Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 01-01-2012

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Yellow bannana peppers will turn red if you leave then on the plant.

Things are supposed to slow down in the winter in the garden.  NOT SO!  It has been very busy.  To begin with, everything is doing well.  The garden actually looks like a garden and it is January 1.  The photos in this posting were taken last week and it could be early November.  The peas are in full bloom and the peppers continue to set new peppers.   The first broccoli planted have been harvested (both main and secondary florets) and the later planting is producing 5 inch heads.  First collards are ready to harvest and the second (from seed) collards are 12 inches high.  The red, yellow and white onion sets are up and growing and should provide a great early spring and summer crop. Radishes continue to produce more than we can consume and the turnips are starting to swell.  All the salad mixes are doing well and like the radishes are ahead of us.  Many are starting to get a little heat in them as they get older but there is one (who’s identity is lost) is a wonderfully mild nutty leaf that I must re-identify as it will be a common repeat in the garden.  It may be a corn salad but I will go back through my notes to find the name and recommend it to everyone.

Our unknown mache.

Our collards from seed plants.

Collards from sets ready for harvest.


We have not had a frost as yet but that is about to change.  It is forecast that on Monday and Tuesday we will get temperatures at 27 and 25 degrees during the early morning hours.  That is often moderated by the heat from the Coosaw River (especially if the tide is in) so I am expecting a frost to mild freeze which much of what we are growing should survive.  Next year we might want to consider a crop cover to place over some of our garden to protect it from the weather.  I think the peas and peppers may be in danger of freezing next week.  I have discovered that the top foot of the pea vine (sugar pea) is very edible as a raw or cooked vegetable.   It should not surprise anyone that it taste like sugar peas.  I am tempted to harvest the tops before the cold snap but it is hard to do as they are full of blooms.  If the cold does not do them in and we have insects to help pollinate them, we will get a good crop of peas.

Davis and Kathy double dug the two raised beds we had solorized last fall.  These beds were used for tomato production two years in a row and, as should have been expected,  last years production from these beds was disappointing.  We worked in a full layer of horse manure and re-dressed the beds.  Kathy calls them our manure sandwiches.  These should be very productive in the spring.  Now to decide what to plant in them…

Kathy double digging the manure sandwich.

Finished beds.



The problem is that fig trees grow 15 feet tall.  That makes it difficult to harvest the fruit.  That is what fruit remains after the birds have sampled each fig.  We decided to address the problem and try to develop a means to grow figs where it would yield a bountiful crop.  It is thought that, if successful, it might even be a demonstration of how a U-PICK operation could be applied to figs.

We started by taking 50 cuttings from a Brown Turkey fig tree (one of those 15 footers).  These were rooted in our garden last summer.  We have constructed a wire fence support in a similar manor as what is done for wine grapes and planted the new plants under it.  We now wait for the growth to commence.  I will be reporting on our progress.  We plan to train the figs to the wire lattice in such a manor as to limit their height to 6 feet and their spread to one foot on either side of the supports.  We will prune the plants “tight” to produce a think growth which will be contained within the space mentioned.  We anticipate that the figs will be produced as on the untrained tree but at a capped height of 6 feet and in a shape that a bird netting can be placed over the hedge to protect the crop until harvested.  What remains to be discovered is the best approach to the actual pruning.  We have four 30 foot hedges that we will use differing pruning styles to determine which is the best for our production numbers.



Another crop we are trying to develop is our Jerusalem artichoke.  This is a root crop that comes from a very attractive 5 foot perennial sunflower.  I purchased a small 8 oz bag of roots from out local Publix grocery store last spring.  These I planted along a deer fence within the large “English Garden” (in which our vegetable garden is located).   Eight plants grew.  Terry and I harvested them last week and we dug 12 lbs of tubers.  That is a large sack from a handful of starter.  Terry, Kathy and I took several clumps to eat (delicious) and I planted the rest in a new bed which should give us more than we can consume next fall.

Jerusilam artichoke

New artichoke bed.

That is it for this post.  We all look forward to Chris’s return from St Louis – she is a great weeder and believe it or not, weeds do grow surprisingly well in the winter here in coastal South Carolina.


New garlic sets with turnups and sugar cane in background.

Spring mix greens.

Our saffron crocus.




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