Monday, April 26, 2010

Harvest Monday - April 26, 2010


plus Sixteen

equals Thirty-one

Oh dear, yes, that's 31 pounds of fava beans that I picked on Saturday. I waded through the bean patch picking beans as my husband sat on my little yellow garden stool catching the beans as I tossed them to him. He did help me to shell them before he left to watch a local high school baseball game. And just when I had all the beans blanched and ready to peel a friend showed up and offered to help me with that task. It was really quite pleasant - friend, favas and fine sparkling wine. And of course my husband reappeared just in time to help with the last bit of beans and bubbly. I made another batch of the fava dip and now I need to come up with a few more ways to use them. A lot of them are frozen for future use.

I harvested another pound or so of beans earlier in the week to try some grilled favas. I've read about grilling favas and always forgotten to try them prepared that way until after the harvest. This time I remembered and am I glad I did, they are delicious! It is the easiest way to prepare favas. Toss the fresh picked pods in a little olive oil, place them on a hot barbecue, stovetop ridged grill pan, under the broiler, whatever. Cook them until the skins start to develop blackened spots. Remove them from the heat and sprinkle them with some coarse salt and pepper, perhaps some chopped garlic and/or pepper flakes and serve. The beans steam in the pods and become tender. As you pop the beans out of the pods your fingers pick up the seasonings and flavor the beans.  And the biggest surprise is that the pods are delicious also, the only part that isn't good is the stem end and strings that run the length of the bean. Small pods that haven't developed strings yet can be eaten whole. It's a great appetizer if you don't mind getting your fingers messy.

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

Golden Chard - 1 lb., 9.75 oz.
Favas - 32 lb., 2.25 oz.
Green Garlic - 1.5 oz. (what I remembered to weigh)
Cimmaron lettuce - 3.75 oz.
Noga lettuce - 3.75 oz.
Scallions - 10 oz.
Lumper potatoes - .5 oz.
Negresse potatoes - 3 oz.
Sorrel - 1.25 oz.
Strawberries - 8.5 oz.

The total for the week - 35 lb., 12.25 oz.
The total for the year - 112 lb., 1.5 oz.
Eggs last week - 22

If you would like to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately you should head on over to Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday. I hope to see a report of your harvest there!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Harvest Monday - April 19, 2010

Harvest Monday is here again and the garden has been bountiful. Even if this post wasn't covering two weeks of harvests it would still be bountiful.

Yesterday I harvested all the potatoes to make room for the peppers. Two of the potato varieties that I grew came to my attention in William Woys Weaver's book 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From. The purple potato is Negresse, aka Vitelotte Noir, Lila Susanne, Truffe de Chine, and more. I have doubts about this potato though, I'm not sure that it is actually Negresse, the plant is supposed to have dark black-brown stems and my plants didn't look like that. It is beautiful, even if it isn't true to type. The real proof will be in the eating, it is supposed to have a nutty truffle flavor, we'll see. This potato is actually a different species from other potatoes, Solanum ajanhuiri, a less domesticated cousin of the typical  Solanum tuberosum varieties of potatoes. The flesh of this potato is dark purple to the core. This potato is quite rare and the only place I've found it is through a Seed Savers Exchange member.

The white potato is looking true to type, it's name is Lumper. This is the potato that caused the great famine in Ireland in the 1840's. Other than it's susceptibility to blight it is supposed to be a very versatile potato, it works well as a boiling potato, a baking potato, a grating potato and a roasting potato, and it's supposed to be very good tasting as well - no wonder everyone grew it back then.

The pink potato is Cherries Jubilee. I requested this one from a Seed Savers Exchange member because I liked the name. It produced the most potatoes by weight of the three varieties, you can see how much larger this variety can be. I used a couple small Cherries Jubilee potatoes last night on a pizza that also included fava beans, green garlic and chorizo. When I sliced the potatoes I found that the interior is marbled with the same pink color as the skin. I didn't taste the potato by itself, just on the pizza with all the other toppings, so I can't really comment on it's flavor or texture yet. My husband managed to scarf down all the extra pre-roasted slices that wouldn't fit on the pizza before I had a chance to taste them.

Next up is some baby Cimarron red romaine lettuce. I used this in a salad with the lemon-mustard-honey dressing that I mentioned in a previous post in addition to snipped chives, fresh tarragon, and toasted sliced almonds and . . .

wedges of one big fat roasted Burpee's Golden Beet on the side. At last, my first Burpee's Golden beet from the garden - it was delicious.

The fava beans are rolling in now, I picked 15 lb., 4 oz. of pods last Saturday, which came to 4 lb. 1oz. of shelled beans, and 2 pounds of peeled beans. I made a spread (puree, dip, whatever you want to call it) that my husband loves and we had it on Sardinian parchment bread with feta cheese crumbled on top. I was joking with my husband about the dish that it was quite the Mediterranean melange - a Moroccan spread on Italian bread with Greek Feta. The recipe for the spread is here.

Here's the harvest totals for the last two weeks:

Burpee's Golden Beets - 10.75 oz.
Piracicaba Broccoli (new plants) - 1.5 oz.
Golden Chard - 1 lb., 2.75 oz.
Fava Beans (Pods) - 20 lb., 1 oz.
Green Garlic - 8.75 oz. (what I weighed, there was more)
Cimarron Romaine Lettuce - about 8 oz. (I forgot to weigh it)
Mizuna - 1 lb., 1.5 oz.
Red "Scallions" - 1 lb., 9 oz.
Even' Star American Rapa - 2 lb., 11.5 oz.
Cherries Jubilee Potatoes - 4 lb., 2.75 oz.
Lumper Potatoes - 2 lb., 4.25 oz.
Negresse Potatoes - 1 lb., 14 oz.
Strawberries - 2 oz.

The total for the two weeks should be - 37 lb., 9 oz.
The total for the year is - 76 lb., 5.25 oz.

Egg count for the last two weeks was 16.

You can see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately if you go to Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tomatoes Are Planted Out

I planted out my tomatoes last Friday and didn't have time to blog about it since I was taking off for a few days of R&R. This bed is destined to be filled with solanums. So far, half of it is home to tomato plants, the potatoes are still plugging along way back there on the left, I'll have to dig them soon, ready or not. There's a couple of kohlrabi that I'm hoping will size up soon. Actually, I dug up one other kohlrabi plant and transplanted it to the brassica bed and so far it is doing ok so I will probably transplant the other two plants sometime this week. The Golden Chard is producing like crazy and showing no signs of bolting in spite of overwintering in that spot. I don't think that they will transplant well so I've started some new plants to put into another bed. The scallions that you can see in the foreground will be big enough to harvest soon. As I clear out the older veggies in this bed I will be planting out some of the many pepper plants that are still residing in the mini-greenhouse.

This bed got my usual amendments of crab meal, sulfate of potash, humic acid, and a slow release turkey poop based 4-6-4 fertilizer. For a 50 square foot bed (the area of the tomato planting) I use about 5 pounds of crab meal, 1/2 pound of potash, and 1 pound of humic acid. I'm less precise about the turkey poop fertilizer, I just scattered some over the surface of the bed, probably about 1 1/2 pounds. I also added about a pound of ground eggshells. I generally don't dig compost into the soil but I like to spread a generous amount as mulch. The old mulch of compost will get turned into the soil eventually.  I don't add any amendments to the planting hole for tomatoes, the amendments are dug into the entire bed. Putting amendments into the planting hole doesn't make sense to me. The plants will quickly spread their roots well beyond the planting hole where they won't be able to access the nutrients, the nutrients need to be everywhere that the roots are.

I'm experimenting with covering the tomato cages with plastic sheeting to create greenhouse conditions for a while. The nighttime temperatures dip down into the low 40's and high 30's still, so I'm hoping that the plastic will provide a bit of protection from the cold. I'm also hoping since our nighttime temperatures don't stay above 50F until well into June that the plastic will keep the plants warm enough at night to get some fruits to set earlier and I might get to harvest some tomatoes in August rather than having to wait until September. We'll see . . .

So, if you happen to be wondering what could pull me away from my garden for a few days here's a hint:

If you would like to see more of that check out my other post today.

How To Get Me Away From My Garden

So, if you really couldn't care less about what pulls me away from the garden at the height of the planting season for a bit of R&R you should skip this post, there's NOTHING about gardening here.

My husband and I drove most of the way across the state in pouring rain on Sunday. Not really an auspicious start to a few days of outdoor activities with a couple of good friends. Not long after we got to our destination the rain turned to snow. . .  Fortunately, we had a cozy room booked at a place with big roaring fireplaces and a good restaurant. I had also packed a big fat page turner just in case I decided that I didn't want to deal with the elements (I am a fair weather outdoor adventurer).

Monday morning the scheduled activity was a guided photography walk with my friend J-. Here's the best shot I managed to get.

Halfway through the walk it started to snow again and I put my camera away. The next few hours were spent in front of the fire with that page turner.  The guys were less sensitive about the cold than J- and I and spent the afternoon slogging through the snow on a hike. J- and I got out again that afternoon in hopes that the clouds would part and we could get in a good walk. Mother nature did not cooperate, it started to snow again.

The next day, the sun was out! Hooray, time for a group hike. Here's my husband at the trailhead.

By now you've figured out where we were. What the sign doesn't tell you is that that 3.5 mile hike also takes you up more than 2500 feet. There were many views of Half Dome on the way up.

You can see what a spectacularly beautiful day it was. There was one lookout where you could see the upper fall, the middle cascade and the lower fall, but it was impossible to get it all into one photograph. The peak flow for Yosemite falls occurs in May but I think the flow this week was pretty close. What the photographs can't convey are the roar of the falls cascading down the cliffs. Our destination for the hike was the high point to the left of the top of the upper fall.

Upper Fall

Middle Cascade and Lower Fall

Here's a first for this blog, a photograph of me. I'm on the right and that's my friend J- on the left. The baggy hiking pants, gaiters, and funky hat don't make for the most flattering photograph, but so be it, I don't ever seem to be in front of the camera when I'm looking my best.

I took a lot of photographs of Half Dome. Who could resist? Our next trip to Yosemite will probably involve a hike to the top of Half Dome.

A glimpse of the very top of Upper Yosemite Fall from our destination. I was really happy to have the funky gaiters and warm water proof boots going through the snow at the top of the trail. It was amazing to see the various types of footwear on the hikers that day, including one guy in loafers. My feet were warm and dry.

Here's my husband and our friend B- (J-'s hubby) at the top. J- turned back when the trail got too snowy, she was leery of re-injuring a previously sprained ankle. What a spectacular view!

The next day my husband, J- and I took a beginning lesson in rock climbing.  B- didn't need a lesson, he's an experienced and passionate climber of rocks, ice, and mountains . . . big mountains. At the moment he is training to climb Denali, he's taking the difficult way up, he's good . . . Anyway, here's a couple photos of me on my first day ever of rock climbing.

I had a blast and am ready to do it again! My husband and J- both said "that was fun but I don't need to do it again". I was incredibly surprised by how much fun I had, I always used to think that rock climbers were nuts. Not only that but I don't really like heights. B- said that he would take me climbing again sometime this summer - I can't wait.

The next day we had to leave so we just took one quick hike to Mirror Lake in the morning. I didn't feel like lugging my camera with me so there's no photographs to show. Now I'm home again, back to the garden,  catch up on the blogging. Those peppers really need to be planted.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Harvest Monday - April 5, 2010

It looks like it was Beet Week last week, at least in terms of photographs. The top photo is of baby Golden Beets from Renee's Seeds. I sowed the seeds for those beets on January 13 in paper pots indoors under my light setup. I didn't note when I planted them out, probably early February. Since beet seeds are compound seeds you usually get more than one seedling per seed. Those babies are the thinnings from the clumps of seedlings. Each clump is now down to one seedling per paper pot and I'll leave them to grow to full size. I cut the tops off of the baby beets, wrapped the roots together in foil and roasted them in the oven (400 or 450F) for about 30 minutes. The warm beets were run under cold water a bit so that I could handle them, the skins rubbed off and then I dressed the warm beets with some olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper and they were promptly consumed with great delight by my husband and me.

The bottom photo is of a huge Chioggia beet, probably sown at the end of last August and planted out in mid-September (I don't have a record of sowing Chioggia beets between then and January of this year and that monster didn't get that big in 2 months). It sat there through the winter, hardly growing, and then in the last month it ballooned up. I was half expecting it to bolt suddenly, but it showed no signs of a flower stalk. Surprisingly enough it was not at all woody or fibrous. I thought it would take forever to roast it whole (and I didn't want to waste the effort of cooking it if it turned out to be woody) so I peeled it, cut it vertically into 8 wedges, placed the wedges on a bed of garlic greens and thyme and drizzled them with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, covered tightly with foil and roasted at 450F for about 45 minutes, then finished it uncovered for another 15 minutes. I served it with a drizzle of sherry vinegar (my favorite vinegar with beets, have you noticed?). Wow, it was really good. Here's one thing that I noticed about Chioggia beets, if you roast them whole with the skins on the flesh comes out pink, when I roasted the big one cut into wedges the flesh came out white, either way you lose the pink stripes that can be seen in the raw root.

So, unfortunately, I lost my record of what I harvested and the weights for last week, but here's what I can remember.

Renee's Golden Beets
Chioggia Beet
Butterhead lettuce - 1 lb est.
Green Garlic
Fava beans (the first!)
Golden Chard
13 eggs

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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Garden Tour on March 31, 2010 - Part II

Elsewhere in the garden . . .  Here's some volunteer borage plants. Last year I started some plants in 6-packs and never got around to finding a spot for them. The 6-packs sat on the ground in this bed, sent roots down through their containers, bloomed and dropped seeds. And this winter, well, those seeds sprouted and I let them grow. It sure is happy.

While I'm on the subject of herbs, here's my Syrian Oregano plant. I planted this last year and watched while it grew very modestly and just let it grow. This spring it is putting out lots of luscious tender new growth. Right after I took these photos I cut the plant down to about 6 inches and am drying the stalks. Oregano is one herb that I prefer dried to fresh, the flavor of fresh oregano is too harsh for my taste, drying sweetens it. Syrian oregano is particularly strong. The aroma of the leaves as they dry is wonderful, I think it's going to taste great dried.

A volunteer catnip plant growing with my potted Makrut lime. The flowers on this catnip are huge and colorful. I don't have the heart to pull it out of the pot because it is so pretty. At the moment the lime is not at all pretty so I didn't take a photo of it.

The Pink Flowering caper bush putting out new growth. I grew this plant from seeds that I got from a SSE member in Italy. I have other plants from the same seed source that produce the usual white flowers. Those plants are in pots in a more exposed area of the garden and haven't grown as much yet.

These are my first caper bushes that I mailed ordered at least 8 or 9 years ago. I cut them back hard this winter and they are coming back as strong as ever.

One of the Croatian caper bushes growing atop the wall in front of the house. I never did get around to pruning them. The Croatian capers produced the most buds for me last year, but then, they are my only bushes that aren't confined to pots.

One branch that is growing right up against the upper part of the wall is blooming already.

Here's an oddity. This looks to be a butternut squash or something similar. The plant sprouted from seeds that were in the compost that I dug into this area last fall. The plant started growing late last fall and survived the winter frosts and chill, and the deer, it's outside the deer fence. I wonder if it will produce any squash, or for that matter, any squash worth eating.

This sight brought me a lot of joy. Those fat buds on the mulberry weren't just wishful thinking on my part, it's leafing out!

I need to get the tomato/pepper bed ready soon, look at how those babies have grown.

Thanks for joining me for my latest garden tour, I hope you enjoyed it.