"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What's Growing On?

55°! today and sunny, it was a most perfect day to get a few things planted in the garden.

I often wonder why more flower gardens don't include a few vegetables. These red Belgium endive are as pleasing to the eye as a beautiful rose and have yet to grow tall and send forth their own bright blue flowers (I think they will be blue). From what I have read this particular endive is the result of a seed irregularity that accidentally produced the red color that I am so fortunate to view in this stage of its life cycle. We were able to hold over around 25 of these delicious flowers and hope they will produce seed as I am no longer able to find a source for this particular plant.

We were able to get our red, green and multicolored chard seedlings settled in the garden along with more Russian kale, arugula, and bok choy...all of which came from my own saved seed.

Far away from the red we re-planted the regular Belgium endive amongst some spinach and will let both go to seed together. Spinach is one of the easiest seeds to save as it immediately bolts once the weather warms a bit, I think the spinach in this picture has been saved by us for over three years now.

The lovage survived another winter and is just now poking up through the mulch used to protect it. We have never saved any seeds off of this plant as it comes back so easily every spring, perhaps I will do so this year...just in case.

We have over a dozen okra seedlings taking form. I planted some really old seed just for the fun of it and every seed was viable. We grew okra a few years back and really never figured out how best to consume it? Last year it was destroyed by hail, but it looks like we will have another chance to learn how to use it this year...I hope.

As the day comes to a close, I can rest easy comforted by the satisfaction of finally being able to get my hands dirty once again in the good earth, knowing we will soon begin to be rewarded for our labors.


Leigh said...

The red witloof (Belgian endive)is gorgeous. Good luck with them, and if you ever have some extra seed from them some time in the future, I'd sure be interested. Did you winter them over indoors or in the garden, with/without protection?

Anonymous said...

last year was my first run at okra. i started 4 seeds and we were more than rewarded. my family loves it cooked in with stewed tomatoes, covered in cornmeal and fried. my mom will only eat okra pickled. pods older than 8 days or longer than 4 inches are nearly inedible. they get very woody and tough. it keeps in the fridge for about 3 days before turning into a slimy useless mess. there are some delicious african stew recipes that use okra.

Mr. H said...

Hi Leigh,

I really enjoy growing various radicchio and Belgium endive as they are a most versatile crop. The Belgium endive was over wintered in my root cellar. I force many of them for winter salad greens and use the roots as a coffee substitute.

Some of my verona and palla rossa radicchio were left in the garden unprotected and they are sending up new leaves so I am pretty sure the Belgium endive with it's long roots would over winter outside as well.

I saved most of the red ones over for seed as I cannot find a source anymore. hopefully they will put out a large amount of viable seed, if they do I would be more than happy to send some your way.


Mr. H said...

Hello Blondeoverboard,

Thank you so much for the ideas regarding okra. I did not realize that they should be eaten at such a young age, that will probably make all the difference.

Cooking them with stewed tomatoes or covered in corn meal both sound right up my alley and I will definitely try them both ways. Now if I could just get them to survive long enough to provide for me.

Thanks again,


Mr. H said...


I just realized that I did leave a few of my smaller Belgium endive in the garden under one of my covered rows and they did indeed make it through the winter...all of them.


Anonymous said...


it seemed that the faster we removed the pods from the okra, the more pods we got. the plants also produce a beautiful flower that the local butterflies loved. i hope all goes well with your okra :)
and don't forget the gumbo!

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