Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Renee's Garden Seed Trials - Beets

Two of the five varieties of beets that I grew this year were from Renee's Garden Seeds.

Golden Beet from Renee's Seeds
I'm really happy to  have found an excellent strain of golden beets from Renee's Seeds. I've tried a few different varieties of golden beets over the last few years, Golden Grex were disappointing because they only have golden skin and their flesh turned out to be white and rather coarse. Burpee's Golden beets just didn't perform very well for me although they were an OK beet. The Golden beets from Renee's were just what I've been searching for. They have been very good producers, they size up fairly quickly and produce mostly well shaped roots with a good texture and excellent mild flavor. The greens are also very good when I can keep the aphids off of them.

The other beet variety that I grew from Renee's Seeds was Baby Ball which you can see on the right in the photo below.

Golden and Baby Ball Beets
Baby Ball beets seem to grow a little more slowly than the Golden beets, although that seems to be more about leaf size than root size. The beets shown here were sown and transplanted at the same time. You can see that the root sizes are comparable, but the golden beets are leafier. 

This is the patch of beets that I harvested those beets from, photographed on September 20. The Baby Ball Beets are in front on the left, the Golden beets in front on the right, and there are Flat Egyptian and Chioggia beets in the rear. I harvested that bunch on November 5. The first harvest of Golden and Baby Ball Beets was on October 17, but the very first harvest from that patch was a bunch of Chioggias on September 12. Chioggia beets are the quickest to grow to harvestable size and also put a lot of energy into their leaves. I sowed the seeds for all those beets on July 25 in paper pots and planted them out a few weeks after sowing.

This is the same patch on October 16 after a few harvests.

I sowed a second flat of beets on September 4 and this is how those Baby Ball and Golden beets looked this morning. The short days and cold weather have really slowed this bunch down of late, but there are a number of beets in the patch that are large enough to harvest. Fortunately, since we've been eating out a lot lately, the cold weather also means that the beets keep very well in the garden.

On October 21 I sowed an additional flat of Golden beets in paper pots and planted them out under some (rodent) protective row cover. The fabric is very light weight and not designed for frost protection, but it does seem to help keep the plants a little warmer, especially on cold but sunny days. I keep the top open a bit to allow a bit more light in.

Those little babies are looking good, although they are growing slowly, but that's because of the short days and cold nights. It will be interesting to see how prone these are to bolting as the winter progresses, it's not unusual to get spells of warm weather here in January and February. Last January we had an unusually long stretch of days with highs in the 70's which pushed a lot of the brassicas to bolt. I'll see what's in store for the garden this year, stay tuned...

So, what do I do with all those beets? Salads mostly, like Warm Beet and Apple Salad or Beet Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese. Or I simply add slices or chunks of roasted beets to a mixed green salad. I roast the unpeeled beet roots in a foil covered roasting pan at 400ºF for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on size, and then run the hot beets under cold water to make it easy to rub off the skins, then they are ready to eat. I used my last bunch of beets in a pasta dish that was really tasty. I'll be writing up that recipe and will post it in my Kitchen Notebook shortly.

Beet Happy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Harvest Monday - December 19, 2011

We have been dining out a lot in the past couple of weeks and have more nights out coming up through the rest of the holidays so I've not been harvesting a lot of vegetables.

Here's the first harvest of celery root for the season. This weighed in at 1 pound., 10 ounces as seen below, but once I trimmed off the greens and the excess roots it only weighed 12 ounces. It was just the right size to use in a stew with lentils and spare ribs that I made up that night.

Diamante Celery Root

I used about half a pound of Lacinato kale to make a favorite snack of Kale Chips that we've not indulged in since one of my last harvests of kale in December of last year. I hope my Lacinato kale plants make it through the winter in better condition than the plants I grew last year, they stopped producing in late December and started to bolt in January. Last year I started my kale plants on June 24 and this year I waited until July 25 to sow the seeds so I'm hoping that the later start will help to keep them from bolting in January. Although, the problem last year may have been that the weather in January was unusually sunny, warm, and dry, plus my Lacinato kale plants were more stressed in the fall than they normally are. Anyway, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for better kale growing conditions for this season, we are looking forward to more chips and Kale Caesar salads and other favorite kale dishes. Hmm, perhaps I will have to sow some seeds after the solstice for an early spring planting of kale.

My only other significant harvest last week was of some lettuce that I used in a salad with julienned apple, Manchego cheese, thin sliced celery, Pomegranate arils, toasted hazelnuts and my favorite Meyer lemon-honey-mustard-olive oil vinaigrette.

Here's the harvest totals for the past week:

Piracicaba broccoli - 1.4 oz.
Diamante celery root - 12.2 oz.
Lacinato kale - 7.7 oz.
Buttercrunch lettuce - 18.8 oz.

The totals for the week were - 2 lb., 8.1 oz.
The totals for the year have been - 570 lb., .5 oz

It doesn't look like I will break the 600 pound mark this year, which is far off the 700 pound mark that I passed last year. I'm going to compare the harvests from last year and this year come January to see how the harvests differed. A quick look confirms my suspicion that my tomato and pepper harvests were significantly less than last year. It will be interesting to see where the rest of the difference comes from.

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.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Harvest Monday - December 12, 2011

Most of the past week we had clear and cold weather with freeze warnings so I harvested all the ripe peppers from the late producing baccatum plants and even a few runty pods off of one chinense plant. Here's the harvest from last Wednesday.


Christmas Bell and Aji Habanero

Aji Habanero

Aji de la Tierra

Chiero Recife

The Chiero Recife was the only chinense species that I got to harvest this year. I also harvested a few other peppers last Monday plus all the remaining eggplants in the garden. Here's the harvest from Monday:

Aji Angelo

Corazon de Paloma and Yellow Manzano

Big Jim

Diamond eggplant

Rosa Bianca eggplant

The rest of the harvests were very green, mostly Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli, a bit of Piracicaba broccoli, and a head of Sweetie Baby romaine lettuce. Oh, and I shelled the last of the dried Stregonta Borlotti beans. I love the colors of the Stregonta Borlottis, most of them have a tan background, overlaid with lavendar, with dark purple blotches over all, but there is quite a bit of variation in the mix of the three colors.

I could have harvested more vegetables from the garden, there's a bit more napa cabbage left, lots of spinach, some kale, celery root, and beets that are ready to harvest, but we've been out more nights than usual so I haven't been doing much cooking from the garden. Fortunately, most of the vegetables will hold in the garden quite well during the cold short days of December and January, we rarely weather cold enough to damage them.

Here's what I harvested last week:

Stregonta Borlotti beans - 1 lb., 1.2 oz.
Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli - 1 lb., 4.5 oz.
Piracicaba broccoli - 3.1 oz.
Sweetie Baby romaine lettuce - 10.1 oz.
Aji Angelo peppers - 3.9 oz.
Aji de la Tierra peppers - 5.4 oz.
Aji Habanero peppers - 10.2 oz.
Big Jim peppers - 15.7 oz.
Chiero Recife peppers - 1.1 oz.
Christmas Bell peppers - 1.1 oz.
Corazon de Paloma peppers - 2.9 oz.
Rainforest peppers - 5.8 oz.
Yellow Manzano peppers - 2.6 oz.

The harvest totals for the week were - 6 lb., 5.6 oz.
The total for the year is - 567 lb., 8.4 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.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Harvest Monday - December 5, 2011

The harvests last week were decidedly green.

I didn't get around to photographing the lovely green sprouting broccolis, but I did remember to take the camera out to the garden to photograph the spinach and pepper harvest. It seems so strange to me to see big robust leaves of spinach in the same basket as the shiny green chile peppers, it's as if the garden is in some sort of time warp.

But there they are, spinach and chile pepppers from the late November garden.

The spinach was used in two dishes, first in a wilted salad that came out ok but wasn't good enough to go into the recipe notebook. The second preparation was a version of a dish that my husband and I simply call Beans & Greens. It's never the same twice, but always tasty and satisfying, and I managed to get the latest version into my recipe notebook.

Most of the Big Jim peppers were used to make the annual dish of Turkey Enchiladas that features leftover Thanksgiving turkey. This year they came out particularly tasty so the recipe also made it into my notebook.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli - 15.5 oz.
Piracicaba broccoli - 13.1 oz.
Big Jim newmex chile peppers - 15.9 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 3.6 oz.
Guntmadingen Winter spinach - 31.1 oz.

The total harvests for the week were - 4 lb., 15.2 oz.
The total harvests for the year have been - 561 lb., 2.8 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.