What Gardeners Need to Know About Tonight’s Frost Advisory

There’s a frost advisory posted on the National Weather Service for our area tonight.  The prediction is temperatures in the 30s.

What this means for gardeners at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens depends on what you’re growing.

Some crops are sensitive to a light frost and you’ll want to harvest them today or you can cover them with a sheet tonight to protect them and take the sheet off in the morning. Other crops improve in flavor when the temperatures dip and there is no need to hurry out to the gardens to get those.

Frost sensitive vegetables include bush and pole beans, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons. Very sensitive herbs include basil, marjoram, dill, borage and chamomile.

Vegetables that will survive a light frost are broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, cilantro, mint, thyme, oregano and rosemary. The vines of pumpkins and squash will die, but the vegetables are fine.

A light freeze is 28°–32°F, and a hard freeze is below 28°F. In our area, the first hard frost typically happens in mid-October.  I say typically because our weather earlier this month was anything but typical.

On September 1, we had a light frost touch some of the plants, particularly squashes and pumpkins. This left vines damaged and happened in the lower areas of our community gardens.

 

 

The Plus Side of Frost 

There are vegetables you want to be touched by frost. Some vegetables, like beets, carrots, and parsnips get sweeter and will keep, even when temperatures fall lower, especially if you mulch. Other vegetables and herbs that will survive a frost include: kale, cabbage, leeks, potatoes, turnips, chives, parsley, sage, garlic, onions and Brussel Sprouts. If  you’re growing these, tonight’s weather shouldn’t be a factor.

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Beautiful Blue Borage Flowers

Next time, you’re in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, look at the community herb plot for an arresting display of blue flowers on the borage plants. Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.32.19 PM.png

The flowers are star-shaped and can be added to salads, frozen in water in ice cube trays for fancy ice cubes when serving drinks, or sugared, like violets, to garnish cupcakes for a garden party.

Borage is an ancient herb and has other uses, too. For one thing, it is an excellent soil enhancer as it contains calcium and potassium. It also attracts beneficial insects especially bees, and is said to repel tomato hornworms when planted alongside tomato plants.

But my favorite use is to make crystallized flowers. And, it’s easy.

Recipe for Crystalized Flowers

Pick the flowers when they are dry and fully open. You can also do this with violets, rose petals, nasturtiums, and pansies.

Lightly beat an egg white. In a separate shallow bowl, have a 1/4 cup of superfine granulated sugar. With a paintbrush, paint the egg white onto the flower getting into all the nooks and crannies. Then dip it into the sugar. You may want to use a second paintbrush to get the sugar well distributed. Shake off the excess sugar and place the flowers on parchment paper to dry. Once dry, use them to decorate your cakes, desserts, pancakes. They even look pretty on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The community herb bed is grown for the use of all the Pitney Meadows Community Garden gardeners. If you would like to join us next season and have access to the plants, let me know.

 

 

Egyptian Walking Onions

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 3.44.53 AMA Vermont community gardener shared a handful of Egyptian Walking Onions with me when I was in his garden plot recently. I added them to our community herb garden yesterday.

Do you know this plant?

The scientific name is “allium proliferum” which gives you a hint about their nature.  As the name suggests, they are prolific. Next season and for as long as we grow them, community gardeners will have these mild flavored little onions to add to meals.

Walking Onions are a top setting onion and hardy, emerging in the spring often through snow.  The leaves are a bluish-green, hollow and grow about 3 feet tall.  After the first year, a cluster of bulblets will form at the top of a leaf stalk as the summer progresses.

When the bulblets mature, they become heavy and bend the leaves to the ground where the bulblets take root. That’s how they get the name walking onion. If left to their own devices, they will “walk” across the garden.

Fortunately, they have a good flavor and are easy to keep in check by harvesting the bulblets, which can be up to an inch in diameter. They are tiny but tasty.

Thanks to all the great help in the gardens yesterday, a lot was done in preparation for the photography, art and fairy houses exhibit this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

This Saturday at 2:15 the entires in the sunflower contest will be measured and a winner announced.

Hope to see you there.

 

Lavender Farm, Ice Cream and Mom

Mom’s visiting.

At 89-years-old she has pretty specific wants, likes and requests.

Today we checked a few off the list that weren’t all that exciting. She wanted to buy new shoes and black pants, and have lunch out.

But one part of our adventure today is worthy of more detail because it was wonderful and because time is running out to do it this season.

Lavenlair Farm

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I drove Mom to Lavenlair Farm in Whitehall, NY.  It is nestled in rolling hills of with views that stretch from the Green Mountains of Vermont to the Adirondacks.

Everyone in the car at one point or another commented on the vista or the soaring hawks.

They have 22 different lavender varieties growing in the field.

High time for bloom is July and gardeners have told me the field is a blue wonder then.  But we saw plenty today to make this a must do next summer.

In the little boutique next to the field we found lavenders noted for culinary use, fragrance, and color and shopped for all things lavender from honey, flower wands, soaps, tea, sprays, lip balm, sachets and more.

Also on site is a hand built “Laverinth” a 100ft diameter, lavender planted, Petit-Chartres meditative labyrinth that the owners, David and Diane Allen, created.

If you want to go, hurry. The farm closes for the season September 3rd, which is next weekend.

Ice Cream

The other highlight of our outing was the Ice Cream Man in Washington County.  Mom ordered root beer ice cream. She loves all things root beer.  And, I think she liked it.

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 6.09.55 PM.pngShe ate the whole thing. 🙂  Now she’s napping.

From the Garden’s Bounty

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Cathy A. , one of our Pitney Meadows Community Gardens gardeners emailed me this photo of salsa verde she made from the tomatillos and peppers growing in her plot and two jars of pickles from the pickling cucumbers she grew.

She reported the salsa was delicious.

What have you made from your harvest?

I know some delicious pesto has been made by Martel C. as I was a grateful recipient of a jar. Thank you. It was so good.

If you have a recipe you particularly like, send it along. I’ll publish it here.

And if you need a snippet of an herb or two, remember we have the community herb beds that any community gardener can harvest from. These are the two raised beds with the colorful rocks the girl scouts made as markers for the herbs and it is located near the shed.

Enjoy. I hope to see you in the garden.

 

Chef Kim London’s Herb Class a Hit

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.48.20 PM.pngKim London, chef and PMCF board member, showed 25 participants how to use the herbs they grow in the garden or purchase at the market.

The group, which met in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, listened as London talked about the many different uses of herbs.  Then the group walked into the farm garden. They had the opportunity to smell and taste samples of the many different fresh herbs growing there. After answering audience questions, London treated the group to sample foods, such as herb butter, herbed roasted vegetables and a mint tea.

It was a beautiful evening at the farm, and thoroughly enjoyed by all participants.

More To Come

The next lecture, which is on growing tomatoes, will be lead by Murray Penney and held next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Community Gardens.

Our tomato taste testing with Chef Rocco Verrigni has been delayed because the tomatoes haven’t ripened. We will have a tomato tasting and have tentatively re-scheduled it for the evening on September 13.  Lectures are free and no registration is required.

On the next two Saturdays, free art classes for children ages 6 to 14 will be held in the gardens. Registration for these classes is necessary so we have enough supplies on hand. You can register by emailing natalie.walsh@pitneymeadows.org or calling 587-2304. Classes start at 9 a.m. and an adult is asked to accompany the participants.

This Saturday, August 19th, children will make sunflowers out of paper. The following Saturday, August 26th they will be drawing and painting with local artists.

Don’t Miss This

Our sunflowers are blooming, come to the garden to meet them and take a photo. They are magnificent.

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Herb Class Wednesday in the Gardens

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 2.58.53 PMKim London will be leading an herb class Wednesday night starting at 7 p.m. in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, 233 West Avenue.

Kim, a well known chef, and will share her knowledge on using herbs in the kitchen to flavor our meals.

The program is free and there is no registration necessary.  Just come and enjoy.