Monday, March 22, 2010

Harvest Monday - March 22, 2010

Spring has sprung in a big way in the vegetable garden. We've had wonderful warm and sunny days the in the past week and the vegetables seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.

Here's the first Even' Star American Rapa that I've picked this year (the large leaves in the back). I managed to get my timing just right with this crop since the Olive Leaf Rapini that I've been harvesting for the last few weeks has just finished and I'm pulling out the plants. The seeds for this green came from Fedco last year. Here's the descriptive blurb from the catalog:
3490RO Even’Star American Rapa OG (27 days for mesclun, 40 days to full leaf) Brassica oleracea “A real trooper,” according to breeder Brett Grohsgal, for its speed of growth and sweetness of leaf. A vigorous mild-flavored relative of the more well-known kales and collards without the hairy leaves and bitter or pungent taste of most European rapas. This strain, developed in southern Maryland, was selected for strong autumn growth, winter survival, spring re-growth and tolerance to BL and PM. Smooth slightly lobed leaves best when harvested at 9", though younger smaller leaves may be snipped for mesclun. Plants hug the ground much better than collards, helping account for its cold tolerance. Sweeter than most kales or collards, with a more delicate flavor. Though it doesn’t tipburn in heat, it is adapted for cool season rather than summer plantings. MD-certified.  
It's interesting that the description compares them mostly to kales and collards, I've found them to be more like rapini in flavor and tenderness. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to try a less bitter rapini type of green rather than as a kale or collard substitute.

These plants were started in paper pots on January 18, indoors, than moved out to the garden under a remay covered tunnel. The protection was more to keep the critters from munching than for the cold. I sowed 4 seeds per paper pot, most of which germinated and thinned to 3 plants per pot. I didn't thin again until last week. The plants seem to do fine with some initial crowding, then I start cutting plants at the soil line when they are fairly large. Once I'm down to a single plant in each space then I will harvest just the leaves until the plants start bolting, then the whole plant is harvested. Forty days to full leaf harvest seems to be an accurate timing if you start picking as recommended when they get to 9 inches. I've found that the larger leaves are fine to my taste, so I let them grow longer before harvesting. Now that I'm harvesting these plants I need to start some more, this time it's back to the Olive Leaf Rapini.

The basket also contains tender young fava leaves and some beet thinnings. I blanched the rapa and then sauteed it with the fava leaves and the greens from a large beet that I harvested that day. Another harvest of rapa yesterday was sauteed with Golden Chard along with some pine nuts and currants.

Here's the rest of the harvest for last week:

Chioggia Beets - 14 oz.
Beet Thinnings - 1.75 oz.
Golden Chard - 16 oz.
Fava Leaves - 3 oz.
Green Garlic - 3 oz.
Even' Star American Rapa - 24.75 oz.
Red Florence Fennel - 5.25 oz.

Total for the week - 67.75 oz. or 4 lb., 3.75 oz.
Total for the year - 38 lb., 4 oz.
Eggs this week - 13

If you would like to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting head on over to Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday.


  1. I must try eating the leaves of my broad beans, but will wait for the second sowing to grow a little. The first sowing over-wintered so may be a bit tougher.

  2. That rapa sounds interesting, as I've never acuired a taste for rapini or rabe.

    Reading about everyone's chard harvests reminds me I need to grow some this year!

  3. I have never grown rapa or rapini and would love to try growing them sometime. It’s interesting that it takes such a short time for them to grow.

  4. I've never tasted either rapa or rapini, so a collard or kale substitute is a fine description for me. I wonder if most of their customers are the same way and that is why the used the comparison. I just love the fast greens in the spring. 30-40 days to harvest is a godsend when I've been green deprived for too long.

  5. I like the description of American rapa, I'll have to make a note to order it later. BTW where did you get your crimson flower fava bean seeds? I've been growing Windsor on and off, it's time to branch out to try a different variety.
    Would your fava bean production drop off when you harvest the tips regularly?

  6. I've read that young fava bean shoots are incredibly tasty. I wonder if they taste like pea shoots.

  7. Jan, if your over-wintered plants are still putting out new leaves then you can try some of those. I harvest just one compound leaf from the top of a stem, the ones that have just barely uncurled.


    villager, the rapa is a good "starter" rapini. I still haven't developed a taste for full on bitter rapini, I find that blanching it first reduces the bitterness, but I still prefer to mix it with more mild greens like chard, spinach, beet greens, or fava leaves. Chile pepper flakes help also, if you like spice!


    vrtlarica, speediness is one of the best things about growing rapini. Some of the Italian varieties are actually named for the number of days to harvest -Quarantina, Sessantina, Novantina, etc. If you have a tolerance, or liking, for bitter vegetables then you should definitely try it.


    Daphne, I was thinking that the description must allude to kale and collards because that is what most Americans would be familiar with, but it doesn't seem quite fair since rapa really is quite a different green. I love the spring greens also. Even though I can harvest some greens through the winter, they don't seem to be a tender and sweet as the new spring ones.


    Mac, I noticed when I lifted the description from the Fedco website that they are sold out of the Even' Star rapa . . .

    My original crimson flowering fava seeds came from a Seed Savers Exchange member a few years ago. They no longer list with SSE, but there are a couple of other members that are offering it. But, I also have seeds that I saved last year that you could try. I decided to grow a couple of different varieties of favas this year because I wanted a quicker crop. The only thing that I don't like about the crimson flowering ones is that they took a long time to produce beans for me.


    Thomas, the young fava leaves are incredibly tasty, not quite as sweet as pea shoots, but really good. I just pick one of the top most leaves from a stalk and leave the rest of the shoot to continue to grow. You could snip the whole tip of the stalk off, some gardeners find that that helps to make the plant put out more shoots, but the varieties that I'm growing are already putting out multiple stalks per plant so I leave the tip of the stalk in place.

  8. The greens look tempting and so pretty in that basket. I tend to dislike bitter greens and generally avoid growing items from families that have that characteristic. I sure admire how pretty many of them are though!

  9. I wonder, from your description, if I'd like fava shoots. The beans leave me kind of cold. I'm so excited about seeing your harvest pictures again.

  10. Your greens look great! I added some Rapa Da Foglia seeds to one of my mesclun mixes this winter - it grew large really fast. I didn't think about blanching/sauteing it - I'll have to try that next winter.

    Did you do anything special when you planted your bare root fig trees? I planted 2 in Feb that were imported from the Mainland and I haven't been able to get them to grow. There's no signs of life after 1 month. This was the first time I've tried to plant bare root trees so I might have killed them!

  11. Thanks! Getting lots of ideas for what to plant in my garden. Going to check out harvest Monday, too.

  12. We have an actual kale called Even' Star that has smooth leaves and is very cold tolerant. I wonder what the Even' Star name is all about...interesting.

    I'm going to have to try growing rapini again, yours looks and sounds so delicious.


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