I grew 4 different varieties of spinach last year, but only one was new, this is Verdil, a giant "winter" type that is supposed to be very cold resistant and have a very aromatic flavor. Quite frankly, it was good but I don't remember it standing out above the competition (Monstreux D'Viroflay and Summer Perfection), although I never bothered with a side by side tasting. It was the first to bolt but only by about a week so that's not a condemnation. It came in second in productivity compared to the two other varieties that I grew at the same time. I'll continue to grow it until I use up my packet of seeds.
Rapini has been an off again on again vegetable in my garden. I've tried a few types, including an "Olive Leaf" variety with long smooth leaves. They've all been good. Last year I grew "Early" from Renee's seeds and found them to be pretty quick to produce a harvest (I do like quick growers), a sowing on January 16 produced the first harvest on March 25 and later sowing on October 21 produced a first harvest on December 9. I'll be using up the rest of the seed packet before I experiment with another variety (I'm fickle that way).
The protective tunnels that I set up to keep the birds from munching allowed me to grow cutting greens through most of the year. I enjoyed a few new Asian greens on a cut and come again basis. Tokyo Bekana is a loose headed napa cabbage that can be harvested as baby greens, good in a salad, stirfry, or braise. Purple Pac choi is a small and beautiful green that is also suitable for harvesting as baby greens for salads or allowed to mature into a small head, although this variety is prone to bolting before it gets very large so it really is well suited as a cutting green. Ruby Streaks mizuna (mustard) is a quick producer and it's mild enough to put in a salad and if it gets to be a bit large it is equally good cooked. I really liked using these greens on a cut and come again basis, it provides a quick crop of either greens to spice up a salad or stir fry greens and avoids the glut that results from growing greens that have to produce heads before you harvest them. I'll continue to grow these and other varieties of cutting greens.
|Tokyo Bekana, Purple Pac Choi, Ruby Streaks mustard|
|Peppermint Stick chard|
|Musica and Golden Gate beans|
|Rosso di Lucca|
|Petaluma Gold Rush beans|
|Tromba D'Albenga squash|
|Honey Nut butternut squash|
|Pimento de Padron|
|Giallo di Cuneo sweet peppers|
|Cascade Ruby Gold flint corn|
|Floriani Red flint corn|
|Red Candy Apple onions|
|Red Candy Apple onion|
|Onions and garlic curing.|
Radishes are usually on every gardener's list of easy veggies to grow, at least they are on every list for beginner gardeners. But I can never seem to get my timing right, either I sow them at the wrong time or I neglect to harvest them at the proper time. This year I wanted to change that, plus I wanted to try some unusual varieties after reading an article in the San Franciso Chronicle about using radishes for something other than salads and using unusual varieties of radishes. So I started off with some typical and not so typical "salad" type radishes and enjoyed some success. The ones below are Pink Beauty and Pink Punch (I can't tell them apart but they are on either end), mildly spicy and delicious in salads... Helios is yellowish brown and the interior has something of a star burst pattern, very pretty. I enjoyed those both in salads and sauteed. To the left of Helios are two Selzer Purple radishes, much more prone to bolting, but delicious even so and also quite suited to sauteing.
I also tackled growing Watermelon radishes, a variety that is much more fussy about timing, it's a "winter" radish and much more prone to bolting when sown at the wrong time. The problem I had with the Watermelon radishes is that something started to bore into the roots and spoiled much of the crop, so this year I think I have to grow them under cover. It's too late to start them now, late summer and early fall is the time. But these will be back! My latest radish harvests included China Rose, a dual purpose radish with beautiful rosy skinned roots and greens that are wonderful braised or sauteed. For 2015 I've added a variety that is grown primarlily for its greens. Let the radish adventure continue!
I'm loving these Spanish Black carrots, an old OP variety that is nearly impossible to find seeds for (thank you Emma!). I first grew them back in 2013 and let that bunch go to seed which was ready to collect in 2014. A number of the seeds that scattered when I cut down the plants germinated and I let them grow. The carrots that I harvested in 2014 are from those volunteers. This is the only OP black carrot that I know of, all the others to be found are F1 hybrids, so I love this carrot for that. It's not a sweet carrot so it's not necessarily what I want for snacking, but the true carrot flavor (not bitter at all) is wonderful in savory dishes. I'll be sowing more of these for 2015.
|Spanish Black carrot|
|Alvaro charentais melon|
Do I dare tempt the rodents again? The strawberries escaped their notice last year and we enjoyed a number of harvests of fresh from the garden berries last year. I'm being quite superstitious and refuse to weigh and tally the strawberry harvests for fear of tempting fate. I've already set out a new round of plants in a different bed for 2015 harvests. Strawberries seem to work well as a virtual "annual" fruit in my garden. The new plants that I set out in the spring of 2014 produced enough to keep us happy, really just the right amount of fresh berries. I'm hoping for the same results for the new 2015 plants since I'm removing the old plants because a number of them seem to be fighting some sort of fungal disease and it's just not worth doing battle. Last year I grew only Seascape, this year I'm adding Albion to the mix.
That was the highlights for 2014. I'll try to be back before too long with a post that compares the harvests over the past 5 years, the chart is done but this post is already too long.