Monday, March 30, 2015

Harvest Monday - March 30, 2015

The garden gave up another big chunk of the overwintered vegetables last week. The remaining celery plants were putting their energy into producing big fat flower stalks so out they came. I used most of one head in a simple braise topped with cheese, the rest of the celery has for the most part ended up in salads.

Dorato D'Asti celery
 The celeriac  was pushing up petite little flower stalks.

So they got pulled as well. At least the last three specimens fattened up quite a bit before they decided to bloom. Dave has requested celeriac puree so that's on the menu for one night this coming week.

Monatch celeriac
I'm still finding volunteer Romanesco fennel to harvest. The vast majority of the fennel is going into salads.
Romanesco fennel volunteers
I've finished thinning the onions that I grew from seed and now I've moved on to harvesting the extra onions that I grew from seedlings that I purchased from Dixondale.

Red Candy Apple spring onions
Some of the spring onions are getting to be quite fat.

Superstar spring onion
The spring sown radishes have sized up in a hurry. We enjoyed some of these simply dipped in a bit of my homemade Merkén spice mix. The rest are going into salads.

Pink Punch and Helios radishes
The Golden cornsalad that I sowed between the new strawberry plants are getting to be large enough to harvest. The peas that I interplanted with the spring brassicas are producing a few nice shoots. The cornsalad and pea shoots were tossed together to accompany some of the beets that I harvested the week before.

Golden cornsalad and snow pea shoots
The patch of cutting greens are growing like crazy. They were ready for another harvest just 9 days after the initial harvest. I've been enjoying a salad of mixed greens for lunch and/or dinner most days lately.

Dutch Broadleaf Cress
Ruby Streaks mustard
Speedy arugula
The first baby heads of romaine lettuce were ready to be harvested. Salad days are here in earnest!

Sweetie Baby and Ruby Gem romaine lettuces
Here's the harvests for the past week:

Speedy arugula - 3.2 oz.
Dorato D'Asti celery - 9 lb., 12.4 oz. (I don't remember if that was before or after trimming)
Monarch celeriac - 5 lb., 1.8 oz. (after trimming)
Golden cornsalad - 1.6 oz.
Dutch Broadleaf cress - 2.7 oz.
Romanesco fennel - 3.7 oz.
Ruby Gem romaine lettuce - 3.5 oz.
Sweetie Baby lettuce - 7 oz.
Ruby Streaks mustard - 3.8 oz.
Mixed spring onions - 1 lb., 2.8 oz.
Snow Pea shoots - 1 oz.
Helios radishes - 7.6 oz. (trimmed)
Pink Punch radishes - 6.4 oz. (trimmed)

Total for the week - 18 lb., 9.5 oz.
2015 to date - 118 lb., 14 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, March 23, 2015

Harvest Monday - March 23, 2015

I continued to clear out over-wintered vegetables last week and now the spring veggies are starting to mature also so it appears that I've avoided the hunger gap this year. It's actually turning out to be quite the opposite of a hunger gap and is looking like more of a glut. This morning I looked back at the February harvests for the past 6 years and 2015 was the most productive yet, surpassing the previous best in 2010 by nearly 10 lbs for a total of 28.7 pounds. And the March harvests are also on track to be the most productive since I started keeping harvest records.

Here's a look at how February harvests stacked up for the past 6 years.







Broccoli, Romanesco

Cabbage, Incl. Asian 


Cabbage, Portuguese




Celery Root





Corn Salad/Mache


Fava Leaves





Pea, snap and snow

Pea Shoots









Even more revealing are the year-to-date figures, the 2015 total just hit the 100 pound mark, that's a first for the garden in the month of March. Somehow I'm not so sure that my gardening skills are entirely to be credited with the bounty, once again we've had an unusally warm winter which put the garden in high gear, so I'm willing to share some of the credit with Mother Nature. But Ma, what would really be helpful would be some more rain. Please.

Now for the latest harvests. First the overwintered veggies. The celery is starting to bolt so I cut out one of the 4 heads. Much of this head went into a couple of salads, the first salad featured thin sliced celery, fennel, cress, pine nuts, dried currants (why do they call them currants, they're just x-small raisins), and a lemon-honey-mustard dressing. That was a tasty and refreshing crunch fest.

Dorato D'Asti celery

The celeriac is finally sizing up but also starting to bolt so I'm harvesting it as well. This one went into a simple braise with bacon and radicchio, more of a warm salad really.

Monarch celeriac
 I keep finding volunteer Spanish Black carrots to pull.

Spanish Black carrots
The Treviso radicchio wasn't going to wait any longer, I cut 6 of the 7 heads that were started back in late October. I used the outermost leaves from these heads in the celeriac braise and one of the heads went into a salad with thin sliced celery and fennel and chopped peanuts.

Rossa di Treviso 4 Precoce racicchio
I've got a glut of fennel. The heads shown below are volunteers and I also dug up the plants from last year that were producing again this spring. Fennel has been showing up in salads, sautes and soups. I pretty much followed the recipe for Fennel Soup with a Green Swirl from Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis, I didn't have basil for the swirl so I used a lesser amount of tarragon and I enriched the soup with some cream. It was delicious paired with the aforementioned celery and fennel salad.

Romanesco fennel
The beets that were started at the same time as the radicchio last October couldn't wait any longer either, out they came yesterday. The Golden beets are waiting in the fridge for some inspiration. I would normally keep the beet greens, but it was all just too much, so I didn't save or weigh them.

Golden beets
The Baby Ball and Red Baron beets were all roasted and half of them went into a batch of Ottolenghi's Pureed Beets with Yogurt and Za'atar. We paired that with some local sheep milk feta instead of the recommended goat cheese. We'll be having beet salad tonight!

Baby Ball beets
Red Baron beets
The last of the bolting lacinato kale plants is gone from the garden. The lower leaves were incredibly infested with aphids and I'm not hungry enough to deal with that mess so they went to the compost bin. That still left quite a bit. I've already steamed half of the harvest, half of which went into a frittata.

Lacinato kale
Here's the final head of lettuce from the 2014 sowings. The new lettuces aren't far behind though so there won't be much of a lettuce gap.

Michelle batavian lettuce
Onto the spring veggies. The onions aren't new, I've been thinning the patch for a few weeks now.

Tonda Musona Bianca onions
But here's something that I haven't grown in years, Dutch Broadleaf Cress, the first round of cut-and-come-again harvests from the spring sowing. This was a nice mild peppery accent to the sweet fennel and salty celery in salad that I've already mentioned twice.

Dutch Broadleaf Cress
Speedy arugula is back! This is my latest favorite arugula. Speedy does produce quickly and it's not too spicy, even when it starts to bolt.

Speedy Arugula
And Ruby streaks mizuna (I guess it's actually mustard but looks like mizuna) is back also. It's a quick grower and really perks up a salad with it's color and mild mustardy bite. It's good in stirfrys as well.

But wait, there's more harvests that I didn't photograph! I pulled out the surviving chard plants from last year. Those produced enough to make a batch of soup with lentils, and celery of course, not to mention some Spanish Black carrots, tomato puree from the freezer, and some shredded duck confit. And there were more onion thinnings that I didn't photograph.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Speedy arugula - 4.6 oz.
Baby Ball beets - 1 lb., 1.1 oz.
Golden beets - 2 lb., 6 oz.
Red Baron beets - 1 lb., 12.5 oz.
Spanish Black carrots - 2.8 oz.
Dorato D'Asti celery - 4 lb., 7.7 oz.
Monarch celeriac - 13 oz.
Golden chard - 6.4 oz.
Peppermint Stick chard - 4.6 oz.
Dutch Broadleaf cress - 2.8 oz.
Romanesco fennel - 4 lb., .5 oz.
Lacinato kale - 2 lb., 3.8 oz.
Michelle batavian lettuce - 14.7 oz.
Ruby Streaks mizuna - 5.3 oz.
Mixed spring onions - 13.6 oz.
Rossa di Treviso 4 Precoce racicchio - 1 lb., 15.3 oz.

Total for the week: 22 lb., 2.7 oz.
2015 to date - 100 lb., 4.5 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.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Garden on March 18, 2015

Winter made a rather brief appearance this year (sorry to torment you snow weary north easterners). Mild to unseasonably warm days since the start of the year, no frost since December, and a bit of rain here and there (though not enough to end the drought) has put the garden into full-on spring grow-like-crazy mode. This was really obvious when I got back after a 10 day vacation.

Bed #1 is on the left as we enter the garden. This bed is devoted mostly to alliums, but one end is planted with spring brassicas.

I had this area covered with tulle to protect the seedlings from birds until just the other day. The plants went from tender little seedlings to trying to bust out of the fabric in no time. The birds don't seem to be quite as ravenous anymore, I guess there's a bit more to eat out in the natural landscape, but I'm not taking any chances - thus the flash tape and clanking water bottles. I've got Red Express and Pixie cabbages in the foreground and Atlantis brokali, Purple Peacock broccoli, and Spigariello Foglia Liscia broccoli on the other side of the bed. There's also some pea shoots growing in the gaps.

The brokali is already starting to form heads. They are quick! I sowed the seeds on January 4 and set the plants out on February 12. It's not obvious in the photo above, but the Pixie cabbage is already heading up as well.

Almost all bulbing onions here, including sweet onions from Dixondale - Candy, Red Candy Apple, and Superstar. I also started a couple of varieties from seed - Tonda Musona Bianca and Rossa Lunga di Firenza. There's also a couple rows of tightly spaced leeks - I'll dig those up and replant them deeper and more widely spaced later on.

The garlic and shallot patch. The French Gray shallots that were started from sets are puny and disappointing, but the seed started Zebrune shallots are thriving. Unfortunately the garlic is coming down with a bad case of rust, they'll be runts this year and I won't be harvesting any green garlic since the leaves are spoiled.

Bed #2 is transitioning from overwintered veggies to mostly saladings and cutting greens. There's celeriac in the foreground, celery beyond that, and the last of the bolting Lacinato kale beyond that. To the left is an experimental late autumn started planting of chard. I sowed the chard on October 10, set the plants out on November 17. They grew really slowly through the winter and in the last couple of months have just taken off. I'm pretty sure that they will bolt this spring, but so far they seem to be resisting. They're covered to protect them from the birds.

The celeriac has been really slow to form decent sized roots, but now they seem to be finally putting on a bit of girth. The sowbugs love to tunnel into the leaf stalks, but it doesn't seem to harm the plants and perhaps it helps to divert growth to the roots rather than the leaves. I'll have to harvest the remaining plants soon, I'm sure they are on the verge of bolting. Same for the celery.

I've set up a couple of tunnels in this bed which is where I'll be growing lettuces, small root vegetables, and various cutting greens through the rest of the year. This tunnel was sown with radishes, baby leaf Tuscan kale, and baby turnips on February 16. I set out a few lettuce seedlings just before I left for vacation a couple of weeks ago, one of them died but I've got a replacement waiting on the sidelines.

Radishes, Baby Leaf Kale, and Baby Turnips
There was already some overwintered radicchios growing when I set up the tunnel, so they're filling one end along with some volunteer fennel. The radicchios were an experimental late autumn sowing and it seems that I might get something for my efforts. I just harvested some the other day and there's at least one more nice head ready to harvest now.

The new strawberry patch is taking up one end of the bed. I'm growing two varieties this year - Seascape and Albion. the patch is covered with some tulle to protect what I hope will be a quick crop of Golden Cornsalad. The cornsalad has started to size up, so the race is on, will it get to harvestable size before the strawberries engulf it?

The escarole was looking like it was just starting to fill out when I left for vacation and ten days later it was reaching for the sky. Now I know where the term "bolting" comes from!

The second tunnel is filled with salad goodies.

This end is sowed with cut-and-come-again greens including Spadona chicory, Speedy arugula, Dutch Broadleaf cress, and Ruby Streaks mustard. There's one row of radishes that are almost ready to harvest. I harvested the first round from here just after the photo shoot.

The rest of the tunnel is filled with lettuces that I started in pots on January 18 and then set out on February 14. I like to harvest the Ruby Gem romaine as a cutting lettuce but the rest of them I'll harvest as head lettuces.

Sweetie Baby and Ruby Gem romaine

Reine des Glaces

Red Iceberg
 Here's one of the radicchios that I harvested, it was being dwarfed by the escarole.

Bed #3 was where I grew mostly saladings and cutting greens last year. The two tunnels are still protecting a few stragglers, but those are on the fast track for removal. I've been putting off cleaning out this bed, it's a nasty project. But I finally got around to starting it yesterday. I didn't have this bed lined with a root barrier when it was filled and the roots from the oak trees have invaded so now I need to dig it out and line it. The veggies that I grew last year were able to compete with the oaks but the tomatoes and peppers that are destined for the bed this year won't compete as well. I've started to empty one end of the bed, then I'll line it with the fabric, then I'll shift the soil from the next part of the bed into the lined section, and the same on down the line. A little bit of work every day and the job will get done.

There really isn't much left in the tunnels. This one has a patch of Cilician parsley at one end and some fading spinach at the other along with a few volunteer Spanish Black carrots.

Cilician Parsley

Guntmadingen spinach

The other tunnel has some beets, there's one head of lettuce that might have a salvageable heart, and there's lots of volunteer cornsalad and fennel. There's also strawberry plants from last year that need to go because they are diseased and not producing good berries.

Bed #4 has one side planted with fava beans and the other side was sown with a mustard cover crop that I cut down and dug in last month. I'll be sowing bush beans soon to fill the empty section and perhaps some zucchini. I know I said I wasn't going to grow any Romanesco zucchini, but now I'm thinking that I should put in one plant, at least for the short term until space opens up where I can erect a trellis to grow the Tromba squash. Once the Tromba squash starts to produce I'll pull out the Romanesco - really, I will...

The favas are in full bloom and setting beans!

That's the garden in mid-March. Now I gotta go and dig some dirt.