Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2015 Year in Review - Lettuce and Other Greens

My favorite thing for lunch is a big green salad full of goodies from the garden. And my husband Dave also enjoys a dinner salad quite often, either a side salad or a substantial main course salad. So lettuce has become the #1 leafy green veggie that I grow. I harvested 35 pounds of it in 2015 and wish I could have harvested more. Here's a summary by variety:

Italienischer - 8 lb.
Michelle Batavian - 2.8 lb.
Reine des Glaces crisphead - 1.6 lb.
Rhapsody Butterhead - 8.2 lb.
Ruby Gem Romaine - 4.3 lb.
Sweetie Baby Romaine - 4.6 lb.
Winter Density Romaine - 6.3 lb.

Do you see a theme there? It's mostly heading lettuces, either romaine, butterhead, or crisphead. I used to grow a lot of cutting lettuces, usually a mix of different shapes and colors. Then one day Dave fessed up that what he really likes is crunchy lettuces like romaine or iceberg, and he really likes butterhead lettuces as well. Well, I like those too, but it always seemed like much more of a bother challenge to grow heading lettuces, but I took on the challenge. It's been a few years and I'm still learning.


Italienischer is a huge oakleaf type that has big thick midribs when the heads get to be mature and it's got enough crunch to keep Dave happy. I can also harvest it on a cut-and-come-again basis for my own lunch salads. It is a versatile, incredibly productive (look at that yield) and good tasting lettuce that seems to be well suited to my climate so it will be back this year. This heirloom variety is available from a lot of sources, my seeds came from Fedco.

Michelle Batavian
Michelle Batavian was a freebie packet of seeds that I couldn't resist because of the name. It was good but not outstanding so I'll be moving on to other varieties this year.

Reine Des Glaces
Reine des Glaces crisphead. What I got to mature properly was good, but it had problems with the leaves going bad as the heads matured. There's so many varieties of lettuce available to grow that I don't need to fuss with one that has a tendency to spoil before I harvest it - out it goes.

Rhapsody Butterhead

Rhapsody Butterhead has been a reliable producer in my garden. I keep coming back to it because it produces really good generous sized heads. Butterhead is a bit fussy about weather, but this one is worth it, I just have to resist the temptation to sow it when the weather warms up. It's also readily available coming from Renee's Garden Seeds which I can pick up at the local hardware store.

Ruby Gem Romaine
Ruby Gem is a gorgeous baby romaine lettuce. I harvested it both on a cutting basis and as small heads. It's delicious and easy to grow and easy for me to get seed for since it's another Renee's selection. Definitely a keeper.

Sweetie Baby Romaine
Sweetie Baby Romaine has long been one of my favorites. It produces small to medium sized heads of crunchy leaves. It is reliable through most of the year and is easy to grow. It lives up to it's name and doesn't get bitter even when it starts to bolt (like it is doing in the photo above). Another variety from Renee's.

Winter Density Romaine

Winter Density, is a somewhat loose headed romaine that can get to be quite large but is also good for cut-and-come-again harvests. The name is somewhat deceptive because it seems to thrive just about year round in my mild climate. Again, another unfussy variety that is well suited to my climate and our tastes so it stays in the lineup. The seeds for this heirloom are widely available and my seeds came from Fedco.

I would really like to be able to harvest lettuce through the year, but so far I've not been able to manage that. In 2015 I went without lettuce in August, October, November, and December. In 2014 it was January, February, August, and November. In 2013 there were 7 months with no lettuce harvests. I haven't harvested lettuce in August since 2011.

Heat was one obstacle in 2015, it was an unusually warm year. Another obstacle was a severe lack of gardening motivation in the fall. I just didn't get around to starting things for late fall and early winter harvests. I did get lettuce going in September which I thought it would carry me through October. But I went away for one week in mid October and was anticipating some nice salads when I got home because there was some lettuce just starting to form nice heads. But those little heads quickly shot up about 2 feet while I was gone. I hadn't counted on those heads blowing up so quickly. When the weather is cooler it seems like it takes forever for heads to form and then I'll have a 2 or 3 week window to harvest them before they thoroughly bolt. So, lesson learned, if I want salad in the fall I need to do more succession sowing of just a few heads every couple of weeks and perhaps try some more heat/bolt resistant varieties. We'll see, it seems I still have a lot to learn about lettuce before I can figure out a year round growing schedule.  More on that in my post about 2016 planned varieties...

The other problem I'm having is that I need to improve my record keeping. I've been spending a bunch of time going back through my notes trying to match the dates that I sowed seeds to the dates that I harvested those veggies. I've got a very detailed spread sheet for harvests, each harvest tallied on the day I picked it, summarized by Harvest Monday, further summarized by month, and then for the year. And I do keep track of when I sow and plant out, but that information is not well organized. So now I'm trying to modify my harvest spread sheet to show the dates that I sowed the seeds for a particular harvest. This will be particularly helpful for the veggies that I need to sow in successions, like lettuces and other salad greens, and other quick cropping things like radishes. It takes longer for them to mature when the days are short and cold and seemingly no time in the long warm days of summer. So I hope that matching up sowing and harvest dates for particular veggies will help me to figure out the intervals between successions.

Other Salad Greens. There are some other greens that I like to add to my salads to spice things up, including arugula, cress, mizuna, radish leaves, and mild chicories.

Speedy Arugula
My favorite "other" salad green is arugula, it's the one "other" green that I'll use alone as a basis for a green salad. After years of trying various varieties I've found one that I really love and that grows exceptionally well in my garden. Speedy arugula, as the name implies, is quick to produce a harvest. But it isn't a flash in the garden, once it gets going I can get quite a few harvests before it bolts and even when it starts to bolt the flavor isn't too spicy. It has serrated leaves which gives it the attractive appearance of wild arugula but it doesn't have wild arugula's bite.

Dutch Broadleaf Cress
I've come to like the mildly spicy flavor of various types of cress. Watercress is probably the best known because that is the one type of cress that is found in the produce aisle of the markets here and I assume most everywhere. But there are other types of "land" cresses that have the flavor of watercress but are easier to grow. Last year I started growing Dutch Broadleaf Cress, a crinkly leafed variety that is very easy to grow, nicely productive, and mildly spicy. The only drawback to cress is that it is very sensitive to heat and long days and will bolt before it produces a decent crop if planted at the wrong time. I got some good harvests last year in March and April from a February 14 sowing, so it's quick too. I sowed seeds again on December 7 and just started harvesting it on January 30 - not bad for the short cold days in the dead of winter. I'll try another sowing in late February or early March and see how that fares and then try again in late October or early November to see how early I can push it for winter harvests. I've also picked up seeds for a few other varieties to compare - Rishad (Iraqi), Greek, and Persian Broadleaf. I just sowed some of the Persian Broadleaf, so if it is as quick as the Dutch Broadleaf I should be in the cress for the next couple of months at least.

Ruby Streaks Mizuna
I love the frilly leaves of mizuna to add a visual punch to my salads. Ruby Streaks has been my choice for the past couple of years. It lends a 1-2-3 punch with it's frilly leaves, ruby color, and mild mustardy bite. Purple/Red leafed vegetables don't seem to get as big as their green counterparts and Ruby Streaks is true in that regard. I like that.  It always seemed like the green mizunas that I used to grow got to be space hogs, elbowing out their neighbors in my cut-and-come-again salad greens patch - it seemed like I could never keep up with harvesting it. So, Ruby Streaks is back for 2016.

Saisai Leaf Radish
Radish leaves. No, not those prickly ones on the little red radishes and most salad type radishes, some people like them but I don't like their texture when raw. There's a few daikon radishes that have been selected for their smooth mild greens. Saisai is one such variety and it's quite tasty. The young leaves are good in salads and the more mature leaves are good cooked. Another radish that has mild tasty leaves is China Rose, which makes that a good dual purpose radish because it has good tasting rose colored roots too.

Spadona Chicory

Mild chicories, which includes frisee. I've pretty much given up on growing frilly frisee and turned to trying other mild chicories that can be harvested on a cut-and-come-again basis instead of waiting for a head to form. Last year I tried a variety called Spadona. It somewhat resembles a smooth edged dandelion but it is much less bitter. It does have some bitterness and the more mature the leaves get the more pronounced the bitterness, but I didn't find it to be overly bitter. I enjoyed the young leaves fresh in salads and the more mature leaves cooked. I sowed the seeds directly in the garden expecting to only harvest for a short time, but I ended up harvesting from April through July. That surprised me since my experience with other chicories, including radicchio is that it bolts quickly in the spring. Unfortunately I didn't get around to sowing more in the fall. I will be growing this one again and I think I need to find a spot in the garden and sow some seeds now! The good thing is that I need only find a small space, the plants grow quickly and it will take just a few to meet my needs.

Other leafy greens I grew last year were chard, spinach, and amaranth.

Peppermint Stick and Golden Chard

Chard is a green that I could harvest year round here if I so desired. A spring sowing can produce for a full year. I used to grow it year round but found that I wasn't harvesting it in the summer, the plants were just getting huge and taking up space and hosting aphids and other bugs. The last few years I've been sowing it in the summer to harvest through the fall and into the winter. It bolts in the spring but it tends to be one of the last overwintered greens to do so. Last year my final harvest was in May. I only grew two varieties, Peppermint Stick and Golden Chard. Peppermint Stick was by far the most productive, I got 8 pounds from the 2014 sowing. I don't remember what happened with the Golden Chard, but I only got a little over half a pound from the 2014 sowing. This was another veggie that suffered from my malaise last fall. I had sown the seeds as planned in August and got some nice little seedlings of Peppermint Stick and Italian Silver Rib going, and then failed to set them out in the garden in a timely manner. I finally set them out in the garden on November 20. So, they are out there, alive but not necessarily thriving. Oh well.

Summer Perfection and Verdil Spinach
It was an off year for spinach also, but not entirely because I got lazy but because the sow bugs totally decimated my first attempt at a fall sowing. I did get a second round going last fall and my experiment with growing the plants under cloches paid off. But still, I harvested only 1.8 pounds of spinach for the entire year - about 6 ounces in January and the rest of it in December, and I barely squeaked in that December Harvest, 3 more days and it would have been a 2016 harvest.

Thai Tender and Tender Leaf Amaranth
At least I did well by my favorite summer leafy green. Amaranth is often recommended as a warm weather substitute for spinach. But I like amaranth as the unique vegetable that it is. My favorite types are the mild green ones. The leaves of just about any amaranth are edible but there are a few varieties that are grown specifically for their greens. I've found two varieties that have tender good tasting leaves and that don't get to be huge. Thai Tender and Tender Leaf are both dwarf Asian varieties bred specifically for harvesting as a leafy green. My biggest problem with growing amaranth is that it is a heat loving vegetable and summers here are typically a little too cool for their liking. The warmer than usual weather last summer allowed me to get them off to an earlier start than usual so I got to enjoy them for a bit longer. My little patch (about 4 square feet) produced 4.4 pounds of greens starting in late July through September.

That's it for my look back at 2015. Now it's time to look forward to coming attraction for 2016. The seed orders are already arriving!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Harvest Monday - February 1, 2016

One month of 2016 gone already! It was a good month of harvests considering I didn't do a very good job of getting things started last fall for winter harvests. The month ended with 33.2 pounds (15.1 kg.) of veggies from the garden. Last year the January total was 41.6 pounds (18.9 kg.) with more variety, but in the previous 5 years the January totals were in the single digits.

The star for the week was the Sicilian Violet cauliflower. I think that this variety is meant to be fall sown for winter harvests, which makes sense considering it is from Sicily. I should have harvested it about a week earlier, by the time I got around to cutting the head it had become a bit overgrown.

January 17
I noticed it starting to color up a couple of weeks ago and kept watching the color progress. My effort last year at growing it for a spring harvest didn't result in anything looking like a normal head of cauliflower, so I didn't really know what the optimum color/head size would be. The best time probably would have been a few days before I took the photo below, you can see the head is loosening up a bit already.
January 24
Look at the difference between the two photos just 5 days apart. I was really surprised at how quickly the head expanded.
January 29, the moment before harvest
It wasn't such a big mistake, the cauliflower is still good and is big enough to be used in at least 3 dishes. The first dish I made was simply roasted in the oven with brown butter.

The second round was braised in a tomato sauce that was enriched with tomato and sweet pepper conservas and livened up with some chopped salt packed capers. The rest of the head is in the fridge awaiting some inspiration.

Di Ciccio Broccoli
The broccoli harvests are winding down. If the plants produce anything more it will be just very small shoots. It's about time to sow the spring plants.

Batavia Broccoli

Dutch Broadleaf Cress
Dutch Broadleaf Cress
Some Dutch Broadleaf cress that I sowed back in December was ready to harvest. Some of it spiced up a salad that also included Winter Density lettuce and fresh Super Sugar Snap peas and other goodies not from the garden.

Winter Density lettuce
I'm really surprised at how well the September sown Golden Sweet snow peas have been doing. The sugar snaps haven't fared so well, I lost a couple plants early on and then a few more succumbed to something in the cold wet December weather, and what's left isn't looking all that healthy. But the snow peas have been growing like there's been no winter other than that some of the pea pods got frost nipped during the very coldest nights. I did cover the pea plants with frost cloth, otherwise the plants would have likely been too frost damaged to produce flowers and peas, but they have been holding up very well to the cold wet conditions we've had lately.  Next fall I'll go with just snow peas for overwintering, the Golden Sweet again.

Super Sugar Snap and Golden Sweet Snow peas
I harvested all of the Speedy arugula and Rishad cress that I sowed late last November. They never really got very big and were already on the verge of bolting so I cut them all down and sowed some Apollo arugula and Persian Broadleaf cress in the same spot.

Rishad cress and Speedy arugula mix
The leaves may be baby sized but they are still full flavored and a nice addition to a green salad.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The Brussels sprouts haven't gotten to be large either, but they have become a respectable size and I got about another pound of them on Sunday. I still had parsnips in the fridge so those two got roasted together again. This time I added a couple of "flowers" of star anise which was just enough to lightly flavor the mix and then added in some dried tart cherries about halfway through the roasting time and then finished the dish with some cherry balsamic vinegar.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Parsnips with
Red Onion and Dried Cherries
Three Heart Lettuce
One lettuce that is producing some heads that are just barely large enough to harvest whole is Three Heart Butterhead. I neglected to photograph the whole little head, it was too dark outside when I picked it to get a decent shot and I really prefer to take photos with natural light, but I had to take a photo when I started to pull the leaves from the head. Each leaf has three lobes, the closer to the heart the more separate the lobes are and it's easy to see where the variety got its name. This was my first harvest of this variety and it turned out to be very good, the flavor is mild and the texture is soft but has good body. I'm really looking forward to harvesting more. This is an heirloom variety that is offered through the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, no membership is required to order.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Speedy arugula - 2.9 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 1 lb., 6.3 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 1 lb., 5.7 oz.
Gustus Brussels sprouts - 1 lb., 1.7 oz.
Sicilian Violette cauliflower - 4 lb., 2 oz.
Dutch Broadleaf cress - 3.8 oz.
Rishad cress - 3.8 oz.
Three Heart lettuce - 2.5 oz.
Winter Density lettuce - 3.2 oz.
Super Sugar Snap peas - 3.3 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 10.7 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 9 lb., 13.9 oz. (4.5 kg.)
2016 YTD - 33 lb., 3 oz. (15.1 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Harvest Monday - January 25, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, this will be my last day for hosting, at least until our usual host Dave needs another break. Be sure to head on over to Our Happy Acres next Monday, February 1, to check out the Harvest Monday action.

The weather around here has been wet and a bit warmer than in December. We haven't had any frost or freeze in weeks. The Brussels Sprouts are responding to the wetter and milder weather by finally sizing up. I harvested  almost 2 pounds of sprouts last week! One picking was roasted along with parsnips and sweet red onions, butter and sage.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
More Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The other picking was shredded and wilted with bits of Honey & HabaƱero Bacon from El Salchichero in Santa Cruz (the best butcher shop in the Monterey Bay area), red onion, and slivers of Medjool dates and a splash of wine vinegar.

The snap and snow peas keep coming in a few handfuls at a time.

Golden Sweet Snow and Super Sugar Snap Peas
I'm almost done clearing out the bed where I'll be growing the tomatoes and peppers this year. This week I'll be sowing a cover crop of mustard into the bed. The last edibles to come out of it were beets. They were a bit funky looking but were fine after they were trimmed and roasted. The Chioggia beets occasionally produce an all white beet like the one below. The roasted beets are in the fridge just waiting to be included in one of the many salads that we enjoy.

Chioggia Beets
Red Baron Beets
Back in 2014 I let some Romanesco fennel bloom and set seed and the seeds ended up scattered all around. A few of them volunteered in the center path in the garden and actually produced a couple of decent bulbs. This one isn't perfect but it's good enough to eat after a bit of trimming, it'll add flavor and crunch to a salad or two.

Volunteer Fennel

Actually, half the bulb went into this dish, a warming medley of veggies including fresh broccoli, favas and roasted peppers from the freezer, and onions. I sauteed the veggies and then poured in stock flavored with some homemade tomato paste to cover, brought it to a simmer and then nestled some eggs into the pot, then simmered until the eggs were soft cooked. That was a nice warming dinner after hiking on a showery afternoon.

My heading lettuces are nowhere near ready to harvest as heads, but they are large enough that I can cut leaves from a couple of the Winter Density plants on a cut and come again basis. It is nice to have some fresh lettuce for my salads again. I got my celery and celeriac plants in ridiculously late and they've been just pouting through the cold short winter days. The celery is finally producing some baby stalks worth the trouble of harvesting and I figure I better take advantage of those before the plants start to bolt. I haven't sampled the leaves yet but I'm hoping that they might be mild enough to add to a salad or at least to some soup. And the reliable Batavia broccoli offered up some more nice side shoots.

Winter Density Lettuce, Dorato D'Asti Celery, Batavia Broccoli
Not photographed was the final harvest of tiny shoots of Apollo brokali that I harvested as I cut the plants down to the ground. I also harvested the rest of the baby Red Iceberg lettuces, extra plants that I put in to get my by until the main planting heads up. I also cut more thinnings of Rishad cress and started thinning the Speedy arugula. I'm afraid those will both bolt before they ever amount to much so I've sown more seeds for both of those.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Speedy arugula - 2.2 oz.
Chioggia beets - 16.5 oz. (after trimming)
Red Baron beets - 6.8 oz. (after trimming)
Apollo brokali - 2.6 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 11.1 oz.
Gustus Brussels sprouts - 1 lb., 15.3 oz.
Dorato D'Asti celery - 2.1 oz.
Rishad cress - 2.1 oz.
Romanesco fennel - 16.7 oz.
Red Iceberg lettuce - 1.4 oz.
Winter Density lettuce - 1.9 oz.
Super Sugar Snap peas - 4.5 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 3.2 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 6 lb., 6.4 oz.
2016 YTD - 23 lb., 5.1 oz.

Harvest Monday is a place to showcase everything harvest related, what you've harvested, how you are preserving your harvests, and how you are using your harvests. You needn't be harvesting anything new to participate, write a post about how you've been using your preserved harvests and then link up. I'm sure we could all use some inspiration when it comes to using up the canned tomatoes and frozen veggies that we all worked so hard to produce and preserve. If you want to join in the fun just add your name and a link to your post in Mister Linky below. Then stop by the other linked posts to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

2015 Year in Review - Root Vegetables

Let's see how I did with the rooty veggies in 2015, that includes the onion family, carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, turnips, and celery root.

Zebrune shallots
Alliums. Onions were a standout in terms of overall production simply because I devoted a lot of garden space to them in 2015. The alliums overall were disappointing, the onions bolted, the garlic was severely infected with rust and didn't size up, the leeks bolted and got infected with rust. But there was one shining star in the allium show - my seed grown Zebrune shallots resisted rust and bolting, produced a generous crop of 19.5 pounds, and are also turning out to be good keepers. Indeed, they are keepers and I've already got the seedlings for 2016 growing in the garden.

This year I'll be experimenting with new varieties of onions in an attempt to find some that won't be so prone to bolting, but I'll be growing fewer of each variety and they'll get less garden space overall. Leeks will not be returning, they were not worth the space and time and although I like them they are not my favorite allium. Garlic is back already, I love it too much to give up on it, although it is already sporting spots of rust, dang it.

Carrots. Oops, I never did get around to sowing any in 2015 but I did harvest 9.5 pounds, mostly  a bunch of small ones from a late 2014 planting and a few Spanish Black volunteers. So, not a good carrot year. I'm committed to growing them in 2016, I better be, I still have seeds that I intended to use last year and I've ordered some interesting new varieties to grow this year.

Gladiator parsnips
A notable success this year was my first ever decent harvest of parsnips. They are a challenging crop to grow. The sowbugs seem to love the seedlings (what seedlings do sowbugs not like?) and a lot of what germinated disappeared. I almost turned the survivors into the soil and replaced them with something else. But I relented got lazy and let them grow and test my patience - they are so slooow. And now they are one of my darlings, they filled in their space with masses of foliage and beautiful long fat (for a parsnip) roots and best of all they are really tasty. After cleaning out the bed last week I ended up with a total harvest of 11.4 pounds (5.2 kg), some of that is in the 2016 tally.

Beets. Good old reliable beets. I usually try for a few sowings each year. The harvests for 2015 were more modest than usual at a total of 12.5 pounds. But I didn't feel like I really fell short whereas in past years I've had to deal with unwanted gluts, so perhaps I've finally figured out how much to grow to meet my needs. I've settled on a few varieties that I like and that grow well in my garden. Chioggia has been an all time favorite.  It's pretty with striped stems and mild tasting green leaves. The root is generally red and white striped when you cut into it when raw, but the stripes melt into each other when the root is cooked. I like it because it is mild flavored, doesn't stain like red beets (so it plays well with other salad ingredients), and it's very productive. The only thing I don't like about Chioggia beets is that the tops are quite large and in a mixed planting of beets they can overwhelm their neighbors. On the other hand, if you like to eat beet greens that profusion of foliage can be a bonus. Another mild beet that I love is the Golden Beet that Renee's Garden Seeds carries. I've tried various other golden beets in the past and have not been crazy about them. Some varieties have golden skins but the interiors are white. Some just don't have any flavor. Some can be huge and overly vigorous. Renee's Golden Beets produce nice smooth skinned well formed roots that don't get too big. They definitely play nice with their neighbors in the garden and don't bleed like red beets. They are golden to the very center of the root. And the greens are tasty too. It's the only golden beet that I grow now. I do like red beets and don't mind that they bleed all over the place if they are going to be the star of the plate. And that red color is downright magnificent in a dish like Ottolenghi's delicious Beet Dip. In 2015 I grew two varieties from Renee's, Baby Ball and Red Baron, both are good, they're not too large, have well formed roots and tasty greens, quite frankly I haven't found them to be all that different and like both. I have seeds for all of these varieties and will be continuing to grow them this year. I also grew a Three Root Grex mix of beets which I didn't photograph and didn't make any notes about other than the harvest weights. I can't remember what I thought of them, so I'll have to grow them again this year and give them some proper attention.

Clockwise: China Rose with foliage, Saisai Leaf, Helios & Pink Punch, Selzer Purple

Radishes. A couple of years ago I was inspired by the beautiful radishes that Mark was harvesting from his Veg Plot to give them another try myself. Additional motivation was supplied by an article in the SF Chron about many different types of radishes that can be grown and various ways to use them beyond salads and crudites. In 2014 I grew 9 different varieties of radishes for a total of 9.5 pounds. In 2015 I grew 9 varieties again, not all the same as the previous year, but upped the harvest total to 24.7 pounds. To be honest that total includes the greens from 2 varieties, China Rose has smooth tender leaves that are delicious sauteed and I grew Saisai Leaf radish, a variety developed primarily for it's tender leaves, good both fresh in salads and sauteed. It was fun growing various colors and shapes of radishes. I found that my favorite use for them is the hum drum typical slices in my tossed salads. I'm missing them now since I didn't get around to sowing any this fall for winter harvests. I sowed some back in December but they haven't done well and I suspect that they will bolt without making any sizable roots.

Round Red and Mikado turnips

Turnips. Not those big strong flavored purple topped ones you find decapitated of their greens in the grocery store. I tried the tender little white ones, a variety named Mikado and a small red one named Round Red (how original). Both were mild and sweet with edible greens. I really loved both of them but don't have any to harvest now because I didn't get around to a fall sowing. (I really got lazy or burnt out this fall).

Celery Root aka Celeriac. Another vegetable to test a gardener's patience. It takes a long time to germinate, it takes a long time to get to transplantable size, and it takes a long time to produce a sizable root, not to mention it takes a lot of work to clean it up. Don't even try growing it unless you love it, which we do. I got a decent harvest from seeds sown in 2014. I've been growing the same variety for the past few years - Monarch and so long as the seeds continue to germinate that's what I'll grow in the future. The 2015 sowing didn't fare so well, I lost my first round of seedlings so started a late second round. Those little things never did get a real chance, the plants in the garden now have roots about the size of golf balls and probably won't do much of anything before they bolt. I'll let them stay for now since my harvests usually last through March so perhaps they'll get a little bigger in the next couple of months.

I am almost, at last, done with the 2015 reviews. Next up will be the final review post about leafy greens and miscellaneous. And then I can get on with 2016!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Harvest Monday - January 18, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, you get another week of me hosting and I'll remind everyone that Dave of Our Happy Acres will resume as host on February 1.

We continue to feast from the garden. I combined the Golden beet below and the previously harvested funky Chioggia beet and giant Gladiator parsnip in a root veggie roast. I noticed that the Chioggia beet retained some of its stripes when I peeled it and roasted it in chunks. My usual method is to roast it in its skin and then rub off the skin and when roasted that way the stripes disappear.

Renee's Golden Beet
The Red Baron beets were roasted in their skins, peeled and incorporated into a salad that I based very loosely on a recipe from Ottolenghi's Plenty More.

Red Baron Beets
My version of the beet salad included baby Red Iceberg lettuce and some thinnings of Rishad Cress, along with some flat leaf parsley that I didn't photograph or include in my tally. The recipe called for entirely different greens that I don't happen to have so I used what I do have. And it called for shelled peas for which I substituted pieces of sugar snap peas.

Red Iceberg and Rishad Cress

The Rishad cress is a very finely cut cress from Iraq that tastes much like the Dutch Broadleaf cress that I grew last year. I first read about the Rishad cress in William Woys Weaver's book 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From. I got the seeds from a member of the Seed Savers Exchange who got her seeds from Mr. Weaver. It's fun to know that the cress I'm growing is undoubtedly the same as the one in the book.

Spigariello Foglia Riccia

The branches on the Spigariello Foglia Riccia plant remind me of octopus tentacles, they reach out all over the place. I cut off another branch and trimmed off the shoots and ended up with a nice basket of kale like leaves. This time I steamed the little shoots in my pressure cooker for 3 minutes and they came out perfectly tender. I used half of the steamed shoots in a sort of stew with Cotechino sausage, tomato puree, onions, and crispy bits of duck skin from some confited duck legs from which I had used just the meat. 

Spigariello Foglia Riccia
The spinach plants were starting to fill up their cloches again so it was time for another harvest.

Summer Perfection
My Dave requested an old favorite spinach preparation - wilted with pancetta, garlic, raisins, pine nuts, pepper flakes, and a splash of vinegar.

And I got another couple of handfuls of snow and snap peas. Most of the peas that I harvested still showed signs of frost damage from a few weeks ago but I also got a few that escaped the old man.

Golden Sweet and Super Sugar Snap peas
The broccoli plants aren't so vigorous lately but I'm still getting some small side shoots.

Di Ciccio and Batavia broccoli, and Apollo brokali
The side shoots came in just in time because I had used up the last of the previous harvest in a stir fry with tofu, snow peas, onions, garlic and ginger. My favorite sauce for broccoli and tofu stir fry is oyster flavored sauce with some chile garlic sauce and sherry. It was a nice change of pace from my usual Mediterranean style of cooking.

It's time to get a cover crop started in the bed where the parsnips have been growing since July so I harvested all the remaining roots.

Gladiator Parsnips
Dave said that I needed to put a yardstick in the photo to get some perspective on the size of the roots, the largest ones are over 18 inches (45 cm) long. The whole lot weighed in at 6 pounds (2.7 kg.) as shown.  So my total parsnip harvests, including the 2.7 pounds from 2015, came to 11.4 pounds (5.2 kg.). I can't complain about that, I didn't really expect to get much of anything since I had such a hard time getting the seedlings started and lost a lot of them to sowbugs.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Red Baron beets - 1 lb., 2.8 oz.
Renee's Golden beets - 8.5 oz.
Apollo brokali - 2.5 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 4.1 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 5.2 oz.
Spigariello Foglia Riccia broccoli - 1 lb., 5.8 oz.
Rishad cress - 1.4 oz.
Red Iceberg lettuce - 1.8 oz.
Gladiator parsnips - 6 lb.
Super Sugar Snap peas - 5.5 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 3.6 oz.
Summer Perfection spinach - 7.8 oz.
Verdil spinach - 8.7 oz.

Total for the week - 11 lb., 10.4 oz. (5.3 kg.)
2016 YTD - 16 lb., 14.7 oz. (7.7 kg.)

Harvest Monday is a place to showcase everything harvest related, what you've harvested, how you are preserving your harvests, and how you are using your harvests. You needn't be harvesting anything new to participate, write a post about how you've been using your preserved harvests and then link up. I'm sure we could all use some inspiration when it comes to using up the canned tomatoes and frozen veggies that we all worked so hard to produce and preserve. If you want to join in the fun just add your name and a link to your post in Mister Linky below. Then stop by the other linked posts to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.

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