Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Monday - November 28, 2011 (Plus a bit of an update)

I managed to photograph one of my harvests last week. The short days at this time of year often find me harvesting at the end of the day in the failing light and once I get done there isn't enough natural light left to take a decent photograph so I skip it. For this harvest I took the camera with me to the garden and just got the job done before the veggies even got out of the harvest basket.

The only thing new in this basket is a small harvest of Corazon de Paloma peppers, a small podded pepper with a big chile bite. I dried these using my 200°F slow roast in the oven method. I'm hoping to be able to harvest a few more ripe peppers from the garden before we get our first freeze of the season. Last year the first freeze came the night of November 24 and the year before it came on December 8. We had one freeze warning a couple of weeks ago but it didn't get that cold this close to the coast. And now, dare I mention it, we are enjoying one of those amazing warm spells that we can have here at this time of year and it is forecast to hold through the coming weekend.

This is about half of the Stregonta Borlotti beans that I harvested. I took a photograph of the harvest before the beans obscured the rest of the harvest. I harvested over 2 pounds of beans in their pods that day but I'm only including shelled beans that I've cooked in the totals shown below. The 8 ounces of beans that I shelled this week were included in my annual post-Thanksgiving pot of Turkey-Vegetable soup.

This is another head of Piracicaba broccoli from the fall planting. The other greens in the basket are shoots from the Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli that is a holdover from the spring planting, the fall planting hasn't started producing yet. It's nice that the Piracicaba broccoli produces rather quickly and the Di Sarno broccoli matures later, I can't say that I planned it that way, it just so happens to be.

The only other new item was the first harvest of Lacinato kale for human consumption, the chickens have been getting kale treats for weeks already but I don't weigh that. I used it to make Kale Caesar Salad. Oh wow, was that good, I got it right on the first attempt, I don't need to do any recipe adjustments for my taste. My husband is already asking when we're going to have it again.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Stregonta borlotti beans - 8 oz.
Chioggia beets - 13.3 oz. (w/o aphidy greens)
Egyptische Platronde beets - 15.9 oz. (w/o aphidy greens)
Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli - 22.8 oz (spring planting)
Piracicba broccoli - 14.7 oz.
Lacinato kale - 15.5 oz.
Big Jim newmex chile peppers - 4.5 oz.
Corazon de Paloma chile peppers - 7.3 oz.
Shishito peppers - 6 oz.

The total harvests for the week were - 6 lb., 12.3 oz.
The total harvests for the year have been - 555 lb., 13.6 oz.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

And now for a bit of an update on what's growing in the garden. I cleared out the space where the Tarbais and Musica pole beans and the cucumbers where growing and now I've got a new crop of water bottles and row cover going. Just kidding, the water bottle cloches are protecting new plantings of Flamingo chard (4 in the foreground) and Guntmadingen Winter Spinach. The rowcover in the rear is protecting newly transplanted Renee's Golden Beets.

Here's the September planting of Guntmadingen Winter Spinach (what's left of it after the sow bugs munched on the seedlings) which I've not bothered to uncover to photograph until last week. It looks like I need to harvest some of it.

This variety of Spinach has a very interesting cut leaf. I can't wait to try it, last winter I found it to be very sweet tasting for spinach, with less of the oxalic acid tang and fuzziness that most spinaches have when eaten raw. I think that this will make a really good wilted spinach salad.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Harvest Monday - November 21, 2011 and Happy Thanksgiving

This is the time of year when the baccatuum and chinense chiles that I experiment with start to trickle in. Both species ripen very late and it is often a race with the frost and cold weather induced diseases to see if I'll get any ripe peppers at all. And this year I'm also competing with the rats (what don't those buggers eat?!). I love the aromatic flavors of most of the peppers of these two species, however, most varieties tend to be extremely hot (habaneros and kin), which isn't really my thing, I'm a wimpy chile head. Last week I harvested two varieties of baccatuum chiles that are new to me, on the left is Aji Habanero and on the right is Rainforest. Which of these two varieties do you suppose is the hot one?

I preserved both varieties by removing the stems, cutting them in half from tip to tail, scraping out the seeds and then slow baked them in a 200°F oven until they were dry and crisp, about 2 hours or so.

I also harvested another head of Dorato di Asti celery that day. I've been using most of the celery in chopped salads with various other ingredients. One day it was a Waldorf type salad with apples, walnuts, and manchego cheese. Another day it was with pomegranate arils, toasted pecans, olives, and feta cheese. Yet another combo was with chicken, avocado, and pomegranate arils. The dressing varies, but is usually just a simple drizzle of any one of the many vinegars that I keep on hand plus a generous dose of my favorite extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. The salads are never the same. And I also tried a variation on that old peanut butter & celery thing, only I used cashew butter and slivers of medjool dates.

The only other new item in the harvest basket was some Big Jim newmex chiles that I didn't get around to photographing. Those were used in my favorite Turkish eggplant stew that I mentioned in my harvest post last week.

Here's the harvest totals for the past week:

Di Sarno calabrese broccoli - 10.8 oz.
Tenderheart napa cabbage - 4 lb., 13.7 oz. (weighed after trimming off spoiled leaves)
Dorato di Asti celery - 3 lb., 1.2 oz.
Aji Habanero chile peppers - 8.9 oz.
Rainforest chile peppers - 8.9 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 4.4 oz.
Big Jim peppers - 8.8 oz.

The total for the week was - 10lb., 11.7 oz.
The totals for the year have been - 549 lb., 7.3 oz.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

As an aside, I was musing on a short article that I read in the paper about a drought in one remote corner of Afghanistan which will result in food shortages for 2 million people. It made me think about how chic "local & sustainable" food has become in our overfed, anything is available at any time world of food. Local and sustainable has a different meaning for people in that part of the world, if they don't produce enough local food they may go hungry, they may face starvation, they can't fill in the gaps of local food production by driving to the grocery store and stocking up on imported food. Don't get me wrong, I am not against the "local & sustainable" movement, I believe that it is very important to support our local food producers, but let's also be thankful for the system we have that keeps our grocery stores stocked no matter the weather or political winds. I can't imagine that our local population could be adequately fed by relying on our local "foodshed". So, in light of the holiday to come, one of the many things that I'm giving thanks for is to be living in a part of the world where my vegetable garden is considered a hobby or perhaps even a luxury by those without the space or free time to devote to a garden. I'm thankful that if the rats ate every danged veggie in my garden I don't have to go hungry, I would throw a major hissy fit and then head on down to the farmer's market to stock up on some local & sustainable produce.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, where ever in the world you are, regardless of whether you celebrate this holiday, my favorite holiday of the year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Garden in November, 2011

It's time for an overview of the garden for the month of November.

I've got a temporary addition to the garden, I'm raising 3 new chickens to add to the existing flock. They will be in the cage for a couple more weeks and then they get to join the old girls.

They do love their kale treats.

Here's the bulk of the winter brassicas. Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli in the rear left, Piracicaba to the right of that, Lacinato Kale in the front right, and some laggard Portuguese Tronchuda cabbage to the front left. Buttercrunch lettuce is interplanted with the brassicas.

The Piracicaba broccoli is already forming heads. I harvested this one yesterday.

I took these photos just before I cleaned out the old bean trellises. That area has now been cleaned out, turned over and is ready for the spinach, chard, and beet transplants that I started a few weeks ago.

The Lacinato kale is really happy this fall. I'm really looking forward to experimenting with kale caesar salad recipes.

Pixie baby cabbages are in the foreground. They have a way to go before they start forming heads.

One of the Buttercrunch lettuces is something else, very pretty, but definitely not a Buttercrunch.

Guntmadingen spinach getting quite big and not minding the weed competition very much. I've got another sowing of these ready to plant out.

The solanum bed is in all stages of decline. The Amish Paste tomatoes are half dead but still producing.

I think this is Katja, dead dead dead.

Fiaschetto is dead but still hanging on to the old tomatoes. The chickens have been loving these.

The intertwined Chianti Rose and Japanese Trifele are still hanging in there

And still producing tomatoes. The last couple of Chianti Rose that I harvested like this and let ripen on the kitchen counter tasted pretty good!

The Japanese Trifele just doesn't want to quit.

The Aunt Ruby's German cherry is still looking might green as well (including the tomatoes).

The Pimento de Padron peppers are hanging in there and I managed to harvest enough peppers for a nice appetizer the other night. The short days and cold weather have really slowed them down though, there are still tiny young peppers on the plants but they are growing very slooowly.

The same goes for the eggplant, there are young fruits on most of the plants but they just aren't getting very big. I'll probably harvest them as babies, but I'm waiting for that first frost warning, well, actually the second frost warning, we already had one but the frost didn't hit here.

Orient Express eggplant

Rosa Bianca eggplant

Diamond eggplant

Across the way, the napa cabbage patch is thinning out.

The last Hybrid One Kilo is looking good.

This Tenderheart is looking overgrown and when I harvested it the other day I found it to be spoiling. I did manage to salvage about half of it.

I tucked some Ear of The Devil lettuce seedlings into the cabbage patch a few of weeks ago.

And what's left of the Sweetie Baby romaine lettuces look like they will hold for a while. I was harvesting most of the patch as they started to bolt in a warm spell last month. These seem to have resisted the urge.

The oldest part of the beet patch is looking scraggly, the ants and aphids created a mess and disfigured much of the foliage but most of the remaining roots are ok.

The newer beets are not so infested so they look a lot better but they are in desperate need of thinning. 

Shishito pepper plants and amaranth.

Late planted pepper plants are happier, healthier, and more productive than the plants that went into the garden "on time". Hmm, I wonder if I shouldn't put off starting and planting my peppers until much later, they just seem to languish in the cool summer weather. I'm going to experiment with more late planting next year.

Dorato di Asti celery is showing it's tendency to golden hues.

The spring planted brassicas are showing their age.

I'm still harvesting shoots from the Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli.

But I've allowed the old Piracicaba broccoli plants to bloom.

The bees are taking full advantage.

 The ants and aphids pretty much did the Golden Chard in. This plant is making something of a recovery.

But this one is a goner.

Basil is on the way out, most of the leaves are spotted with some sort of disease. I managed to salvage enough good leaves to make another batch of pesto.

The Purple Sprouting broccoli that I planted in the middle of the basil patch is pretty happy though.

And the Stregonta borlotti beans are ready to be harvested as shelly beans.

Here's the Diamante celery root patch.

I can start harvesting them any day now.

Golden Sweet snow pea blossom.

Too bad the critters only left a few plants.

And let's not forget the Glory frisee seedlings that I slipped into the spot where the sugar snap peas met an untimely demise at the jaws of the local rodent population.

Doesn't it figure that the rodents don't go for the Portuguese Dairyman's kale that volunteered in the path?

So, that's the garden in mid-November and the prospect of the harvests to come in the months to come. What do you have in your garden now?