Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
This is a great way to use recycled tin. We took this tin off of some of our raised beds. Mr. Garden fashioned it into gutters for growing more organic strawberries.
Strawberries grow a very shallow root system. They don't need to have something deep in order to thrive and be productive.
My grandchildren were staying the weekend we started putting together the first section of planters. Needless to say they got very involved and had a blast helping put them together.
The two of them are very aware of the sweet and juicy organic strawberries we grow every year. I'm sure this had a lot to do with all of their enthusiasm.
We are starting this new season with a new variety called "Festival." Check out the Gulf Coast Research and Education Website for more information on this plant.
We are starting off with bare root crowns purchased from "Neil's Berry Farm" in
The Woodlands area.
Neil's Berry Farm provided us with some awesome bare roots! Everyone of them took off as soon as they were put in soil with fresh green shoots. I highly recommend them for your starts as well.
Right where I have my lovely dirty fingernail in the photo is the point where you plant your crowns. Planted higher would be to far into the crown and cause your plants to rot. Planted to low would cause damage to the root system.
As you can see, we have our first three sections of planters completed and planted. The strawberries are loving their new home.
We are using soil from the garden that contains a lot of sand and organic matter. This is important for great drainage. Strawberries love their water, but they certainly don't love being soaked in mud.
We mixed and added more composted material from our compost bins as well a some chicken poop from the coop as a top dressing for the added bonus of natural fertilizer.
I know it is kind of unusual for permaculturists such as ourselves to grow anything in planters such as these. However, we do have some very good reasons for turning to this system.
The Gulf Coast region can be a very harsh environment to grow strawberries in. The extraordinary high heat temperatures along with exceedingly high humidity will easily cause your plants to die in August and September.
If you couple this with severe drought conditions, all may be lost quickly. Here we are counting on a simple drip line for being able to easily water our gutters.
We've done this in past years on the ground strawberry crops and have difficulty being able to water deep enough after some time in drought periods.
As we work on getting the rest of the planters built we've went ahead and potted up the rest of the bare roots so the berries get off to a great start.
There are a few major pests and problems growing strawberries in our region. First being pill bugs and sow bugs. They love munching on your berries.
Growing them in our new gutter system will allow the berries to dangle down the sides of the planters to avoid the bugs.
Another common pest is fire ants. Why they love making huge mounds in the beds is beyond me. But they smother the plants with their mounds. I guess they enjoy feeding on the berries and really damage the root system.
The fire ants will be easy to control in the new planters. I'm hoping not to see any show up at all.
The third pest are birds. Here in our area the Mocking Birds swoop down right in front of you. The bite out a huge chunk of strawberry and fly back off. It can be quite frustrating.
We have plans of adding bird netting across the posts of the planters. We will probably change that with shade cloth when July strikes with its heat waves.
I hope to provide you with more information as the harvest season begins. In our regions we plant berries in the fall and harvest can begin as early as February. I've very excited at this promising new method for growing my beloved strawberries.
Posted by Pammy at 9:17 AM
Labels: a better gutter system for strawberries, Build a recycled gutter system for growing strawberries
Monday, December 9, 2013
Sunday, December 8, 2013
We simply love our Blackberries here in Texas. I can usually get plenty put up in the freezer and for preserves. They grow abundantly wild here and usually ready to begin picking early in the summer. My favorite jam recipe is mixing blackberries with strawberries. YUM!
We call em Dew Berries here in Texas, but the proper name for them would be Zarzamoras. That can be a fun word to play with in the garden when trying to sound sophisticated. Just funnin y'all.
Here is a picture of some this past spring in an area outside the garden. Notice the thorns. Be very careful when picking. When I snapped this shot my mouth was watering in anticipation of some sweet blackberries. Without rain for so long however, we just managed to get a couple hand fulls.
We decided not to take anymore chances in the berry department and planted some thorn less varieties directly in the garden this fall.
We found some excellent choices called Arapaho and Navajo that were developed at the University of Arkansas. They are suppose to be excellent berries for Texas and hold up to the heat and dry spells. They are suppose to start producing berries in only one year after planting as well.
The reason I mention the Sequoias in the title is because during the Christmas season we get the best little navel oranges coming up from the valley. Just a teaspoon or two with blackberry muffins and a pinch of vanilla make the most delicious muffins!
The batter for the muffins is very easy to put together. It is very thick, almost like a cookie dough, but not quite. It makes them a bit tricky to spoon in the muffin cups, but it can be done and well worth it.
The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. How can it be bad hahaha. I did make subtle change in as far as the ingredients needing to be organic and I sprinkled brown sugar on top instead of the vanilla sugar or regular sugar.
I also added 1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract since I didn't make the vanilla sugar. This makes exactly 1 dozen muffins. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Blackberry Orange Muffins
adapted from Martha Stewart
2 cups organic unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp grated Sequoia orange zest
2 cups fresh blackberries (or berry of your choice..use frozen if you can’t find fresh!)
1 stick organic unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one by one, until thoroughly combined. Add the milk and vanilla and blend.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and toss gently, being careful not to crush the berries. Scoop batter into 12 greased muffin tins sprinkle vanilla sugar (or regular granulated sugar) over the tops. (I used dark brown sugar)
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden. Let cool for five minutes in the tins then pop out and cool completely.
Your gonna love these!!! I was skeptical the first time I made them, but they are perfectly YUMMY!!
This is one of the Best Gifts you can give this year. Moist, rich and delicious, little mini loaves of nutty pumpkin gingerbread will be a sure hit with your family and friends.
This recipe comes from my friend Laura at Wildenblue Farm. She not only shares some wonderful family farm recipes, but she also makes the most adorable vintage graphics.
I decided to make the gingerbread into mini loaves. I plan on decorating them with pretty ribbons to put in my holiday gift baskets. I also added some yummy pumpkin seeds and walnuts for a little crunch.
For those of you familiar with some of my recipes, you know that I try to eliminate things like butter. I used organic sunflower oil because it's not only healthy, but adds such a delicate flavor to many foods.
Christmas Pumpkin Gingerbread
Makes 6 mini loaves. Preheat oven to 350
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt or 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
3 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup organic sunflower oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup water
4 eggs farm fresh
2 cup pureed pumpkin (heirloom is best)
1/3 cup organic raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup crushed walnuts or pecans
Add all the dry ingredients in your large mixing bowl and whisk it very well. In a separate bowl mix together all the wet ingredients. Add this to the dry mix and add the nuts and seeds. Mix until well blended.
Pour into little loaf pans filling them to about 3/4 of the way. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Take out of pans to cool on a wire rack.