Monday, May 9, 2011

Harvest Monday - 9 May 2011

Last week we a really bountiful harvest week. It wasn't because I was trying to pick a lot, but it was time. Things needed to be harvested. I love that week in the spring when it switches from "I need something to eat" to "I have to pick this because it needs to be picked". That is the week that the garden really starts to produce.

Monday's Harvest

The first harvest was last Monday afternoon. I wanted to plant up that bed with flowers and the kale was still in the bed. In addition it was bolting. It had to get harvested. 14.7 oz.

Wednesday's Harvest

Wednesday's harvest was my typical one from the previous week. I needed salad makings so picked some leaves here and there. You can't see the lettuce since it is buried under the Asian greens I use for salads. I also harvested a bok choy that was getting too crowded. 13.1 oz.

Friday's Harvest

Friday I noticed the spinach had gotten big again and needed to be picked. The leaves are still large, but not quite as giant as they used to be. The plants might be starting to tire out a bit. 6.6 oz.

Saturday's Harvest

My romaine lettuce is starting to fill in. They are too close together to really make good heads. I need to pick every other one eventually. This is the first. 3.5 oz.

Harvest Hole

Last week Granny asked me if I would have any trouble picking the lettuce and breaking the pretty pattern outside my kitchen door. The lettuce is just as ornamental as practical. I thought there might be a touch of trepidation. It turned out not to be the case. I snipped it out without a second thought. Well I did have a second thought. I thought the other ones in the middle will need to be picked soon. They are also getting crowded out.

Sunday's Harvest

On Sunday I noticed the Asian greens were trying to burst out of their row cover. They needed picking and/or thinning. This made for a huge harvest which barely fit into my harvest basket. I took a photo of them in the basket but then decided you wouldn't be able to see any of the harvest except the top layer. So I spread them all out on my back steps. Top row from left to right: mizuna 2oz, chard 9.1 oz, Komatsuna 11.4 oz, Chinese broccoli 1.8 oz. Bottom row: Fun Jen 7.5 oz, bok choy 19.4 oz, tatsoi 4.1 oz.

The Perfect Bok Choy

I rarely get the perfect bok choy in the spring. They grow much better in the fall. But this one was perfect. It was huge for a baby bok choy and unlike some of the others that were picked it wasn't bolting yet.


  • Weekly total (all greens) 5.11 lbs
  • Yearly total: 9.13 lbs
  • Yearly tally: -461.09

This total seemed early and large to me. I wanted to check last year and see if it was comparable. Last year's garden was about 1/3 the size of this year's garden and the weather was abnormally warm last year. This year the weather was abnormally cold at the early part of spring. Then our temperatures moderated to close to normal. I checked the same week last year and had 1.8 lbs of harvest. Which is about a third of what I got this week. So it seems pretty comparable. Until you look at the real numbers. I wasn't harvesting any Asian greens yet. My harvest was my overwintered kale (just like here), radishes (which I'm not picking yet here), and my overwintered spinach. My first bok choy harvest last year was in next weeks harvest, but my first bok choy harvest here was two weeks ago, so we have a three week difference. The lettuce last year was picked one week later. The only thing that I picked earlier last year was my radishes. I'm sure that is because the ground was frozen for so long in the spring - weeks later than the previous year. And they had to be direct seeded.

So the question arises, even though our highs were colder this year, why am I harvesting so much earlier? I even had to put out my lettuce late this year because the beds weren't defrosted at their usual time. One answer is even though our highs weren't very high in April early on, the average over all temperature was higher for the month. We had very little temperature swing between day and night. Our last frost was April 9th which was very early. I think the plants really liked that.

In addition my soil is remarkably different than my last garden. I had heavy clay in the last garden which stays colder longer in the spring. The soil here drains a lot better. In the last garden I also had half raised beds. The garden was terraced slightly down the slope. So one side was raised and the other was at the level of the beds. Having both sides raised warms the soil much faster in the spring. Future years will tell if it is the real raised beds and soil or if it was the even weather.

But whatever the reason, I'm ecstatic that I can harvest enough to give me the vegetables I need for my lunches and dinners. Yes I supplement them a bit with things like mushrooms and peppers, but mostly what I'm eating is salad for lunch (either in salads, or on open faced burritos, or in sandwiches) and two different green things for dinner. Last night was cooked spinach with balsamic vinegar and bok choy steamed with just salt and pepper.

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.


  1. Wow! You are eating well this week! I bet your housemates are enjoying the fresh greens as well. Absolutely beautiful greens.

  2. Whenever I see your tatsoi, I wonder when we can harvest mine. Truely a perfect Bok Choi! I never can grow as perfect as yours. Wow you harvest this week is getting much more and more compare previous week.

  3. Gorgeous greens! So. Very. Jealous.

    I think you've hit the nose on the head with the soil composition. Even in raised beds, my soil is heavy, stays wet longer, and is slow to warm. Great for dry summers, but not so good in the early spring when I'm dying for garden produce. I hope that as I improve the soil, all that will change, but change is too slow for my taste today!

  4. Yum those greens look wonderful!

  5. congratulations on beautiful and bountiful harvest this week! I enjoyed reading your analysis and theories about the size of this week's harvest compared to last year's. Very interesting!

  6. Such a bountiful harvest this week. The greens are definitely thriving and producing in your new garden. Your analysis of the difference between the old gardena and new makes good sense. The lack of significant temperature swings from day to night is definitely a positive thing for plants and I know that denser soil does not warm up as fast as a more friable mix does. I am wondering if you have more sun exposure over all in these early season months at your new location? That could make a difference as well.

  7. What a great harvest week for you! That baby choi is absolutely perfect! My pak choi all started to flower...such a disappointent :(

  8. Beautiful harvest - especially the bok choy

  9. That was a gorgeous bok choy! My harvest are still the leaf crops. The peas are growing well but no flowers yet. I hope I get some before Memorial Day.

  10. Wow! Wonderful harvest! Your hard work is really paying off.

  11. GrafixMuse, They are enjoying them. Or at least I hope so. They were at least really happy to get them.

    Diana, usually I have a touch of slug damage, but not this year in new soil. The slugs really love the white stemmed ones. I'll be sad when they find my garden.

    Ali, I'm worried about having another summer like last year. I haven't put in an irrigation system and the soil tends to gravely. I was wondering if I should have made the beds just 4" high instead of 6", but it will be better when I have two inches of mulch on my paths.

    Allison, thanks

    Thyme, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was wondering if I should even put it in as my post was so long already.

    Laura, my sun exposure is strange. Basically until the last week in March parts of the beds are in total shade (from the house next door). So parts will always thaw out late. In the spring the huge maple isn't much of an issue. Its shade isn't as bad as the oak shade from my last garden in the spring. In the fall it will really wipe out some beds as the more western sun will get blocked by the house and the southern sun blocked by the tree. So the fall plantings will do better in certain areas. My pretty area out my back door has the best sun exposure over the long haul. But no I would say I have less sun exposure in early spring and about the same mid spring and mostly full sun at both during the two months surrounding the solstice.

    Robin, that is so sad to have it flower prematurely. I hope your later planted ones do better.

    EG, thanks

    Marcia, I won't get any peas until the beginning of June probably. I'm hoping at least. They were planted late this year, but I'm hoping the good weather we have been getting the last couple of weeks will speed them up.

    Melissa, it is. The harvest was fabulous this week.

  12. Just stopping by for my first Harvest Monday! So excited! I bet there have been lots of amazingly yummy salads on your table this week!

  13. Not long now and you will have the other veggies to go with all those greens. Even with that hole your pattern still looks great!

  14. Great harvest! Even though the temperatures being more stable this year probably contributed to you better harvest, I think the soil improvements make the biggest difference. That's just from my experience. I'm looking forward to seeing your boutiful harvests this year. :)


  15. Oh, you show off! Not only are you two pounds ahead of me, you have so much more variety.

    I've been curious about the differences in my garden from last year, too. Wondering why I have no blossoms open on the raspberries (three weeks behind last year so far), but my cabbages and broccoli are huge in comparison to any previous year.

  16. Everything is looking so nice and yummy. I will have to come back later and read everyones comments and check out there harvest. Am running late and need to get out to work in my yard.

    Is there anyone here who is growing in zone 4. I am way behind anything I am seeing here.

  17. Deb, Fresh salads are just so good aren't they?

    Barbie, lol well soon it will be followed my many more holes. Then the holes will match.

    Mary, I hate years where the temperatures swing wildly. Everything bolts in the spring and the tomatoes can't be put in until late.

    Granny, Wow two pounds ahead. I'm never ahead. But then you have always had a much bigger garden than me. It sounds like you have had good and bad in the garden this year so far. What I always wish is that I would know what the weather would be like. Then I could plan for it.

    wilderness, I'm in zone 6b - so the warm part of 6. I'm also in a maritime climate so it moderates the cold in the winter and heat in the summer. I grew up in the Colorado mountains and I think we might have been in zone 4 at the time. Things were much harder to grow there and there wasn't much of a spring or fall. The seasons were short, short, short. I still remember one time when we had three feet of snow at the end of May. That was a bit unusual. Toni (of Tony's Weedless Square Foot Garden) is in zone 4 in Wyoming, but I haven't heard from her in an age. Her last post was in January. But she went to extraordinary lengths to grow things over the winter.

  18. Everything is looking great! Have you read Eliot Coleman's books? The Asian vegetables are one of his mainstays for cold weather gardening; they really prefer the cold. Most of my Asian vegetable bed started to bolt and I had to harvest it (I should have taken the cover off sooner; I think it actually got too warm. I'm replanting it today. I have another recipe for Asian vegetables on my blog today; I have a lot to use up ...

  19. That bok choi is nice! Mine always seem to get eaten by bugs, so I haven't grown them in a while. Maybe I will try again in the fall with some row covers.

  20. oops, forgot to post here this morning. More praise for the bok!

  21. Truly a picture perfect bok choy, but all your greens look perfect, not a bug chewed leaf in sight. It looks like you're off to a delicious start to spring!

  22. What great harvests you had this week! Your asian greens always look amazing.

  23. Great harvest, beautiful greens, and that's a perfect looking bok choy. I'm going to try growing Asian greens under filtered lights this summer and see if they like it.

  24. I've also been having a 'pick it because it needs to be picked' sort of week - just herbs for me, though.
    All those Asian greens look pretty and yummy - I've never tried them, but I definitely will.

  25. It's been a long time since I have been able to participate in Harvest Monday! Your little Bok Choy looks wonderful, hope mine turns out as well! This is my first time growing it! Kale too!

  26. Deb, no I've never read his books. I keep meaning to, but then don't get around to it.

    ali, I hate the cabbage worm, but row covers pretty much takes that issue away. Slugs can get under the covers though so if that is your issue they won't help.

    Kelly, thanks

    michelle, I am. It is weird having no bugs in the yard. I know that will change. Unfortunately I'm sure the bad bugs will move in first and then I have to pray for the good ones. I've planted some flowers surrounding the garden to try to attract them.

    Emily, thanks

    Mac, I've thought about trying shade cloth for them,but that stuff is really expensive. One year I used a white sheet to shade my lettuce. It helped, but they still bolted.

    Ivynettle, it is always a good week when you have to pick.

    Shawn Ann, I hope yours does well too. Luckily it is a pretty fast veggie so if it doesn't work out, you can plant something else. Mine took a month from planting to harvest (the baby ones), but I grew them for three weeks inside first.

  27. Our soil is fine and silty, and it does drain better and warm up faster than a clay soil, which is what I had at my old place. It was a learning experience for me to get used to a lighter soil. In a drought year like last year, it also needs watering more often.

    I have to agree that is the perfect pac choi!

  28. I think your analysis is spot on. Warmer nights, raised beds, different soil and your greens came on like gangbusters. It's great when you need to pick something because adjacent plants need the space.

  29. I bet it was your soil too. The farmers all have clay around here and are complaining about being unable to plant. I've always gardened in sand. It has its challenges but is great once it is loamy and well mulched to hold in moisture and nutrients.

  30. Very nice harvest!!! I'm at "I need something to eat" right now... I can't wait to get to "I need to pick this"!

  31. Thanks Daphne for the advice about my tomatoes. I appreciate you taking the time to educate me. I've rigged up a little late afternoon shade for them. We'll see if this helps.

  32. Beautiful photographs of a beautiful harvest, as usual. I particularly like all of the greens spread out on boards so we can see what each one looks like. Once again, I'm late with my Harvest Monday post, but I enjoy reading all of the comments of others. Thank you so much for giving us a place to gather and compare our harvests.