Monday, December 31, 2012

Harvest Monday, December 31st, 2012

Last week featured the Christmas meal. I ended up using a couple of squash to make a squash puree. My other dish was some Boston baked beans made from my Jacob's Cattle beans and onions. I used not quite two pounds of beans for the dish. I'm guessing that people not from the US haven't heard of Boston baked beans and many people who live here haven't had the real deal. The canned beans you get from the supermarket is not real even if they say Boston baked beans on it. I had never had it until I went to Durgin-Park for dinner one time. The beans are baked with onions, molasses, mustard, and salt pork or bacon for 6-8 hours. Though some contend they have to be baked underground in a pit (much like pig in a luau), I wasn't about to go that far. The long cooking time caramelizes all the sugars and the taste is very transformed.

My baked beans were going to be done all vegan. Since we had a large group of not quite 50 people we had a mix of vegetarians and semi Kosher folk. However I couldn't fit all the beans into one casserole dish to bake (I don't own a traditional bean pot), so I made two and one had bacon. We even had the farmer who raised the pig at dinner. So it was a very much home grown dish.

I was going to have homegrown in my last dish too, but decided not to. I made thumbprint cookies. I was going to use some homegrown strawberry jam, but it was my last jar. And I still had a jar of my homemade cranberry apple jam. I thought Christmas a better time to use that.

I had few leftovers from Christmas. Just about a cup of each of my dishes. I thought they went well with my my morning eggs.

In fact I liked the beans and eggs so much I had to bring out some Gallo Pinto that I had frozen earlier in the year. Beans and eggs make a very nice breakfast.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. Now I just have to figure out what I'm making for the New Year's party tonight. I still have a lot of sweet potatoes that need to get used. Even though I've been eating them every week (above is some mashed sweet potatoes I made, along with the last of the fresh spinach), it still looks like I haven't touched them. My boxes are still almost full. So they would be the best choice. Maybe I can make my quinoa and sweet potato soup. Hmm I'll have to think about it.

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, December 30, 2012

Crystal Wonderland

I so love the snow. We got about 4-5" of snow over the night. Above is a street close to my house. It almost looks like it is in the country with all the snow.

My road is a little one car width private road. It almost looks like an alley.

My front yard with my peach trees. One tree is sadly leaning. I'm trying to straighten it up rather unsuccessfully. In late winter I'll trim the tree up.

My backyard has a small space for our table and grill. If you look in the corner you will see my townhouse mates' hot tub.

And of course the garden sleeping under its blanket of snow. Right now the sun is starting to come out and the snow is all glittering. So pretty.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Seeds, Seeds, Seeds

I always placing my first seed order for the year. For some vegetables I save my own seed and for some I still have plenty. But sometimes I neglect to save seed, or like my favorite Kentucky Wonder beans, the seed crossed so isn't pure anymore. Some seed I buy is hybrid like my corn, onions and some brassicas. And some seed takes a lot of space for a over time to save. Onions are one of these types. I'd have to grow the onion the first year then save it over the winter than plant it back the next year. Onions are also plants that have inbreeding depression, so you need to plant a decent amount of them to keep the line going. I don't get to eat anything out of the space. With things like these have have two choices. Give more space to that plant and maintain a line that could over time do very well in my area. Or I could grow more crops to eat locally. My yard is only 9000 sqft and shared by both townhouses. I really don't have space to do both. So I save what I can but my priority is to grow more food.

In fact my choice this year is to take one 4'x'8 vegetable bed out of production in veggies and put in a few more blueberry plants. I could eat pounds and pounds of these every year if I could just grow more of them. We do have some blueberry plantings in the front yard. But most of them are lowbush blueberries as landscaping. The bed that I'm going to plant up as blueberries is the shadiest part of the garden. It always unfreezes late in the spring as the neighboring houses shade it. But blueberries will be just fine with that space.

My favorite place to order seeds from is Fedco. It is a New England cooperative owned by the the consumers and workers. They aren't a company like Park or Burpee that push to sell to anywhere. Their focus is New England and they have seed that works in our climate. The descriptions sometimes will contrast how a seed will grow in Northern versus Southern New England. It isn't that the seed won't grow in other climates, but I know it will work in mine.

So here is my first order. I might or might not place another order. I haven't yet decided.

  • Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean
  • Serendipity Bicolor Sweet Corn*
  • Sensation Melon
  • Mokum Carrot
  • Sugarsnax Carrot*
  • Andover Parsnip OG
  • Oasis Turnip*
  • Copra Onion
  • Ailsa Craig Onion
  • Space Spinach*
  • Giant Winter Spinach
  • Argentata Chard
  • Gigante d’Italia Parsley
  • Early Mizuna OG
  • Ruby Streaks OG
  • Shuko Pac Choi
  • Purple Pac Choi
  • Kolibri Kohlrabi*
  • Winner Kohlrabi

* means that I purchased more than one packet or a large packet. I buy carrots and spinach every year because old seed is unreliable for them. I buy a lot of them because I grow so much of it. Things like turnips or kohlrabi have long lasting seeds. I may not grow that much each year, but I'll use the same packet for several years.

My total is $42. I always have to purchase at least $30 or I get hit with a $5 shipping fee, and I like my free shipping. No trouble this year. In fact I ordered a little more since I'm ordering for Granny and those don't go into my totals. This total won't go on this year's tally. I'll be starting next year's tally with it since it is for next year's crops.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Harvest Monday, December 24th, 2012

No harvests this week. This week it was all about eating from my stores. For Christmas I go to a large potluck dinner. Well I say go, but my townhouse mates are hosting so it is in my house too. We have a door between our living rooms that we open for big parties as our downstairs isn't large enough for really big parties. She has been throwing the "orphan" Christmas party for years and years. It started small as most had a place to go for the holidays, with people who didn't celebrate to those that had too far to go home. As time went on more people started showing up. Now it is huge. There are usually between 40-50 people. She never sends out the invitation until very close to the holiday so those that have other places to go will go there.

But I digress. I decided to bring some squash. I wanted a more savory squash, so I've been experimenting with casseroles. It looks so good doesn't it? Well it didn't taste that good. I've tried a couple ways, but maybe I just don't like the savory preparations. I still didn't try a curried one, maybe I'll try that next. But home. Experiments shouldn't be brought to parties. I'm going to resort to the typical pureed squash, seasoned with maple syrup, butter, and spices. I know that will be good.

I made a couple of spinach salads from the spinach picked last week. If you remember a while ago I sent out gift bags to my neighbors with homemade treats. A couple of them sent me back gifts. One had oranges from his mother's neighborhood in it. They go well in my spinach salad. I also added some sweet potatoes and some home made candied walnuts which I hadn't yet put on when this photo was taken.

The weather has finally turned colder. So of course it was soup time. I made a bean soup with my Calypso beans.

From the garden it contained squash, Calypso beans, carrots, shredded zucchini, celery, onions, and herbs (not shown). I used broth from some bones that I'd saved from previous meals. It had both ham and chicken bones. The ham flavor really predominated though. Sometimes I eat it straight and sometimes I puree my soups. This one I did as a puree and then swirled in some Greek yogurt before eating. It was yummy.

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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice

Gardens revolve around the seasons so to me a gardener ought to celebrate the solstice. Or more to the point celebrate the return of light that is about to come. Today we are having a perfectly miserable "winter" storm. Driving rain and lots of wind. It feels like a nor'easter, but I haven't been following the weather like I do during the growing season. I did notice that my outdoor thermostat reads 51F. I really hope winter comes back this season. I suppose if we have switched permanently to zone 7 I might have to think about gardening more during the winter. But to be honest I really like my winter break. I like that I have a real season to dream about what to plant for next year. Right now I'm reading the Fedco catalog and making my list and checking it way more than twice.

Over the last couple of weeks I did get a tiny bit of gardening done. The roots of figs are hardy here, but the wood is not, so I wrapped up my fig tree. I'm doing an espalier. The main trunk is going about a foot off the ground. Well two trunks. I took two branches and trained them horizontally. Then I'm letting real branches grow up vertically about a foot apart. I bent the branches down so they were closer to the trunk and then buried it all in dry leaves. Then I covered it with a tarp. The other side of the tarp is brown and I was going to leave it brown side up, but I was afraid it would get too hot under the tarp. So the more ugly silver side gets to be the view from my desk window. But if I get figs next year it will be worth it.

The way I wrapped it up is NOT how the Boston fig expert tells you how to wrap your tree, but I just couldn't bear to put on that awful pink fiberglass insulation under the tarp. I could just see it getting caught in everything. Ick! We will see if dry leaves work. If not I might have to talk to a neighbor I don't know. I go by his yard on occasion and he has a little fig tree about five feet tall. Right now it is all wrapped up. I've seen another one in another yard farther away and their tree is about the same size. Of course I've seen ripe figs on neither of these trees, so don't know how successful they are. I figure if I can't get it to work, I can always move one of the figs to the garden proper. There it would be alongside the foundation, which would help some.

I also raked up the pine needles off of the bamboo and put them around my blueberries. I keep hoping I can lower the pH of the soil. I should have taken a soil test to see, but I didn't. I did get some soil from the main garden to test. I dried it out and have it packed up to send to the extension service after Christmas. For now I want to stay as far away from the post office as possible.

So Happy Solstice everyone. I hope you are having a merry season. I know I am. Last weekend was the Chanukah party; today is the solstice/end of the world party; Tuesday is the Christmas party; then comes the New Year's party; then my birthday party just five days later; then another friend's birthday party. I think I'm going to be partied out after the season is over. You would never know I was a bit of an introvert.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Harvest Monday, December 17th, 2012

I still had some small patches of veggies to pick for the winter. The weather forecast was for colder weather and I had used up my greens from the fridge. So it was time to pick.

I got a nice basket of bok choy, tatsoi, radish, and turnip.

There isn't much left in the little patch. I might get another harvest. But if I do it will be very small.

I planted spinach a while ago. I usually don't get a harvest in the fall. They were really planted for overwintering and an early spring crop. But I thought the plants were big enough to take a couple of leaves from the largest ones.

It was a decent harvest of spinach and a little bit of baby lettuce. I didn't plant the lettuce. They are a volunteer romaine. Maybe Little Gem. I don't know if the lettuce will survive the winter or not. Last year I had several babies over winter in protected spots, but last year we only got to 5F (zone 7b). I'm in zone 6b so it was 10F warmer than normal.

The garden looks so barren now. It just needs a covering of snow.
  • Greens 2.96 lbs
  • Roots 0.86 lbs
  • Weekly total 3.82 lbs
  • Yearly total 712.78 lbs
  • Tally $1509.22

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 10, 2012

Harvest Monday, December 10th, 2012

No harvests yet. I'm eating all the greens in my fridge as fast as I can before they go bad. Above is one of my favorite side dishes - coleslaw with cabbage, onions, and carrots from the garden.

My pizzas don't have tomato sauce on them. I usually make mine with a mix of mushrooms, onions (from the garden), and greens (from the garden). I saute them with red wine for added flavor. This time I used Swiss chard.

Last night we had fried rice for dinner. It is one of my husband's favorites, but he hates to have veggies mixed in. So I made a side dish for me of stir fried vegetables. Onions, Mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, and purple sweet potatoes. All from the garden except the mushrooms.

I've cleared out most of the greens that I need to use up. I still have some chard and some bok choy left. I expect to have those done soon and then I'll start picking from the garden again until it is all used up. The weather has been very very nice. Too nice. My husband told me that this year is on track to be the warmest year for the US in recorded history. I'm really hoping for a real winter this year. The insect pests were a bit out of control and their timing was all off. It is easier to garden when things are predictable.

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.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Holidays

Our family doesn't do gifts much anymore. I do give gifts to my kids and on occasion my husband gets something, but we don't do the normal holiday craziness. Still I like to make things for people. Two years ago I made baskets of goodies for the neighbors. This year I decided to do gift bags instead. I looked for baskets. But I'm just not going to spend $20 for the container for my homemade treats. It seems silly. Gift bags are cheap and much easier to carry around. And they can be recycled.

English Toffee and Chow Mien Cookies cooling

I started before Thanksgiving when I made Cranberry Apple Jam. Then came the fudge. Fudge is good to make ahead since you can put it in the freezer and pull it out when you are ready to assemble. I also made some candied walnuts. Again they don't go bad quickly so it was an easy ahead thing to do.

Tuesday we got back from a trip to Kansas visiting my in-laws for five days. After catching up on things today it was finally time to buckle down and get all the rest done. This is the first time I made muffins (pumpkin muffins with butternut squash from the garden). Unlike most of the things in the basket this needs refrigeration because of the cream cheese frosting. I've never put anything in before that couldn't sit on the counter for a week.

Form left to right and then top to bottom I have Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cookies, Thumbprint Cookies (with strawberry jam from my garden strawberries), English Toffee, Candied Walnuts, Cranberry Apple Jam, Pumpkin Muffins, Penuche Fudge, Chocolate Fudge, and Chow Mein Cookies.

Next year I'd love to do more things from the garden. Right now two treats use things from my garden. I'd love to make that all of them. I'm thinking when herb season comes, I could make some herbed vinegar. I could do some dried herb packets. The jam could actually be from the garden. I could do some bread and butter pickles. I'm wondering what else I could make from the garden that would be fun. Do you give gifts from your garden?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Harvest Monday, December 3rd, 2012

No harvests were made last week. I also didn't take a lot of photos of food. But I did have a couple. the first is a pie made from my homegrown butternut squash. Well not really a pie as such. There is no crust. So I guess you would call it a custard. If you take the crust out of pumpkin pie it is almost good for you. Soy milk, eggs, squash, spices. Yes there is some sugar, but I don't add a lot when I'm trying to be healthy.

Sometimes my lunches get weird. I had a sweet potato dish (sweet potatoes, onions, and thyme from the garden) and some baked beans (yellow eye beans and onions from the garden). The beans were an experiment. I can't eat tomatoes and the typical canned beans have tomatoes in them. But the traditional recipe for Boston Baked Beans doesn't. It relies on mustard and molasses for flavor. Well that and cooking them for eight hours in the oven so all the sugars are caramelized. They are so much better than the regular canned beans. I want to try to can them sometime this winter as I much prefer my beans canned than frozen, and the recipe takes too long to do it every time I want beans. I wanted to make the recipe once without canning just to make sure I like it. And I really, really do.

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, November 29, 2012

Frozen Carrots

Well the preservation of this year's food is almost done. Which is good since it is almost the new year. I pulled out about 11 lbs of SugarSnax carrots and froze them in two batches as peeling that many carrots all at once hurts my hands.

I had a lot of trouble getting them to seal with a vacuum. The liquid in the carrots prevented the final seal from happening. I found if I sealed it two times it worked better. So I did that. I also put some in Ziplocs. I'll use the Ziplocs and the ones with flawed seems first. The well sealed ones will be used last. Last year I had a lot more frozen, but I think this will be more than enough. I have a lot of the orange vegetables this year. Maybe less carrots, but way more winter squash. And certainly more sweet potatoes as I've never grown them before. Last year my carrots were my main orange vegetable. This year they are my most minor one.

The six pounds of Mokum carrots will be stored in plastic boxes in the fridge. They ought to keep very well for a couple months like that. I'm sure they will be gone by then. I kept the Mokums fresh as they tend to be a sweeter and more mild tasting carrot. So great for fresh eating. Though the SugarSnax is a very good fresh eating carrot too, it isn't quite as good as the Mokums.

I still have two major chores before the end of the year. The first is to wrap up the figs to insulate them. Last year they died back to the ground. So this year I'm going to bury them in leaves and cover with a tarp. But for now I have a cold and I'm sticking to staying inside and drinking tea. The hope was that I could start on the other one. I have to go through all those wonderful catalogs and figure out what I want to plant next year. I always order from Fedco, but occasionally order elsewhere too. Sadly my Fedoc catalog is not yet here. I wish it would hurry up.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Harvest Monday, November 26, 2012

I am guessing that this is the week that the ground will start to freeze on a permanent basis for the winter. So I had to harvest everything except the few things in the garden that can handle it. This includes spinach, mache, and kale. I also have a small patch of Asian greens left. In the past couple of years I've kept a small patch of them alive into the middle of January. I've covered them with a row cover and then with plastic. But this year I'm being lazy. I've left them just under the row cover. A row cover really can't handle snow well. It collapses. But I'll see how long they last. Not that I need anything right now. I've got tons in the fridge. I even took a cooler full of greens to Thanksgiving with me and gave it all away.

First up to harvest was the brassica bed. It had four small cabbages and a huge Yakatta-na. There is also a small bit of broccoli hidden behind the leaves.

Next up was half of the Asian greens bed. The rest of which I'll wait on for a few weeks and then pick again. The first basket contained Fun Jen, bok choy, and tatsoi. Also in the basket but buried is some radish and turnips. The radishes don't do well for me in the fall, but the turnips are wonderful.

The second basket from the bed had a huge Fun Jen, three tiny little Chinese cabbage, and a lot of bok choy.

Later in the week I harvested all of my carrots. These are all the SugarSnax.

And these are all the Mokums. I had the water to the garden already turned off, so I had to bring out a big tub of water to clean them up before I brought them inside. I really do try not to bring too much dirt into my kitchen. I always get some, but at least the carrots were half clean.

As to the tally I had to subtract some weight too. My storage onions are not storing well. I'm guessing I'm going to lose about half of them before they get eaten. So I've knocked off half of my storage onion total. I'm not sure why last year they stored fine until March, and this year they are rotting in November. I'm thinking that I must have bruised them when picking. Maybe. I'll be very gentle next year and see if it helps. Or maybe they just didn't like their partially shady spot. They will be in a slightly better spot this coming year. But I just can't give them the circle garden every year. Something has to grow in the bad spots in the garden. If I liked frozen onions at all I'd freeze the lot, but I really hate them frozen. So I'll just try to use them up. And then I'll be stuck buying onions from the grocery again.

  • Broccoli 0.31 lbs
  • Carrots 16.99 lbs
  • Greens 19.82 lbs
  • Herbs 0.07 lbs
  • Roots 0.45 lbs
  • Weekly total 37.63 lbs
  • Yearly total 708.97 lbs
  • Tally $1491.63

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.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I have one main bed of carrots that I've been slowly harvesting from. But on Saturday night the temps will drop and I'm thinking this will be the winter freeze. We have had freezes before and the ground did freeze once this fall, but we had warms spells after that thawed things out. After the first frost I uncovered my carrots. I was thinking the carrot flies were gone for the year (they were) and letting the carrots see some frosts and freezes makes them sweeter. This bed had two varieties. I had Mokum in three 7' rows, and SugarSnax in four rows. The SugarSnax usually produces much more than Mokum, but I think they needed a bit more sun in the fall to really size up a lot. I did get some nice ones though.

I did have one small test patch in the end close to the fence. I wanted to see if they could produce anything. This section really doesn't get a lot of sun at all in the fall. Even early fall. But it never hurts to try. Part of the bed had some cover crop planted. It also used to have the flowering bunching onions. So there was onion seed in the soil too. Both carrots and onions were coming up at the same time. The carrots were not covered. I sowed very thinly so I wouldn't have to thin. With that and the onions I had my fingers crossed about the carrot flies. It turns out I did get a little carrot fly damage, but not a lot. Not nearly as much as last fall. However I didn't get many carrots from the bed and those I did get were mostly tiny.

These are all the carrots pulled. the ones on top are the SugarSnax and the ones on the bottom are Mokum. The ones to the right are the Mokums pulled from the test bed. The number of Mokums from the main bed is deceptive. It looks like so much less than the SugarSnax, but I did pull mostly from the Mokums over the fall for my fresh carrots. So I expected them to be less.

You can see my biggest carrot there near the rebar. The rebar is 2' long. So the carrot is about 10". Last year my biggest carrot was 11" maybe even 12". Last year I got about 30 pounds of fall carrots. I wish I could compare to this year's 18 lbs. But I'm not sure how much space the carrots took up last year. They were scattered. Most of the harvestable ones came from my circle garden (with great sun) and the carrots there were huge. I had about half of that in carrots. But I also had lots of other little spots. I think I was really carrot hungry last year.

So all in all I'm happy with the carrot harvest. It wasn't stellar, but it was good. And I have over 100lbs of other orange veggies (squash and sweet potatoes) to eat up this year. So I wouldn't feel the lack even if the harvest was even lower this year.

Tomorrow I'll get out and put some compost over the bed. I'm growing Asian greens here in the spring so the bed has to be up and ready quickly. I might even pound in my rebar for the hoops before the ground freezes. That way I can cover it early and get the ground unfrozen fast for spring.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sweet Potatoes and Other Lunches

Happy Thanksgiving to all that live in the US. This is not a Thanksgiving post, but as I'm out eating way too much food right now I thought I would post what I've been eating over the last week for lunch. I finally broke into my sweet potato stash as they are now not as starchy and are taking on a nice mildly sweet flavor so two will feature that wonderful vegetable.

The first up is a wonderful recipe that contains sweet potatoes, onions, amaretto, and thyme. It also called for olive oil, but I didn't think olive oil would go as well as coconut oil, so I used that instead. I was amazed by how delicious it was. I think I'll stick with coconut oil every time I cook sweet potatoes it is such a perfect complement. When this was cooking I smelled the thyme overwhelmingly in the dish. I really thought thyme was a weird mix with amaretto and didn't like the scent all that much. But by the time it was finished cooking, the taste was fabulous.

My next meal was leftover salmon. I wanted to make a pasta dish. The recipe I choose wasn't quite right as I was doing a salmon that was already cooked, but I just shredded it and mixed it in. I also used cooked chard as I had no fresh spinach. It needed more chard. It really did. Too much pasta for me and not enough other stuff. I could have chopped the chard fine and mixed it in too. Of course one of the main problems was that it also called for capers and I didn't have any. Capers would have been very nice, but I don't stock them in my pantry. It isn't an ingredient that I use very often.

My last dish was a soup. I was looking for recipes that had sweet potatoes in them and ran across a cook from Mexico that had a quinoa and sweet potato soup. It had peppers and such that I couldn't eat. But I liked the idea of a sweet potato soup with quinoa. Very healthy. So I made one based on a very mild curry. You know I can't eat curry since I can't eat peppers. So the first part was to make a curry powder without peppers.

Daphne's Curry Powder

  • 1/4 c ground coriander
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 T ground turmeric
  • 1 T ground cardamom
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground mustard
  • 1 t ground fenugreek
  • 1 t ground ginger

Of course if anyone else wants to use it they ought to put some cayenne pepper or other chili powder into it.

Daphne's Quinoa and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 4 T coconut oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 lb ham cubed
  • 2 t curry powder
  • 1/4 lb kale chopped small
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2-3 cups sweet potatoes cubed
  • 2 T cilantro chopped
  • 2 T chives chopped
  • Greek yogurt

Soak the quinoa for five minutes in water. Drain and rinse. In 2 T oil, saute the onions until translucent. Add garlic and quinoa. Saute until lightly toasted. Add stock, water, ham, curry powder, kale, corn, and salt. Cook for 30 minutes or until quinoa is soft. While that is cooking, saute the sweet potatoes in the remaining oil until browned but not mushy. When the quinoa is done, take off the heat and add the sweet potatoes, cilantro, and chives. Mix a tablespoon or more yogurt into the soup before eating. Now I know most would use the cilantro, chives, and yogurt as a garnish, but I like mixing things in when I don't have company. I know, not as pretty. But very practical.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two More Beds

We have been having more lows in the 20Fs recently than in the 30Fs. I should have taken out my cabbage last week before it got damaged from the freezes. It was under a row cover, but our temperatures got low enough for it to have a heavy frost underneath. Now it only damaged the outside bits and the inside is fine. What shocked me was that one cabbage was starting to split. In the fall? That is so strange. At least the Gunma cabbage gave me something. Two 2lb heads. It was more than I thought I would get as it was a late cabbage and I thought I put it in too late for it to make anything. The two Early Jersey cabbage were only about one pound each, which is pretty normal as they are small cabbages that can be put closely together. The Brussels sprouts that shared the bed were a lost cause. They ended up in the compost.

I also removed the row cover over the broccoli and chard. I harvested what I could then ripped all of them out. There was a good amount of chard there, but the stems were starting to turn pink. I have a white variety and I think they just can't take the cold weather that well either. The plants aren't new. They were planted in the spring. They gave me a lot over time. The final tally on chard is 56.32 pounds (5.26 lbs/sqft). The finally tally on broccoli is 22.78 pounds (1.07 lbs/sqft). Both were amazing to me. I try to get about a pound per square foot over the whole garden. Things like mustard seed, don't come even near that, but their poor lbs/sqft is made up with things like chard that do over five times that. That is better than my chard has ever done before. But the real shock was the broccoli. I've never had broccoli perform like that. I've always just barely eked out little tiny bits of it. This time it pulled its weight. Needless to say I'm going to grow Fiesta again. I've finally found a broccoli that will grow here. It isn't a pretty broccoli, but it gives a lot and puts out side shoots all summer and fall. Woohoo! I do love broccoli. I grew it even when it gave me small amounts. But this year I even gave some away to my townhouse mates. And my daughter visited during the main broccoli season, and I had plenty for her. It is her favorite vegetable.

Then it was on to the smaller Asian greens bed. I hadn't harvested much of anything but some choy sum and some radishes and turnips. I cleared out half the bed. It is getting cold. I've decided not to put plastic over it this year. I'm going to see how long the row cover lasts. There is not much light getting in, so I really don't think plastic will warm it up all that much. I got three tiny little Chinese cabbage (direct seeded at the start of September so I was happy to have any of it), a bit of tatsoi, and lots of Fun Jen and bok choy. I still have bok choy, turnips, and tatsoi left in the bed. I'll harvest it slowly until it freezes solid here. Then I'll just pick the rest. The tatsoi is pretty good. It can keep pretty fresh even when frozen and dethawed multiple times over the early winter.

The carrot harvest will probably be on Friday morning. At least that is the current plan. On Saturday our nights will get down into the 20s fairly permanently after that. And I need to pick them before the ground freezes. Usually that happens about a week earlier, but this year it gave me more time. Then there won't be much left in the garden. Overwintering garlic, spinach, mache, and kale, and the small bit of Asian greens for December.

So soon I won't have much left to do but put my feet up and read seed catalogs. I was happy to get my first one yesterday. I went through it already and marked a few things. I always order from Fedco, but not always from other places. Their catalog isn't here yet. When it gets here, I'll have to go through all my seeds and see what I really need. Then get serious about placing an order. I like to get my order in at the end of December so my onion seeds will get here in time to start the first seedlings at the end of January.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harvest Monday, November 19th, 2012

I don't have a huge amount of actual harvests this week. I found that some of the veggies were rotting in my fridge, so I used the week to eat up all that was in there. Except for a few radishes and turnips I succeeded. Next week will be a bigger real harvest as I need to pick the carrots and cabbage before they all freeze.

Most of what is on the harvest tally this Monday is my supply of sweet potatoes. I didn't weigh them before. I was going to weigh them when they were sweet and I was starting to eat them. They aren't very sweet yet, but they are tasty in a more normal potato starchy kind of way. They make an excellent mashed potato. But since I was eating them, I figured I ought to get the tally done so I don't accidentally eat them before their weight is tallied. Well it was over 50 pounds. I was shocked. I didn't think sweet potatoes would be that good of a crop in our short season. Though we did have a really hot summer last year.

I'm going to go through the numbers on the sweet potatoes. I'll be tasting them all winter long to see which ones I like, but for now it is just raw numbers. I grew them in my circle garden. It doesn't have a regular shape so the square footage is questionable. But I think the two beds are about 32 square feet each. Similar to a 4'x8' bed. One bed had the sweet potatoes that were sent to me by Norma (Korean Purple, Purple, an unknown purple, an unknown white). One had the ones from the supermarket (Beauregard, Garnet). All were short season sweet potatoes.

Korean Purple4.1080.51
Unknown Purple3.7680.47
Unknown White2.6480.33

I was impressed with the Garnet variety which only had two slips (as the potatoes didn't want to produce slips). It did have the best spot for sweet potatoes though. It was in the corners that stick out so was surrounded by three sides of brick. In general plants near the bricks did best. It might not do so well in a cooler spot. But it will be grown again next year to find out. I got a total of 65 pounds in 64 square feet, so it was a good yield for the space, especially since it wasn't the only crop to be grown in that space this year. I put in some fast growing Asian greens in one bed in the spring. The other had Kale growing there that had over wintered from the year before. And this fall I planted one bed for overwintered spinach.

The problem is that next year I'll have to grow them in another bed. I do like to rotate things to keep diseases at bay. So they won't have the nice brick sides. They will be in a bed that doesn't get as much sun (none of my main beds get as much as the circle garden). So will they grow as well there? I may find that in future years I want plant sweet potatoes by alternating them in each of the circle beds. Next year I'm only growing one bed of sweet potatoes instead of two. I'm not sure I really need 65 pounds of sweet potatoes. So with just one bed planted up that might work.

My intention is to grow the first three on the list again as they are such good producers. I'd like to add Georgia Jet if I can get my hands on it. Purple is a bit problematic though. All the other potatoes stopped growing when picked. But all the Purples are trying to sprout. Admittedly they have been stored at temps in the 60Fs. Mostly high 60Fs until now. It was warm in the basement. But none of the other have this trouble. I go down occasionally and rub any sprouts off. If this ruins their texture, I might forgo Purple. I don't want to do this as the purple anthocyanins add variety to the nutrients I'm getting with my stored food over the winter.

  • Greens 0.34 lbs
  • Sweet Potatoes 65.41 lbs
  • Weekly total 65.75 lbs
  • Yearly total 694.09 lbs
  • Tally $1425.62

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 17, 2012

Thanksgiving in a Jar

My friends do a Thanksgiving in a strange way. We divide up the Thanksgiving meal by color. That way all the normal bases for Thanksgiving are covered. I was giving green, which you might think that I would like with a garden full of green right now (kale, cabbage, tons of Asian greens). But the typical green means salad and green beans. Neither of which are growing in my garden right now. Now I'm allowed to be creative and color outside the lines, but I know that some people would be sad to not have them. So I traded for red. Typically red has been my favorite color to have since it means I make the cranberry sauce. It might not be from my garden, but in my family's tradition we have cranberry ice as a cranberry sauce. I've followed this tradition since I moved across the country for school. And I'm going to make it whether I have red or not. Last year I made it when I had orange.

Red is a decent color for me. Last week I picked some beets and radishes. So I decided to make some pickles as an appetizer. In addition to pickles made with red beets and ones made with a mix of turnips and radishes, I made some with carrots and some with kohlrabi. I didn't follow any of the linked recipes exactly except for the carrot one. But I followed the gist of them.

Then I went a bit overboard with the cranberries. I made over six pounds of cranberries into cranberry goodness.

I made my traditional cranberry ice, pickled cranberries, an orange flavored cranberry sauce that I added cinnamon and grand marnier to, and one made with apple cider and some cut up apples. I decided to can them all as if they don't get eaten I can bring them to Christmas dinner or eat them at home with chicken. I so love playing with cranberries. Not only do you get the wonderful pings when the cans seal, but you get all the cranberries popping while you cook them. And they smell so good. I'm really hoping for some left over so I can have it all winter long. But if not, there is always Christmas time to make more.

The pickled cranberries are interesting. The pickle juice is basically a shrub, so I'm debating if I should bring some vodka and soda water. I've bought a couple of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau already. I might bring some, or might cross my fingers that someone has already brought soda water. Someone surely will bring cider (maybe, you just never know with the way we divide up the meals). It would be really good in cider too.

The real reason that I was so happy for red was because Thanksgiving is all about pies. I had some nice frozen red gooseberries for gooseberry pie. And I had some frozen rhubarb and strawberries for a strawberry rhubarb crisp. Yum.

And my butternut squash will make an appearance on Thanksgiving. I'm giving it to our orange person (last year there were two orange people, but this year only one). I'm bringing over three squash. Though sometimes it seems like people forget, but Thanksgiving is a meal that gives thanks for the year's harvest. So I like using as much as possible from the garden.