Tag Archives: cilantro

Shade Gardening in Northeastern Ohio

A shade covered yard shouldn’t keep you from growing your own food.

Snarky Acres in the shade
Snarky Acres in the shade

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sunny plot. Trees are great to climb and sit under, but not so much if you want grow vegetables. The first question you should ask yourself is “How much and what kind of shade do you have?” Not all shade is the same. Dappled shade under a tall tree is not equal to total shade on the north side of a building. There are several ways to determine how much sun you have on a given site.  If you are more technological, there are devices that will give you an exact reading, like the Suncalc Sunlight Calculator.  Just pop it into the ground in the morning on a sunny day (which isn’t always available here in Northeast Ohio), and by evening, it will tell you how much sunlight you have at that specific spot. I would recommend setting a phone alarm on your phone to remind you to pick it up at the end of the day. I once forgot about it for several days and thought a mushroom had popped up in the yard until I had a flash of memory.

Here is Suncalc’s definition of full sun through full shade:

Full Sun 6+
›Partial Sun at least 4 hours up to 6
›Partial Shade 1.5 to 4
›Full Shade less than 1.5 hours

Stick it into the ground at your site in the morning, and by evening you'll know how much sunlight you have.
Stick it into the ground at your site in the morning, and by evening you’ll know how much sunlight you have.

Another way to determine how much shade you have is to observe the current plants growing in your yard (including weeds). Both violets and ground ivy (shown below) are indicators you have at least partial shade (if not more sunlight). If the spot in question has issues even growing grass, you probably don’t have enough sun. Just remember that different times of the year will have different amounts of sunlight. For instance, in the spring before the trees leaf out will have much more sun than in the summer.

If you don’t have the time or patience to just observe the site, try some limited trial plantings in pots first. I’d also advise starting with the 2 to 4 hour veggies listed down below, especially the leafy greens.  If those are successful, you can then try plants that need more sun.

violet
Violets
Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie
Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie

›Front Yard Herb Shade Garden

My shade perennial herb garden receiving its one hour of direct light of the day
My shade perennial herb garden receiving its one hour of direct light of the day

2 to 4 hours
Herbs – Chives, Cilantro,Garlic,Lemon Balm, Mint, Oregano,Parsley,Thyme
Asian greens – bok choi, komatsuna, tatsoi
Mesclun
Mustard/Turnip Greens
Scallions
Arugula
Lettuce/mache
Kale
Spinach/Chard

4 to 5 hours
›Peas/beans – bush
›Root veg – beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes, turnips
Swiss chard with stalks

More than 6 hours per day
Tomatoes
Peppers
Eggplants
Corn
Squashes

Identify and Utilize Your Current Weeds

One possibility you probably didn’t think of is identifying and eating your yard weeds (of course only if you don’t spray chemicals on your lawn). Many of the “weeds” we despise are actually edible and good for you. Dandelions are an excellent example of this. The leaves (in the spring), flowers,  and roots all can be eaten. I have a complete list at “Northeastern Ohio Edible Garden Weeds

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are another solution you may not thought of. There are plenty of kits on the Internet that allow you to grow mushrooms under your trees, in your yard, on logs, or even inside your house!

Wintersown.org Revisited

WinterSown
WinterSown.org last year

Last year, the Snarky Gardener discovered wintersown.org, which gives away seeds that can be used to grow plants outside during the winter.  The idea is to sow your seeds in milk jugs (or other recycled objects) and then put them outside until the temperatures are correct for germination.  I had mixed results with the WinterSown system but I believe I made several mistakes that I am pledging not to make this year.  First of all, I tried plant too many seeds at once – 8 different varieties in just one carton!.  This time, I’m using my new 2” square soil blockers to keep the number of plantings to a minimum – just 7 starts per carton.  And only one variety per carton with identifying labels (what a concept!).  I’m also keeping the choices to those I know well, and that I have too many seeds of already – Red Russian kale, spinach, cilantro, parsley, and leeks.  All of these are cold weather hardy, so they are perfect for being winter sown.

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4 cubes per squish

 

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7 2″ cubes per milk carton

 

Another issue I ran across last year was watering.  The instructions explicitly said to open the milk carton to water but I got lazy and sprayed into the opening at the top.  The one carton I didn’t put bottom slits in did the best as it didn’t go dry like the others.  For me, putting my seed starting efforts outside leads to the “out of sight, out of mind” problem.   This time around I’m putting them right outside my back door, which I will pass everyday on my way to work and back.

Slow Cooker Chili with Jacob’s Cattle Beans

I was at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market in Kent Ohio this winter and ran across some Jacob’s Cattle beans from Breakneck Acres (located just around the corner from Snarky Acres – aka my house).  I had read about Jacob’s Cattle beans in one or two of my many gardening books and wanted to eat (and grow) some myself.  After a Google search, I found a recipe I could adapt to make my own special local chili.  Converting it into a crock pot recipe made it quick and easy.

Note:  I saved back one bag so I could plant them this spring.  Maybe in the fall I’ll be doing this same recipe with my own beans.

jacobs

1 pound (aka bag) of Jacob’s Cattle beans
1 or 2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp. Garlic powder)
Olive oil for frying
1 pound ground beef
3-4 T. chili powder
2-3 T. cumin
Fresh cilantro
2 Jalapeno peppers
Dash of cinnamon
Large can crushed tomatoes (2 1/2 cups fresh)
1 tsp. local honey (instead of brown sugar)
2 T. vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider or balsamic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Turnip Greens (optional)

Soak the beans in water about 2-3 inches above the beans in the crock pot or a non-metal bowl for 6-8 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water and cover with fresh water an inch or two above the beans. Cook the ground beef until nicely browned and crumbled, set aside. Sauté the onions in a oil until soft, then add everything to the crock pot and stir well. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours.

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Soaking the Jacob’s Cattle beans
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Frozen tomatoes from last year’s garden
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Two jalapeno peppers from the AeroGarden
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Onions and garlic from the garden
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Onions and garlic chopped up
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Local grass fed ground beef
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The finished product – local chili

Ingredient sources

Home:
– Jalapeno peppers – fresh from the AeroGarden
– Turnip Greens – frozen from last year’s garden
– Tomatoes – frozen from last year’s garden
– Onions – fresh from the garden
– Garlic – fresh thinnings from the garden
– Cilantro – fresh thinnings from the Front Yard Herb garden

Local:
– Jacob’s Cattle beans – from Breakneck Farms
– Ground beef – from Sirna’s Farm CSA in Auburn Ohio
– Local Honey

Commercial:
– Olive oil
– Cumin
– Chili powder
– Cinnamon
– Vinegar
– Salt and pepper

Front Yard Herb Shade Garden

Last spring, I tried to “upgrade” the front yard area that is up against my house by putting down wood mulch and walking stones over the sandy, rocky mess that was there.  The site faces south west with a big oak tree directly to the south, so it only receives full sun 1 hour between noon and 1 PM and then again 4 PM to sunset.  I purchased two kinds of mint starts (spearmint and chocolate mint) and planted them in my backyard garden.  Then (of course) I read an article about how invasive mint can be, and before I knew it, I was moving it.  The front yard area seemed perfect, figuring between the shade and the borders (driveway, walkway, and house) it wouldn’t escape (we’ll see).

Over the winter, I did some Internet research to find other shade herbs (with a preference for perennials) and came up with a short list – chives, thyme, parsley, chervil, cilantro and lemon balm.  I planted lemon balm last year in the backyard garden, and there were some small volunteers growing around it that I moved to the front.  I picked the shadiest spot (right up against my porch) for it.  Between plant swaps, AeroGardens, and extra cilantro seed, I was able to fill out the rest of this small shaded garden in no time.

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Front Yard Herb Shade Garden – 5/21/2013. From left to right – spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon thyme, cilantro (close to the wall in a line), chives, and lemon balm.
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Front Yard Herb Shade Garden – 5/21/2013. From left to right – spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon thyme, and chives.
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Front Yard Herb Shade Garden from the side – 6/5/2013
Front Yard Shaded Herb Garden
Front Yard Herb Shade Garden – 2/9/2013
PHFY
Front Yard Herb Shade Garden – 5/21/2013