by Don
    Trotter

    Hello fellow Earthlings,
    and welcome to the patio. In this discussion we will
    be touching on some fun ways to extend our gardening
    addictions through the winter by gardening in containers.
    So let’s don our cool weather gear and take a trip
    out to the potting shed.

    Gardening in containers
    is a wonderful way to keep your prized plants close
    to living spaces and, of course, mobile in case
    of severe weather. During extreme cold plants in
    containers can be easily moved to protect them,
    they can be moved out of severe winds, and can even
    be brought indoors if weather conditions get too
    inhospitable. One other great thing about gardening
    in containers is the window garden.


    Sunny kitchen windows are some of my favorite spots
    for indoor window gardens. These windows are often
    located right above the kitchen sink and the increased
    humidity from this proximity to periodic running
    water and steam really allows us to grow a number
    of different types of plants. Some favorite plants
    for the kitchen window are certainly culinary herbs.
    There is nothing like having the luxury of a sprig
    of fresh thyme or a few fresh basil leaves when
    cooking. And when your family and guests compliment
    you on your culinary prowess, you can show them
    your lovely herb garden in the window. For those
    individuals who love colorful foliage plants, leaf
    lettuces make very decorative houseplants during
    the winter season. I have a friend that transplanted
    from California to Wisconsin, and really missed
    her orange and lime trees. Two years ago I sent
    her one dwarf tree of each and now she has citrus
    that ripens indoors. The trees are decorative and
    her guests really get a kick out of her indoor (sunporch)
    citrus grove when it is forty below outside. She
    takes the trees outside late in the spring after
    the threat of frost is past and her trees spend
    the summer out in the sunniest part of her patio.
    When the weather begins to cool and frost is eminent,
    she moves the trees indoors to protect them. She
    has now graduated to a dwarf avocado and is actually
    growing coffee beans in what are considered rather
    impossible climate conditions.

    As with all types
    of gardening, your passion and your imagination
    are the only things that can limit the possibilities
    for gardening indoors in containers during the cool
    season. If space is an issue try smaller plants
    like herbs and some mini veggies. A pot full of
    carrots is a beautiful display of greenery that
    looks a lot like a fern. But the goodies under the
    ground will be sweet miniatures of the ones that
    grow outdoors when the weather is warmer. Romaine,
    Endive, and some of the designer lettuce varieties
    grow so fast that you can actually trim a few leaves
    off to make a sandwich or salad each week or every
    day depending on how many you grow. The idea of
    having fresh, nutritious food growing in the house
    really lowers the occurrences of cabin fever and,
    although it seems odd, brings more fresh oxygen
    into the house. These fast growing plants are amazing
    air fresheners as well.

    I think my favorite
    thing about growing edible indoors in containers
    during cold weather is how children begin to take
    active interest in the process. Kids are naturally
    inquisitive and have a tireless hunger for knowledge.
    If you can provide them with clever home projects
    when they are stuck inside, you will see that they
    may take a more active role in family gardening
    projects when the weather warms up. Pick some veggies
    that they like to eat and grow them indoors, make
    a bit of a ceremony when harvest day comes around
    and let them pick the veggies. They will be more
    likely to eat vegetables when they are involved
    in cultivating them. This is also a very good way
    for you to teach them lessons about how nature works
    and the benefits of growing food without the need
    for potentially harmful chemical pesticides and
    fertilizers. They will gain some interesting insights
    on the environment and on plant cultivation that
    will make for active family sharing of ideas as
    well. Eating healthy food that they grew themselves
    is a very rewarding experience for a child. Try
    it and witness how they enjoy. Nurturing is a basic
    human attribute that can be practiced by growing
    plants. This is especially true for you apartment/
    condominium dwellers without the room for domestic
    animals.

    Materials for these
    projects are inexpensive, easy to obtain, and the
    choices of containers can be as simple as a clay
    pot or any reflection of your creativity. Potting
    soils, natural liquid plant foods, water, and light
    complete the list of needs. Container gardening
    is a simple winter gardening project that will reward
    you in many ways. Bring the garden inside this winter,
    you’ll be glad you did. Next time we will be discussing
    one of my favorite topics, compost. See you in the
    Garden!

    Got questions? Email
    the Doc at Curly@mill.net Don Trotter’s natural
    gardening columns appear nationally in environmentally
    sensitive publications. For more tips check out
    Don’s books Natural Gardening A-Z and The Complete
    Natural Gardener available at your local bookstore
    or at all on line booksellers. Coming in March Don’s
    new book Rose Gardening A-Z will be out. All are
    from Hay House Publishing http://www.hayhouse.com/


    Giant
    Daikon Pickles

    First
    of all, grow, buy, borrow, or steal the biggest longest
    freshest daikon you can find. I was fortunate enough
    to find fresh ones grown locally at a Buddhist Taiwan
    bakery in my neighbourhood (I live in paradise for
    stuff like this, being on the west coast of B.C….)

    This daikon was fresh
    as a daisy, white, easily two feet long and three
    inches wide, and weighed about five pounds. It looked
    like a small baseball bat! I used about half to
    make one of these recipes.

    Wash the daikon, and
    slice in half lengthwise a little ways along the
    daikon at a time. Using a sharp knife, slice in
    thin slices. Each slice will be cut in half, like
    a half moon.

    Put the daikon pieces
    in a large glass, plastic or pottery bowl (no metal).
    For a fairly large quantity of daikon, (who measures?
    not me) I used:

    • salt, maybe 1/4
      teaspoon
    • sugar, closer to
      2 teaspoons
    • pepper
    • rice vinegar, 1
      tablespoon?
    • beer (a half cup,
      drink the rest….)
    • a big spoonful
      of miso
    • garlic (optional)
      1 chopped clove
    • one or two finely
      chopped green onions

    Mix well.

    If you like, add chopped
    sweet red peppers and jalapenos to taste, or, the
    alternative:

    Pick up some “Chili
    Sauce for Chicken” – an extremely common condiment
    from Thailand, available at most imported food stores
    which carry Thai, Japanese, Korean stuff. The sauce
    is sweet, not too hot, and works perfectly in this
    recipe. I added a couple of good size shakes of
    it to the recipe. Perhaps a tablespoon or so. This
    sauce is versatile, and cheap, considering. Here
    in Vancouver a large bottle is worth under three
    dollars Canadian. You can use it on any kind of
    chicken, fish, or meat to jazz it up during baking,
    frying, on the BBQ, or with cooked meats, in meat
    loaf, mixed with cream cheese as a spread. The possibilities
    are endless. Try it with fresh ginger, garlic and
    soy sauce, as a basting sauce or marinade for chicken
    or pork on the BBQ.

    Back to the recipe:

    Mix everything lightly.
    It works to cover the bowl with something like a
    plate, as it starts to ferment within an hour or
    so at room temperature. After two hours or so you
    can eat it. It is crispy but tender and soft and
    tangy and funky, all at the same time. It’s the
    kind of thing I can’t stop eating, and that’s a
    good thing, because it happens to be full of trace
    minerals, and has practically zero calories.

    By the next day, if
    you can leave it alone that long, it gets better
    and better. After about twenty four hours, you should
    keep it in the fridge or outside. By then, it has
    turned into real home-made “Kim Chi”, the hallmark
    of Korean cuisine. Every Korean person has his or
    her own particular version, usually made with the
    basic ingredients of chinese cabbage (sui choy),
    daikon (lo bok), onions, etc. and buried in the
    ground in big pots.

    You can use other
    things in these pickles: Anything goes. Last year
    I tried a similar thing with Komatsuna (japanese
    spinach mustard) – but you can use any green, chinese
    cabbage, whatever.

    Sharon Hanna is a
    garden writer and avid cook based in Vancouver,
    BC. Read her latest articles on Starting Seed, Praying
    Mantis and more at: Themestream

 

 


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