Monday, December 15, 2014

Harvest Monday, 15 November 2014

Last week I wrote about interesting things I was making for dinner. Well I was pretty boring in my dinners recently. Though at least they are very garden centric. The sweet potato is 'Purple'. And the spinach was also from the garden from my frozen stores.

A couple days later I had something not that much different. I bit of left over sweet potato with spinach. I think the day before it was left over sweet potato and kale. I tend to eat greens everyday. They are either kale, spinach, chard, or broccoli.

I'm going through them at a fast rate. I'm sure they won't last the winter. Normally they would, but I've been eating more than usual. In the past I would really cut back on my vegetable intake over the winter, but I'm trying not to this winter. I'm trying to keep up the healthy eating all through winter even without the fresh veggies inundating me from the garden. I hope I succeed.

And I always have a second vegetable for dinner besides the greens. These are the colorful ones. The oranges and purples. For dinner it is usually sweet potatoes or squash. Last year I would add the carrots into that mix. But so far I've been eating them every day for lunch in some form. I might make some squash soup for lunch soon and then maybe carrots will hit the dinner menu more often.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Harvest Monday, 8 December 2014

I've got nothing. No harvests this week. Since what you do with your harvests is fair game for Harvest Monday, today I'd like to write about two items that I cook on a regular basis that I learned from blogs that I follow. One I know where it came from, but the other I don't remember. I wish I did since I love it so much. But I'll start with the first.

Some of the best recipes come from all over the world. I grew up with Mexican food as I lived in Colorado. There Mexican restaurants are on every corner. When I came here to Boston I fell in love with Chinese food. Sadly without being able to eat tomatoes, chilies, or soy, those cuisines are largely not available to me anymore. I can do some of them with heavy modifications, but my cooking repertoire is now sadly limited. In addition my husband doesn't eat red meat anymore. So I'm stuck with poultry and fish. One of our favorite comfort foods was meatloaf. I tried to make a turkeyloaf substitute, but I just didn't like any of the variations I tried (at least without mushrooms which I'm not eating right now either). But then Mark posted one of his dishes - Kofte or Turkish Meatballs.

These we love. I make it with an onion turkey gravy and use ground turkey instead of lamb. Though it certainly isn't a meatloaf it does fill sort of the same niche. When my onions were available I used them. Now it is just the mint and carrots from the garden. And when I made them the other week it was the last of the mint. I should have dried some mint for the winter. I guess that will have to come from the store too. The carrots are cooked in the gravy and they are so delicious that way. And here I paired it with the last of the fresh picked spinach. I'm so sad that is all used up now.

My other well loved recipe is Okonomiyaki. Sometimes it is called Japanese pizza. But it is a vegetable pancake. I don't make it traditionally as I'm gluten free. So mine has a mix of gluten free flours and more eggs than usual. I also use more American toppings. The traditional toppings are bonito flakes (which I don't have and don't use), mayo, and some sauce that can be sort of replicated by equal parts ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Neither of the later two I can have. And mayos are very problematic. So I use a homemade vegan mayo (which tastes better than the mayos I can eat from the supermarkets) mixed up into a horseradish sauce and plum sauce. It really takes it out of the Asian flavors, but I still like it. It has become comfort food for me over the last several months. And it is a great way to use up any of the cabbage family crops. For a while it was Chinese cabbage. Then it switched to European cabbage. And this last week it was bok choy. Sadly all of my cabbage type greens are now gone. Though I do have some frozen and this coming week I might try to use that.

The main vegetable the pancake uses is 2 cups of cabbage and just about any other vegetable you want. I always use 1/2-1 cup of onions (depending upon whether they are green onions or bulbing onions) and about 1/2c of matchsticked carrots. Sometimes zucchini gets added. It really depends upon what is in the fridge. Like soup you can use up little odds and ends. This last week it was just choy, carrots, and bunching onions. All from the garden.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Harvest Monday 1 December 2014

Since I was cleaning out the beds this last week, I had a decent amount of harvests. The first to go was the Asian greens and chard bed. There wasn't a lot of chard, but some. And a very small amount of tatsoi as I planted it too late. But the bok choy harvest was pretty large.

I probably should have kept it covered from the frost as the outside leaves had started to get mushy so I had to trim them off, but the inside was still very nice. I now have just two beds with plants in them. The kale and the spinach that are overwintering.

And speaking of spinach. I had thought I had planted it too late to get any harvest this year, but I was wrong. I had a decent harvest. Enough for three meals.

I also had a few random harvests from the last clean up of the beds. I had forgotten I even had planted turnips under the chard. They didn't really grow much. But I got a handful worth eating. And the onions were at the end of a bed that had been cleaned up weeks ago.

My last harvest though was something I'd picked a while back and not weighed in. I had six little not quite ripe squash. You can see the color and size difference from one that was fully ripe and set earlier in the year. But I kept them and let them cure. I wanted to see if they were worth eating and they were. One wasn't as sweet as the older squash, but still flavorful. And one was just as sweet and tasty. It just wasn't as orange. I weighed in the two I cooked. The other four will be evaluated when they are cooked up. I suspect that two will be just fine and two aren't ripe enough to taste good. But I've never picked squash so unripe before, so that is just an uneducated guess.

  • Alliums: 0.64 lbs
  • Greens: 1.24 lbs
  • Greens, Asian: 3.95 lbs
  • Roots: 0.09 lbs
  • Greens: 4.00 lbs
  • Weekly Total: 9.92 lbs
  • Yearly Total: 739.90 lbs
  • Yearly Tally: $1396.30

The tally is special this week. I succeeded in going over my previous record of 735lbs. That record was set in the year with no winter (2012) so I was able to plant peas and spinach in February (unheard of here). I certainly couldn't do that this year. This year the peas were planted April 4th and the spinach April 14th. Also that record had the use of my asparagus bed which hasn't given my anything at all since it was planted in 2013, and might never as most of the plants have already died. So it has been a pretty amazing year. I'm not sure why it was so good. I'll probably go over the tally in a detailed comparison later in the year.

And just because I love numbers. If you look in my sidebar you will see that I have 565 sqft of raised bed. If I use that number I get 1.3 pounds per square foot (even with the non-asparagus counted in). My goal every year is to reach a pound per square foot. So I'm way over that. Whoohoo! Of course the more important part is that it feeds me. And it has done a good job of that.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Garden Share Collective - December 2014

As you can see the beds are almost empty. Bed 3 has my bamboo poles stored in a tarp waiting for spring to come.

Beds 4-8 have few things in them. I do have the kale that is getting over wintered. There is some mache below it. Bed 7 had Asian greens and a bit of chard. Well that was taken out earlier in the week. We had a thaw and I figured it wasn't getting any better with all the freeze thaw cycles, so it is now in the fridge. The bed has since been cleaned up and covered in compost like most of the others.

Around the corner in the Circle Garden I have some spinach. Like the other photos it was take earlier in the week. Since then I've picked some of the spinach. The rest will overwinter and will provide early spring greens in late April.

November Completed

  • Planned next year's garden
  • Went through my seeds and see what I need for next year
  • Cleaned up beds as they were harvested
  • Covered empty beds with compost for the winter
  • Winnowed the mustard, fennel, dill, cilantro
  • Stored 8' bamboo in tarp
  • Harvested and stored the carrots
  • Harvested and stored the parsnips
  • Collected leaves for next year's compost
  • Put excess compost into small bin for use next year

Harvests

Harvests in November included bunching onions, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, bok choy, kale, celery, celeriac, chard, spinach, cilantro, mustard seed, parsley, sage, and beets. The total weight was 84.3 pounds, almost half of which were carrots as they are a big storage crop for me.

Preserving

Not much got preserved this month except the carrots and parsnips, which are now stored in the fridge and in the basement. I did add a couple of kale packets to the freezer, but used up a couple of chard packets. So that was a wash. And I've been eating from the winter stores already especially from the orange vegetables - carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. I've mostly had plenty of greens still from the garden. But now it has all been picked. And the garden is put to bed for the winter. I won't be picking anything more until April. Well maybe a bit of kale, but maybe not.

Tally of what is in storage from the garden:

Frozen

  • Broccoli: 19 servings
  • Celery: 5 cups (Oh how I wish I had more)
  • Chard: 17 serving
  • Chinese cabbage: 10 servings, 4 soup packets
  • Corn: 14 cups
  • Cucumber juice: 2 quarts
  • Kale: 43 servings
  • Spinach: 24 servings
  • Zucchini: 9 cups
  • Carrots: 20 cups
  • Burritos: 11 servings
  • Mizuna Soup: 4 servings
  • Basil: frozen leaves
  • Cilantro: frozen leaves

Canned

  • Rhubarb syrup: 4 half pint jars
  • Gooseberry jam: 2 half pint jars
  • Peach cobber filling: 4 half pints
  • Peach preserves: 4 half pints
  • Peach rum sauce: 6.5 half pints
  • Dill Relish: 10 half pint jars

Basement

  • Carrots: 25 pounds (some in fridge)
  • Parsnips: 4 pounds
  • Onions: we ate 10 of the 11 braids that were stored already, just 1 left
  • Garlic: 3 pounds
  • Waltham Butternut: 24 (avg. 3lbs each)
  • Sweet Potatoes: About 45 pounds

December To Do

  • Sip tea under a blanket and read seed catalogs
  • Plan what fruit trees to buy to replace the figs
  • Order next year's seeds

Monday, November 24, 2014

Harvest Monday, 24 November 2014

This week I finally picked some of the kale. It is a PITA to process because there are some aphids in there and the frilly leaves are hard to go through. But I take the bag and clean them up in front of the TV to keep my sanity. There actually aren't a lot of patches of aphids, but the patches that exist have a huge population. I was spraying with soap every couple of weeks. But if I missed a small section of leaf it gave the population a chance to grow.

I blanched and froze the batch except for one serving for dinner. I ended up thawing some out later in the week. I'm starting to eat my preserved food as the garden was frozen last week. Yesterday was very warm and today will be too, so hopefully I'll get out into the garden and harvest the last of the produce there before the freeze becomes permanent for the year.

I still have some bunching onions in the garden, but I'm going to pick them all this week. I've been enjoying them.

Technically this isn't Harvest Monday fare as it was bought from the supermarket. But I did my yearly canning of the cranberries. I have two more jars not canned in the fridge they will be used up over Thanksgiving. I hope it lasts all year as cranberries are had to come by at anytime but now. I love cranberries with chicken. We will see if they last. If not next year I'll make more.

  • Alliums: 0.43 lbs
  • Greens: 2.44 lbs
  • Weekly Total: 2.87 lbs
  • Yearly Total: 729.98 lbs
  • Yearly Tally: $1361.87

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Harvest Monday, 17 November 2014

This week was filled with some wonderful harvests. From parsnips, beets, and turnips.

To broccoli and my first (rather pitiful) celeriac.

I also harvested a good amount of bok choy and green onions to hold me over through this cold week we will have. Basically I harvested things to get them out of the ground before the big freeze hit. The ground might not be frozen permanently until December. But you never know. Occasionally it freezes in mid November and doesn't dethaw. Sometimes it freezes and thaws and refreezes in early December. But all in all it is safer to have those root crops out of the ground. Some people mulch so they can pick later. But honestly I hate going out in the freezing cold, especially to dig in the cold soil. So I'd rather have them inside and stored.

But my biggest harvest this week by far were the carrots.

And more carrots.

And oh so many carrots. 35 pounds in all. I stored some blanched and in the freezer. I stored some in my fridge. And I stored some in the basement. I will be eating a lot of carrots this year. In fact for the whole year I harvested a total of 78 pounds of carrots. That is enough carrots to eat a pound every five days. Which is not all that much of a challenge as I love carrots.

The yearly harvest total stands at 727 pounds. My record, from 2012, is at 735 pounds. So I'm getting close. I need 9 pounds to beat that total. I'm not sure I have that much produce left in the garden. But I guess I'll find out over the next couple of weeks. All that is left is spinach, kale, bok choy, a few bunching onions, and maybe a bit of chard, mache, and mizuna. But even if I don't beat it, I've come very close. It has been a really amazing year in the garden. I've had a few failures, but so many successes.

  • Alliums: 0.64 lbs
  • Broccoli: 1.38 lbs
  • Carrots: 35.20 lbs
  • Greens, Asian: 2.21 lbs
  • Roots: 7.66 lbs
  • Weekly Total: 47.08 lbs
  • Yearly Total: 727.11 lbs
  • Yearly Tally: $1356.49

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

But Which Carrot Was The Best?

Half of the SugarSnax and Bolero carrots

This year I grew four kinds of carrots. Two carrots to eat fresh, Yaya and Mokum. And two carrots for winter storage, SugarSnax and Bolero. I had previously harvested all the Yaya and Mokums. This last week I got around to the storage carrots. When you store carrots there is always the argument over whether they store better washed or not. Some studies say washing leads to rot. Some say there wasn't much of a difference. If you don't wash them you can get staining on the carrots. For home use this isn't much of a problem as you can handle that a carrot isn't perfectly pretty before it is peeled. But I can see that the commercial sellers what pretty carrots. And yet still I decided to wash my carrots. I hate bringing so much dirt into the kitchen.

The yield was good. I picked 35 pounds of storage carrots. This is in a 32 sqft space. And they were only in the ground for part of the year. The favas were in the spot in the spring. So they were very productive. 58% of those were Bolero. But the SugarSnax were given six rows and the Bolero were only given 5. If you take that into account, Bolero produced 66% more than SugarSnax did. It wins the production contest hands down. The SugarSnax didn't have the time or the sunshine to really bulk up. But the Bolero did.

My Fridge, Mokums on top, SugarSnax and Bolero in vegetable drawer

As for storage, I decided to split those storage carrots. Part got blanched and frozen. I froze 20 cups of carrots. Part got put in the crisper drawer of the fridge. And part got put in the basement. The basement isn't really cold enough for storage yet. I have them in the doorwell of the basement right now. The bulkhead door will keep the really cold air out, but it will get colder than the basement indoors. It won't be long before my basement is cold. I hope the carrots hold out long enough. I just don't have the room to keep them in the fridge though. As it is they are taking up a lot of space.

SugarSnax on top, Bolero on bottom

So which ones did I like the best? Well I did a side by side taste test of three of them. The Yayas were gone a while ago so i couldn't do that, but I remember the Mokum and Yaya side by side test. So here goes.

Yaya

This is the first year I grew Yayas and it will be the last. I grew it because others I know have grown and liked it. It grew well. It made a good spring or fall carrot. But I found the taste bland. It didn't have the wonderful carroty taste. Though I don't have a side by side yield comparison of my fresh eating carrots, it grew well and certainly produced well enough. And it was a pretty enough carrot. 6" long and tapered. But when growing something at home, taste is everything. And a want a really powerful carrot flavor. So this will not be grown again.

Mokum

Mokum is an 8" blunt carrot that I've grown for years. It is probably the sweetest of all the carrots I grew. It had a nice carrot flavor and didn't get bitter as a spring carrot. So can be grown both in the spring and in the fall. It is one of my favorite carrots. Like Yaya it produces well, though I have no numbers to back that up. You can bet that I'll grow this one again.

SugarSnax

I've grown this one for years too. It has the typical grocery store carrot profile. Long and tapered. I've had them get to 14" but usually they run about 10"-11" for me. They do not do well in the spring as they get bitter. They are strictly a fall carrot here. They are quite sweet. Not as sweet as a Mokum, but still quite nice if you like sweet. They have a resiny carrot taste to them. It is full of flavor, but I find the taste better cooked than raw. To me the Mokum makes a better raw carrot. But the SugarSnax's flavors hold up to cooking better, probably because they are bolder. It has been an OK producer here. The problem is that it doesn't like the partial shade it ends up in as the fall progresses. When I've grown it in the sunny spot in the garden (the circle garden) they grew enormous. But even with the early planting, in the main garden, they struggle to get big enough.

Bolero

This is the first year I grew Bolero. Again others that I know have grown it and liked it. In addition in some Massachusetts field trials, they were one of the longest lasting storage carrots. So they seemed like a good carrot to try. I would have liked a longer carrot for this as I have very deep and loose soil. But I wanted to see if I could find something better than SugarSnax which is what I'd used in the past. Bolero is a blunt 6"-8" carrot. I didn't find any that were longer and most were in the 6" range. But they got very wide and produced an amazing poundage. They aren't as sweet as SugarSnax, but they are still sweet enough to make a good raw carrot. And the taste is wonderful. Better than all the others. It has more of a depth of flavor than Mokum has, with none of the challenging piney taste of SugarSnax. Though I haven't cooked with them yet, I think they will make just as good of a cooked carrot as they do a raw carrot. I will probably grow this one as my only storage carrot next year (unless I decided to trial another variety). The short wide carrots are easy to process in the kitchen. And they handle my partial fall shade as well as the Mokums do.

Basically if I grew one carrot I'd grow Bolero. Mokum still wins out in a fast spring carrot though. Bolero is a 75 day carrot and Mokum is 55. And in the spring I need a carrot to produce fast because the bed needs to be turned over to the fall crops in July. The same over the summer. I want a carrot that can start producing when my spring carrots get used up. So sometimes the faster the better. Another difference they have is that Mokum is more orange than Bolero is. They are both orange carrots, but it probably means that Mokum has more of that lovely beta carotene.

And I told you that I harvested 35 pounds of carrots from that one storage carrot bed. Over the year I've harvested 78 pounds. That is a record for me. But to be fair I had more beds in carrots than ever before too. I do love my carrots.