Monday, January 26, 2015

Harvest Monday, 26 January 2015

I'm gone on vacation right now, so you all will have to have fun yourselves. It isn't unusual for me to go on vacation sometime in the late winter or spring. Usually my townhouse mates get stuck caring for my onion seedlings. Since I ordered plants instead of seeds this year, they are free from that. But they still get to care for the sweet potatoes. I like the Garnet variety, but it takes forever to come out of dormancy and make slips. So I start trying in January. Luckily I don't have to worry much about them. I do want them to check on the water level, but to be honest even if they never looked at it, it would probably be fine. The water doesn't change much without any roots in there.

As for harvests I'm going to talk about something that uses my preserved harvest, but in a small way. Usually you see the big things like my vegetables heaped on my plate but today is about the small things I use from my garden. Today is all about mayonnaise.

As many of you know I can't eat a lot of things. The problem with mayo for me is paprika and soy lethicin. Most of the mayonnaises on the market have one or the other in them. There are some without, but I find them rather tasteless. So began the experiment with making mayonnaise myself. I didn't want to use eggs as pasteurizing them is a real pain. If I had a sous vide machine I'd be all set, but I don't. So I decided to go vegan instead. Eggs are useful in mayo not just for their flavor but because they are emulsifiers. They keep oil and water mixed. Flax seed does the same thing. A typical vegan egg substitute is a tablespoon of ground flax seed and three tablespoons of water. It works pretty well. Yes the flavor is different, but I was OK with that. I like eggs, but I was going to use the oils and additions to make the mayo taste good.

The oils I used were a mix of coconut oil, olive oil, sesame seed oil, and a bland oil. I found you can only use about one tablespoon of coconut oil in a half cup of oil, otherwise when it is refrigerated it gets too hard. But that one tablespoon adds a lot of flavor.

From the garden I used two ingredients. Ground mustard seeds and garlic powder.

Daphne's Mayo

  • 1 T flax seed
  • 3 T hot water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t ground mustard
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • 1/2 t honey
  • 1/16-1/8 t sesame seed oil
  • 1 T melted coconut oil
  • 3 T EVOO
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (I typically use canola)

Mix the hot water and flax seed together until it is gelatinous. Add all the ingredients except the last two together. Mix with an immersion blender until well blended (mix in the container the blender came with as there isn't a lot of volume). Add the last two oils one tablespoon at a time, blending until well incorporated between each addition. Alternatively you can add the oils very very slowly in a thin stream. I find that I make quite a mess that way, so I like to do it in discrete portions more.

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, January 19, 2015

Harvest Monday, 19 January 2015

Vegetables at dinner have gotten a tad boring. I don't have nearly as much broccoli frozen from the garden as chard, spinach, and kale. So I have long stretches of just greens leafy things for dinner. There might be a lot of ways to eat leafy greens, but I tend to only like them plain (or in egg dishes). And I have something green every dinner, so leafy greens, leafy greens, leafy greens. Boring maybe, but surprisingly I still love them.

The colorful vegetables are more interesting. Though you can't see it, I had squash casserole for dinner too. I don't usually eat this at the dinner table. I often have it as dessert in front of the TV. There isn't that much sugar in it - about 1.5 teaspoons for 3/4 a cup of squash. But It feels like dessert to me.

I love roasted vegetables too. Yum. Here it is my carrots, my purple sweet potatoes, and not my onions. I seasoned them with dried rosemary form the garden. I think it is one of my favorite ways of doing vegetables. So easy as long as the oven is on for a long time during the day. And so delicious.

As you probably guessed I'm still harvestless this winter. We have folks skating on the pond in the middle of town now. So I'm sure the ground is frozen solid. I'm guessing I still have about three months more of no harvests. Luckily I get to see all of yours to keep me happy over the winter.

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, January 12, 2015

Harvest Monday, 12 January 2015

Harvest Monday is going to be a bit different for me today. Though technically it isn't about tallying up how much you spend and how much you get, I do that every year. I put the results in my sidebar. Last Harvest Monday I had the last squash tallied in for last year. So last week I got my new 2015 side bar tally sheet up. Last year's results get put on the bottom and this years gets started. There are no harvest yet as everything is frozen solid for quite some time, but I do have expenses.

The first expenses that go in are my amortized costs for the garden. I just make a guess at how long a large purchase will last and use that has how long to amortize over. A lot of the short term ones have expired, but I still have things like the soil that made up the garden (7.44/year), my plastic composter (5/year), tomato cages (if only I had known that I couldn't eat tomatoes a couple years earlier they wouldn't have gotten bought 18.01/year), some bricks(0.81/year), and the materials like wood and corner braces that make up the raised beds (106.22/year).

The amortized bill is remarkably low this year at $137.49. Last year it was $321. The difference is in two things. One is my fertilizers. I typically amortize a bulk buy of fertilizers over two years. However I still have tons of fertlizer and that time has expired. The second is that the large bamboo purchase I made at the beginning of the garden has expired. The bamboo is still going strong. The short 4' ones are starting to get brittle and might need replacing soon, but the big ones show no signs of rotting out yet. They are much sturdier. I might even cut some in half and use them for the four foot ones.

Other things will get added to the spent tally over the year, but the major thing that gets added in January is the seed bill.

Usually I get my seed orders in at the end of December. I'm a bit late this year as I finished ordering yesterday. Not that it really matters. Usually I like to get the order in early to get my onions seeds in time to start them at the end of January. But this year I've gotten lazy. Onions take a long time from seed to transplant stage. So I'm ordering from Dixondale this year. I'll see how it goes.

Dixondale $19.83
Walla Walla
Red Zeppelin

I always buy new seed of carrots, onions (not this year though except for bunching onions), spinach, celery, and corn every year. I can't count on the seed surviving to the next year. The other exception this year is corn. Fedco has packet sizes. The A size is the typical. B size is usually twice as much. Last year I knew I needed two packets of corn as one wasn't enough. So I ordered the B packet without really looking. Well it turns out the corn B packet is four times the size. When it came it was obvious. I should look closer. So I immediately put half of the corn into the freezer in a sealed container. Last week I did a germination test. I put 15 seeds into a ziplock with a wet paper towel. I put it near my heat and waited two days. 15 out of 15 of those seeds germinated. This year I won't need to buy corn.

I always order from Fedco which is a cooperative of growers and buyers of seed. I like their philosophy. And they tell you the generalities about where the seed come from, be it a multinational corporation or a small farmer. They are located and specialize in seed for the Northeast where I live. And they are pretty inexpensive and have no shipping costs if you order enough. Which I do. This year I spent $58.50 for an equivalent of 36 packets of seed (the C packet is 8 times the amount of seed of an A packet - I use a lot of bok choy seed as I often direct seed it and the seed last for years).

Fedco $58.50
Golden Gate Pole Bean
Blizzard Snowpea
Diplomat Melon
Sensation Melon
Lemon Cucumber
Scarlet Keeper Carrot
Mokum Carrot (B)
Nelson Carrot
Andover Parsnip
Gold Ball Turnip
Evergreen Hardy White Onion
Camelot Shallot
Space Spinach (B)
Summer Lettuce Mix
Krausa Parsley
Hon Tsai Tai Purple Choy Sum
Shuko Bok Choy (C)
Arcadia Broccoli (B)
Diablo Brussels Sprouts
Winterbor Kale (B)
Winner Kohlrabi (B)
Tango Celery
Brilliant Celeriac
Sweet Basil

Fedco doesn't sell everything I want. My next stop is Pinetree which is also a New England company. I like them because I can get small amounts and their shipping is cheap. So I can fill in my needs usually.

Pinetree $19.44
Earliglow Strawberries (10 plants)
Golden Acre Cabbage
Point One Cabbage
Green Rocket Michihili Cabbage
Dwarf Blue Curled Kale
German Giant Radish

Sadly I wish those two companies had everything I needed. But they don't. Sigh. I really liked Bolero Carrots. Though I am hoping that the Scarlet Keepers I'm trying this year from Fedco taste as good from storage. I order these from Renee's since they have the cheapest shipping and I'm only ordering one thing. $6.04 for just one packet of seed. Ouch!

Renee's $6.04
Bolero Carrots

I would probably buy more things if shipping weren't so huge for one item. For instance I'd buy some Monument Michihili from Kitazawa seeds or some choy sum (Fedco only had purple, which I got to try, but I know I like the regular kind). I messed up when I ordered from Renee's too. I wanted to try the Romanesco zucchini that Michelle grew last year. They sell the seeds. I was ordering from them. I should have ordered that one too. Maybe next year.

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, January 5, 2015

Harvest Monday, 5 January, 2014

I harvested a lot squash this last year. So my goal has been to use it before they go bad in the spring. To that end I've been bringing squash items to parties. The first batch of squash soup I made was for myself and I used some of my slightly under ripe squash (a suggestion from a reader for under ripe squash). And it worked the best. The second batch, that was brought to the New Year's Eve party, required more squash so it had the sweeter squash. It wasn't quite as good that way. I really liked the less sweet squash in the soup.

The seasonings for the soup were simple I used cumin, cardamom, and lots and lots of green coriander from the garden. More coriander than is shown above, but that is all that will fit in my mortar and pestle without getting all over when I grind it up. Sadly I used most of of the coriander up. I don't have enough to make more soup with it. I have plenty of ripe coriander which I can use, but it isn't nearly as good. This year I need to make sure to harvest a lot. Maybe it needs a spot in the garden proper again. Usually it is allowed to grow with the flowers or in random spots were it self sows.

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, January 1, 2015

Year in Review

This will be long wordy review of how each bed in the garden grew. If you want a pretty photographic review, see yesterday's post instead. Personally I like the nitty gritty of what happened (and the numbers), but I know it isn't everyone's cup of tea.

Beds 1, 5, and 7W - Two Sisters Beds with Spring Spinach and Asian Greens (1.07 lbs/sqft)

This was a very good year for corn and squash in my garden. I've had trouble over the years with the squash seed germinating, but I ended up chitting the seed so my plantings wouldn't fail. That ended up giving the squash a long enough time to grow and I didn't have to replant with a squash that matures early, but doesn't produce as well as Waltham butternut. I have to remember to do that every year for the first seeding. I had a total of 158 sqft of space in corn and squash. I ended up with 45.8 pounds of Honey Select corn and 105.3 pounds of Waltham butternut squash. Both record breakers for me. Though these don't quite eek out my one pound per square foot that I'm shooting for, Bed 5 did have the early spinach and the early Asian greens already harvested before the bed was planted in corn on June 6th (spinach side of the bed) and June 10th (Asian greens side of the bed). The squash seed was planted chitted a few days after.

That early spinach had 32 sqft and gave me 7.4 pounds. The early Asian greens (bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna, choy sum) also had 32 sqft and came in at 10 pounds. So if I add those in I get a respectable 168.5 pounds. I think this is the first year ever that the Two Sisters beds have broken the pound per square foot goal. Though fixing my germination issues and switching to Honey Select which is a good producer compared to the other varieties I've tried really helped, I'm guessing it was the weather that really brought it in. It was reliably warm this summer but not hot enough to stress the plants. For next year I want to add another early spinach bed. In the past I wouldn't bother as I wouldn't eat it anyway, but this year I'm really trying to eat more vegetables in the winter than in previous years. So more greens to freeze is good.

Bed 2 - Kale, Roots, Carrots, and Fava Beans (W 0.89 lbs/sqft, E 1.35 lbs/sqft)

The western side of Bed 2 (32 sqft) had the early kale which gave me 9.17 pounds. This was removed at the beginning of June and I wasn't really sure what to put in to replace it. So I made it a root vegetable plot, with turnips, parsnips and a few beets. The parsnips had half the bed and gave me only 6.5 pounds. The beets yielded 4.9 pounds which wasn't bad as they weren't given much space. The turnips did better at about 8 pounds, but the purple top turnips were pretty poor performers. The bed gave me 28.57 pounds total which isn't too bad considering. I think I can do better next year. I grew the parsnips in the middle of the bed. The early turnips shaded them out a bit in the early summer. When the parsnips got big the later turnips were shaded out by them. I think next year I'll do them in blocks and maybe prop the parsnip foliage up a bit. Does anyone know of parsnips are hurt by the carrot fly? I'd love to leave that block uncovered as parsnips get so tall, but I don't want to if those nasty larvae will hurt the roots.

The eastern side of Bed 2 had the fava beans. They had a dismal yield of 8 pounds. I say dismal, but to be fair it was my second best year for them. But 2013 gave me 15 pounds on the same space, so it seems dismal. On July 6th the bed was switched over to fall storage carrots. I got 35.2 pounds of carrots from those. So the bed itself did well for the year. And speaking of carrots . . .

Bed 3 - Herbs, Greens, Fall Beans Peas, Carrots, Fall Brassicas (W 0.52 lbs/sqft, E 1.2 lbs/sqft))

Bed 3 west is sort of my mish mash bed. It has some herbs like parsley, fennel, and savory (which didn't grow). It also has celery and celariac. I toss in some lettuce sometimes (which really didn't grow this year there, so no harvest for that). And peas grow in the back during the spring, and beans (2.4 lbs)grew in the back of the western bed in the fall. The celery and celeriac did really badly this year 2.6 pounds and 0.6 pounds respectively. The fennel did OK at 2.86. And it was the best parsley year since I've been here with 2.91 pounds being harvested. Parsley usually struggles in my garden, but this year it grew very lush. Though I did have two of the plants bolt on me which is weird. That has never happened before.

The peas along the back of the whole length of the bed (16 sqft) produced 10.8 pounds this year. Not great. Some years the peas do well and some years they don't. I've never figured out why. I'll put half of that into the eastern bed's total and half into the western beds total. So overall the western side produced 16.7 pounds in 32 sqft. Not great. But this is a bed I play around with things like trying new crops (celeriac). And the beans and peas really shade the bed a lot so it wasn't a great growing space anyway. Hopefully next year I'll bring it up, but it has always failed to produce well every year, so I'm not holding my breath.

The spring carrots did quite well in the eastern side. They had 24 sqft and produced well at 13.4 pounds. Fall carrots always do better than spring carrots in yield and taste. But for the spring, it was good. July 13th I replaced that whole eastern bed with fall brassicas. I had kohlrabi, cabbage, and Michihili cabbage. I planted the Michihili too early I think. It started to bolt as did a couple of the European cabbages. The bed did just OK at 19.55 pounds.Over all the eastern side produced 38.4 pounds. Not too bad. I think it could do better. The kohlrabis did well, but the cabbages didn't. I think I need to water them more. The covering I use over them lets the rain in, but not all of it.

Bed 4 - Alliums, Kale, Mustard (1.4 lbs/sqft)

In the spring this bed is covered in garlic and onions. When the garlic comes out I put in a fall mustard crop for the seeds. When the onions come out I put in the kale to be over wintered. The garlic did just OK this year. I got 9.78 pounds. for 20 sqft. Garlic is never a heavy producer, but I often get a bit bigger bulbs. The onions on the other hand did stellar this year. I grew them under a row cover and it helped them immensity. I harvested 65.13 pounds of them. They only had 43 sqft of space. So that is a huge harvest for me. And they were only in there until the end of July. By August I had planted kale. In addition I under planted the kale with cilantro in the middle and mache along the outside. I got 1.3 pounds of cilantro and 9.13 pounds of kale. For a total for the year in this bed of 85.3.

Bed 6 - Broccoli, Spring Brassicas, Carrots (W 0.84 lbs/sqft, E 1.85 lbs/sqft)

The western side of the bed is easy as it is all broccoli and there is no broccoli anywhere else in the garden. I harvested 26.9 pounds of broccoli this year. It is under a pound per square foot, but to be honest broccoli is not the best producer known to man. I used to get barely anything when I first started. 22 pounds is the best I've produced in the past, so 27 is stellar for me.

The eastern side of the bed was haphazardly done. It started with the spring brassicas. I had 20.8 pounds of Chinese cabbage, 5.1 pounds of European cabbage, and 4.82 pounds of kohlrabi. For a total of 30.7 pounds, which is pretty good for half the year. Then I put in some carrots. But I didn't have enough seed to put in the whole bed. I had left a bit of the cabbage to see if it would produce side heads. It did but they were tiny and not worth it. I added a few radishes and turnips, but the weight was small and too hard to tell from the other random turnips and radishes around the garden so those numbers didn't get in. The carrots that I did put in were stellar. They produced 28.6 pounds. So over all the bed did amazing at 59.3 pounds.

Bed 7E - Lettuce, Green Onions, Beans, Chard, Asian Greens (2.55 lbs/sqft)

The eastern side of Bed 7 was a conglomeration of chard, lettuce, beans, green onions, and fall sown baby Asian greens. The spring lettuce did great at 13.5 pounds but the summer lettuce did not. I think with the wall of beans up, it blocked the sprinkler and they didn't get enough water. The beans did well at 15.8 pounds. They liked all that water. Most of the harvest was from the Golden Gate beans. The Kentucky Wonder beans succumbed to rust early on. And the asparagus beans got overwhelmed by the lush foliage of the other beans. The chard did stellar as always - 36.7 pounds. The green onions were the lowest producer for the space/time at 9.2 pounds. Then at the end of the season I put in some baby Asian greens for 6.5 pounds. All in all it was 81.7 pounds - the highest producing bed in the garden.

Bed 8 - Cucumbers, Zucchini (E 2.52 lbs/sqft)

The western side was a total bust. It is the second year of having asparagus in there and more than half the plants are dead already. Asparagus HATES my yard. I tried it in a different spot when I first moved in and it died there too. I'm guessing I have another bed to work with next year. I'll leave whatever is still alive, but the rest of the bed will be free. It just isn't worth trying again. Maybe I'll put in some blueberry bushes.

The western side held the cucumbers and the zucchini. It was a fabulous cucumber year with 62.8 pounds in just 8 square feet. It takes the record as most productive plant. But the wall of cucumbers that were trellised blocked the sprinkler water from getting to the zucchini and they really didn't produce until I figured this out rather late in the season. So they only produced 17.8 pounds. I've decided that beans and cucumbers that are blocking the sprinklers will be planted at the ends of the beds instead. This gives them half the space they had before, but they won't prevent other plants from growing. If I decide later that I need more space, I can put in more sections at the end. The only problem with the ends is that they are near the brick path. The foundation for it extends a foot into the bed and make is really hard to pound in a trellis. I end up having to put in side supports to make sure it doesn't fall down. Plus of course they have a shallower place to grow. Over all the cucurbits produced 80.6 pounds and was the second highest producing bed in the garden.

Circle Garden West - Overwintered Spinach, Sweet Potatoes (1.36 lbs/sqft)

The western side of the circle garden had the overwintered spinach that didn't do all that well at only 1.3 pounds. The worst ever. I only planted Giant Winter and it was a mistake. I think it had some disease. Whatever it is Space resists it better, and I should overwinter that one instead. The bed had sweet potatoes during most of the year. They produced 42.3 pounds, which is a very decent yield up here in the north.

Circle Garden East - Spring Lettuce and Radishes, Melons (1.95 lbs/sqft)

The eastern Circle Garden had lettuce and radishes in the spring. On June 8th it was planted in melons. The early lettuce came in at 7.5 pounds. And the radishes at 4.3 pounds. The melons did the best ever at 50.6 pounds. So I'm happy about that. My biggest problem with melons is that they tend to all come in at the same time even if I have different maturity dates. I don't want to plant them at different times as the older plants would just run over the younger ones and kill them. Maybe I'll try to find a much later one for the garden. The problem is that my hot season really isn't that long. The total for the bed was 62.4 pounds which was great.

Greens, Asian52.6
Squash, Summer17.8
Squash, Winter105.3
Sweet Potatoes42.3

Overall this was a fabulous record setting year and I broke harvest records with onions, melons, carrots, corn, and winter squash. Granny must have been watching over my garden this year as it was just so good. I miss you Granny.

I was better this year about watering which helps a lot. In the past I would often wait for the rain that was predicted but never came. I tried not to do that this year. We do get 4 inches of rain on average every month (with the lowest at 3.5 and the highest at 4.5). So mostly the rain ought to do a good job of watering. But the reality is that we get heavy rains sometimes and then long stretches without. I have to be good at watering when the soil gets dry. I can wait for tropical storms to hit as they are pretty guaranteed, but those scattered summer thundershowers are really not to be relied upon.

I had some failures, but in smaller crops (thank goodness) and very few this year. I am slowly learning how to deal with this garden after four years here. The summer lettuce was abysmal, leggy and sad. When I was gleaning I gleaned lettuce on farms during August and they were beautiful. They didn't use shade cloth. They let the lettuce see full sun. I'm guessing it was just varieties and lots of water. I'll try that next year.

I had trouble with celery and celeriac. I think it was mosaic virus (use a different source for celeriac than I did last year as that is probably where it came from). I'll keep all the umbellifloras out of that area from now on. But it could be something else which I can hope as mosaic virus is forever. Also I think I'm going to try row covers for them in the future. It might help with the carrot fly. I'm not sure how affected they are by that pest, but it can't hurt to try.

Though Bed 5E was hardly a failure, I ran out of carrot seed and put in a few radishes and turnips and left stubs of cabbages in to see if they would grow to fill in the space. It wasn't the best use of space. I should do more carrots or maybe add lettuce in there. Something real. Not halfhearted attempts.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope this new gardening year goes well for everyone.