Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

This last week was a big week for preserving things. So it will be a bit long and I won't go into too much detail. I'll talk about pickled bok choy, strawberry jam, and strawberry syrup. But first spinach. I froze the last batch of spinach for the year. Spinach is a big one for me. I freeze enough for me to have it two times a week during the four months of winter that my chenopodias are frozen in the garden (chenopodias are the family that contains spinach and chard). Four months is about 18 weeks. So I need 36 half cup packets. With the last spring spinach pulled I finally ended up with 38 packets. Usually I don't get this much in the spring. I normally rely on my Swiss chard to fill in what the spinach didn't produce. But this year was a great spinach year. Germination was good. The plants didn't damp off like last year. So I had a full 4'x8' bed of overwinterd spinach, plus the same in spring spinach. Which was enough for all my frozen needs and for fresh spinach every other day since I started picking on the last day of March. I still have spinach in my fridge that should last a few more days. It has been such a fabulous spinach year. I harvested a total of 23.5 pounds. Now if I could just make every year that good.

I was forced to pick a good amount of white stemmed bok choy last week as it was starting to bolt. I couldn't eat that much. I had been giving it away, but I figured I'd try some preserving. I'm not a fan of things like sauerkraut. The fermented cabbages just don't taste right to me. But I love picked cabbages done with vinegar. So I used the Ball Blue Book recipe for red pickled cabbage. I modified it a bit by changing the spices. They use a lot of traditional pickling spices, but I added the mustard seed and five spice powder to the mix. Above is the sliced choy salted and brining for 24 hours. Then it is rinsed and drained and pickled with vinegar. Their recipe called for red wine vinegar, but I wanted a different taste. I used half cider and half white distilled. They are all at 5% acidity which is all that is important. Now a lot of people don't like white distilled vinegar since it is so sharp, but I love the sharpness. The three pounds of choy made two pint jars. In a week I'll open one up and see if I like it. If so I'll make more with some of the Michihili cabbage.

Strawberry jam is always so good. I'm not a huge jam eater, but I do eat some. The basic recipe for a pectin free strawberry jam is one cup mashed strawberries, one cup sugar, one tablespoon lemon juice. I had three and a half cups of mashed strawberries so used the appropriate amounts of sugar and lemon juice. I show the photo above because very ripe strawberries don't have a lot of pectin, but the less ripe ones have plenty. So this is the small handful of partially ripe ones that I added just to make sure.

For those that have never made jam before, the gel in jam is formed by pectin. The pectin needs both enough acid and enough sugar to form a matrix in the liquid. Lemon juice is often added to jams to assure that acidity. Though fruits really are acidic enough to gel without it. But too little of anything and it just won't work. Then it needs to be heated up. You can test for gelling using a lot of methods, but by far the easiest if you have never done it is by temperature. The gelling temperature is 8F over the boiling point of water at your altitude. I'm at sea level so 220F is the gelling point for me. I also like to use a thermometer because I can tell how fast it is getting to the right temperature. I don't like sitting over a pot and watching it boil.

Next up was strawberry syrup. I couldn't find any recipe for it. There were recipes. They strained the juice out of the pulp. They added water. Why would I wanted to dilute the syrup with water? I basically wanted a simple syrup that had the whole berry and not too much sugar. So I just made something up. I pureed the strawberries and added about half that much in sugar. I added about half the amount of lemon juice as I would have in jam. Normally making up recipes for canning is bad. But fruit is always acidic enough to be fine. Less sugar means that it won't keep as well. Closed it is safe, but once you open it up, jam keeps a long time in the fridge. The sugar preserves it. But this syrup will mold over faster than a jam. So I used small jars. I'm expecting to use it for pancakes and over ice cream. And like last night, I poured it over some left over corn bread for dessert. Yummy. I might need to make more this year, but if I do I need to buy some more half pint jars. I have so few. They always disappear.

Anyway I'm getting ahead of myself by eating it. So back to cooking it. My big question became how long to cook it. I didn't want a full gel, but I did want the syrup to have some structure to it. It seemed to get to the right thickness at about 210F. So I canned it at that point. It was perfect. It poured well, but still was a bit thick. Now that I know the right temperature I can reproduce it fairly reliably. I canned it just like I canned my jam. 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. As I was taking them out the tops starting pinging. I just love that sound.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sweet Potatoes and Cranberries

That's right. I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving already. Above is my cranberry that is blooming. I never knew what the flowers looked like before. They are very pretty if a bit unassuming. We planted three of them near my back steps and three near my townhouse mates' back steps. Mine are alive. My townhouse mates have just one left. I found out they were draining their hot tube gadget in that bed. I'm pretty sure it killed them. The idea of giving them extra water was sound, but plants can be very sensitive to some chemicals. Hopefully the last one in the bed will spread out into the spots. The funny thing is earlier their plants were doing better. I think they had more peat moss in the bed. The soil the landscapers brought in was very alkaline so they struggled. We mixed in peat moss and mulched with pine needles. Mine now seems much happier than last year. I'm guessing the pH has lowered a lot. And in a couple of years it will probably be even better.

Last week I cut slips from the two kinds of sweet potatoes on my windowsill (Beauregard and Garnet). I also cut slips from the plants made from slips from Norma (Korean Purple, Purple, some unknown purple, and another unknown). So one bed is going to be the purple sweet potatoes from Norma and one will be the orange kind. As you can see the slips have rooted well in their canning jars.

The purple ones were all planted up today. I think tomorrow I'll get in the orange ones. I had a hard time trying to figure out how far apart to plant them all. Jeavons says 9". A lot say give them tons of space because they will spread and root as they hit the ground. I'm thinking for a short season space like here the best is probably a 9" spacing and to put them in a plastic mulch so they can't try to root anymore. Plus the mulch would add heat that we lack here. I hate plastic mulches though. I really do. So I put them in rows about a foot apart and 9" apart in rows. Almost Jeavons spacing. The orange ones have slightly fewer slips, about 2/3s the amount. So they will be spaced farther apart. I'll see if one spacing seems to work better than the other. And I might add one to the pot by my front door. It will have to share with some flowers and some mint. But I love the look of the foliage and even if it doesn't produce well it will be pretty.

That was today, but yesterday I did a little gardening too when I got back from work. I didn't even come inside, but went straight for the garden. I wanted to get the last of the squash planted. The squash I planted earlier is already up, but I didn't have time to plant the second section too. So I planted two each of Early Butternut and Waltham Butternut. I think in fall my color will be orange with all the squash and sweet potatoes planted.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Harvest Monday, May 28th, 2012

The week started off with a nice strawberry harvest.

Then we had some hot weather predicted, so I decided I need to get some things harvested. First was the lettuce with some turnips. I have Paris Island, Red Sails, and Deer Tongue. I found one of those nasty large brown spiders in one of the heads of romaine and freaked out again. I was washing the lettuce at the kitchen sink so tossed the head outside then got the spider out. Ahhhhhhhh! I looked it up though and brown recluse spiders don't live anywhere near New England, so it is just a look alike. It still freaks me out though.

Then I had the big harvest of greens. Mostly bok choys and mostly baby white stemmed bok choy. They were all starting to bolt. So out they came. There were a few green stemmed bok choy from the earlier planting, but the green stemmed one doesn't bolt as easily. All of those will come out this coming week though. On Friday I want to plant my sweet potato slips and those are in the way. But it will be time for them. An early planting of the smaller Asian greens really worked out well timing wise to plant before the sweet potatoes. And what I did with all those Asian greens, well, I'll let you know on Thursday for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.

The strawberries ought to be picked more than two times a week. They really need to be picked every other day, but that just didn't happen. I'm going to be better this week. Maybe.

The first of the chamomile was harvested for tea. I picked some mint too, but I totally messed it up and over dried it. I forgot to take photos too, so I guess it was not meant to be. I never added it to the tally.

This is just a small bit of self seeded cilantro. It was where my melon patch was going to be so I ripped them out. The melons might turn out well this year since we have been hotter earlier this year than normal. I just might get some good ones.

Friday I harvested the last of the spinach. So long good friend. Though I froze most of it, I did save a good portion to eat up this week. I'll miss spinach, but then again I have that way too huge patch of chard to start eating. Or giving away again. I really need to get out and pick it. I swear at this point in the garden harvests take up more time than anything else. Between the time it takes to pick, wash, and process everything, it really adds up.

And I just want to talk a bit about my tally this week. I've had a lot of questions. I'll talk about the fruit tally right now. I have two tallies, my fruit tally and the vegetable tally. I separated the fruit tally because of the nature of producing fruit. Some fruits like strawberries and raspberries are fairly quick. But most take longer. When we bought the house it was just subsoil. So everything is new. The fruits were all planted last year. This was a huge expense and all upfront. I could have amortized the costs, but I thought it would be more fun to see how it added up over the years and when the fruits would break even. Some fruits have huge expenses since they are being espaliered and needed trellises. They won't produce for a couple more years at least. The raspberries also needed a trellis, but at least they started producing a bit in their first year. Some fruit has barely any expense. The alpine strawberries were grown from seed from Pinetree. So for just a couple of dollars I got a beautiful border for my front yard. And BTW if you are looking for a pretty front border to a garden, Alpine strawberries really are so beautiful. Regular strawberries are a bit messy. Mine are in my front yard too, but as a ground cover for the trellised fruit trees. I keep this tally on my sidebar. You can see I had over $800 of expenses the first year. This year I had a bit more (and have a bit that hasn't been added yet). But then the expenses will taper off to just maintenance. And in a few years the fruit ought to really ramp up a lot. I think it will be fun to watch over time.

  • Greens 12.62 lbs
  • Herbs 0.61 lbs
  • Turnip 0.44 lbs
  • Weekly total 13.67 lbs
  • Yearly total 92.55 lbs
  • Tally -$325.96
  • Fruits 
  • Strawberries 3.8 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.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Death in the Garden

So much has gotten done over the last two days. Today it was pulling all the spring spinach out. It was starting to bolt. I froze one batch. The other half is in the fridge to process tomorrow. The stubs of the plants were tossed onto the compost. That compost pile just keep growing.

The chamomile was falling all over the place. So first I picked it. In years past I would pick each blossom at its peak, one at a time. Now I just grab a bunch and rip the tops off. Some are too immature but it takes so much less time. I haven't dehydrated them yet, but I'll get to that. Then I put some stakes in to keep them from flopping over. While I was staking things up I went to the front of the house. I have one section right as you drive into our yard that is covered in cosmos and zinnias. Well Kronos, my daughter's dog has been trampling the area. It is right next to our neighbor's gate. A neighbor that has a dog. The dogs love to play together and Kronos just gets too excited. The poor, poor zinnias. I put up two of my square tomato cages on the end near the gate. I'm hoping that will discourage more trampling. It might not. I replaced the zinnias with some that were too crowded in another spot. But this year it might be a very poor showing.

Yesterday was busy too. I took out some self seeded cilantro and put in the melon patch. I've got my tomato supports over them. Hopefully they will like climbing that as much as they nylon net I've used before. I put in three types. Halona, Hanna's Choice, and Ambrosia. Halona is an early cantaloupe. The other two are a bit later. I've grown Ambrosia in the past. It tastes divine, but it is hit or miss if it will produce here. If we have a hot summer it should be fine.

After I finished I wanted to photograph the area, but I couldn't find my camera. I looked all over for it. Then I came back out later and looked again. I really thought I was going insane. I knew I had it. I knew I took a photo of the cilantro harvest for Monday. I knew I put it back in my pocket. Heck I even checked the compost pile. When my husband came home I was out again too look and he came out to help me. He found it in five minutes. It was in the watering can. It soaked in there for hours. I keep the camera in my front pocket and it must have fallen out when I bent over to pick up the watering can. The funny thing is that I started putting the camera in my pocket so I wouldn't lose it. Before I'd bring it out and put it down and then forget about it. I was afraid I'd leave it out and it would rain. In my pocket it would always come back in with me. Oh the irony. I tried to protect it only to destroy it.

Now it is sitting on my desk drying out. I'll leave it there for a few days before I see if it has died a horrible death. The flash card is fine. I really hope the camera lives. I love my little camera. It is so small and takes such nice photos. For now I'm using my husband camera. It is a beautiful DSLR that he bought this spring. But I'm not bringing that one with me when I garden. It comes out when I'm done and my hands are clean. Then I can take photos.

But I hate to leave on such an unhappy thought. So here are some happy things going on in the garden.

The mustards are starting to bloom even if you can't really see it in this photo. I was shocked when I went out after the storm on Wednesday. The mustards had doubled in size in two days. The brown mustard is growing very well, but the yellow mustard is much smaller. Hopefully it is plenty to get a good harvest.

The zucchini and cucumbers are germinating.

The carrots are look like they are finally growing. They are always so so slow. But once they start to gain size they speed up a lot.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I was talking to my son recently and mentioned I had fresh strawberries coming out of the garden. He will be visiting in a month and was hoping for smoothies. I don't know if the strawberry harvest will last that long. I do have everbearers, but their production isn't that high and I have just a third of the area devoted to them. I wanted to make sure that we had plenty when he came.

So I froze a batch. Freezing strawberries is so easy. Just wash, dry, and put them on a sheet in the freezer. Once they are frozen I stick them in a ziplock bag.

Now for the next big batch I'm going to make jam. I haven't made strawberry jam in years.

Robin of The Gardener of Eden hosts Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard so join everyone with what they are preserving or cooking up from the garden.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Annoying the Bees

I'm hoping to plant sweet potato slips at the beginning of June. The beds are currently occupied. One is occupied by my baby Asian greens. The white stemmed bok choy was starting to bolt so I picked them all. The rest will be picked before the end of next week. But the big work was pulling down the huge mass of flowering kale. I left it as long as I did, not because I'm saving seed, but because I wanted to let the bees have them. They nicely left the ones I was working on until the last one. Then I had a swarm of bees trying to harvest while I was trying to take the plant out. They really didn't want to give up.

But now my cilantro is in full bloom. Well right now it is in full bow. The rain knocked it down. I have supports on both sides holding it up, but the string was put in way too low before the flower stalks were sent up. Once it dries off a bit, I'll help them back up.

I was going to just do half the chore as it was getting hot and muggy out. But I just did it. I put a foot of kale stems and flowers into the compost bin. I should have put some leaves between the green waste but wasn't really thinking. And I'm not hauling it out now, so hopefully the stems have enough carbon so it won't get smally. The bed was raked over and the sticks were put on to keep the cats from playing in the dirt. I'm not fond of their presents.

And speaking of compost. I've finally started dealing with my compost pile. We have a black plastic bin to hold the kitchen waste. It has hardware cloth on the bottom so the rodents can't get in. Normal garden waste just goes into the pallet compost pile. The kitchen bin hadn't been emptied since last fall. It gets smelly after a while since it doesn't get turned. It can happen because there is too much nitrogen (though we do add leaves when we add the kitchen waste) or like this time, it was too wet. So I turned it onto my pallet compost pile and mixed in some dry leaves. Everything smells much better now.

I didn't get out into the garden yesterday as it wouldn't quit raining, and when I finally got out this morning. I found the beans were all up. There were some gaps in the Masai green beans. So I reseeded a small section.

Sadly the corn is only up spottily. I planted 20 spots in corn (three seeds per spot to be thinned to the best plant), but only about nine were up and growing. So I reseeded that section.

And since it was time to plant the next section of corn I did that today too. I prepared one whole 4'x8' bed. The first five feet were planted in corn. Then the end was planted in Waltham butternut squash. The end of the other section of corn was planted in Tetsukabuto squash. I've never grown Tetsukabuto. It is a hybrid that needs a C. moschata pollinator. The Waltham is C. moschata. I really only grow them because that genus is resistant to the vine borer. It is the only way I've found to get ripe winter squash around here consistently. So the two plants are on either ends of a full 4'x16' bed. With two sections of corn in between. I'm hoping to let the squash wander below the corn.

I'm really looking forward to the pea crop this year. I have both snap peas and snow peas, but to be honest I only really love the snap peas. I'm not sure why I grow the snow peas at all anymore. Maybe next year I won't.

And the favas are blooming too. So much anticipation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Harvest Monday, May 21, 2012

I had three strawberry harvests this week. The first photo was so blurry that it didn't come out, but it was also tiny. So here is the middle photo. It was a nice few cups of strawberries.

The last one filled a half of one of my 12 cup containers. And they are oh so good. They are Everglow an early strawberry. Seascape, my everbearers, have just started too. I picked just a couple of them. But what I'm waiting for is the Sparkle strawberries. I've grown them in the past and the are so tasty. But they are a mid to late season berry so I'll wait a bit longer for them.

I finally got some beautiful choy sum. Hopefully the warm weather this weekend won't send them into small tough stems. I love the fat juicy ones.

Then I had yet another big komatsuna harvest with a few turnips thrown in.

My biggest harvest by far was the chard. That looks like a small plate, but it is your typical dinner plate size. I had just over five pounds. Most went to my townhouse mates to freeze for the winter.

I ripped out half the spring spinach as it was starting to bolt. This week I'll have to rip out the next half. Then my spinach will be all gone. I froze most of the spinach for winter.

My greens had been piling up over the last two weeks and I gave away greens to four different families so that I would just have a reasonable amount in my fridge. Basically I couldn't fit it all in the fridge and I had to bring out a cooler until some of it was gone. And it looks like the greens don't show any signs of stopping their production. Soon the snap peas will join the fun.

  • Greens 11.85 lbs
  • Turnip 0.12 lbs
  • Weekly total 11.97 lbs
  • Yearly total 78.88 lbs
  • Tally -$380.87
  • Fruits 
  • Strawberries 3.8 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.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Warm Weather Crops Getting Planted

My tomato transplants were ready to be planted. Their roots had made it to the bottom of their newspaper pots. They had been hardened off for a week. They were about 6"-7" tall. It takes about four weeks for me to get tomatoes to transplant size. Most people like bigger plants at about 8 weeks old - twice the age of mine. But I've had good luck with these and to be honest I'm pretty lazy. I like to put out transplants young. I have to pot up less. I have to take care of them for a shorter time. So most transplants get about three weeks before planting out. The tomatoes get spoiled and at three weeks are potted up to 4" tall newspaper pots. But that is as much as they get.

I had three transplants. One is for a friend. One is a back up. This solitary one was planted in my garden. I probably won't be able to eat any of them. I still can't eat the solanums, but you never know. And my townhouse mates will be happy to eat them. If I find taking care of it makes me sick, I'll have my townhouse mates take care of it. But it would just be so sad not to have it. I gave it all the loving care I always do when planting. Fertilizer, bone meal, and lots of crushed eggshells mixed about a foot to two feet down in the soil. Then I removed the bottom leaves and planted it deeper. Not quite as deep as the fertilizer I put in but the roots will grow down there and find it. Tomato roots get very deep and convincing them to go down will help keep blossom end rot away since they will have a steady moisture supply deep down.

The tomato plant is in the mustard bed. The mustard plants are getting bigger, but I swear some of them are thinking of bolting already. They are a spring crop and we did have some really bad hot weather way too early in the season. I really hope my experiment to get mustard seed works. If not I'll collect whatever I get and save seed to plant next year.

Then I wanted to plant the cukes and zukes. First I had to pull all the 3' high cilantro out of the bed. It covered the whole bed. I made my compost pile a foot deeper.

I took two days to pull it all out and prepare the bed as usual. Then I invited Kronos, my daughters dog into the garden with me. I wanted to see how easily he would be trained to the garden. I had my other dogs garden trained. They learned to walk on the paths and leave the beds alone. But Kronos likes laying on plants over laying on the mulch. And as all dogs, they don't stick to the paths normally, so the prepared bed had doggie tracks all over it and a few onion plants may never recover. I'm thinking the effort of training and the squashed plants aren't worth getting him partially trained by the time he leaves. Too bad. It is nice having a dog with you when you garden. And dogs would always rather be out in the garden with you than inside.

But I finally got the cucumbers planted. I thought about building a bamboo trellis like normal. But the tomato cages are not being used. So I figured they were good enough and so much easier. And they can grow as the plants grow. I'm hoping to have twelve plants of each Calypso and Cross Country. If they don't germinate I have more seed that I can start indoors. In front I planted four zucchinis. Two Black Raven and two Costata Romanesca. The Romanesca aren't really bush plants they travel which makes them a bit of a pain in a bed. But I'll try to train them to loop around the bed if I can.

I want to try to keep them contained here since I want to try something new this year. The vine borers always take the plants down. They come out at about 1000 degree days, which is just a measure about how hot it has been. As I write this we are at 345 which is not at all normal for this time of year. Since we have had so much hot weather in the spring, the borers will be out a lot earlier than normal. Usually I get a decent harvest before the plants are taken down in mid to late August. This year that won't be the case. The borers will come early, probably three weeks early, but I couldn't plant the zukes any earlier than normal because we have had some cold weather later too. So I'm going to try to cover them with a row cover just before we hit that magic number. I'll have to hand pollinate every day if I want more than baby zucchini. But for several weeks they will be covered. Maybe I'll actually get zucchini this year then. Maybe.

Don't you just love the little mint corner. The borage is going to take over and is self seeded. The forget-me-nots that I planted last year are blooming. And those pretty jumpups are a gift from the soil that was put in by the landscapers. One popped up last year. I left it to bloom and go to seed. This year I have about six of them scattered around. They are different from the ones that I brought in my compost from my old place. Those are the bicolored ones. They are purple and yellow. These are straight purple. Both lovely in their own way. I wonder what they will look like if they ever cross.

Whoohoo! Yes just picture me doing a little dance. I found this solitary one a couple of days ago. Now it has friends. I'm thinking I'll get my first peas this coming week. I'm really hoping. Peas. YES!

And here they are. If you look at the peas all along the back you will see there are three different heights. One planted in February, one in March, and the last in April. The April sowing didn't have good germination. I think there were too many hungry insects active by that time (in a normal year the insect timing would be early May). So that planting didn't work out too well. But I'm trying to stagger the harvest so they will last longer into the summer. I don't know if it will work. Peas hate the heat. But I'll find out this year. If it does extend my harvest it will be worth it.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Wow I wrote the post about harvesting today and I totally forgot one of my big harvests. So this is just an addendum to my last post. I harvested the komatsuna that was again trying to take over the world. Above you can see the plants cut down in the front. That is my komatsuna. Way too much of it like my chard. I haven't a clue what to do with that much. Right behind the now short plants which used to be the tallest in the bed, is my three Soloist Chinese cabbage. They are struggling for light as they are stuck between the komatsuna and the kohlrabi. They are starting to form heads which is so exciting. In the very back of this photo are two rows of full sized bok choy. What I'll do with those I haven't a clue. I have so much baby bok choy in the other bed. It sure is pretty though. Maybe I'll try to freeze it for the winter. I've never tried to freeze bok choy before. Not sure how it will come out.

While I had the row cover up I looked down to the other end of the bed. These are my two big Michihili Chinese cabbages in the back. There are two of them side by side and they are already trying to push out of the row cover. Under them is the Japanese turnips that are just starting to form. I picked the first four today and had one in my salad at lunch. In the front are my three Early Jersey cabbages. One had issues with a cutworm earlier, but seems to be growing now. I don't know if it will be given the chance to finish. When everything else is harvested I'm planting carrots. It might make it in time. It might not.

I always love how fast the Asian greens grow. I showed this section with the Michihili cabbage off exactly two weeks ago. The leaves were far from touching and you could really see each individual turnip. Now it is just a mass of green fighting for the spots in the light. I gave everything more room this year and yet they still want more. I do tend to crowd my greens a lot when I plant. But I think these ones wish they could have the whole width of the bed. Well I'm not giving it to them. I gave them three feet in the other direction, but they can only have two feet along the width.


Today was a day devoted to harvesting. I like to harvest my greens before any hot weather comes in and the next two days will be around 80F(27C). Mostly what I harvested were the chenopodias. In my garden that means spinach and chard. The chard above had grown big and really needed harvesting. In previous years I'd done a block of chard across the bed. But let me tell you, it is so much easier to have it all the way along the edge. This way I just have to lift up one side of the row cover and don't have to do both. How many years has it been to figure this out?

There all nice and chopped down and you can see the broccoli on the other side of the bed. Now I have to do something with five pounds of chard. Hmm do you think I planted too much?

The earliest planted of the spring spinach was starting to bolt. It won't be long before the rest will be bolting too. Spinach starts to bolt once the day length gets long enough. I forget how long, but years ago I calculated that it was May 15th at our latitude which is 42 degrees. So no matter the weather it isn't long before it will all get ripped out. This time I just harvested the first half of the bed that is the earliest planted ones.

I'll do the rest later. I find that a harvest of half of the bed is perfect for me as I can blanch and freeze most of it in one batch. Then keep the leftovers for the rest of the week. And I usually use it mostly up. After this batch I'll have 26 individual servings of spinach frozen. I'll need about 36 of spinach and chard to give me two per week during the winter and early spring months. So I have 10 to go. And way too much chard. Way way too much chard. Usually the spinach doesn't produce as well as it has this year. And I need the chard to fill in the gap over the summer. But not this year. Once I'm done I think I'll need about 5 servings of chard to freeze and that is nothing.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! I appreciate the spiders in my garden doing their job. But I freak out with spiders. Usually they run away when I start moving the plants around. This one just sat there. And it has a leg span of about an inch and a half so it was huge too. Well huge for our area of the country. I've seen those spiders you get down south and the ones in the desert.

I also harvested some Asian greens. Yesterday I noticed the choy sum was starting to flower. Whoops I waited a bit too long. Usually I harvest it when it is in bud. The earlier picking was really bad. The early hot weather this spring made it small and tough. This one was held inside until the weather cooled down (really I shouldn't have to say that in the spring). Then planted it. We have had great spring greens weather since with only a little bit of too hot weather over the weekend. These stalks are as good as the fall choy sum that I harvest. They are almost an inch in diameter and tender and delicious.

Yum! Steamed then dressed with just soy sauce. I'll be giving a lot of my other greens away, but not my choy sum. This is mine. Though I did share a little with my daughter. I gave her all she would take. Choy sum isn't really her thing. She is really waiting for the broccoli.