Monday, June 19, 2017

Harvest Monday - June 19, 2017

I am short on photos of my harvests this week. We've had a high pressure system settle comfortably over the state which is making it uncomfortably hot for me and the garden. I spent some time Saturday afternoon bouncing between the relative coolness of the house (we don't have a/c) and the heat in the garden rescuing cool weather loving veggies that were stressed out and/or trying to bolt. Those didn't get photographed because I was trying to get them indoors and into the fridge before they and I wilted. I hauled in 2 more heads of napa cabbage, 6 heads of lettuce, nearly a pound of Aspabroc (aka Broccolini), some Batavia broccoli shoots and the first Romanesco zucchini.

Earlier in the week I cleared out a couple more varieties of carrots.

Atomic Red

Short Stuff
That photo of the Short Stuff carrots is a bit deceiving, they are short but they aren't all that small, that bunch weighed 1.5 pounds after trimming off the tops. There's always one joker in the group...

There's a basketful of veggies from earlier in the week before it got hot. Another Little Jade napa cabbage, some Aspabroc, a couple minuscule Fioretto Stick cauliflower, Cilician parsley, mini downy mildew stunted Red Candy Apple onions, and some very purple Corsican basil doing a good job of photobombing the shot.

Yellow Finn Potatoes
I dumped out the first pot of Yellow Finn potaotes to see what was going on. The certainly aren't beautiful and neither were they plentiful (only 1.5 pounds) but there were some decent sized ones that should make for a tasty Salad Nicoise tonight.

Blanched & Dried Pink Lettucy Mustard
Last week I cleared out some big bunches of mustard from the garden and decided to try a couple of preserving experiments with it. That bunch above was dipped in boiling salted water just long enough to wilt it, about 5 seconds, and then I chopped and dehydrated it. It is surprisingly delicious. And then I read about a traditional Chinese method of preserving mustard greens, fermenting and drying. Actually the process traditionally involves first sun drying the greens to wilt them, then fermenting them, then sun drying again (I saw one description that also steamed them before the second drying). I followed a more modern recipe that used a dehydrator instead of the sun. That batch is just finishing up in the dehydrator now.

Fermented and (nearly) Dried Pink Lettucy Mustard
One thing that I really do love about dehydrated foods is that they save a lot of space, 2 1/2 pounds of bulky mustard greens will fit into a pint jar once they are dried. The dried mustard greens will add a nice flavor boost to soups and stirfry dishes.

Dave wanted me to be sure to mention a salad that I made this week that we both really enjoyed. I found the inspiration for it from a Mark Bittman recipe for a deconstructed Vietnamese Summer Roll turned into salad. I changed the proportions (less noodles, more lettuce), added chopped peanuts, and used a different sauce (also modified to be less sweet) for the dressing. It was a fantastic cool and refreshing dinner salad for a warm almost summer night.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Now I've got to get outside before it gets too warm to get any work done.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Harvest Monday - June 12, 2017

We have been eating a lot of salads lately and there's plenty more material coming in from the garden for many more. I'll start with Dave's favorite salad green of all - butterhead lettuce.

Three Heart Butterhead
That big beauty (over 1 pound) is big enough to make at least 2 good sized salads. It was the star in a salad last night that also featured a peach, grated carrot and radish, dried I'Itoi onion greens, Italian Mountain basil, and a vinaigrette made from Late Harvest Honey Viognier vinegar and EVOO. I particularly like the combination of peach, radish, and basil with the sweet-tart vinegar.

Joker Crisphead
Another big head of lettuce from the garden last week was a full sized head of Joker Crisphead. I've already forgotten what I used to doll up the first salad from that head.

Speedy Arugula
I had to harvest all of the cutting salad greens because they were already starting to bolt, although they did get to be good sized before doing so. One of the things that I love about Speedy arugula is that it stays mild even when it bolts.

Ruby Streaks Mizuna
Dave doesn't like these "funny greens" so I enjoy these in big salads for my lunch on most days.

Tokyo Bekana Napa Cabbage and Batavia Broccoli
Tokyo Bekana is mild enough for Dave, even when it starts to bolt. Batavia broccoli is still producing...

Pink Lettucy Mustard
Mustard greens are another no-go for Dave, but I like their spicy bite, especially in soup. Lately I've been enjoying them in simple soups with either shrimp or sausage and Vietnamese rice noodles. I keep the seasonings simple - coconut milk, fish sauce, dried green onions, dried brown mushrooms, basil, and toasted sesame oil.

Rotild Carrots
Many of the spring sown carrots have fattened up and are ready to pull. Rotild has done well for me as an overwintered carrot and as a spring carrot. It has a nice sweet crunch and generally produces a nice clean root.

Black Nebula Carrots
That's the last of the Black Nebula carrots. They have a strong tendency to fork and the roots get to be quite hairy - I gave those a shave before putting them in front of the camera. Some of them get some nice purple coloring in their foliage as well as you can see below.

There were a few other harvests that I didn't photograph. I cut down the last of the Mizunarubasoi to make room for the spreading Romanesco zucchini (which is sporting it's first blooming zucchini). And some runty Yellow Granex and Top Keeper onions got rescued from the onion patch.

I'm not reporting harvest weights on my harvest posts these days, but if you are curious I've got a link at the top of my sidebar to a copy of a detailed spreadsheet that shows harvest totals monthly and to date for each veggie that I harvest. I update the spreadsheet every week or so, whenever I get around to it. I won't put a link here because it changes every time I update the sheet.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Garden on June 8, 2017

A quick update on the garden. I've managed to get quite a bit done now that I'm over the worst of the cold (nearly 3 weeks and I'm still coughing though, this crud lingers).

I got the tomato/pepper bed planted - 12 tomato plants, 11 varieties. 53 pepper plants, 22 varieties.

The bed where the favas were growing is nearly ready for planting. I need to replace the drip lines because 4 years of hard well water has got many of the emitters clogged up or slowed to a trickle. I'll be planting mostly corn and beans in this bed.

The first round of summer vegetables are growing quickly. The Tromba D'Albenga squash are already starting to reach for their trellis. You can see the Romanesco zucchini beyond starting to spread out.

The cucumber babies are starting to take off. The sleeves protect the tender young seedlings from munching sow bugs and provide a bit of warmth. Three of those plants are survivor of my experiment with sowing pre-germinated seeds and the other three are from the backups that I sowed into pots. Birds got one seedling and the other two were weak.

Italian Mountain and Corsican Basils

The basil plants are getting more bushy, and that's after I've harvested the central stems on each plant.
Persian Basil
The Aspabroc (aka Broccolini) is producing the first heads.


There will be some big heads of lettuce hitting the harvest basket in the next few days.

On the other hand, the onions will be runts.

You can see how bad the greens look, Downy Mildew really took its toll.

On the bright side, even though I lost all of the I'itoi onions in the garden I had some shriveled up bulbs left in my pantry and to my great delight every single bulb that I planted sprouted. These will not go into the garden, I'll be planting them in containers and will grow them far from the garden with its multitude of Downy Mildew spores.

That's the latest, now I've got to get some more work done in the garden.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Harvest Monday - June 5, 2017

The last of the fava beans hit the harvest basket this weekend. I had to clear out the plants so that I could move the trellis to the new tomato and pepper bed.

Aquadulce and Extra Precoce Violetto Fava Beans
Dave was happy to hear that "we" passed the 100 pound mark with a final total of 112 pounds of beans in the pod. I'm glad he was happy, he had to peel almost every one of those beans.

Robin Hood Fava Beans
My favorite of the three varieties remains the Extra Precoce Violetto and it wins for 3 reasons. First it is early, the final harvest of mature beans coincided with the need to remove them so that I could move the trellis that I tie them up to. Robin Hood still had some immature beans but it started early and produced well so the last few immature beans weren't an issue. But I pulled a lot of beans off of the Aquadulce plants that needed at least another week to mature and they were later to start so it definitely impacted their overall production. The second reason is that the plants grow to a manageable size, as does Robin Hood, but the Aquadulce plants got to be over 5 feet tall. That's not a deal breaker but it isn't a positive trait. And third, the EPV beans themselves are relatively easy to deal with (for favas) having large pods with large beans that are easy to pop out, as does Aquadulce, but the Robin Hood beans are mostly small and the beans are tightly held within the pods making them more difficult to remove and the small size of the beans makes them more tedious to peel. I think that when I run out of my stock of Aquadulce and Robin Hood beans that I'll stick with the Extra Precoce Violetto beans.

Little Jade Napa Cabbage, Fioretto Stick Cauliflower, Tokyo Bekana
New in the harvest basket last week were a couple of heads of Little Jade napa cabbage. Not quite the babies described on the seed packet, they weighed in at 3.1 and 3.7 pounds. We enjoyed a cabbage slaw with duck confit first and then some Okonomiyaki pancakes. And tonight I'm going to do a cabbage and fava combo dish. I also harvested another small head of Fioretto Stick cauliflower, which now that I go back to read the catalog description is supposed to be small. These turned out to be really good, the heads pull apart easily into long stemmed florets that don't need to be peeled. When blanched the stems turn a pretty bright green which contrasts nicely with the white flower heads, and they are sweet and tender. The flavor is less cabbagy than regular cauliflower. I just wish they were more generous with the number of seeds in that pricey packet. The description claims 60 days to harvest and that was pretty accurate, I sowed the seeds on March 26 and harvested the first heads on May 28.

Little Jade Napa Cabbage, Batavia Broccoli
Three Heart Butterhead, Rosencrantz Crisphead
The overwintered Batavia broccoli is still putting out side shoots. The Batavia broccoli always surprises me by how productive it is. I thought that it was pretty much done the last time I harvested side shoots but there was nearly another pound of shoots ready to harvest yesterday. And the baby lettuces keep on giving also, we've been having a generous salad almost every evening lately.

Red Butter Romaine Lettuce

Rotild and Atomic Red
I'm pulling some nice and some funky spring sown carrots. The Black Nebula carrots are a beautiful dark purple nearly all the way to the core, but they do have a tendency to fork and they get hairy roots and they tend to bolt. Maybe they will do better when grown in the fall.

Black Nebula

Mizunarubasoi and Persian Basil
I've been removing the Mizunarubasoi plants to make room for the fast growing Romanesco zucchini. The last couple of harvests have gone into quick soups, one with rice ramen noodles and shrimp, and another without the noodles but shrimp again and some coconut milk. That's a little sprig of Persian basil that I used to season the coconut milk version. I'm liking the Persian basil a lot. I'll have to do a tasting along with the Corsican and Italian Mountain basils and report on that.

Also harvested but not photographed was the bolting Ho-Mi Z' mustard which I blanched and froze. And also a few runty Tropea Rossa Tonda onions.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Harvest Monday - May 29, 2017

It's funny, the things that may make you really appreciate having a garden. Getting a nasty cold really made me appreciate the bounty of healthy veggies that I have easily to hand. And when I'm sick and not up to the task of cooking, as I have been much of the past week, I'm even more appreciative of all the work that I've put into preserving those veggies in various forms. One day I craved a bowl of soup and being home by myself and not wanting to have to drive somewhere to satisfy the craving I turned to my freezer and pantry. It didn't take long to thaw a quart of homemade chicken stock, saute some shallots, stir in some frozen tomato paste, and drop in a load of dried veggies and within 30 minutes I was slurping hot vegetable soup. Ahhh, on the road to recovery.

Anyway, I did manage to get out to the garden with a pocketful of Kleenex a few times to bring in some harvests. The garden is really demanding my attention right now and I can't just lay around while the veggies bolt.

Radishes, Carrots, and Turnips
The spring crop of root vegetables is/has been a colorful one. The radishes are done for now, they were almost all starting to bolt. The carrots are sizing up, those 2 varieties shown are Short Stuff and Starica, you can probably guess which is which. And at the bottom of the picture are Round Red and Mikado turnips. One easy dish I made with some of the turnips and carrots was to quickly roast them in a hot cast iron skillet (I'm really in love with my cast iron lately).

Yellow Granex Onions
The big disappointment this year has been the onions. Downy mildew hit hard this spring and I nearly pulled out the entire crop. I relented though when the weather warmed up and the mildew slowed down. But the DM (damn mildew?) took its toll, the plants didn't keep enough green growth to produce good roots. Every green leaf blade is connected to a layer in the bulb and when the green leaf blades are killed then the bulbs will come out small, like those Yellow Granex bulbs in the photo. Those three onions don't equal even one bulb that I would typically harvest.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
I tried a sprouting cauliflower this spring and it doesn't seem to have behaved properly. The heads buttoned on 3 of the 4 plants. I think this is a small taste of what they might be able to do. I noticed that one of the plants has side shoots forming so perhaps there will be a few more shoots to come. I'll try it again in the fall.

I'm still getting a few side shoots of broccoli from the overwintered plants and there's a glut of lettuce. Last night I used up that bunch of lettuce (I forget if it's Joker or Rosencrantz) in a dish that is guaranteed to tame a big pile of lettuce. I used more of the carrot harvest, some broccoli, one of those Yellow granex onions, freshly peeled favas (thanks to my Dave) and some haricot vert (from the farmers market, yes I do buy some veggies). I braised all of those with some browned butter in chicken stock and at the end tossed in all that lettuce which I had cut up a bit. The lettuce just wilts and retains a hint of crunch in its sturdier parts. It's a nice warming and healthy dish for a cool foggy breezy evening (May Gray has set in in a big way).

Three Heart Butterhead Lettuce
All of the lettuce that I've harvested so far this spring has been baby heads that I interplanted with the brassicas, including that basketful shown above. My method this year was to clump 3 or 4 plants together rather than interspersing them through the bed. It makes it easier to harvest the heads - just cut a whole clump, and it crowds the growing brassicas a bit less. We've been enjoying a lot of salads with dinner lately, sometimes it is pretty much dinner accompanied by some bread and cheese.

Ruby Streaks Mizuna
My Dave doesn't like what he calls "funny greens" - stronger flavored things like mustards and arugula. But I love them so I grow them and use them to make salads for my lunch. The spring planting of mizuna and arugula was starting to bolt so I cut them all down.

Apollo Arugula
The veggie most demanding of attention last week was the favas. They hit their peak of production - 37 pounds of pods to deal with.

Aquadulce Favas
The deal that I have with my Dave who loves his favas is that I grow them, harvest them, pop them out of the pods and blanch them, but then he has to peel them because that's the way he likes them.

Robin Hood Favas
Dave is not crazy for the Robin Hood favas, they are small beans with tight skins so they are more tedious to peel. Sorry dear.

Robin Hood and Extra Precoce Violetto Favas
He loves the Extra Precoce Violetto and Aquadulce beans. They are big and fat and easy to peel. I don't find any real difference in them post harvest. There are a couple of differences in the garden. Extra Precoce Violetto, which translates as Extra Early Purple, are earlier but not by a lot, about a week or 10 days. The EPVs are shorter plants by a couple of feet. Both varieties seem to be about equal in terms of productivity.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Garden on May 24, 2017

It's a bit frustrating that I'm sitting here writing about the garden rather than working in it. I've had a nasty cold all week and have not had the energy to do anything more than some harvesting and picture taking. I'm even slow about writing up a post as you can tell from the lag time in getting this post written.

As usual, things grow so quickly at this time of year that 2 or 3 weeks makes a huge difference in the garden. I'll show just a couple of comparison shots to show the dramatic change in 16 days.

May 8
Arugula, Mizuna, and Tokyo Bekana cabbage growth in 16 days...

May 24

May 8
Cover crop of buckwheat, favas, and peas - 16 days difference... This is a nice lesson for me about how quickly I can get a cover crop going at this time of year. Unfortunately I didn't note when I sowed the cover crop, but it was some time in the last half of April.

May 24
Buckwheat Blossoms

The buckwheat is starting to bloom, so I need to get out there and cut it all down before it goes to seed.

Romanesco Zucchini
The zucchini is taking off.

Italian Mountain Basil
The Italian Mountain basil got a bit sunburned in the transition from being coddled to having to brave the elements in the garden.

Persian Basil
The Persian basil reacted to the transition by developing more color, the leaves are developing a purplish tinge and the stems are getting darker.

Corsican Basil
The Corsican basil is getting darker also. It's the fastest growing and I've already started to cut it back to encourage more bushy growth.

The spring round of salad greens is starting to bolt. I've cleared out this patch of arugula and mizuna since this photo session. The Mizunarubasoi on the right has to go soon so that I can take down this part of the cage to make room for the Romanesco zucchini plant.

Bolting Apollo Arugula

Likewise I've harvested all the radishes from this patch and a number of the turnips. The Jaune Boule D'Or turnips in the center haven't produced bulbous roots yet. They better hurry up or I'll have to pull them for greens instead.

Some carrots are bolting, notably the purple Black Nebulas and others still have baby sized roots. I don't need to rush as much to clear out this space, it will be a while before the weather is warm enough to plant the melons that I'm planning for this spot.

The last 2 Mini Purple Daikons suddenly shot up and the mustards went through a big growth spurt but are resisting bolting so far.

The radicchio gave up resisting the urge to bolt.

Little Jade Napa Cabbage
Fast fast Little Jade napa cabbage, there's a couple of heads in there that I could harvest now.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
I'm not so sure what to make of the Fioretto Stick Cauliflower. It's supposed to produce shoots like sprouting broccoli, but it seems to have just produced small loose heads, I guess it's buttoning. I'm going to cut them and see if they produce side shoots. I really know nothing about this variety. Perhaps it will do better in the fall.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
The Aspabroc (aka Broccolini, a cross between broccoli and gai lan) is better behaved, the plants are growing nicely with no signs of buttoning, although there is an aphid infestation in one plant that needs my attention.

Batavia Broccoli
And the Batavia broccoli is behaving well and growing nicely.

There's a glut of lettuce right now. You may have noticed the lettuces growing between the brassicas. I've been harvesting those as babies but haven't been able to keep up. There's still a bunch of them and the lettuces that I planted to mature into full heads are quickly maturing. More salad please!

Coriander of Morocco
I wasn't so sure about the viability of the seeds when I planted a patch of Moroccan coriander so I sowed them rather thickly. Of course most of the seeds germinated. I think this variety is grown primarily for the seeds rather than the greens, it's supposed to have larger seeds than usual. It's bolting already so I guess I'll find out soon if the seeds are something special.

That's a twofer shot above, the remains of the sickly onion patch with a nice healthy fringe of Cilician parsley. I pulled a number of the onion varieties early on when Downy Mildew hit hard. When the weather turned more warm and dry the DM relented and the onions recovered a bit, but now that the May Gray fog has settled into its usual pattern the DM is appearing again. The parsley is doing great though.

Favas galore! They are so happy this year. The left side of the bed is planted with Robin Hood plants which I've allowed to just flop over. The other side of the bed has Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto (aka Extra Precoce Violetto) and Aquadulce favas trained along the trellis. I'm particularly happy that I've got the Aquadulces tied to the trellis, they've grown to the top of its 6-foot plus height and it would be impossible to get through on the back side of the bed if they were allowed to flop over.

The Aquadulce plants are planted in the center third portion of the trellis and the Extra Precoce Violetto plants take up the end thirds of the line.

Aquadulce Favas
Tying the plants to the trellis also makes it easier to harvest the beans.

I've learned over time that the more room you give a fava plant the more stalks (tillers) it will produce per plant. This year I planted one row of Robin Hood favas along one side of the bed and one row of Extra Precoce Violetto and Aquadulce along the other side of the bed. What a difference from the end of last year to now.

Favas, December 28, 2016
That's the garden as the end of May looms. There's so much work to be done. I still have to amend the tomato/pepper bed, cut down the favas and move the trellis to the tomato bed, and get the tomatoes and peppers planted.

And over in bed #4 I have some digging to resume to get rid of invading oak roots.

There's always a lesson to be learned in the garden. Here the lesson is that I needed to extend the fabric that I'm using as a root barrier much further up the inside of the bed. The oak roots aren't making their way through the fabric on the bottom of the bed but they do find their way in through a corner here or there and in over the top of the fabric and then start to fill up the bed from there. They then proceed to suck up all the moisture and nutrients and the veggie growth slows to a crawl or simply stalls. I was less than half way through this task when the nasty cold hit.

So I'm feeling very restless and impatient at the moment but trying to be good. It's difficult for me to sit back and relax and let my body heal when I really just want to dig in (literally) and get some work done. But I am feeling better so I know that in a day or two I'll be back at it again.

Now I've got some more favas to harvest. 68 pounds harvested so far and more waiting!