Monday, May 29, 2017

Harvest Monday - May 29, 2017

It's funny, the things that may make you really appreciate having a garden. Getting a nasty cold really made me appreciate the bounty of healthy veggies that I have easily to hand. And when I'm sick and not up to the task of cooking, as I have been much of the past week, I'm even more appreciative of all the work that I've put into preserving those veggies in various forms. One day I craved a bowl of soup and being home by myself and not wanting to have to drive somewhere to satisfy the craving I turned to my freezer and pantry. It didn't take long to thaw a quart of homemade chicken stock, saute some shallots, stir in some frozen tomato paste, and drop in a load of dried veggies and within 30 minutes I was slurping hot vegetable soup. Ahhh, on the road to recovery.

Anyway, I did manage to get out to the garden with a pocketful of Kleenex a few times to bring in some harvests. The garden is really demanding my attention right now and I can't just lay around while the veggies bolt.

Radishes, Carrots, and Turnips
The spring crop of root vegetables is/has been a colorful one. The radishes are done for now, they were almost all starting to bolt. The carrots are sizing up, those 2 varieties shown are Short Stuff and Starica, you can probably guess which is which. And at the bottom of the picture are Round Red and Mikado turnips. One easy dish I made with some of the turnips and carrots was to quickly roast them in a hot cast iron skillet (I'm really in love with my cast iron lately).

Yellow Granex Onions
The big disappointment this year has been the onions. Downy mildew hit hard this spring and I nearly pulled out the entire crop. I relented though when the weather warmed up and the mildew slowed down. But the DM (damn mildew?) took its toll, the plants didn't keep enough green growth to produce good roots. Every green leaf blade is connected to a layer in the bulb and when the green leaf blades are killed then the bulbs will come out small, like those Yellow Granex bulbs in the photo. Those three onions don't equal even one bulb that I would typically harvest.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
I tried a sprouting cauliflower this spring and it doesn't seem to have behaved properly. The heads buttoned on 3 of the 4 plants. I think this is a small taste of what they might be able to do. I noticed that one of the plants has side shoots forming so perhaps there will be a few more shoots to come. I'll try it again in the fall.

I'm still getting a few side shoots of broccoli from the overwintered plants and there's a glut of lettuce. Last night I used up that bunch of lettuce (I forget if it's Joker or Rosencrantz) in a dish that is guaranteed to tame a big pile of lettuce. I used more of the carrot harvest, some broccoli, one of those Yellow granex onions, freshly peeled favas (thanks to my Dave) and some haricot vert (from the farmers market, yes I do buy some veggies). I braised all of those with some browned butter in chicken stock and at the end tossed in all that lettuce which I had cut up a bit. The lettuce just wilts and retains a hint of crunch in its sturdier parts. It's a nice warming and healthy dish for a cool foggy breezy evening (May Gray has set in in a big way).

Three Heart Butterhead Lettuce
All of the lettuce that I've harvested so far this spring has been baby heads that I interplanted with the brassicas, including that basketful shown above. My method this year was to clump 3 or 4 plants together rather than interspersing them through the bed. It makes it easier to harvest the heads - just cut a whole clump, and it crowds the growing brassicas a bit less. We've been enjoying a lot of salads with dinner lately, sometimes it is pretty much dinner accompanied by some bread and cheese.

Ruby Streaks Mizuna
My Dave doesn't like what he calls "funny greens" - stronger flavored things like mustards and arugula. But I love them so I grow them and use them to make salads for my lunch. The spring planting of mizuna and arugula was starting to bolt so I cut them all down.

Apollo Arugula
The veggie most demanding of attention last week was the favas. They hit their peak of production - 37 pounds of pods to deal with.

Aquadulce Favas
The deal that I have with my Dave who loves his favas is that I grow them, harvest them, pop them out of the pods and blanch them, but then he has to peel them because that's the way he likes them.

Robin Hood Favas
Dave is not crazy for the Robin Hood favas, they are small beans with tight skins so they are more tedious to peel. Sorry dear.

Robin Hood and Extra Precoce Violetto Favas
He loves the Extra Precoce Violetto and Aquadulce beans. They are big and fat and easy to peel. I don't find any real difference in them post harvest. There are a couple of differences in the garden. Extra Precoce Violetto, which translates as Extra Early Purple, are earlier but not by a lot, about a week or 10 days. The EPVs are shorter plants by a couple of feet. Both varieties seem to be about equal in terms of productivity.

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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Garden on May 24, 2017

It's a bit frustrating that I'm sitting here writing about the garden rather than working in it. I've had a nasty cold all week and have not had the energy to do anything more than some harvesting and picture taking. I'm even slow about writing up a post as you can tell from the lag time in getting this post written.

As usual, things grow so quickly at this time of year that 2 or 3 weeks makes a huge difference in the garden. I'll show just a couple of comparison shots to show the dramatic change in 16 days.

May 8
Arugula, Mizuna, and Tokyo Bekana cabbage growth in 16 days...

May 24

May 8
Cover crop of buckwheat, favas, and peas - 16 days difference... This is a nice lesson for me about how quickly I can get a cover crop going at this time of year. Unfortunately I didn't note when I sowed the cover crop, but it was some time in the last half of April.

May 24
Buckwheat Blossoms

The buckwheat is starting to bloom, so I need to get out there and cut it all down before it goes to seed.

Romanesco Zucchini
The zucchini is taking off.

Italian Mountain Basil
The Italian Mountain basil got a bit sunburned in the transition from being coddled to having to brave the elements in the garden.

Persian Basil
The Persian basil reacted to the transition by developing more color, the leaves are developing a purplish tinge and the stems are getting darker.

Corsican Basil
The Corsican basil is getting darker also. It's the fastest growing and I've already started to cut it back to encourage more bushy growth.

The spring round of salad greens is starting to bolt. I've cleared out this patch of arugula and mizuna since this photo session. The Mizunarubasoi on the right has to go soon so that I can take down this part of the cage to make room for the Romanesco zucchini plant.

Bolting Apollo Arugula

Likewise I've harvested all the radishes from this patch and a number of the turnips. The Jaune Boule D'Or turnips in the center haven't produced bulbous roots yet. They better hurry up or I'll have to pull them for greens instead.

Some carrots are bolting, notably the purple Black Nebulas and others still have baby sized roots. I don't need to rush as much to clear out this space, it will be a while before the weather is warm enough to plant the melons that I'm planning for this spot.

The last 2 Mini Purple Daikons suddenly shot up and the mustards went through a big growth spurt but are resisting bolting so far.

The radicchio gave up resisting the urge to bolt.

Little Jade Napa Cabbage
Fast fast Little Jade napa cabbage, there's a couple of heads in there that I could harvest now.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
I'm not so sure what to make of the Fioretto Stick Cauliflower. It's supposed to produce shoots like sprouting broccoli, but it seems to have just produced small loose heads, I guess it's buttoning. I'm going to cut them and see if they produce side shoots. I really know nothing about this variety. Perhaps it will do better in the fall.

Fioretto Stick Cauliflower
The Aspabroc (aka Broccolini, a cross between broccoli and gai lan) is better behaved, the plants are growing nicely with no signs of buttoning, although there is an aphid infestation in one plant that needs my attention.

Batavia Broccoli
And the Batavia broccoli is behaving well and growing nicely.

There's a glut of lettuce right now. You may have noticed the lettuces growing between the brassicas. I've been harvesting those as babies but haven't been able to keep up. There's still a bunch of them and the lettuces that I planted to mature into full heads are quickly maturing. More salad please!

Coriander of Morocco
I wasn't so sure about the viability of the seeds when I planted a patch of Moroccan coriander so I sowed them rather thickly. Of course most of the seeds germinated. I think this variety is grown primarily for the seeds rather than the greens, it's supposed to have larger seeds than usual. It's bolting already so I guess I'll find out soon if the seeds are something special.

That's a twofer shot above, the remains of the sickly onion patch with a nice healthy fringe of Cilician parsley. I pulled a number of the onion varieties early on when Downy Mildew hit hard. When the weather turned more warm and dry the DM relented and the onions recovered a bit, but now that the May Gray fog has settled into its usual pattern the DM is appearing again. The parsley is doing great though.

Favas galore! They are so happy this year. The left side of the bed is planted with Robin Hood plants which I've allowed to just flop over. The other side of the bed has Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto (aka Extra Precoce Violetto) and Aquadulce favas trained along the trellis. I'm particularly happy that I've got the Aquadulces tied to the trellis, they've grown to the top of its 6-foot plus height and it would be impossible to get through on the back side of the bed if they were allowed to flop over.

The Aquadulce plants are planted in the center third portion of the trellis and the Extra Precoce Violetto plants take up the end thirds of the line.

Aquadulce Favas
Tying the plants to the trellis also makes it easier to harvest the beans.

I've learned over time that the more room you give a fava plant the more stalks (tillers) it will produce per plant. This year I planted one row of Robin Hood favas along one side of the bed and one row of Extra Precoce Violetto and Aquadulce along the other side of the bed. What a difference from the end of last year to now.

Favas, December 28, 2016
That's the garden as the end of May looms. There's so much work to be done. I still have to amend the tomato/pepper bed, cut down the favas and move the trellis to the tomato bed, and get the tomatoes and peppers planted.

And over in bed #4 I have some digging to resume to get rid of invading oak roots.

There's always a lesson to be learned in the garden. Here the lesson is that I needed to extend the fabric that I'm using as a root barrier much further up the inside of the bed. The oak roots aren't making their way through the fabric on the bottom of the bed but they do find their way in through a corner here or there and in over the top of the fabric and then start to fill up the bed from there. They then proceed to suck up all the moisture and nutrients and the veggie growth slows to a crawl or simply stalls. I was less than half way through this task when the nasty cold hit.

So I'm feeling very restless and impatient at the moment but trying to be good. It's difficult for me to sit back and relax and let my body heal when I really just want to dig in (literally) and get some work done. But I am feeling better so I know that in a day or two I'll be back at it again.

Now I've got some more favas to harvest. 68 pounds harvested so far and more waiting!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Harvest Monday - May 22, 2017

There wasn't much variety in the harvest basket last week. I had to cut a few clumps of baby lettuces because they were starting to compete with their brassica neighbors. My interplanting scheme seems to have worked well this time, the baby lettuces are sizing up just as the brassicas are spreading their leaves into their space.

Joker Crisphead and Three Heart Butterhead Lettuces
Joker Crisphead is a fast grower so it took up much of the space in the basket.

Three Heart Butterhead Lettuce
Three Heart Butterhead is a more petite sized lettuce. That's one baby head above that I've opened up a bit to show the heart, and a single leaf below.

Three Heart Butterhead Lettuce
I suppose the shape of the leaf, with its three lobes, is where this lettuce got its name.

Extra Precoce Violetto Favas
The fava bean harvests are hitting their peak now. I only had time to harvest one variety over the weekend and it was the largest single harvest yet, weighing in at over 11.5 pounds. We've been popping and peeling most of the favas for long term storage in the freezer but I selected some of the best specimens from that basketful to put on the BBQ yesterday. Grilling the whole beans is the easiest way to eat them and results in the least amount of waste because the entire bean, other than the strings that run down the sides, are edible and delicious. You just have to be sure to choose beans that aren't too mature with beans starting to bulge tightly in the pods.

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
I cleared out one section of a bed last week and collected a bunch of Italian Flat Leaf parsley. The primary variety of parsley that I've got going this spring is Cilician which has lately become my favorite. I cut a bunch of that also to try to show the difference. Both are flat leaf types but the Cilician is more delicate, the leaves are more finely textured, somewhat ferny looking and lighter in weight. It has the same parsley flavor but with added hints of nutmeg and citrus. I think I need to write up a spotlight post one of these days.

Cilician Parsley
The only other harvest last week was a very small cutting of Batavia broccoli shoots that didn't get in front of the camera.

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, May 15, 2017

Harvest Monday - May 15, 2017

Radishes are adding a lovely bit of color to the harvests. I love growing more than just the red ones. The latest harvest included Red Planet and Pink Punch from a April 5 sowing and one more Mini Purple Daikon from a February 15 sowing.

I took some photos of the most recently cut open Mini Purple Daikons, they are quite pretty. I'm looking forward to growing these again in the fall.

Mini Purple Daikon

Mini Purple Daikon

Peppermint Stick Chard
That's one of the final harvests of chard. I cleared out the Golden Chard and Syrian Medieval chard as well but those didn't get photographed.

Extra Precoce Violetto Favas and Batavia Broccoli
The fava bean harvests are the big thing going on right now. I harvested about 12 pounds of Extra Precoce Violetto, 5 pounds of Robin Hood, and the first pound of Aquadulce beans last week. That has kept my Dave busy peeling! There were a couple of pickings of Batavia broccoli shoots as well but those are going to slow down, the plants don't have very many new shoots developing.

Joker Crisphead Lettuce
I also harvested a few more clumps of baby lettuces. Joker made it in front of the camera but I was in too much of a rush to photograph the latest bunches of Red Butter Romaine.

Scleroporus Occidentalis
I'll end with a shot of one of my garden buddies. There's at least a half dozen Western Fence lizards that call my veggie garden home and another dozen or so that hang out elsewhere around the property. I almost always see a few of them skittering around or posing. They often show off to one another by doing pushups and puffing themselves up. They are so much fun to watch and have around. They aren't very shy either, they'll let me get quite close before they run off so I have lots of photos.

Head on over to Dave's blog Our Happy Acres where you will find links to more Harvest Monday posts.