Monday, April 11, 2016

Harvest Monday - April 11, 2016

The harvests were surprisingly colorful last week. The overwintered Peppermint Stick chard gave the bulk of it's production just as it is starting to bolt.

Peppermint Stick chard
The stripes on the chard stems are most pronounced on the back side. You can see in the photo above that the inner stalks start to get a bit orange when the plant starts to send up its flower stalk. I used a large portion of these to make a simple but rich chard gratin made with cream and creme fraiche, spring onions, and whole grain mustard, topped with some grated Parmesan. Another recipe that I need to write up and post on my recipe blog. BTW, I did post the recipe for the Green Quinoa Pilaf that I mentioned last week.

The radishes are back in the harvest basket now that the succession that I sowed on March 3 is producing.

Pink Punch, Helios, Malaga, Petit Dejeuner Radishes

I finished thinning out the onion patch and now I'm wishing I had devoted some space just to spring onions since I've been enjoying these so much and it will be months before I (hopefully) enjoy them as mature bulbing onions. I guess I'll just have to sneak a few from the patch now and then.

Rossa Lunga di Firenze
Rossa Piatta D'Italia
The Rossa Piatta D'Italias are especially pretty.

Rossa Piatta D'Italia
My first harvest of baby Apollo Arugula. Dave at Our Happy Acres likes this variety of arugula and he has written a spotlight post about it. It is a tender and mild tasting variety and quick to produce, I sowed seeds for this bunch on March 2. It's going to be a regular in the garden.

Apollo Arugula
One other harvest that I didn't bother to photograph because they are so ugly is the first of the green garlic. The garlic leaves are just nasty with rust but the white stems are good so I'm going to be pulling all the garlic over the next week or so. The bulk of it will be made into a Garlic Cream that I devised last year when I was faced with the same problem. The cream from last year has kept really well in the freezer so I'll stock up again this year. The first harvest though went into another quinoa dish (I bought a big bag) that featured the green garlic that was minced and sauteed in butter plus some peeled favas from the freezer and chicken stock.

Spinach and Ricotta Gratin
Another dish that I made last week used up some of the spinach harvested the week before and more of the spring onions. The recipe was based on a spinach and ricotta pie but I baked it in a gratin dish instead of in a crust. It was a great main course type of dish that we enjoyed with a green salad. Dave has been raving about this dish so I guess I'll have to write up the recipe for this as well.

So, here's the details of the harvests for the past week:

Apollo arugula - 5.6 oz.
Peppermint Stick chard - 3 lb., 5.3 oz.
Mild French green garlic - 5.3 oz.
Spring onions - 2 lb., 11.1 oz.
Helios radishes - 2.4 oz.
Malaga radishes - 6 oz.
Petit Dejeuner radishes - 3.5 oz.
Pink Punch radishes - 3.7 oz.

Total for the week - 7 lb., 10.9 oz. (3.5 kg.)
2016 YTD - 93 lb., 9.3 oz. (42.4 kg.)

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

Harvest Monday - April 4, 2016

It's definitely spring in my garden now, although the harvests are mostly the last of the winter veggies.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts

I salvaged the last of the Brussels sprouts. Most of the remaining sprouts were loose and full of aphids and those went into the compost. The two plants that I hadn't topped had more firm sprouts that resisted the aphid invasion. Some were fairly large but the remaining sprouts were quite small but still very good. One plant had a good top that I kept, seen on the left, the other was full of aphids. The smallest of the sprouts went into a braise with some parsnips from the fridge (keeping amazing well, still quite sweet), and some spring onions that I thinned from the bulbing onions, and as you can see I used a generous amount of pancetta.

Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips, Spring Onions
The last of the winter sown radishes had to make way for some spring plantings. Here's the best of the bunch.

Petit Dejeuner, Malaga, and Pink Punch Radishes
A couple of the Malaga radishes got to be quite large and split wide open. I used them, trimmed of the dirty bits and then grated, in pita pockets stuffed with hummus, grated carrots, and some fresh cress.

Exploded Malaga Radishes

Verdil Spinach
The spinach is decidedly bolting but otherwise still good. Some of this round went into a dish that I adapted from a really old favorite recipe that Dave keeps recalling even after nearly 30 years - Green Rice, which gets it's name from copious amounts of spinach, parsley, and green onions. Instead of rice I substituted quinoa, and cilantro stood in for the parsley. I think the new version was better than the original. I'll be posting the recipe shortly on my recipe blog.  Click HERE for the recipe.

Golden Corn Salad

I cut a couple of heads of Golden Corn Salad that had grown from seeds that I scattered around the fava plants. These heads are nicer than the ones that I sowed in my winter salad patch. The plants aren't as crowded so they are making much nicer heads that aren't so quick to bolt. These heads are a bit too large to toss whole in a salad so cut the bases off the plants and tossed the loose leaves with some shredded Red Iceberg lettuce. The lettuce added loft to the salad which would otherwise collapse since the corn salad is so soft. The combo of the crisp lettuce and soft corn salad was better than I expected, really quite good and worth doing again!

Rossa Savonese spring onions
I've had a steady harvest of spring onions as I thin out the bulbing onions. These Rossa Savonese, a Spanish sweet onion, are particularly pretty and I can't wait to see the more mature onions (please don't bolt, pretty please). I grilled a few of them last night and they turned out to be deliciously sweet even in their immature state.

Persian Broadleaf Cress
I'm having a fling with various kinds of cress. I enjoyed the frilly leaves of Rishad cress through the winter and now it's time for Persian Broadleaf. These are the thinnings from my little patch. Most of them went into the hummus sandwiches I mentioned earlier.

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

Gustus Brussels sprouts - 2 lb., 11 oz.
Golden Corn Salad - 1.8 oz.
Persian Broadleaf cress - 1.8 oz.
Spring onions - 1 lb., 1.6 oz.
Malaga radishes - 8 oz.
Petit Dejeuner radishes - 1.7 oz.
Pink Punch radishes - .6 oz.
Verdil spinach - 2 lb., 15 oz.

Total harvests of the week - 7 lb., 11.5 oz. (3.5 kg.)
2016 YTD - 85 lb., 14.4 oz. (39 kg.)

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

Friday, April 1, 2016

Winter to Spring Progress Report

The Winter Garden is quickly winding down and I've been busy getting the spring plantings started and into the garden so I thought I would do an update post to show the progress.

Bed #1. This is where most of the overwintering brassicas were growing. I got good harvests of broccoli, brokali, and brussels sprouts through the winter. I also had Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower in this bed, both of which grew well but produced their lovely heads while I was away on vacation. Here's what's left of the winter veggies. The brussels sprouts have yielded the last of their sprouts and what's left on the plants is laced with aphids, all that remains is to remove the plants. Off to the left is the Spigariello Riccia broccoli which I've allowed to bloom to provide food for bees and good bugs, but it needs to go now because it is quickly being overwhelmed by aphids.

The only productive winter veggies remaining in this bed is a bit of Romanesca da Taglio frisee, soon to go because it is bolting, and some Italian Silver Rib and Peppermint Stick chards.

I've cleared out the rest of the bed and sown spring salad veggies under the protection of a couple of tunnels. One tunnel is planted with lettuce, including Gulley's Favorite butterhead, Joker crisphead, and Red Butter romaine.

Beyond the lettuce is Tokyo Bekana, a loose headed napa cabbage, Gai Lan, and Speedy arugula.

Beyond that are 7 varieties of radishes - Malaga, Petit Dejeuner, Pink Punch, Plum Purple, Pusa Gulabi, and Pusa Jamuni. I do like my radishes!

And beyond the radishes are Greek cress, Persian Broadleaf cress, Apollo arugula, and Buck's Horn plantain.

And the other tunnel has Palla Rossa radicchio.

And newly emerging salad type turnips, including Mikado, Round Red, and Scarlet Ohno Revival. Barely visible beyond the turnips are carrots, a colorful mix of Bolero, Nelson, Purple Sun, Pusa Asita Black, Pusa Rudhira Red, and Rotild.

And there's just enough room left between the turnips and the radicchio to sow some beets.

Bed #2 is where the tomatoes and peppers will be growing this year. I've been preparing it by growing a cover crop of mostly mustard and peas which I dug in just the other day.

Cover crop ready to cut.

Cut down and ready to dig in.

Turned into the soil.
After turning the cover crop into the soil I broke up the clods, scattered finished compost over the soil and covered it all with cardboard. Now I'll let the worms take over, munching the greens and compost and incorporating the nutrients through the soil.

I aim to have tomato and pepper seedlings ready to plant out by the end of May at which time I'll dig in slow release natural fertilizers.

Bed #3 was the solanum bed last year. Once I cut the tomatoes down I sowed favas in their place and used the trellis that supported the tomatoes to support the beans and a mesh cover to protect the plants from the birds.

I'm growing two varieties this year, my old favorite Extra Precoce Violetto has been a reliable early producer.
Extra Precoce Violetto
Robin Hood is supposed to be early also. I grows on very compact plants, much shorter than the Extra Precoce Violetto which has plants that are shorter than most large podded fava varieties.

Robin Hood
On the other side of the bed I experimented with a winter sown crop of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) which turned out to be an almost 100% failure, only one seed germinated. So I just let a bunch of volunteers grow, mostly Monticello poppies and Golden Corn Salad and there's one purple Mizuna plant sticking out. I'm trying something else new this year, I set out 1/3 of the area with some Sabre shelling peas. The rest of the area will soon be devoted to bush beans. You can probably guess why I've got the peas covered with some mesh...

Bed #4. Most of this side was devoted to winter greens that were sown or set out in December and January, including Ethiopian Highland kale, Speedy arugula, Rishad cress, various radishes, Golden Corn salad, cilantro, and lettuces. Everything grew better than expected given the cold wet weather in December and January. I think that growing them under the protection of the mesh fabric, which was meant to keep the birds from feasting, also helped to protect them from the weather.

March 29
Most everything had been harvested or was bolting come the end of March so it was time to clear them out and get the bed transitioned to spring crops. The rotation that I've worked out for this bed is to eventually be mostly brassicas, celery and celeriac, and other greens. Here's the area ready for planting with spring brassicas.

March 30
These are some seedlings I sowed on March 7 that were just big enough to get into the garden. I would normally pot these up to separate larger containers but this time I decided to get them straight into the garden. I keep adding mesh covered tunnels to the garden to protect tender tasty greens and seedlings from the birds so I'm able to leave this tunnel in place to protect the young seedlings until they get large enough to stand up to some pecking.

Half of the seedlings are in the garden and the other half are in reserve just in case sowbugs or earwigs decide to do some snacking. From front to back there's Dazzling Blue kale, Little Jade napa cabbage, Pixie cabbage, and Amazing Taste cauliflower. There's still one head of Three Heart butterhead lettuce left at the far end of the tunnel. I also slipped seeds for more radishes along the outer drip line - some of the usual including Helios, Malaga, Pink Punch and one new addition of White Beauty. Along the edge of the bed are some new multiplier onions from Arizona called I'itoi. I got 10 bulbs last fall, which when they arrived were completely dessicated, but I planted them in pots anyway. Amazingly enough nearly all of them sprouted, but then some critter dug around in some of the pots, so I ended up with 5 plants. That's enough to get started though.

The area covered with lightweight agribon is where I've direct sown some Mizunarubasoi and Cape Greko mustard.

The Mizunarubasoi emerged quickly but the tiny seeded mustard has been slow to emerge so it's still covered up. The fabric really helps to keep the soil from drying out. I have to hand water the seedlings until they have at least a couple of true leaves since the water from the drip emitters doesn't keep the top layer of the soil moist enough. The fabric is light and water permeable so I can sprinkle water right through it.

Mizunarubasoi on left, Cape Greko Mustard on right
All set and ready to grow for spring.

March 30
Back in January I experimented with directly sowing broccoli into the garden under cloches. Here's the plants on the 16th of March, with a couple more plants sown about that time under the cloches beyond.

March 16
And here's the Batavia broccoli plants on the 30th with the two new Atlantis brokali plants sharing the protection of some tulle fabric. It's time to start a couple more broccoli seedlings to continue the succession.
March 30
The rest of that side of the bed is devoted to alliums. There's 8 varieties of bulbing onions, 7 of them new. I sure hope at least one of the new ones resists bolting and perhaps keeps well in storage. Beyond the onions are Zebrune shallots which last year proved themselves to be winners in the garden, the pantry, and the kitchen. And beyond that is garlic.

Rusty garlic disaster
I think it is time that I give up on growing garlic. It nearly always becomes totally infected with rust and I've not found an organic treatment for it. This season I started early treating them with both 70% Neem and Actinovate, both very effective organic fungicides, but to no avail. I keep removing the infected leaves and the plants have been treated a number of times, but it takes just days for the rust to reappear. I give up. I'll be pulling these soon and using what I can rescue to make some Green Garlic Crema that I'll freeze.

Rust infected garlic leaf
Next to the garlic disaster area is the very successful and productive overwintered spinach. It's coming to the end now, both varieties are bolting.

Overwintered Spinach
So that's it for the winter to spring garden transition. Now I need to get cracking on the summer veggies, it's time to start sowing tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant!