Monday, April 27, 2015

Harvest Monday - April 27, 2015

Greens, and purples, and reds, oh boy!

Saisai radish leaves.
The Saisai radishes keep popping out new leaves and I'm trying to harvest them before they get too big. They are best when they are young and relatively small like the leaves shown above (as compared to classic radishes those leaves would be huge).  The stems are crunchy and the leaves are tender and not prickly, the flavor is mild with just a hint of radish spice. I've been cutting them up and adding them to salads and one day I added them to a pita sandwich that also featured Fresh Fava Dip and feta cheese. (Check out my homemade pita breads on my twitter feed shown on my side bar).

Speedy arugula
Speedy arugula is finally starting to bolt after producing for nearly 2 months, not bad for spring sown arugula. I read in the paper on Sunday that one grower harvests the arugula shoots as "arugula raab" for cooking. I guess that might be worth a try.

Spadona chicory
Spadona chicory is another quick grower. I'm still trying to figure out how best to prepare these for my taste. They are fairly bitter so I've been blanching them and using them in cooked dishes. I think I may experiment with preparing them wilted fresh with pancetta or bacon, maybe add a sliced up sweet spring onion to the mix.

Spigariello Liscia and Purple Peacock broccolis
I didn't get out to the garden to harvest for two days and the Purple Peacock broccoli nearly got away from me. Purple Peacock is a cross between broccoli and two different kale varieties. There's a fair amount of variation in the strain which you can see in the two heads that I cut. Both the leaves and the flower heads are good eating. Spigariello is another leafy broccoli that is a popular vegetable in southern Italy. I've read that it can be grown primarily for leaf production or for both the leaves and shoots - I choose to wait for the shoots and harvest it like rapini. That shoot shown above is the "main" head from one plant and there's lots of side shoots coming along.

Ruby Streaks mizuna

More salad goodies, Ruby Streaks mizuna is resisting bolting so far but the Ruby Gem romaine wasn't so I cut the last three heads.

Ruby Gem romaine

Extra Precoce Violetto favas

This was one of two baskets of favas that I harvested on Sunday. This will definitely push the weekly tally up quite a bit since I weigh the favas in their pods.

Also harvested this week but not photographed was a head of Pixie cabbage that got away from me, it split wide open but I got to it before it started to spoil so there's quite a bit that I can salvage from the head. The last two butterhead lettuces were harvested, they were bulking up but not quite bolting, the outer leaves were not pretty, they weren't very photogenic. And I also harvested a few green onions.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Speedy arugula - 5.9 oz.
Purple Peacock broccoli - 1 lb., 4.6 oz.
Spigariello Liscia broccoli - 2.2 oz.
Pixie cabbage - 5 lb., 7.3 oz. (that one really got away from me!)
Spadona chicory - 7.3 oz.
Extra Precoce Violetto fava beans - 18 lb., 2.8 oz.
Rhapsody butterhead lettuces - 2 lb., 4 oz.
Ruby Gem romaine lettuces - 1 lb., 5.8 oz.
Ruby Streaks mizuna - 4.7 oz.
Spring onions - 9.3 oz.
Saisai radish leaves - 3.8 oz.

Total for the week - 30 lb., 9.7 oz.
YTD 2015 - 224 lb., 4.8 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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pepper Selections for 2015

I may have gone a bit overboard on the peppers this year, but that always seems to be the case. Twenty-one of the twenty-two varieties that made the list have produced at least one good seedling. Oops, I really did go crazy this year, a look back to 2014 shows that I only grew 11 varieties. In 2013 it was 19 varieties. I don't know where I'll find the space for all of them, pots I suppose, but I'll deal with that when the time comes.

March 30 was the start date for most of the peppers. Most of the seeds went directly into pots, multiple seeds per pot that I set on a heat mat near a window. I've quit using overhead lights, so once the seeds germinate and the cotyledons have completely popped out of their seed coats the plants start spending their days outside. Nights are still too cold for the tender little things (below 40ºF at times) so I schlep trays of seedlings out in the morning and in in the evening. I'll give them a little shade if the midday sun gets a bit too hot, but lately that hasn't been a problem, the fog has barely cleared for a few hours each of the past few days.

I pot up the seedlings into small pots while they are still quite small, but into pots that are small enough to pack into a tray so that they can do the morning and evening moves somewhat easily. I have had a difficult time getting some of the seeds to germinate so I took inspiration from Margaret and decided to pre-germinate a second round (or third round in one case). And a few of the varieties went straight to the pre-germination method because they were old seeds.

The method I've been using to get the seeds started is to lay them out on a wet, not quite dripping wet, folded up paper towel and tuck it into a plastic sandwich baggie, unsealed so the babies can breathe. That goes onto the heat mat but insulated to keep the baggies from getting too hot. When a little root has appeared I transfer the seeds to a container. I experimented with tucking the seeds into the soil and watering them in, which works but is a bit too fiddly and have settled on just placing them on top of the premoistened soil and covering them with vermiculite and then covering the pot with plastic wrap until the seeds finish sprouting. Anyway, they continue to sit on the heat mat until the cotyledons have fully emerged and then out they go.

If all goes well, in a few weeks time I'll be potting the plants up one more time either to larger pots or straight into the garden.

So here's the lineup for 2015, first in alphabetical order, varieties marked with * are totally new in my garden, descriptions are below.

Aji Amarillo*
Craig's Grande Jalapeño*
Criolla de Cocina*
De La Vera
Florina Greek*
Giallo di Cuneo
IPK CAP 268 (Chile)*
Lady Bell
Long des Landes
Mareko Fana*
Odessa Market
Rezha Macedonian*
Rosso Dolce da Appendere*
Shephard's Ramshorn
Sonora Anaheim
Syrian Three Sided*
Yummy Belles*

Descriptions in italics are from the seed sources or Wikipedia.

I've added photos of most of the varieties that I've grown before. Generally, if I grow a pepper variety more than two times it's a keeper because it performs well and it tastes good. Seven of the nine returning varieties fall into that category.

Sweet Peppers:

Criolla de Cocina* (Baker Creek)
I first received seed for this great pepper 15 years ago, so I am so excited to get it into the catalog! This small pepper was collected in 1988 in Nicaragua from a farmer. It produces small 4" peppers that are fragrant and richly flavored; these have strong pepper flavor making them perfect for a variety of dishes. Fruit is green turning to red as they ripen.

These look like they could be really interesting peppers, if I can coax the few seedlings that germinated into a healthy state.

De La Vera peppers on the left

De La Vera (Heritage Farm, Seed Savers Exchange)
Plants avgs 2-2.5' tall, v-shaped, openly branching habit. Fruit very long and slender, slightly curving, ripens from green to red. Fruit avgs 6" long, 0.7" wide at widest point, 0.6oz. Slightly tough skin, moderate heat in membrane, sweet, good flavor.

I grew this pepper once before in 2010 when I went on a bit of a Spanish pepper kick. This was before I figured out a good way to make my own smoked peppers. Even though this pepper seems to come from the region of Spain where Pimetón, the smoked paprika, is produced, I'm not sure that this is one of the peppers that is actually used to produce the paprika. After reading up on the subject I found that there are a few different varieties that are grown to produce the three types of paprika:

pimentón dulce - sweet, made from "Bola" and "Jaranda" peppers
pimentón picante - spicy, made from "Jeromín" and "Jariza" peppers
pimentón agridulce - bittersweet; a mixture of the two other paprikas

These peppers look similar to the Jariza peppers that I saw elsewhere on the web, but they are totally sweet, so they probably aren't the same.

Jariza peppers are available through the SSE yearbook so I might give those a try next year, although they are listed as a sweet pepper there, but sometimes things get put in the wrong categories.

I hope to be smoking up a bunch of these peppers this fall. One thing I need to note, my seeds were from 2009 and I had little hope of getting many, much less any, to germinate. So these went directly to the paper towel pre-germination treatment and I've been blown away by the number of seeds that have germinated, at least a dozen (I lost count) and the germinated seeds that I've sown seem to be thriving.

Florina Greek* (Seed Swap, original seed source from Athens)
From Wikipedia: The Florina pepper (Greek: πιπεριά Φλωρίνης) is a pepper cultivated in the northern Greek region of Western Macedonia and specifically in the wider area of Florina; for which it is named. It has a deep red color, and is shaped like a cow's horn. Initially the pepper has a green color, ripening into red, after the 15th of August. The red pepper is known in Greece for its rich sweet flavor, used in various Greek dishes and is exported in various canned forms abroad, usually hand-stripped, keeping the natural scents of pepper and topped with extra virgin olive oil, salt and vinegar. 

I'm always willing to try a good sweet pepper, especially a good fleshy roasting pepper.

Gogosar* (Heritage Farm, Seed Savers Exchange)
A pimento type pepper from Hungary. I've heard good things about these peppers.

Giallo de Cuneo
Giallo de Cuneo (Seeds From Italy)
Large, square, yellow pepper from alpine Northern Italy.  Piamonte has the reputation of having the best peppers in Italy. This pepper is big, round, has very thick walls & thin skin with great flavor. Has a bit of a pointed end. Very productive. Color is brilliant yellow/gold. Ripens mid to late spring. 2 gram packet.

This has been my choice of yellow bell peppers for three years. It is an OP variety and I have noticed a bit of variation in peppers from different plants, mostly in size and color, the quality is always good.

Lady Bell

Lady Bell (Territorial and Harris)
71 days. Reliably bountiful, this robust bell has a delicious, sweet flavor and crisp, crunchy texture. The 3-4 lobed fruit have moderately thick, juicy walls and turn from a glossy green to a bright red at maturity. They flourished and ripened during an unusually chilly summer at our trial farm. We love the beefy, elongated bells for everything from salads to stuffing or frying.

This is the best sweet red bell pepper that I've grown since starting to garden in this location. I almost panicked when I found only 2 seeds in the packet and had to order up another packet ASAP. I barely even consider trying another red bell pepper. My only wish would be that this were an OP variety. I hope that getting the seeds from a different source doesn't impact the quality of the peppers, I would guess not, the seed purveyors probably get their seeds from the same source.

Piment Doux Long Des Landes
Long Des Landes (L'Atelier Vert)
Although it looks like a hot pepper, 'Doux Long des Landes' is in fact sweet, but with a complex spicy--but nonhot--flavor. This pepper has been grown in the southwest of France for over a century, hailing from the same region as the 'Tarbais' bean. Excellent for use fresh or dry.

I tried to get the very last of my seeds for this variety (shipped all the way from France years ago) to germinate, but to no avail. So I resorted to seeds that I saved from 2 years ago, great germination but I didn't isolate the blossoms, so I'll see what I get. This is one of the few peppers that I like either green or ripe and it does dry quite well.

Odessa Market

Odessa Market (Baker Creek, but not offered for 2015)
This pepper comes from the Black Sea city of Odessa in Ukraine. A great tasting, top-shaped pepper that starts out bright green, turning orange and then red. Short plants produce fruit all summer, and this variety is dependable even in the north. A good variety for growing in pots.

This has turned out to be one of my favorite sweet non-bell types of peppers. It's tasty both green and ripe. The green stage is a striking lime green color which makes for a beautiful addition to a crudité platter. The plants are small but very productive. The peppers are beautiful, smooth, relatively thick fleshed, and the skin is tender enough for good fresh eating but it also makes a great roasting pepper.

Rosso Dolce da Appendere* (Seeds From Italy)
Frying pepper from Southern Italy. 6 inches long, thin skin, very sweet. Bright red when ripe. Use red or green. This pepper also dries very well for winter use. Peppers ready 70 or so days after set out.

Just couldn't resist this one when I saw it on the Seeds From Italy website.

Shephard's Ramshorn

Shephard's Ramshorn (Adaptive Seeds)
Capsicum annuum. 75 days. A rare medium-large, elongated & blocky, red Italian frying type pepper. Reputed to be one of the sweetest peppers around. Scored a high rating in the Northern Organic Variety Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) trials for early maturity & flavor. Fruit are a little bit later & more stout than Corono di Toro, but more productive, even outside in cool Oregon summers. Originally from Spain, reselected in Italy, & that's all we know of this wonderful pepper's history.

This is my favorite sweet red roasting pepper. Last year I also grew Stocky Red Roaster, which is great also, but I give the edge to Shephard's Ramshorn for it's larger size, thicker flesh and ever so slightly superior flavor (to my taste). The one advantage that Stocky has over Shephard's is its straight sides which makes it easier to roast.

Syrian Three Sided* (Baker Creek)
80 days. Large fruits are about 6-8 inches long and as large around as a coffee cup. Fruits are three sided just like name says. Ripens to a deep oxblood red. Taste is super-sweet but occasionally, there is heat in the skin. Very productive in our trials. Another gift from our Syrian friend, Raghad Gorani. This Syrian heirloom made a big hit in our kitchens last summer as they have excellent flavor.

I'm not sure what it is with pepper seeds from Baker Creek this year, these are not germinating well and what has germinated is rather weak.

Yummy Belles* (Renee's Garden)
Highly productive plants load up early with thick-walled, plump and juicy 3 to 4 inch mini peppers that ripen quickly to bright orange. Sweet and delicious for fast snacks and salads or grilling.

Another failure to resist temptation. I'll make a half hearted excuse that I'm always looking for a good yellow or orange pepper that will grow in my climate.

Chile Peppers

Aji Amarillo* (Artisan Seeds)
Plants are very productive.  Each individual plant produces hundreds of small 2-3" peppers in one summer season.  In the summer we sell immature (mild, soft and yellow) Aji Amarillo peppers which are used largely as "frying peppers", similar to Padron frying peppers.  In the fall we also sell mature golden orange Aji Amarillo peppers that can be dried, roasted or turned into paste.  Our Aji Amarillo strain is smaller than the larger Aji Amarillo that is commonly used to make pastes and sauces, but the flavor is the same.
Most of our personal supply of Aji Amarillo is roasted in the oven under low heat, and then flaked so it can be used throughout the year to season soups, stews and many other types of dishes. 

These were some freebie seeds that came with my order and I have a hard time resisting baccatum peppers...

Craig's Grande Jalapeño* (Baker Creek)
A big, fat jalapeno that is perfect for making lots of salsa. Perfect for anyone who loves jalapenos. It has thick, flavorful, hot flesh. Developed at Redwood City Seeds.

The one pepper variety this year from Baker Creek that is germinating and growing well. My pepper smoking experiments last year have made me want to try making my own chipotle peppers. My impression is that "Craig's" isn't as hot as "Early" jalapeños but more spicy than most of the mild varieties available, I hope these turn out to be good.

IPK CAP 268 (Chile)* (Heritage Farm, Seed Savers Exchange).
IPK is a gene bank in Germany. Seed Savers Exchange offers various seeds that they originally acquired from IPK. The accession data on IPK's website indicates that the seeds originally came from the Vavilov Research Institute (VIR) in Leningrad (now the N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry). I'm leaping to the conclusion that the original seed stock was collected by Vavilov on his seed collecting expedition to the Americas in 1932-33. Anyway, my interest in this pepper was sparked by my trip to Chile last year coupled with reading a fascinating account of Vavilov's collecting expeditions in Gary Nabhan's book Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest To End Famine. It's fun to just take a flier sometimes and see what grows.

Gotta love a seed source like the Heritage Farm at Seed Saver's Exchange. When the seeds arrived there was a note enclosed that they were sending twice the usual amount of seeds because the seeds were 6 years old or older. Heritage Farm is the farm that started SSE and they maintain a huge genebank of seeds, many of which they offer to members through the SSE yearbook. Their seeds are kept under optimal storage conditions and it showed in the germination rate for these "old" seeds - all 12 seeds that I sowed have germinated (obviously I was expecting far less).

Mareko Fana* (Artisan Seeds)
Mareko Fana plants are very productive.  In the summer and fall we sell immature (mild) Mareko Fana peppers that are used largely as"frying peppers", similar to Padron frying peppers.  In the fall we also sell mature brown and red fruits that can be used fresh in dishes, or turned into chutneys, jams and pepper flakes.  The pepper flakes of Mareko Fana also inspired the creation of a unique herb tea on our farm -- Chile Mint Tea.  The dried peppers are traditionally used to make Berbere spice.
We have been growing a land-race directly from Ethiopia, and this is what we are offering here.  The peppers are mostly brown, although some are red.  They are mostly thick-fleshed, but some are thinner.  This is a land-race, containing genetic diversity, and we are growing it as a land-race without efforts to make it true-breeding.  We like the diversity in the population, and we think you will too.
The land-race was sourced for us by our collaborator, Menkir Tamrat, who will soon be launching a website devoted to Ethiopian culinary products, including seeds of a number of Ethiopian crops.  The name of his company is Timeless Harvest, and we will post a link here when it is operational. 

Oh, I can't wait to try Mareko Fana, some claim that the immature MF's are better than Padrons. And the ripe peppers are versatile too.

Last year I grew some Topepo Rosso peppers and one of them was not true to type - instead of a thick walled round pimento type it was thinner fleshed and more triangular shaped. Actually, I liked the off-type pepper better than the Topepo Rossos! It also had a hint of spice instead of being completely sweet. It was also very tasty and was great smoked. I saved some of the seeds and I'm going to see what grows this year. If I get the same pepper again I'll have to come up with a better name than Not Topepo Rosso.

Padron peppers
Padron (Seeds From Italy)
This is an interesting pepper and very popular. It produces a large quantity of small (1 1/2 or 2 inches by 2 or 3 inches) green peppers which are mostly sweet and mild when young, although a small percentage of them are hot. As they get mature, more become hot and hot weather also increases the heat of the pepper. That's the fun of them. They are a popular tapas in Spain, where they are pan charred in a bit of oil and sprinkled with coarse salt. Grab one by the stem, take a bite and steel yourself for some heat. Or maybe not. Pepper Roulette, they call it.
This is not a large plant; set out on 12-14 inch centers. 1 gram packet, approximately 100 seeds.

I love the generous seed packets from Franchi, it certainly allows for a lot of mistakes. This pepper has certainly passed the three year test, more like 15 years...

Peppadew* (Seed Swap)
Not sure what to expect from this one. It seems to be a popular pickled pepper from South Africa. A baccatum type, which may or may not ripen here, I have problems getting late ripening baccatums to ripen in my cool climate. It's a small fruited variety which usually ripen earlier so I have some hope. Anyway, it's a baccatum, what more need I say?

Rezha Macedonian* (Baker Creek)
80 days. The name means “engraved;” another local name, Vezeni Piperki, means “embroidered”. Both names refer to the curious lines on the skins of tapering, long, thin peppers. The fruits, which range from mild to sometimes very pungent, are to be seen hanging in great clusters, drying in Macedonian warm late autumn sun. The traditional farmers save seed from the hot fruits which also show the most pronounced striations. Our foundation Seed was donated by schoolchildren from the villages of Kalugeritsa and Zleovo. (Baker Creek)

Well, I'm not so sure that I'll get to harvest much of these, the seeds aren't germinating, there's only one good seedlings so far from 12 seeds. I tried sowing 6 in a pot and got the one good seedling, now I've got another six on paper towels since the 10th and yet more getting the pre-germ treatment starting the 20th. I wonder if Margaret and I aren't the only ones with problems growing peppers from Baker Creek seeds?

But wait! Today's inspection shows one of each batch showing a tiny root - dare I hope? (Can you tell that it has taken me a while to get this post written?)

Sonora Anaheim
Sonora Anaheim (Gourmet Seed)
A very mild long green chili type that is perfect for mild chili rellanos. These peppers can grow up to large 1/4 lb 10" fruits. Meat is also thicker than the average chili. Very popular Anaheim type for market. Very popular in the Northwest US.

Anaheims are one of the few roasting peppers that I like green and Sonora has been a great producer in my garden the past few years. It starts off producing huge green peppers, but over time the size of the peppers shrinks. No matter, they all taste good.

That's it for this year. Call me crazy. Pepper madness.

Chile Peppers Rule!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Harvest Monday - April 20, 2015

Harvests galore this week, most notably fava beans. I harvested two basketfuls, only one of which was photographed.

Extra Precoce Violetto favas
The Violetto in the name refers to the color of the mature dried beans, the immature beans are green all the way through. We've been feasting on the fresh beans. Some of them went into what I call one of my "veggie medleys", a mixture of stirfried or braised vegetables, whatever is coming from the garden and it's never the same twice. I turned some into one of Dave's favorite fava treats, Fresh Fava Bean Dip. And yesterday we had an Italian inspired treat. I was trying to figure out an easy way to serve Favas & Pecorino as a post hike snack and decided to do a rif on another dish that I've been playing with lately - filled lettuce cups. I used leaves from the hearts of the butterhead lettuces shown in the photo below, placed a thin slice of young pecorino cheese in a leaf, topped it with a spoonful of peeled favas, drizzled it with some good extra virgin olive oil, and finished it with a pinch of coarse sea salt. It was delicious.

Rhapsody butterhead lettuces

The night before we filled the lettuce leaves with sauteed ling cod that I had marinated in coconut milk and green curry, some grated fresh radishes and carrots, cilantro, chopped peanuts and Vietnamese dipping sauce (lime juice, fish sauce, chile paste, garlic, and sugar). Another tasty treat.

Express Red cabbage

One of the Express Red cabbages was threatening to split so I harvested it and it awaits in the fridge.

Round Red and Mikado turnips

Some of the red turnips were starting to bolt and the Mikado turnips were growing out of their "baby" phase so I cleared out the turnip patch. These will keep in the fridge awhile also.

Saisai radish leaves
The tops of the Saisai Leaf radishes had another growth spurt. Those leaves are huge, most of them more than 12-inches. I decided to thin the patch so there's 4 plants shown below that got pulled which still leaves 11 plants in the garden. Saisai is a daikon radish that is grown primarily for its leaves which are tender and mild. I blanched the whole bunch and squeezed out the extra water so now they take up a fraction of the original space in the fridge and I can use them at my leisure in veggie medleys or breakfast scrambles, or whatever...

Saisai radishes
Those are the last harvest of Atlantis Brokali. I've decided to pull out the plants to make room for some Spigariello broccoli plants that are ready to be planted out. I've got Purple Peacock broccoli in the garden that are close to their first harvests and a different Spigariello broccoli that is just starting to form flowering shoots, so I don't need to wait for round two from Atlantis. The Saisai radishes started to pop out new leaves in a hurry so I'm trying to stay ahead by harvesting the leaves before they get too big. These are tender and mild enough to use in salads.

Atlantis Brokali and Saisai radish leaves
I've been clearing out volunteer Romanesco fennel plants that popped up in the area where I laid out the mature fennel tops last fall. And I'm harvesting immature onions on an almost daily basis.

Spring onions and Romanesco fennel
The trimmed fennel bulbs also keep well in the fridge (which is near to bursting now). Most of these are going into salads.

Cilician parsley, spring onions, Ruby Gem romaine lettuce

More lettuce and onions and a handful of Cilician parsley. We have been enjoying salads on a regular basis. The young sweet onions are sweeter than typical scallions and are a very tasty addition to salads.

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Atlantis brokali - 8.5 oz.
Express Red cabbage - 4 lb., 2.7 oz.
Extra Precoce Violetto favas - 18 lb., 10.8 oz.
Romanesco fennel - 5 lb., 6.4 oz. (trimmed)
Rhapsody butterhead lettuce - 1 lb., 14.3 oz.
Ruby Gem romaine lettuce - 7 oz.
Mixed spring onions - 2 lb., 4.1 oz.
Saisai radish leaves - 3 lb., 4.6 oz.
Mikado turnips - 2 lb., 13.7 oz. (trimmed)
Round Red turnips - 1 lb., 6.5 oz. (trimmed)

Total for the week - 40 lb., 14.6 oz.
2015 YTD - 193 lb., 11.1 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, April 13, 2015

Harvest Monday - April 13, 2015

The garden has been super productive this winter and spring, this week it has already passed the total production through the end of April last year. Of course it helps that we took a 10 day vacation in March this year rather than most of the month of March last year, so it has been easier to keep on top of the sowing and harvesting.

There's a few new items in the harvest basket this week, including the first of the favas.

Extra Precoce Violetto fava beans
I shucked this batch and Dave peeled them last night while I prepared dinner. This is one of the few garden/kitchen chores that Dave willingly (mostly) participates in. A couple of years ago I threatened to cut way back on the fava production because I was weary of doing all the work to prepare them. Well, Dave loves favas and got a bit panicked about a possible fava shortage so he promised to help with the hard work - and I haven't let him forget that promise. So part of the haul went into a topping for bruschetta last night. I grilled some of my home baked bread, spread it with a mixture of sheep's milk ricotta that was seasoned with mint and Cilician parsley, and topped that with a mixture of chopped favas warmed in some olive oil with thin sliced spring onion greens and drizzled with some olio nuovo and of course some coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper. Big Yum!

Spadona chicory
Spadona chicory (Chichorium intybus) is a bitter sweet cutting green somewhat like dandelions. It can be used fresh in salads or cooked. This first harvest got blanched and then sauteed with a sliced spring onion and bacon with a couple of eggs folded in. The plants should continue to produce leaves for at least a few more cuttings. This is my first time growing it so I don't know how quickly it will bolt.

Round Red turnips
I loved the Mikado baby white turnips that I grew for the first time last year so I decided to branch out and add these red turnips to the lineup. They matured pretty quickly, just 2 months from sowing the seeds directly into the garden to the first harvest. The tops are tender and tasty. I had them for lunch yesterday, sauteed with a few thin strips of pork and minced garlic with some leftover Purgatory beans mixed in. I haven't used the roots yet.

Round Red Turnips
Here's the third harvest of Atlantis Brokali.  It's still producing nice big shoots with long stalks, but it looks like the next harvest will feature smaller and shorter stalks.

Atlantis Brokali
Ruby Gem romaine and Ruby Streaks mizuna - so difficult to photograph. I made a salad with the lettuce that also featured some Golden beets, bacon, blue cheese, and a spring onion. The dressing was a simple one with Viognier Honey vinegar, hazelnut oil, and olive oil.

Ruby Gem romaine and Ruby Streaks mustard
Dave really liked that salad and requested it again, but I didn't have any more beets and I really needed to harvest a head of the Sweetie Baby romaine, so I made a similar salad with the Sweetie Baby romaine and used a pear instead of beets. That salad was a hit also.

Spring onion (Candy) and Sweetie Baby romaine
The cress patch was ready for another haircut so now there's a bag of that in the fridge waiting to be used in a salad. One of my favorite lunch salads of late has been a mix of cress, arugula, and Ruby Streaks mustard with radishes, avocado, spring onion, and sunflower seeds tossed with Merlot agrodolce vinegar and olive oil. It's colorful and has a nice mix of assertive flavors. I'll probably start tossing in some favas now as well.

Dutch Broadleaf cress
The only harvest not photographed last week was the final harvest of Selzer Purple radishes.

Here's the details of the harvests last week:

Atlantis brokali - 1 lb., 6.6 oz.
Spadona chicory - 12.7 oz.
Dutch Broadleaf cress - 4.6 oz.
Extra Precoce Violetto fava beans - 8 lb., 3.5 oz.
Ruby Gem romaine lettuce - 6 oz.
Sweetie Baby romaine lettuce - 11.8 oz.
Mixed varieties spring onions - 1 lb., 3.6 oz.
Selzer Purple radishes - 12.3 oz. (trimmed)
Round Red turnips - 45.6 oz. (including leaves)

Total for the past week - 16 lb., 15 oz.
2015 YTD - 152 lb., 12.5 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.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Harvest Monday - April 6, 2015

We're having a difficult time keeping up with what the garden is producing now. There's still the last of the celery and celeriac sitting in the fridge. I did make a celeriac puree the other night, but that still leaves two big roots hogging space on the shelf. The kale is finally gone and it was great while it lasted but it's nice to move on to other greens, like the first head of cabbage.

Pixie Cabbage
I suppose I could have harvested Pixie when it lived up to its name, but I waited until it seemed like it was on the verge of exploding so Pixie came in at over 4 pounds, it turned out to be a lovely firm sweet head of cabbage. I prepared half of it by cutting it into 1/2-inch strips which got wilted with a mixture of yellow and brown mustard seeds popped in butter with a couple of sliced spring onions and a handful of dried tart cherries. The other half is waiting in the fridge - it could be time to try okonomiyaki.

Peppermint Stick chard
The chard is growing like weeds and I just had to harvest some. That bunch above looks deceptively small but weighed in at over 4 pounds. Most of the weight was in the fat juicy stems, but the leaves were large enough to be stuffable, which I did with a mixture of ground pork, rice, diced onions, and diced stems. The rolls were baked with some manchego cheese in a simple tomato sauce. I'll be posting the recipe on my recipe blog soon. I'm experimenting with lacto fermenting some of the stems, but I'm not sure how well that's going.

Saisai Leaf Radish
I so much enjoyed the flavor of the leaves from the China Rose radishes that I grew last year that I decided to try a radish that is grown primarily for its tasty leaves. Saisai Leaf radishes are a daikon type and the root is edible but it's the leaves that you grow it for. I cut a big bunch of them last week. I used some of them to make a sort of pesto with the fresh leaves, some spring onions, meyer lemon peel and juice, and olive oil. That was a really tasty topping for pan roasted Halibut and the aforementioned celeriac puree. More of the leaves went into a stirfry with pork and tofu seasoned with oyster sauce which was a big yum. The leaves are delicious raw or cooked. They have just a mild bite of radish, much tastier than the spicy leaves of the typical salad radish. I'm wondering how many times I can harvest the leaves before the plants start to bolt.

Atlantis Brokali
I cut the main heads from the 3 brokali plants in the garden. Brokali is a cross between broccoli and gai lan. You may be more familiar with it as "broccolini" which is a trademarked name for a particular variety that is available only to commercial growers.

I've been harvesting lots of young onions that are the extras from my Dixondale purchase.

Pink Punch and Helios radishes
The first sowing of Pink Punch and Helios radishes are all gone now. The Selzer purple are about half gone. One of them came out white with a few purple stripes. Seed Savers Exchange offered these as a special just one time so I've sown some seeds in a spot where I can let the plants bloom. I'll get some more seeds and feed the good bugs too.

Selzer Purple radishes
 Most of the radishes are going into salads.

Selzer Purple, Helios, Pink Punch radishes
I had meant to harvest the Ruby Gem lettuces on a leaf by leaf or cut-and-come-again basis, but all of the lettuces are growing so fast that I need to use them before they get too big, so I'm cutting all the lettuces as heads.

Ruby Gem romaine lettuce
The first strawberries ripened! I got a couple of small harvests of delicious berries.

Albion and Seascape strawberries
And then something discovered the patch. I went out to the garden one morning and discovered this.

The flimsy tulle that covered the patch was no match for whatever it was that wanted my berries. The critter just munched right through the mesh. Fortunately the booger didn't damage the plants. I purchased some hardware cloth that I'm going to use to cage the berry patch. There's always some new challenge in the garden...

Here's the harvest weights for the past week:

Atlantis brokali - 2 lb., 9.6 oz.
Pixie cabbage - 4 lb., 6 oz.
Peppermint Stick chard - 4 lb., 6.8 oz.
Ruby Gem lettuce - 3.2 oz.
Mixed varieties spring onions - 1 lb., .4 oz.
Helios radishes (trimmed) - 6.4 oz.
Pink Punch radishes (trimmed) - 6.9 oz.
Selzer Purple radishes (trimmed) - 12.2 oz.
Saisai radish leaves - 2 lb., 12 oz.

Total for the week - 16 lb., 15.5 oz.
2015 year to date - 135 lb., 13.5 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.