Monday, February 1, 2016

Harvest Monday - February 1, 2016

One month of 2016 gone already! It was a good month of harvests considering I didn't do a very good job of getting things started last fall for winter harvests. The month ended with 33.2 pounds (15.1 kg.) of veggies from the garden. Last year the January total was 41.6 pounds (18.9 kg.) with more variety, but in the previous 5 years the January totals were in the single digits.

The star for the week was the Sicilian Violet cauliflower. I think that this variety is meant to be fall sown for winter harvests, which makes sense considering it is from Sicily. I should have harvested it about a week earlier, by the time I got around to cutting the head it had become a bit overgrown.

January 17
I noticed it starting to color up a couple of weeks ago and kept watching the color progress. My effort last year at growing it for a spring harvest didn't result in anything looking like a normal head of cauliflower, so I didn't really know what the optimum color/head size would be. The best time probably would have been a few days before I took the photo below, you can see the head is loosening up a bit already.
January 24
Look at the difference between the two photos just 5 days apart. I was really surprised at how quickly the head expanded.
January 29, the moment before harvest
It wasn't such a big mistake, the cauliflower is still good and is big enough to be used in at least 3 dishes. The first dish I made was simply roasted in the oven with brown butter.

The second round was braised in a tomato sauce that was enriched with tomato and sweet pepper conservas and livened up with some chopped salt packed capers. The rest of the head is in the fridge awaiting some inspiration.

Di Ciccio Broccoli
The broccoli harvests are winding down. If the plants produce anything more it will be just very small shoots. It's about time to sow the spring plants.

Batavia Broccoli

Dutch Broadleaf Cress
Dutch Broadleaf Cress
Some Dutch Broadleaf cress that I sowed back in December was ready to harvest. Some of it spiced up a salad that also included Winter Density lettuce and fresh Super Sugar Snap peas and other goodies not from the garden.

Winter Density lettuce
I'm really surprised at how well the September sown Golden Sweet snow peas have been doing. The sugar snaps haven't fared so well, I lost a couple plants early on and then a few more succumbed to something in the cold wet December weather, and what's left isn't looking all that healthy. But the snow peas have been growing like there's been no winter other than that some of the pea pods got frost nipped during the very coldest nights. I did cover the pea plants with frost cloth, otherwise the plants would have likely been too frost damaged to produce flowers and peas, but they have been holding up very well to the cold wet conditions we've had lately.  Next fall I'll go with just snow peas for overwintering, the Golden Sweet again.

Super Sugar Snap and Golden Sweet Snow peas
I harvested all of the Speedy arugula and Rishad cress that I sowed late last November. They never really got very big and were already on the verge of bolting so I cut them all down and sowed some Apollo arugula and Persian Broadleaf cress in the same spot.

Rishad cress and Speedy arugula mix
The leaves may be baby sized but they are still full flavored and a nice addition to a green salad.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The Brussels sprouts haven't gotten to be large either, but they have become a respectable size and I got about another pound of them on Sunday. I still had parsnips in the fridge so those two got roasted together again. This time I added a couple of "flowers" of star anise which was just enough to lightly flavor the mix and then added in some dried tart cherries about halfway through the roasting time and then finished the dish with some cherry balsamic vinegar.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Parsnips with
Red Onion and Dried Cherries
Three Heart Lettuce
One lettuce that is producing some heads that are just barely large enough to harvest whole is Three Heart Butterhead. I neglected to photograph the whole little head, it was too dark outside when I picked it to get a decent shot and I really prefer to take photos with natural light, but I had to take a photo when I started to pull the leaves from the head. Each leaf has three lobes, the closer to the heart the more separate the lobes are and it's easy to see where the variety got its name. This was my first harvest of this variety and it turned out to be very good, the flavor is mild and the texture is soft but has good body. I'm really looking forward to harvesting more. This is an heirloom variety that is offered through the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, no membership is required to order.

Here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Speedy arugula - 2.9 oz.
Batavia broccoli - 1 lb., 6.3 oz.
Di Ciccio broccoli - 1 lb., 5.7 oz.
Gustus Brussels sprouts - 1 lb., 1.7 oz.
Sicilian Violette cauliflower - 4 lb., 2 oz.
Dutch Broadleaf cress - 3.8 oz.
Rishad cress - 3.8 oz.
Three Heart lettuce - 2.5 oz.
Winter Density lettuce - 3.2 oz.
Super Sugar Snap peas - 3.3 oz.
Golden Sweet snow peas - 10.7 oz.

Total harvests for the week - 9 lb., 13.9 oz. (4.5 kg.)
2016 YTD - 33 lb., 3 oz. (15.1 kg.)

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to be inspired by what other garden bloggers have been harvesting and cooking up lately.


  1. The violet cauliflower is so beautiful as it colors up. Roasted any vegetable is good, but Brussels sprouts and parsnips sound especially delicious.

    1. Hi, again, on the subject of inspiration with cauliflower, last night I made it with pasta, little bits of ham and ewe's milk feta and Istara cheese. But this just came in from, Twice-Baked Potatoes With Cauliflower and Cheese. I love baked russets and cauliflower, but never have eaten them together, so I think I will try it tonight.

    2. I had something with cheese in mind. I'm off the pasta at the moment, but maybe some crispy buttered breadcrumbs would do the trick.

  2. I'm generally happy eating stews etc in winter but I'm close to the point when I start craving fresh greens. Because of the climate here I usually start craving them about 10 weeks before I can get any homegrown. Your greens all look wonderful, I'd take them baby size or any size right now.

    I just noticed the rat zap-snap count on the side. Hilarious and wow, very effective it seems!

    1. I know how you feel, I get the same cravings whenever I travel, but it only takes a few days away from fresh greens to get the cravings started. I can't imagine going for weeks without!

      The rat tally! I keep that there as a reminder. It was a horrible year for rats. There was a population explosion in the valley and everyone has having problems. They were everywhere and chewing on everything, treating my garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet. And I wasn't the only one who had them nesting in the engine compartment of the car, chewing on wiring, just generally wreaking havoc.

  3. I'm always impressed with the diversity of crops that you produce, Michelle! I must get round to growing some cress again - the outdoor type, not the windowsill version. I have had one that is called "Wrinkly Crinkly Cress", which looks like a frilly version of the Dutch Broadleaf. I love having a salad that is comprised of many different leaves, and that cress will be on my list again. The purple Cauliflower is most impressive. I wonder how it tasted? Did you try some of it raw?

    1. It didn't really tast any different from regular white cauliflower. I munched on some of the stems and they were sweet with just a hint of a mustardy flavor, good. The stalks were a bit tough skinned because of the maturity of the head.

  4. I am living vicariously with your cauliflower harvest! The brown butter treatment sounds great. I usually just toss it with some olive oil. And thanks for sharing the photo of the Three Heart lettuce. I got seeds last fall but haven't sown any yet. I will have to get some going for spring. My Speedy arugula in the greenhouse is bolting too so I need to get some of that going as well.

    1. The Three Heart turned out to be a nice surprise, better than I expected. And I would be really happy to keep harvesting them at that nice petite size, that first head was just big enough for a side salad for the two of us.

  5. Amazing, so many green things! The cauli is fantastic, I've never been able to grow them

    1. They are a challenge. If you get your timing wrong they turn out to be an ugly mess. But it sure is gratifying when they come out right!

  6. That cauliflower is just Wow! And your harvests look quite varied to me, especially for this time of year.

    I tried growing some land cress last year, but it never amounted to anything. I do love watercress and was hoping that I could grow some type of green that was similar to it. Does the broadleaf cress taste similar to watercress?

    1. I think it tastes like watercress, it has that same spicy nasturtium like flavor. The key is to grow it in cool weather. It gets hot tasting and bolts quickly when the weather warms up.

  7. That is gorgeous cauliflower! I've never had much luck with cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. I grew watercress last fall and couldn't handle the taste. It may have been because of some warm weather, but I haven't tried it since.


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