Monday, December 26, 2011

Harvest Monday - December 26, 2011

This is the last Harvest Monday of the year, which normally means posting my yearly totals. But this time I also have a harvest. I picked the rest of the Shanghai bok choy in the garden. All that is left of my Asian greens is some tatsoi. The tatsoi is pretty hardy, but the bok choy is much better quality if picked before too many deep freezes take place. The outer leaves slowly turn to slime in the cold weather. The inner ones hold for much longer. In addition I wanted to bring bok choy to the Christmas party, so it had to get picked and sorted beforehand.

The biggest of the choys was this pretty one. The outer leaves were a bit banged up but the inner ones were beautiful. It was over four inches in diameter and weighed 14 oz. I think it didn't know it was a baby bok choy and wanted to be a full sized one. All in all I harvested 4lbs and 3.3oz of bok choy. Not bad for the end of the year.

Now on to the year end round up. This was a decent year. I have about 560 sqft of raised beds and got about 590 lbs of vegetables from the space. I always hope for at least a pound per square foot. Also the solanums weren't weighed starting at the end of August. So I'm guessing I had at least 20 more pounds if not more.

Next year will be harder for me as I won't grow as many of the solanums. None if I still can't eat them by then. Right now I've eaten dips with hot peppers in them and not reacted. I'll very very slowly add more in over the winter and spring. I had a full three beds in solanums, so next year I'll need at least two beds in other things. I'm thinking more squash would be good. More corn and beans would be good. I might split up my three sisters and grow full beds of things. And I might do both. Have some mixed and some not to see what grows better.

In addition, I'm going to have to figure out a rotation for my brassicas. I my last garden I didn't have to rotate the beds during the year. So I would grow them in the spring and in the same place in the fall and then rotate them in other years. But in this garden there is more rot diseases and I lost my whole fall bed in less than a week. So the spring brassicas will have to be followed by something like carrots and the fall brassicas will have to follow the peas, favas, and carrots. This year the kale followed the onions and that worked out well. To help with the issue I'd like to get a row cover that lets the air flow better. They sell them in Australia, but sadly not here. Shipping is a b*tch. But I think it will be worth it.

Yearly totals for 2011:

  • Alliums 46.49
  • Beans 28.06
  • Broccoli 7.08
  • Carrots 42.31
  • Corn 11.66
  • Cucurbit 88.06
  • Eggplant 5.77
  • Greens 121.19
  • Herbs 7.45
  • Peas 18.82
  • Peppers 15.76
  • Potatoes 24.46
  • Radishes and Turnips 7.48
  • Tomatoes 168.30
  • Yearly total 592.99 lbs
  • Total spent $673.98
  • Veggies were worth $2008.98
  • Fruit 1.87 lbs $7.81
  • Net $1342.81

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

The biggest problem with growing dried beans is cooking them. Before I grew my own dried beans I always had cans on hand to make things. I could whip up my winter soups so quickly that way. Now it takes planning. The best planning is the night before to soak them. But you can cheat and get them to boiling then take them off the stove to let them sit for an hour and it works about as well. The beans from my garden take about an hour to cook until they are soft. They are so quick because they are so fresh. But still I need a full two hours at the least of planning to have fully cooked beans. Some days that is fine. But some I need a quicker bean or I lose out on eating them.

I'd been drooling over a pressure canner for years. I finally broke down and bought it for myself for Christmas. As my husband says, we have a weird way of getting gifts. We tell our spouse what we want for the holidays then we go out and buy it. Hey it is quick turn around and you get to pick what you want. No one in our family has been big on surprises. Since the kids have grown we end up with very very few gifts under the tree. But I digress.

With a pressure canner I could can some of my beans. The issue I ran into is that I don't have a lot of any one type of bean. I have lots of little containers of beans. So I had four pots of beans cooking on the stove to try to get enough parboiled beans to fill up the pressure canner.

My canner is an All American. It can can 18 pints at a time which for me is an awful lot of pints. I managed to fill up 12 of them.

8 of them were successful; 3 didn't seal; and 1 was pretty questionable since it had lost a lot of its internal liquid. I put the last four in the fridge for immediate use. I'm guessing they didn't seal because beans really foam up when cooking. There could have been some leaking which can mess with the seal. If anyone out there has any tips for canning beans I'd appreciate it. 1/3 with bad seals is not a good number. I probably won't can any more beans this year as 8 jars will fill in the gaps for when I forget to start my beans early enough.

Join Robin over at The Gardener of Eden for more Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard posts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Harvest Monday - December 19, 2011

I was gone all last week. Though on last Monday I did get a harvest. While I was gone very cold temperature were predicted. I pulled out all the white stemmed bok choy. About a pound and a half. Then I covered the rest of the green stemmed bok choy and the tatsoi. They are more cold hardy. I put on some plastic. Before they just had a row cover, but while I was gone the lows were predicted to get into the teens. I'm not sure they would survive without plastic.

I also picked some Fun Jen. I didn't cover it with plastic as the plastic I was using was too small to cover both and I haven't been eating it so don't really care if it lives right now. I like it in salads, but recently salads just don't appeal. I've been eating lots of soup but not a single salad.

The whole harvest totaled just over two pounds. I sent it to my townhouse mates since I was leaving the next morning. I didn't get photos as the camera had already been packed up.

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 12, 2011

Harvest Monday - December 12, 2011

I'd tell you all the wonderful things I picked, but I've got nothing. I've been away. And will be away again. My time between trips was short so I didn't go out picking. Plus with parties and going out I had only one meal at home. I did eat some frozen veggies. Carrots, chard, and corn. And some frozen soups for lunch that were made from my garden veggies.

I'm hoping some things did get picked while I was gone. I told my townhouse mates what Asian greens they could pick. But honestly I didn't see much gone. Maybe they will do better this coming week.

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 5, 2011

Harvest Monday - November 28, 2011

All that I have to show you was picked earlier in the week as I'm on vacation right now. My townhouse mates have the garden for quite some time. But I will be scheduling Harvest Mondays so you all can play without me when I'm gone.

I said, "All I have to show you". But "all" is quite a lot this week even if it is only two things. The kale I picked through. I've noticed the lower leaves turning brown. So I got rid of them and picked a couple of the next leaves up. Hopefully I won't lose leaves that way. Better to have them eaten. I gave them all to my townhouse mates to eat this week as I still hadn't finished my Asian greens.

First Batch

Then came the carrot harvests. I had to pick all of them that were ready to eat as the carrot flies had hatched again and they were really starting to damage the carrots. Luckily most of the damage at this point was skin deep. None of this new damage was there before Thanksgiving so the little grubs didn't have time to dig very deep into the carrot.

Second Batch

I had over 18 lbs of carrots that I picked. Most were blanched and frozen as I didn't think the carrots would hold up as long stored. The few undamaged carrots will be eaten raw. I'm storing them in the fridge as there aren't' a lot. Any cooked carrots will now be from my froze stash. Most of the carrots I eat in the winter are cooked so it isn't a big deal that I had to process most of them.

I took a photo of some of the longer ones. It is so easy to grow good carrots in this soil. at my last house I had heavy clay and I was happy when I had my soil amended well enough to grow 8" carrots. At the start of that garden I couldn't grow carrots at all.

My favorite carrot of the bunch. I call it "The Lovers". I had one I named "Running Man" but the photos just didn't show it off well.

  • Carrots 18.28 lbs
  • Kale 2.04 lbs
  • Weekly Total 20.33 lbs
  • Weekly Spent $0
  • Yearly Total 587.01 lbs
  • Veggie Garden was worth $1305.09
  • Fruit 1.87 lbs

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.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I actually preserved something this week so have a post for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard over at Robin's blog. I figured with the carrot fly damage I'd better get some of my carrots frozen since I wasn't sure how long they would store. So I thinned out the patch by about half and sliced them. It filled up my big colander.

Then I blanched them for a few minutes and tossed them in a bowl with ice water. Then came the decisions. I often freeze them on a cookie sheet and then put them in a ziplock bag to freeze. That way I can pick out however much I want. But I had a lot of carrots (and will have more) and they will last quite some time in the freezer.

So I elected to freeze them in batches and vacuum seal them. I haven't used my vacuum sealer I think since my Grand Canyon rafting trip in '99. My mom (our trip leader) asked me to dehydrate a lot of things and I vacuumed sealed it all in the portions we would be using. During the move I tried to give away things that I hadn't used in over a decade. That would have qualified, but I kept it thinking it might be useful again with a huge garden. I was right. Sadly it is very old and the middle wire which cuts the bags apart is not working all the time. But scissors worked OK. Two of the bags didn't seal right. I didn't redo them. I figured I'd just mark them and eat them first. So now I have 13 bags of carrots, all a cup each.

But I'll have more. There are lots of carrots still in that bed. I was going to leave them there and pick them slowly as I had plenty of them frozen now for when the ground froze solid. But there is starting to be more carrot fly damage. I think those that were in my carrots hatched and put out a new group of flies. The new damage is extensive on the surface, but it is only on the surface right now. Just peeling the carrots with one swipe of the peeler. removes it all. If I wait any longer it will become deeper and I'll lose most of the carrots. So I'm going to get the rest of them up and process them now. Any undamaged carrots will be stored but with over eight pounds of carrots in that first batch, only two carrots didn't show signs of damage. So I need to get them out of the ground immediately.

The weird thing about processing that many carrots is that my hands got stained. It doesn't show up well in that photo but my hand is really orange. I hope it wears off soon.

Addendum: I finally got all the carrots done. I have a few saved that had no carrot fly damage. Mostly ones that were small or short and stubby. The last of the carrots made 14 cups. Two were made into three cup batches which is good for a dinner party. And 8 were made into one cup containers for me. So now I have 21 single cup pouches. I'll probably use up about one a week. That will get me through April, which isn't too bad at all.