Sunday, April 23, 2017

Harvest Monday - April 24, 2107

 The harvests were rather green last week.

I cut a nice basketful of pea shoots from the cover crop mix growing in the future tomato and pepper bed. That was the second and final harvest of pea shoots because since then I've cut the cover crop down and dug it in. (More on that in a future post). The shoots weighed in at about 1 1/3 pounds and were enough to include in 2 different meals. One night I wilted them with some sliced spring onions that I had caramelized in brown butter. Those accompanied some Duck, Rabbit & Truffle sausages. For the second preparation I chopped the shoots and sauteed them with some spring onions and chopped fava beans and served the mix piled on top of grilled bread with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of truffle salt. Dave declared both preparations to be winners. I will definitely be including peas in the tomato/pepper bed cover crop mix in the future, it's a convenient way to slip a good amount of pea plants into the garden. The plants grow enough to get 2 or 3 harvests of shoots before they are cut down, although they aren't allowed to grow enough to produce peas.

Those Batavia broccoli shoots are sitting on top of the same harvest of pea shoots.

The Robin Hood fava beans are starting to size up. I harvested them twice last week.

And I harvested Batavia broccoli side shoots twice also.

Another dish that I prepared last week used the greens from the Golden Chard that I harvested the previous week. I adapted a recipe from Paula Wolfert's book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen to use chard instead of spinach in her recipe for Maghrebi Veal Meatballs With Spinach and Chickpeas. And I adapted the recipe even further to use Tarbais beans instead of chickpeas since I didn't have any chickpeas on hand. It was most surely not authentic but it also was most surely delicious. I have no qualms about veering away from authenticity to take advantage of what I have on hand. The original recipe can be found online if you do a search.

And I'll also mention another dish we enjoyed that used up a pound of the spring onions that I've been pulling from the garden. I did harvest more of them last week but didn't photograph them. It was an adaptation of a recipe for a souffle that features caramelized onions and goat cheese. I substituted spring onions for regular bulbing onions and used buttermilk instead of whole milk since that's what I happened to have in the fridge. It came out pretty good, still needs a bit of work, but I wrote it up anyway and you can find the recipe on my recipe blog along with some notes on how I might change it.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on is blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Harvest Monday - April 17, 2017

We continue to get rain. And I'm actually getting tired of it. Precipitation totals in some parts of the state have broken records, the most recorded since record keeping began over 100 years ago. The Governor has declared the drought to be officially over in the state with the exception of 3 counties and I don't live in any of those three. So I am officially complaining about the rain.

All that rain has contributed to the poor health of the onions because of a nasty bout of downy mildew. I've sprayed the patch twice with Serenade and trimmed out the infected leaves only to find the infection spreading through the patch again. The good news is that downy mildew infects the oldest leaves first so I can trim those out and still have a good amount of greens. So I've started to pull the onions and plan on pulling the entire patch. That bunch below was the first harvest rescue. So far I've pulled over 7 pounds of spring onions but there's still a lot left.

Mixed Spring Onions

One of the first things I did with the bounty of onions was to grill up a bunch and then use them to make something of a salsa which was a tasty topping for goat cheese and avocado toasts.

Gangbusters Spinach
The Gangbusters Spinach also demanded my attention because it was starting to bolt. I harvested all of it and blanched it and ended up with 2 pounds of spinach in the freezer divvied up into 1/2 pound portions.

Palla Rossa Radicchio
My gamble with sowing radicchio in January seems to be paying off. I cut the first head this week and a few of the remaining plants look like they're developing some decent little heads too.

Helios, Malaga, Pink Punch Radishes
I harvested a few radishes and then noticed that most of them were bolting so out they all came.

Golden Chard
The overwintered Golden Chard is showing the first signs of bolting so I cut most of the leaves. The stems were big and succulent, too good to let go to waste and I wanted to find a new way to use them so I tried a recipe that I found at Food 52 for Grilled Chard Stems that turned to be quite good. I made a modified version of the anchovy vinaigrette which was delicious (my modifications were to add some red wine vinegar and I substituted anchovies packed in olive oil). I also made a romesco sauce with some homegrown peppers from the freezer for those who don't like anchovies. And can you guess what else we had with the grilled chard stems? More grilled spring onions, of course.

Also harvested but not photographed was a big bunch of Pink Plume celery, which is most decidedly bolting too. Tis the season.

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Harvest Monday - April 10, 2017

Not much new is coming out of the garden right now, just a few radishes. The winter sown Batavia broccoli continues to pop out some nice side shoots.

Red Planet, Malaga, Pink Punch, Helios Radishes
Batavia Broccoli

Bolero Carrots
I pulled all the remaining overwintered carrots. A lot of them were funny shaped, I can only guess that their weird shapes were caused by moisture and/or temperature fluctuations. Ugly, but good! The Starica carrots sized up more slowly than the other varieties which turned out to be a nice thing since it extended the harvest of fresh carrots.

Starica Carrots

Batavia Broccoli
I've been growing Batavia broccoli since 2015 and it has become my favorite variety. It produces beautiful main heads and lots of good sized side shoots and it's really tasty. I also like that the plants stay fairly compact, they don't get as tall as the Di Ciccio and Calabrese heirloom sprouting broccolis that I also like which makes it easier to cover it up if the birds are in the mood to snack on my brassicas. I suppose I should do a spotlight post on it.

Peppermint Stick Chard
I cut most the overwintered Peppermint Stick chard. The big surprise was that it hadn't started to bolt yet so perhaps I'll get one more nice harvest before it goes. I used most of the greens to make another Chard and Ricotta Galette. I'm going to have to write up a recipe for that since I've made it at least 3 times now. And the bulk of the big fat juicy stems are in the process of being pickled. That photo is deceptive, that's more than 2.5 pounds of chard.

One other harvest that I neither photographed nor tallied was a big bagful of baby Cilician parsley that I had growing in the onion patch. It was time to clear it out since it was starting to compete with the onions. It's a very mild and tender parsley that has a distinctive hint of nutmeg flavor. I've been using a lot of it to add to salads because I don't have any lettuce right now. It's been a real treat. I'll have to remember to get a big patch of it growing again next winter.

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Harvest Monday - April 3, 2017

Longer days and warmer weather means the overwintered veggies are going through their final growth spurts.
Merlo Nero Spinach
I cut down all the Merlo Nero Spinach which looked good even though it was bolting.

Syrian Medieval Card
The Syrian Medieval chard is also bolting so I cut most of it. That photo doesn't do the pile of chard justice, it weighed in at 5.7 pounds! 1.5 pounds of it is going into a chard and rice gratin. I blanched the rest of the leafy parts and froze it in portions. The stalks await some inspiration.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
It was also time to start cutting down the Brussels sprouts. The 4 Gustus plants were the first to go.

Pea Shoots and Fava Leaves
I cut a good amount of pea shoots from the plants that are growing in the cover crop for the future tomato/pepper bed. And then I picked a few fava leaves as well. I just realized that I didn't photograph the first harvest of Robin Hood fava beans. We enjoyed those first favas sauteed with some shallots and a mix of pea shoots and fava leaves piled on top of toast with ricotta all drenched with some homemade chicken broth. That is comfort food to me.

Pink Plume Celery
All the celery is bolting now. You can see a flower stalk at the top of the photo. The celery is still quite tasty though and even the young flower stalks are tender enough to slice up and enjoy.

Gladiator Parsnips
The parsnips were putting on some new leafy growth so I figured that the flower stalks would be close behind. That's the final harvest of all the remaining roots.

Nelson Carrots
All the carrots need to be pulled also. There's some funky looking roots in the mix but they still taste great. There still some carrots left in the garden so I'll have more to show next week.

Bolero and Nelson Carrots

Batavia Broccoli
The overwintered Calabrese broccoli hit the compost bin this weekend but the winter planted Batavia broccoli is putting out some great side shoots.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Something New in the Garden and it's Not Good

It seemed to appear overnight.

From where?

I've never seen it in my garden before.


Look at my poor onions.

Don't see it?

How about this one.

Killer fuzz.

Downy Mildew seems to be the likely culprit. Lots of rain and mild temperatures seem to be helping it along. A good hot dry spell might knock it back.

In the meantime I gave all of the alliums a good spray of Serenade fungicide.

Fingers crossed.

I sure hope the onions aren't doomed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Harvest Monday - March 27, 2017

It's catchup time for harvest reporting because I was away for a few weeks. Before I left I harvested a number of the usual suspects.

Pink Plume Celery

Peppermint Stick and Golden Chard

Syrian Medieval Chard

Brussels Sprouts
I don't remember what I did with most of the late February harvest except for some of the Brussels sprouts which I shredded and dehydrated.

And just before I departed I harvested the first somewhat immature heads of Batavia broccoli, some about to bolt Mizunarubasoi, and perhaps something else that I can't remember now because I gave all those veggies away without making any record of the harvests.

The garden fared pretty well in my absence so I was able to resume harvests of a number of the overwintered vegetables.

Starica and Nelson Carrots
The carrots are still sweet and crunchy although some of them are getting a bit weird shaped.

Purple Sun Carrot and Pink Plume Celery
One of the celery plants started to bolt just before I left so I cut out the main shoot, the side shoots are starting to bolt but the plant still has some nice stalks. The other celery plant is slower to bolt so it still has really nice stalks. They are still crunchy, not too stringy, and great tasting. I used some of those stalks plus a carrot and some of the sprouts below to make a Brussels Sprouts slaw with what has become my favorite dressing of creme fraiche, horseradish, rice bran (or peanut) oil, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts

The Mizunarubasoi is still good eating even though it is bolting. It makes a great substitute for rapini. Last night I blanched and sauteed some to accompany some slow cooked Petaluma Gold Rush beans that I had simmered in a seasoned slightly sweet tomato sauce.

Batavia Broccoli
The side shoots that I found on the Batavia broccoli when I got home were bigger than the main heads that I harvested three weeks previously. We enjoyed a couple of those in a veggie saute.

Syrian Medieval Chard
I harvested most of the leaves off of one of the Syrian Medieval chard clumps (I allow 2 or 3 plants to grow together in a clump) because it is starting to bolt. We enjoyed that prepared in a Mediterranean style with chopped onion, pine nuts, currants, and a splash of red wine vinegar.

It was a delight to come home to veggies fresh from the garden. The one thing I miss most when traveling is good vegetables, they are so hard to find in restaurants and completely impractical to carry when backpacking.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dear Garden, How Did You Fare While I Was Away?

My poor veggie garden was on its own for over three weeks while Dave and I were away tramping the trails in New Zealand. I expected to find a total mess when I got home. Visions of bird pecked, rat ravaged, mouse bitten, bug infested plants filled my head. I figured I would find blooming Brussels Sprouts and a host of other bolting overwintered plants. The wild wet weather of January and February gave way to warm sunny dry days as soon as we left, so I added parched puny seedlings to the list of woes because I was counting on rain and hadn't turned the irrigation system on. Would there be anything left that was edible?

Much to my relief, the worst of my fears didn't materialize.

The cover crop in Bed #1 was just getting going at the end of February. I removed the protective Agribon cover the afternoon that we left which left a lot of small tasty seedlings at the mercy of the birds. I guess the abundant rain this winter has provided the birds with enough natural greens that they don't have to come to the all-you-can-eat buffet that my garden provided during the past few dry winters.

Even the tender new pea shoots that are usually a favorite bird snack have been spared. I'll be plucking these tender greens for myself.

Fava leaves also tend to be bird fodder every spring, but so far the plants are intact. I usually have to cover the plants with netting or fabric almost as soon as they germinate, but this year it hasn't been necessary, so far...

Some of the early planted Robin Hood Fava plants even have beans that are mature enough to harvest! I usually have to wait until the end of April or early May for the first favas. Not sure what is going on with that foliage, but it isn't affecting all the plants so I'm not concerned.

Robin Hood Fava Beans

The overwintered Aji Amarillo plants are looking quite shabby but still have a lot of life left. I removed the top cover before I left because the chance of frost was nearly zero and I wanted them to get more light and rain but didn't have time to dismantle the entire protective cover. I'll wait another few weeks before I trim them back and move them.

Over in Bed #3 things are coming along better than expected.

The broccoli plants are protected by hardware cloth and fabric. The plants produced their main heads just before I left, I had to harvest them on the small side and give them away because I didn't have time to either eat or preserve them.

Hidden away in all that foliage I found three really nice side shoots and there should be more to come.

Batavia Broccoli

Merlo Nero and Gangbusters Spinach
The spinach seemed to fare well. A brief look revealed a few bolting Merlo Nero plants and some super sized leaves of Gangbusters spinach. The few Golden Corn Salad plants that I left between the rows have filled in the gaps between the Merlo Nero and been overwhelmed by the Gangbusters.

There were just a few weeds growing amongst the onion seedlings. Most of what is growing with the onions is baby Cilician parsley plants that I plan on harvesting as babies. The onions don't seem to mind the competition so far but I've already started to cut the parsley plants that are closest to the onions.

Shallots in the foreground are doing ok. They are still small because I planted them rather late.

There were some casualties in the I'itoi onion patch. I planted them too close together and all the rain knocked them over and the plants that were most crowded in the center started to rot. I cut all the plants down to a couple of inches the week or two before I left, but it wasn't enough to save some of them. I hope I'll get enough good bulbs to make a better effort at growing them again next season.

Bed #4 is where most of the messes are.

There's good and bad in the Brussels Sprouts. The Gustus variety held up the best with a number of decent sprouts ready to harvest. There were lots of aphids in the plants, especially in the leafy tops, but there are also quite a few hoverfly larvae chowing down and helping to clean up the mess.

The Hestia variety didn't fare quite as well, the remaining sprouts aren't quite as nice and this one plant is definitely bolting and suffering from some rotted greenery, but I think there's still sprouts to salvage.

The chard looks good but I noticed that the Syrian Medieval chard is starting to bolt. That's ok, I'll use it first and then move on to the Golden and Peppermint Stick chards which usually bolt later in the spring. The shoots of the Syrian chard are supposed to be good eating also.

There is some bolting happening in the celery patch, one of the plants is starting to go, but the other plant still has some excellent stalks. It's time to sow the new round of seeds, the celery that I'm harvesting now was sown on March 2 last year.

Another holdover from last year is the Dazzling Blue kale. There's 2 plants there, only one of which is bolting.

Another bolter is the Tronchuda Beira cabbage/kale. It started to bolt back in February at which time I cut out the main stem and all the large leaves and left some side shoots that I would have harvested if I had been around to do so.

The good new is that the parsnips haven't bolted.

And neither have the remaining carrots.

The carrots that I sowed just before I left are pushing at the Agribon covering.

Radishes that I sowed are also looking pretty good.

Late started radicchio is looking better than expected.

But I am a bit disappointed at the kohlrabi which seems to be rather slow to size up. But at least it's alive and not totally infested with aphids which were starting to colonize when I left.

So that's the state of the garden after more than 3 weeks of complete and total neglect. Not as bad as expected. Now I have to get cracking on sowing spring vegetables, tomatoes, and peppers. Oh and there's a boat load of weeds that need to be dealt with too.