Friday, October 2, 2009

A Switch to Fall Crops

My summer crop harvests have been slowly disappearing. Yesterday I pulled up the first four peppers plants. They had no chance of more peppers so there was no reason to leave them in. I pulled all the bean plants but one. It has four pods left drying. Soon it will be pulled too. The tomatillos still give me a few, but a lot of husks are dropping now that aren't ready. The plant is yellow. Really only the cucumbers and the remaining 8 pepper plants have some life left in them and the cucumber doesn't have much time left. Then again it isn't summer anymore. It is fall and it is time for the fall plants to start being picked.

Once I started I went a bit wild picking them. The first to come up were the leeks. I had two small sections of leeks. I picked the ones over by the chard (which was mercifully spared my picking frenzy). The other one will be left for colder weather.

A few leeks were freaky. One looked red and slightly shriveled. It had some weird fluting around the edges. That one was escorted to the compost pile.

Another was trying to send off little babies from its roots. It wasn't succeeding well. The new shoots were compacted into the outer layer of the mama leek. Above is what it looked like once taken apart. It was usable after a few sections were cut out.

A third succeeded in acting like a multiplier onion. It didn't have any large shoots, but some small ones around the slightly bigger shoot. I've never had leeks act so strange before. I put them in the ground very, very early. Maybe they are doing strange things because it was too early? Next year I'm going to wait to put in my alliums until April.

The leeks were promptly made into leek and potato soup. Yum!

Then I thought that I still haven't tried kale yet. Not ever in my life. I wanted to taste it. So I went to the two plants I have and picked some leaves. Any recommendations on how to prepare it for my first time ever? I have to say the leaves don't really look edible. They seem more like plastic than food.

While I was over by the kale I noticed that my Chinese cabbage heads were firming up. I have five of them all planted on the same day. I thought it would be good to pick one a bit early and harvest them slowly over time. If I wait until they are all as big as they can get, I wouldn't be able to eat them fresh as they would go bad too quickly. So one head got picked. I picked it in the middle of the day, but still it was covered in slugs. I ripped off the outer leaves that were shredded and kept the nice inner leaves. There were a few slugs way in the middle, but very little damage. I did open the whole head up and washed each leaf really well.

Then I figured a few carrots would be a nice addition. I might put some of the Chinese cabbage into a stir fry and carrots would go well.

I probably should have picked one thing and used it before picking another, but I do tend to get carried away. I'm sure by the end of the week it will be all gone except for some of the leeks. This week I'm I'm dreaming of stir fry, oriental salad and potato and leek soup. Yum!


  1. Thanks for this update, Daphne. We need to go ahead and pull the peppers, even though the plants still look good, there will not be any more peppers get large enough to use. Still flowering though. The slug damage is so off putting to me that I cannot eat anything with that kind of damage. Now to cook the kale, I cut the leafy part off the ribs, which are usually tough depending on the size and sautee in a bit of olive oil and/or butter. Delicious, like spinach but needing a little longer cooking time. I often freeze batches that have been cooked when there is a large harvest to add some vitamins to soups or stews during the winter months.

  2. I still have a few things hanging on in the garden; I need to get in there and start the clean-up. But, rain tomorrow, sigh.

    Kale is awesome in soup:
    Kale and white bean (+/- butternut squash)
    Kale and potato
    Kale with chickpeas
    Add kielbasa or italian sausage to any of the above, and wow!

    I have not tried this yet, but will soon:
    Crispy Kale:
    1 bunch of kale, (about 1 pound), cored, leaves rinsed and thoroughly dried

    3 to 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

    3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

    Kosher salt, to taste.

    1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Meanwhile, flatten kale leaves and use the point of a knife to remove tough center ribs. Stack leaves and roll them together, then slice crosswise into chiffonade strips 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch wide.

    2. Place kale in a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil, garlic and salt, making sure leaves are well coated with oil. Spread evenly across a large baking sheet.

    3. Bake, tossing once or twice, until leaves are crispy but not burned, about 5 minutes. Serve as is as a finger food or snack, or top with poached eggs as a breakfast or lunch dish.

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings as a finger food, snack or side dish
    From NYTimes 9/19/09

  3. I love leeks. I was so looking forward to mine. I thought leeks were a no-brainer until they got infested by leek moth caterpillar. So did the seedlings I started for the 2nd crop. Live and learn. Next year row covers !

    Good job on yours (even if they acted strange !).

  4. Leeks, yum!

    And KALE, well, swoon. Here's our favorite way to eat it. May I just say it is EASY, and you will want it all the time and will never grow enough kale, ever:

    Happy fall harvest!

  5. Kale is so delicious just steamed, but I must try some of the other suggestions you have had. I always pull the leaves off from the middle stem and chop them up before steaming, it's full of good vitamins too.
    My leeks all got infected by the leek moth caterpillar and I had to pull up and get rid of them all, so no leeks this year and I will cover them with fleece next year.

  6. I am a fan of kale myself...great slowly cooked in a tomato based soup with white beans (or rice) and sausage. Sauteed is good as well. And it's definitely true that the longer you cook it, the sweeter it gets.

  7. I too love Kale Daphne... I eat it raw all the time with olive oil and tons of other yummy salad ingredients ... a bit of goats cheese. I steam it too... on top of rice or beans, when they are nearly cooked. It is always great in soup... potato kale is a favorite. I just tear the leaves off the stems and tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Could not be easier and extremely high in vitamins and minerals. The deer love it too once the nights get colder and it is sweeter from a light frost. Alas! Carol

  8. My chinese cabbage is even more slug infested - it's this lacey mess of unuseable leaves! LOL! I am leaving them in the garden as a slug magnet. I will remove them soon but for now it's my own kind of slug trap.

    Kale is delicious used in stir fry - cut into bite size ribbons.

  9. Frances, the heavily damaged part I didn't eat (or add to my tally), but most of the ribs were just fine. Those I cut out for my stir fries. Lightly damaged leaves don't bother me at all, but I still wash them really really well. Sauteing in olive oil is the way I do chard. I'll have to try it with kale too.

    hembogle, I really want to try it in soup sometime. You obviously like it with beans. I have some Jacob's Cattle beans. Maybe I should try it with those.

    Miss M, Ack. Yup row covers are called for. I love leeks too. Mine did just OK. I think next year I'll do a better job.

    June, oh yeah I remember reading that post. I'll have to try it that way.

    Maureen, A lot of the time I like greens done very simply, so steaming might work. Though I'm sure some will make it into soups.

    Thomas, Ali recommended it with beans too. I'll have to try the combo. I hope I like kale. Last year I found I hated arugula after growing a couple of plants. I love to experiment with things I haven't had before.

    Carol, picking the rest will have to wait until it has frosted over inside the row cover. That should take a while. But if I'm not in love with it on this try I'll make sure to try again after frost.

    kitsapFG, I did that with some of my Fun Jen this spring. They just love that stuff. Sadly I do too, but I just didn't feel up to growing it again after getting a lot of it eaten to the ground. I'm doing a stir fry tonight. Maybe I'll throw a little in.