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Referring to this winter as “freezing” would be an understatement. The snow was relentless, not to mention temperatures were lower than I had ever experienced. Nevertheless, as brutal as Pennsylvania winters may be, I try to remind myself, while laboriously scraping the ice off my windshield, that spring will arrive in just a short while. In fact, farmers in the area are also anticipating warm weather by planting their spring harvest right now! Greenmoore Gardens, an organic farm located just outside of State College, began planting this week in hopes of a healthy spring harvest.
Laura Zaino, an employee of Greenmoore Gardens, gives the ins and outs of preparation. “We seed onions in mid-February, which is the first of the spring crops to get seeded.” Using their own potting mix, the seeds are planted in a greenhouse where the seedlings germinate and begin to grow. “Then we either put them into bigger pots or transplant them outside in the fields. The larger pots are for plants like tomatoes that need warm soil to grow,” explains Laura.
She goes on to further explain that the bigger pots allow for longer time in the greenhouse, hence, more growth before being transported outside. “Other crops, like turnips, carrots and beets, we seed directly into rows in the fields,” she says.
Posted by Jordan Reabold on 02/25, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Despite the relatively mild weather outside melting the snow, if we are being truly honest with ourselves, we know that winter is not over. Far from it, based on where we live. We know that it can snow into late April and even early May here in Central PA.
The good news for gardeners is that despite the snow-covered yards, it’s soon time for us to start gardening. We need to start certain things from seed inside, giving the plants adequate time to sprout, grow, mature, and produce fresh goodness by the time summer ends. In fact, certain things can be started very soon or even right now, depending on your last frost date.
Continue Reading: Believe it or not, gardeners, it’s soon time to start seeds
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 02/20, 2014 at 01:24 PM
Earlier this week, the coldest air in 20 years overspread Central Pennsylvania, dropping temperatures below zero. While shivering through a cold snap like that, it’s hard to imagine doing garden work. But there are still some chores you can do, either in the comfort of your living room or during one of our inevitable thaws that we have most every winter and will have this weekend. Getting them done now can help ensure a better harvest this spring and summer.
Here’s 10 garden chores you can do this winter:
Continue Reading: 10 garden chores you can do in the winter (and probably should)
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 01/10, 2014 at 08:50 AM
When central and eastern Europeans emigrated to Pennsylvania in the 19th and 20th Centuries, one of the dishes they brought with them was haluski (or as some spell it, halusky). The dish is a simple one with some variations. Traditionally, haluski referred to the homemade noodles/dumplings, which were potato based much like gnocchi. However, today you can either purchase dried haluski noodles in any grocery store, or use any medium-wide egg noodle.
Growing up in York County, which is Pennsylvania Dutch country, I had very limited exposure to haluski, but when I went to Pittsburgh for college and eventually to live, I was introduced to the dish at a Polish Catholic church fish fry, which is just about the best place to have your first taste of haluski. Haluski has just a few ingredients, and the one I learned to make includes noodles, cabbage, onion, bacon, butter, salt, pepper..and that’s it. You can also make a vegetarian version by leaving out the bacon and a vegan version by using vegan-friendly noodles and olive oil instead of butter.
The flavors combine to make a fantastic dish, especially if you are a gardener like me and use a fresh-harvested garden cabbage that has been sweetened by frost. And speaking of frosty weather, this is a great cold-weather dish that’s a snap to make.
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 11/06, 2013 at 08:52 AM
Kale is a superstar in the fall garden. The plant is tough as nails, able to take some very cold temperatures. In fact, myself and many other gardeners have harvested kale from under the snow.
Along with its toughness, kale has many other good properties. It’s very easy to grow, can grow in part shade, and is quite tasty. It is best after a couple of good frost/freezes, which give the leaves a sweet flavor and cuts down on the bitterness.
There are many varieties of kale, and here are a few of my favorites:
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 10/28, 2013 at 07:15 AM
We are getting an extended summer, with temperatures that feel more like August. Looks like our run of summer weather ends today, but the threat of a killing freeze that ends the growing season for tender plants still seems at least a week or more away as per the weather forecast, which is quite unusual for October. Of course, as any gardener in Central Pennsylvania knows, that will not last forever. So, here’s a list of tips to help you prepare for when the ground is coated in frost and your tomato plants finally succumb:
Continue Reading: Take advantage of extra time and plan now for killing frost
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 10/07, 2013 at 07:55 AM
Last night was quite chilly for a lot of people in central PA but it seems that many of us escaped frost. However, the slow march of the seasons are inevitable, and eventually there will be frost on the Happy Valley pumpkins. Frost or even temperatures below 40 are very bad for plants like tomatoes, basil, beans, cucumbers, etc. On the other hand, a lighter frost is okay for plants like beets, chard, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, etc.
Here are some tips for both figuring out when your garden might get hit by frost, and what to do when it does.
Continue Reading: How to plan for frost in your garden
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 09/06, 2013 at 08:49 AM
I know that lots of people turn their thoughts to football and raking leaves once the days getting shorter and mornings are foggy and cool, but fall is really a good time to grow certain vegetables. While a lot of vegetables thrive in summer heat, there are a fair amount that prefer fall’s cool weather. And it’s not too late to plant; if you plant this weekend, you have anywhere from 37 to 52 days before this area’s average first freeze, depending on where you live.
Continue Reading: You can still plant fall crops for a tasty end to the garden season
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/22, 2013 at 08:26 AM
This weekend I was at a very nice event, a barn dance. In between promenades, I was chatting with some people about gardening, one of my favorite small talk subjects. As often happens when talking gardening, tomatoes came up. And as often happens when talking tomatoes, concerns about fruit not ripening came up. So, are there any ways to speed up the process?
Continue Reading: “Why won’t my tomatoes ripen?”
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/12, 2013 at 08:42 AM
Originally published on the WPSU blog and broadcasted on WPSU-FM:
A new gardening concept is sprouting in Central Pennsylvania. Woody Wilson, a graduate of Penn State, took an idea he entered in an agriculture competition and made it his business. Wilson’s Home Farms gives State College area residents another way to bring local vegetables to their kitchen tables. WPSU intern Jessica Paholsky went along with Wilson to find out more.
Continue Reading: A startup gardening service makes getting fresh vegetables easy
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/23, 2013 at 09:04 AM
This summer has definitely been a wet one so far, and gardeners and farmers alike across Central PA know that wet weather also means plant diseases. Cloudy, humid, and downright wet conditions provide ideal conditions for these diseases to strike. However, if your plants are under the disease gun, there are ways to save your plants and ensure a good harvest, even in a less-than-ideal year like the one we are currently having. Here are some tips:
Continue Reading: Fighting the good fight against garden diseases
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/22, 2013 at 08:03 AM
Oh, man! A rabbit ate half your annual bed…your tomato plants got trashed by a storm…the neighbor’s dog dug up your favorite herb plant…too late to plant something new now, right? Actually, that’s not the case. You can can still plant flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc. and still get beauty and flavor from your 2013 garden.
Continue Reading: Not too late to get plants in the garden
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 06/28, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Despite last night’s deluge that soaked many a garden and farm around the area and a forecast for a lot more rain, summer almost always has at least a few dry spells. Those are the days when the sun bakes the soil to a crispy golden brown dry, and your plants sometimes do things in desperate self-defense, like curl up leaves in the case of corn. You really have no other alternative but to give your plants the life that only good old water can give them.
Continue Reading: Water your garden the right way during next dry spell
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 06/26, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Tucked into a beautiful slice of Pennsylvania known as the Big Valley, Belleville is a small town around 25 miles to the southeast of State College in Mifflin County. Belleville is a community with a variety of different Amish and Mennonite groups. One of the groups of Amish are known as the Peachey or Renno Amish, also known as “black-toppers”. Named after the Peachey family, the Peachey folk are industrious with a variety of businesses in the general Belleville area carrying the Peachey name. Two of my personal favorites are local food related—Peachey Greenhouse and the famous A.J. Peachey and Sons. This past Saturday, I decided to take a drive and pay a visit to both of them.
Continue Reading: Things are just Peachey in Belleville
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 06/03, 2013 at 10:33 AM
I didn’t care how many times Popeye beat Bluto after downing a can of spinach, as a kid I just plain HATED spinach. But as my culinary horizons broadened as I grew up, I quickly learned that spinach didn’t have to be a lifeless splatter of lumpy green on a plate. In fact, spinach has become my favorite salad green, and since it is a spring crop, we are in spinach season here in Central Pennsylvania.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Spinach salad with bacon and smoked cheese
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/29, 2013 at 11:42 AM
You just made a big pot of soup with all sorts of stuff you got from the farmer’s market. Now you have carrot tops, potato peels, yellowed greens, etc. Throw them in the garbage? No way! You have compost, not trash.
Continue Reading: Five Reasons to Compost
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/22, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Even though winter is hanging around this week like a lazy brother-in-law who just won’t get off the couch, those of us who garden turn our thoughts to planting seeds. While many gardeners have already started seeds indoors in trays under artificial light, we are really one warm spell away from being able to plant seeds outside.
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/03, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Recently, several fellow gardeners and I discussed something that ended up being very interesting: how do you define a successful garden year?
We came to a conclusion—it’s all subjective. When you garden, you go into it with a variety of goals in mind. These might include fresh-grown herbs and veggies, saving money, or just making the yard look prettier. These are the yardsticks to measure a good garden year.
Continue Reading: Measure of garden success?
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Right now, people are beginning to harvest all sorts of stuff from the garden. Some of it is conventional stuff, like tomatoes. However, there’s a lot of food in gardens that many people ignore. Some of these may sound outright, well, weird—but give them a shot. They are the “best kept secrets” of the garden.
Continue Reading: Five Unusual Edibles from the Garden
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/18, 2012 at 07:50 AM
I have heard before that a mild spring means a lot of rabbits the following summer. 2012 seems to be proving this true, as we have had both a warm spring and seemingly, a lot of rabbits.
Continue Reading: Rabbit vs. Gardener
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 06/25, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Please welcome our newest contributor, Dana Stuchul, founder of VeggieCommons—a resource for Growing Food Where We Live. At her home in State College, Dana has backyard chickens, a small apiary, a front-yard terrace garden, a backyard “mini-farm,” numerous fruit trees and shrubs, a roof-top water collection system (and bici-bomba, a bicycle powered pumping system), and a wood-fired bread oven. Take it away, Dana!
Continue Reading: VeggieCommons
Posted by Dana Stuchul on 06/03, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Beans are a popular garden plant, with good reason—they are one of the tastiest vegetables in the garden. They are also pretty easy to grow, and with a little bit of TLC you can get quite a yield of tasty pods or shelled beans that can be used in all kinds of recipes. Beans are also a perfect garden crop for vegetarians because of their high protein content. What’s not to like?
Continue Reading: Diverse Beans a Warm-Weather Garden Star
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 05/31, 2012 at 08:31 AM
It’s mid-May, which is peak time for “putting in the garden,” an old saying that means planting your frost-sensitive plants now that we are mostly past the risk of frost. (Although not completely, more on that later.)
Whether you started tomatoes from seed or bought the plants at your favorite garden center or farmer’s market, transplanting them the right way is very important.
Continue Reading: How to Transplant Tomatoes Now for Great Harvests Later
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 05/23, 2012 at 08:43 AM
Despite some recent backsliding into winter, spring weather is mostly here to stay. If you are like me, you are steadily spending more and more time in the garden, getting things growing to start the season. A good start is very important for a successful gardening season, as your plants are very young and tender at this point.
Here are ten tips, in no particular order, to get your garden off and moving toward a big harvest.
Continue Reading: Ten Tips to Get Your Garden off to a Great Start
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 05/07, 2012 at 12:45 PM
In my last post I talked about planting seeds indoors. And given that we are four to six weeks away from the last frost as I write this, you should have seedlings growing somewhere in your house.
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/20, 2012 at 08:00 AM
As you probably noticed, the weather in mid-March was more along the lines of early June. This caused some absolutely incredible early spring scenes as spring growth is about a month ahead of schedule—blossoming trees, daffodils in full display, and perennials peaking out of the dirt at a much earlier date than normal.
For us gardeners, it was so tempting to get out there and plant something. So I did. I planted several rows in my garden, knowing full well that they would need protection later from the inevitable cold snap. If you still haven’t planted, no worries—you still have lots of time to plant cold-hardy vegetables in your garden.
Continue Reading: Planting Cold-Hardy Veggies for Spring Crops
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 04/05, 2012 at 02:18 PM
If you followed my last blog post, you should be ready to plant some seeds indoors. First things first, fill your cell flats with moistened potting soil or seed starting mix. You want it moist, not saturated.
Next, plant the seeds. This is by far one of the most important tasks of your gardening year, and you need to make sure you do it correctly because, well, you want them to germinate.
Continue Reading: Starting Seeds is Easy: How to Plant the Seeds
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 03/23, 2012 at 12:07 PM
The weather has been warm lately, warm enough to start thinking about gardening. However, while the mild weather is great for daffodils, crocuses, and forsythia, it’s still too chilly to plant vegetables, especially frost-sensitive types like tomatoes and beans. You want to hold off planting those outside until early-mid May.
Continue Reading: Starting Seeds is Easy: How to Set Up
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 03/16, 2012 at 08:00 AM
In my last post, I talked about the benefits of freezing vegetables to use in the winter. Now let’s look at another way of preserving your garden harvest—canning.
Canning for me brings back memories of my mother and grandmother, who both canned. They canned stuff like pears, green beans, tomatoes, etc. Pretty much straight up, old-fashioned canning.
Continue Reading: Take a Jar of Summer off the Shelf
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 02/22, 2012 at 01:50 PM
During my garden harvest season, which stretches from summer through much of fall, I preserve a lot of what we get from our backyard in two ways—canning and freezing.
I like to do both because of cooking flexibility. You can do a lot of great things with canning: sauces, relishes, pickles, etc. But freezing for me tends to be about just the vegetable/fruit.
Continue Reading: Pulling Summer from the Freezer when it’s Freezing Outside
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 02/07, 2012 at 10:09 PM
We are in the heart of winter, so buying garden seeds may not be the first thing on your mind. However, if you are planning on ordering seeds online (you will more choices online than you will in a store), now is the time to do so.
Continue Reading: Don’t wait to make online seed orders for 2012 garden season!
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 01/18, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Going to go a bit off-topic here, but I had to share this story with everyone who reads this blog. Gardening is something that often is done together by couples and who knows how many relationships are sparked at a plant sale or garden center. However, gardening is not really thought of something as romantic, per se.
Continue Reading: Sowing the Seeds of a Great Marriage
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 11/16, 2011 at 09:00 AM
This week as we are adding more fall greens to the selection of choices, we are embarking on a project that will provide us with the ability to extend the season and have even more greens!
Continue Reading: Field Notes
Posted by Erin McKinney on 10/25, 2011 at 06:00 AM
While we haven’t quite yet had a true killing frost, it’s inevitable - at some point, your 2011 garden will be covered in frost, and soon after, snow. The garden will go to sleep until it warms again, but there is some work yet to do on your garden that will make things easier next spring. Time to put it to bed.
Continue Reading: Get your garden ready for a long winter’s nap
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 10/21, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Just 20 years ago, the selection of produce was nothing like it is today. Iceberg lettuce, round red tomatoes, green bell peppers, regular orange carrots, and plain potatoes ruled the supermarket shelves.
However, today the expansion of the American palate is quite evident. Sushi is found in supermarkets. An imitation of a latte can be found at a convenience store. Ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Thai, Austrian, and Korean can be found in central Pennsylvania. And the broadening selections for the home chef have expanded culinary horizons, as well.
Continue Reading: Broaden Your Culinary Horizons
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 09/16, 2011 at 09:52 AM
Home vegetable gardens are an ideal and super-local way to get fresh, delicious produce, but they can also be a beautiful addition to your yard. Many vegetable plants not only taste great, they look great, too—and not just on a plate.
Continue Reading: Useful Beauty
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/23, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Please welcome Jamie Oberdick to the Local Food Journey! Jamie is an enthusiastic home gardener who grows a variety of plants from around the world in his Centre County backyard. Take it away, Jamie!
A lot of people think of vegetable gardening as a spring/summer thing, and you shut it down in the fall with the exception of the last pumpkins. Actually, there are plenty of different vegetables that thrive in the cooler conditions we have in fall in central Pennsylvania.
Continue Reading: Plant Now for Garden-Fresh Fall Harvest
Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/19, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Early this May we purchased a square raised container to plant peppers and tomatoes. We would much prefer to compost and till our own plot of land, but we live in a rental townhouse, and so our humble front porch garden will have to suffice this year.
Continue Reading: How Does Your Garden Grow?
Posted by Emily Wiley on 06/30, 2010 at 05:56 PM
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