Monday, June 13, 2016

Harvest Monday - June 13, 2016

Can it be, is there a "summer" veggie in the harvest basket?

Green Fingers Persian Cucumber
Yes! Congratulations, it's a cucumber.

And another first in the harvest basket is Pink Plume celery, which I've been harvesting stalk by stalk by stalk.....

Pink Plume Celery

This is an heirloom variety of celery that was introduced in 1894, became very popular, and then virtually disappeared from the commercial seed trade. Seed Savers Exchange offered it this year and I couldn't resist. And I was so eager to try it that I attempted a spring sowing of celery for the first time and it seems to have worked.

Pink Plume celery is full flavored but sweet and very crunchy. The stalks aren't as juicy as a typical celery but they aren't tough either, although I haven't yet tried just munching on a stalk so I don't know if it's stringy.  I've been cutting a few stalks almost every day and slicing them into my salads for lunch and also added some to a white bean and tuna salad that featured some Purgatory beans from my stash in the pantry.

Little Jade Napa Cabbage

I cut the other 2 napa cabbages that were in the garden and it's a good thing I did because I found that something had gotten into the heads and started to munch.

Pixie Cabbage

And then I found that yet a different pest had found the green cabbage - a blasted RAT! I'm afraid that it may be The Second Year of the Rat - the count has started and I'm up to 7. If you don't know what I'm talking about check the sidebar on my blog and scroll down until you find the tally that I kept in 2011 as Zeke and I caught rat after rat until the tally hit 96 rats - all in less than 6 months. Ugh. Sigh.

Sabre Shelling Peas and Apollo Brokali

The broccoli and brokali plants are not producing very many side shoots, just little things like the ones shown above with the peas. I'm happy I've got a few new broccoli plants coming along and didn't count on side shoot production for the summer.

Sabre Shelling Peas
My little experimental patch of shelling peas continues to produce. I think it was well worth the space, the plants are producing just enough to enjoy some fresh peas every few days and I don't have to deal with a glut. Lately I've been enjoying them raw in my salads. We also enjoyed a bruschetta topping made with some of the peas and some of the last of the freshly peeled Robin Hood favas with crumbled ricotta salata cheese, shallots (still some from last year!), basil, and mint. I grilled the bread after lightly smearing it with some Green Garlic Cream.

My caper bushes are producing lots of buds this year, about 1/2 pound a week.

Ramata di Milano Onion
I keep finding an onion here and there that has decided to bolt. By this time last year a lot of the Candy and Superstar onions that I was growing were sending up flower stalks. It's not as bad this year, just a few onions and not any one particular variety has bolted. I don't know if it's because the new varieties that I'm growing are more suited to my climate or if it's because the temperature swings haven't been as extreme and frequent as they were the last couple of years. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed, the onions aren't anywhere near mature yet so there's still plenty of time for misbehaving.

Last week I showed a photo of my friends who rescued a couple of big plants of chard. I felt a bit guilty about foisting such a glut upon them so I decided to take the Chard Challenge up myself and cut a big stalk of Peppermint Stick Chard. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of it but I did weigh it after cutting the leaves from the main stem. But then I had to cook it. I started by dealing with the sheer mass of all that greenery by cutting the greens from the stems and blanched the greens to reduce the volume so I could wedge it all into the fridge. Then we had a different chard dish for dinner three nights in a row. Night #1 featured the greens - chopped and sauteed with spring onion (one of those bolters) and pancetta. I put the sauteed greens in personal sized cazuelas and dosed them with tomato sauce (still a bunch in the freezer), topped it with a couple of slices of grilled homemade levain bread with sliced mozzarella and grated parmesan, drizzled with olive oil and baked until hot. Dave love that one and couldn't believe that I only made 2 portions. Night #2 was a gratin made with some of the stems sauteed with butter and shallots, placed in a gratin dish with tomato sauce and creme fraiche, topped with bread crumbs and parmesan and baked until bubbling hot. That was another hit. Night #3 featured both greens and stems. This time I sauteed them in olive oil with some spring onion and then added some cooked Greek Gigante Beans, placed that mix in a gratin dish, topped that with strips of roasted Shepherd's Ramshorn sweet peppers (from the freezer), added a generous drizzle of pomegranate molasses, topped it all with bread crumbs and a good amount of olive oil. Baked until hot. Another winner! Ahh, but there's still some blanched greens and a few stems left in the fridge...

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

Pixie cabbage - 1.6 lb.
Little Jade napa cabbage - 5.7 lb.
Capers - 8.5 oz.
Pink Plume celery - 1.1 lb.
Peppermint Stick chard - 4.3 lb.
Green Fingers cucumbers - 3 oz.
Ramata di Milano onion - 1.1 lb.
Sabre shelling peas - 2.2 lb.

Total for the week - 16.8 pounds  (7.6 kg.)
2016 YTD - 296.7 pounds (135 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.


  1. Pink celery, never heard of that before .... looks like rhubarb. Thos crunchy little cucumbers are good, aren't they?

    OH, no, not another year of the rat! &%$#!!! I remember that year, we had them just as bad down here as you did. They ate threw the stucco to get into the attic. What a noise at night! They ate all the tomatoes. Please say it isn't so.

  2. Sounds like you made a good job of that Chard Challenge! All 3 dishes you made sound great. It's just a shame you had to have Chard 3 days in a row, I suppose. At least you know what to do with it to make it more exciting, whereas many people would just boil it plain and say it's dull. Bad news about the rats. That's one mammal that I don't think I have yet had to contend with. Mice, Yes, but rats, No.

  3. Congratulations indeed! My tiny cucumber plants are all sulking at the moment. They weren't the best looking transplants, but I'm trying to think least they are still alive :) And I'm just salivating at those peas...we are at the flowering stage here, so every time I see peas on everyone's blog it gets me a bit antsy for them to get a move on.

    Our chard is still small, so no need to worry about using up excess...or any at all yet for that matter! Great ideas, though. I wish I had the time to be creative in the kitchen like that.

    Yikes on the rats...not a good start to the season. Hopefully it's not indicative of things to come.

  4. I remember your year of the rat. I am thankful we don't have THAT problem, though I did have a tree rat (aka squirrel) dig up most all of my calendula plants. Why it picked those I have no idea, but I guess it is pointless to try and figure out a rodent! It looks like your Little Jade cabbages are still pretty big, though maybe small as Napa cabbages go. My lone plant is still sizing up, though I will keep the size in mind when I plan my fall garden. That is a lot of capers to deal with too!

  5. Too bad about the rats, I remember. At least one thing I don't to worry about. Your chard story is amusing. Are you telling us one leaf of the chard weighed 4.3 pounds?

    1. I wasn't very clear was I? By stalk I meant the entire plant, I cut the whole thing down. A 4.3 pound chard leaf should be in the Guinness Book! Oh, and that 4.3 pounds is after cutting the leaves off the stem which weighed in at over a pound all by itself.

  6. Beautiful celery stalks! I bought a single celery plant this year but wasn't sure if it needs to be blanched or whatever that's called (covered in dirt to keep it tender and light)??

    LOL on the glut of chard, but all sounds delicious!

  7. Your meals sound so delicious. The thought of a five pounder chard plant just tickles me. Plus you're getting cucumbers already.

    The thought of your "year of the rat" gives me shivers. I really hope that's not happening again.

  8. Beautiful harvests as usual. The celery looks very interesting. As for rats, you have to pay the toll for living in paradise.

  9. Congrats on the summer veggie bonanza!
    I'm still astonished that you're growing your own capers.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.