Monday, February 25, 2019

Harvest Monday - February 25, 2019

Harvests were relatively light last week, so long as you don't count a nearly 2.5 pound celery root as "light". I used all of that huge celery root to make a simple mash starting with some browned butter in which I softened a little bit of onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Then I added the celery root which I had peeled and cut into about 1-inch dice. To that I added enough chicken stock to half submerge the celery root and then let it simmer covered until the celery root was soft enough to smash up with a potato masher. Then I let that cook down uncovered to a nice thick consistency. All that it needed after that was a few dollops of creme fraiche, salt, and pepper. It was a delicious accompaniment to some roasted halibut.

Prinz Celeriac and Orion Fennel

There's not a lot left in the garden now and but what is there I can harvest as I want it. The fennel keeps on giving and I keep on harvesting it. I sliced up one bulb and braised it with some slivered artichokes. The rest of the fennel I usually slice thinly to add to salads.

Orion Fennel, Bora King and Mini Purple Daikon Radishes
The daikon radishes are still holding well in the garden also. Bora King is living up to its name, some of the roots have become nice and fat but are still solid and very mild. Mini Purple is also living up to its name, pretty mini for a daikon and definitely purple, but also still solid and mild. I have to remember to sow more of these in the fall for next winter, I've really been enjoying them in salads.

That's the latest from my garden, not a lot but I'll take what I can get. 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, February 18, 2019

Harvest Monday - February 18, 2019

The wet weather is just not going away. There's a few Weather Underground stations in Carmel Valley that I keep an eye on and they vary from a total of 15 inches to 24 inches to nearly 27 inches for the Hydrologic year starting October 1. I know the 15 inch amount is off because that station didn't show any precipitation after at least one big storm. For comparison the totals for the entire 2017/18 Hydrologic Year were about half those amounts. All the rain has not kept me from hiking, I have plenty of rain gear, but it has kept me from working in the garden because the soil is just too soggy to work, even in my raised beds. Soggy conditions do not keep me from harvesting though.

I got another harvest of kalettes and carrots. Autumn star was the first variety of kalettes to make sprouts big enough to harvest but now the plant is winding down and the sprouts are getting smaller. But the Mistletoe kalettes are in their prime now. The entire harvest kalettes were roasted in a cast iron skillet with some parsnips. I boiled the the kalettes for 2 minutes first to both rid them of the aphids lurking in the leaves and to make them more tender.

Mistletoe and Autumn Star Kalettes
Short Stuff Carrots

The parsnips are certainly easier to pull out of the soggy soil. This is the bunch that got paired with the kalettes.
Cilantro, I'itoi Onions, Gladiator Parsnips
The lettuce is all gone now but the Golden Corn Salad that volunteered in one of the beds is ready for harvesting. I sampled one small harvest.

Golden Corn Salad
That first small harvest was so good that I had to have more and I cut an even larger bunch the second time around.

Golden Corn Salad
I pulled this rutabaga to use in a pot roasted beef shoulder (local grassfed beef that I got at the farmer's market). The recipe that I followed actually called for celery root but I didn't want to cut up one of the huge celery root from the garden to use just a small portion of it for the roast so I tried the rutabaga instead, and still I only used half the rutabaga. The roast came out great, the rutabaga (and carrot and onion and garlic) that slow cooked along with a half bottle of Syrah along with the roast got pureed to make a fabulous sauce for the beef. We don't eat beef very often but that roast was so comforting and delicious that it got me craving more.

Improved Helenor Rutabaga

We eat a lot of soup when the weather turns cold and wet and the other half of that rutabaga was great in another big pot of soup. A half of a rutabaga alone does not make a big pot of soup, I also used a big bunch of lacinato kale (from the farmer's market, not mine, bummer), and bacon, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, lentils, farro, tomato paste, rosemary, bay. Perfect for a cold and stormy night.

There's still lots of celery coming from the garden.

Pink Plume Celery

And finally, another harvest of Brussels sprouts. They are very good now, all the rain and cold weather has plumped them up and make them as sweet as they can get. I shredded these and made a salad with them using a homemade caesar dressing and also added chopped roasted hazelnuts, currants, and shredded Parmesan. I want more of that too.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts

That's the latest from my winter garden. Head on over to Dave's blog Our Happy Acres to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Harvest Monday - February 11, 2019

Wet, wet, wet. I found myself dashing out between rain showers and once in the middle of a rain shower  this past week to quickly harvest veggies from the garden. And it's not just been rain, the higher peaks that I can see around here are covered with snow. We're getting a break today and tomorrow but tomorrow night the rain is returning. It seems to be making up for lost opportunities last year.

Here's a basket of first and last veggies. The first Badger Flame beets from the bunch I sowed last summer and the last head of Queen of Crunch lettuce. The lettuce started bolting weeks ago but it grew so slowly in the cold short days that I just let it stay in the garden until I needed it and fortunately it didn't get at all bitter.

Queen of Crunch Lettuce and Badger Flame Beets
Another first was a small harvest of Peppermint Stick chard, another summer sown vegetable that didn't grow very well. The chard actually started off ok but then got a severe aphid infestation that I treated by cutting the plants back to the nubs and after that it struggled to come back. And one more softball sized celeriac. Both the chard and celeriac went into a soup that also featured leeks, celery, tomato paste, and the pulp from some fermented dried Jarales peppers. (Did you know you can ferment your dried peppers?) I started the soup by slow cooking some Rattlesnake beans and corn chicos and a small ham together for a few hours in a 225 to 200ºF oven. I've found that my homegrown dried beans still cook up tender after even 3 or 4 years from the date of harvest especially if I cook them very slowly. Those Rattlesnake beans were from 2015 and they cooked up perfectly.

Prinz Celeriac and Peppermint Stick Chard

Parsnips are holding well in the garden although they are not getting any larger. These look nice but they were on the small side.

Gladiator Parsnips

These lovely fennel bulbs came from a plant that I sowed back in the spring of 2017. I posted a photo of the plant on my previous post about the garden in January.

Orion Fennel

And I'm still harvesting the Short Stuff carrots that I sowed last summer. Most of them sized up before the chill of winter slowed them down.

Short Stuff Carrot

That's the latest from my garden. Head on over the Dave's blog Our Happy Acres to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Garden in Late January 2019

So it's another cold and wet and dreary day which means I'm not going to get any work done in the garden so it's time to do a bit of catch-up with the blog. I took photos of the garden back in January so that I could document the garden then but never got around to writing up the post. I figure I should write it up before I need to post about the February garden.

A lot of the garden was a total mess in January. Between being sick over the holidays and then getting lots of rain I didn't get out there much. 

So let's start with Bed No. 1. This corner of the bed was sitting empty for a while while I figured out what to do with it. Since taking these photos I did get it planted but that's for the next tour.

Down at the other end of the bed there were still some lingering pepper plants from 2017 (not a typo). Behind the old peppers are some well protected fragrant sweet peas (they better be fragrant).

A nice patch of I'itoi onions.

Old and new Speedy arugula.

The last of the lettuce.

Three Heart Butterhead and Queen of Crunch Crisphead

Yellow Potato Onions

Spinach and cilantro from a fall planting, all just on the verge of bolting.

The Mini Purple and Bora King daikon radishes are holding extremely well in the garden. I harvest them as I want them.

Fall sown Short Stuff carrots are looking good but still not large enough to start harvesting.

Oh, there's that empty corner again. It was really crying out for some veggies.

Over in Bed No. 2 there's Brussels sprouts and Kalettes occupying the end of the bed.

Bleah. The top of one of the Brussels sprouts plants was going bad but since I opened it up it has started to recover.

The sprouts though are finally looking good.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts

The slowest of the Kalettes to develop has still not produced sprouts large enough to harvest, but they are growing sloooowly. This year I'm going to start these in June instead of July and see if that will help to get earlier harvests.

Snowdrop Kalettes

The tops of the parsnips are dying back but the roots are holding well although they have stopped growing.

Gladiator Parsnips

Prinz Celeriac
The celeriac continues to grow but not too quickly, it's holding quite well in the garden also. It's really nice to have veggies that keep well in the garden so that I don't have to stuff the fridge and use things up as quickly as possible.

Prinz Celeriac
The summer sown Short Stuff carrots are looking tatty, they have pretty much stopped growing but the carrots are keeping well in the ground so I'm still just harvesting as I want them.

The summer sown beets never did grow well. I cleared out the Sweetheart beets and just started clearing out the Badger Flame beets this week to make way for some spring veggies.

Badger Flame Beets
 The rutabagas are happy, I've been harvesting those as I want them.

Improved Helenor Rutabagas
This is the third or fourth growth of Orion Fennel, this patch has slowed down but there's more elsewhere!

Orion Fennel
The summer sown chard never did well but I did finally get a small harvest recently.

Peppermint Stick and Italian Silver Rib Chard

Pink Plume celery. What star performers this bunch has been. I've started to tie them up because the bunches are wanting to splay out. Tying them up seems to help to promote longer stalks.

What a sorry sight these broccoli plants are. I just haven't had the time or the heart to yank them out. They were early victims of the munching rodents but after I protected them they managed to give me a few harvests of shoots through the year.

Bed No. 3. What a mess. There's a pile of stuff waiting to get shredded for the compost bin and a big bunch of frost zapped Nema-Gone marigolds that need to be cleared out. One bright spot is that bunch of greenery on the left.

That's the Orion fennel that I planted there in 2017. In 2018 I allowed it to bloom like crazy which provided me with a lot of fennel seeds to cook with and it also provided the good bugs with a lot of flowers to feed on. After I cut the flower stalks down it decided to produce a bunch of fat bulbs in the past few weeks. Amazing

Orion Fennel From 2017
The artichoke plant that I transferred from a pot into the bed is expanding and enjoying having a lot more room to spread its roots.

Unfortunately the aphids and ants have moved in. Treating that mess is another task that I've not gotten around to doing.

Next to the artichoke is a patch of Blue Boy Cornflowers. Those turned out to be frost hardy and are now just starting to show signs of sending up flower stalks so I should have some spring flowers.

The fall planted Cosmos never did take off which was surely my fault for not getting them transplanted early enough, but then the birds decided they were a delicious snack, and then frost finished them off. My consolation prize for doing nothing more in that spot is a bunch of volunteer Golden Corn Salad.

Bed No. 4 was the site of Fort Pepper in 2018 and by January it was just a big mess of overgrown, dead, and dying peppers.

My usual rotation is to follow peppers and tomatoes with favas and peas early in the year. I almost decided to not grow favas this year because  last year the fava crop was destroyed by rodents but I really want some fresh favas again so this year I'm constructing Fort Fava.

The remains of the 2018 peppers, some ready to be shredded for the compost and others that I may give a chance to grow on through 2019. There's still peppers on the Joe's Giant Aji Amarillo plant. I haven't decided if I'm going to bother to harvest them, I really don't need them.

The rest of the bed is ready for planting peas, more on that in the next tour.

This end of the bed was devoted to flowers in 2019 (after I ripped out the rodent ravaged tomato plants). This year I'm going to cage in another round of garbanzos.

And finally, some of the I'itoi onions that I have growing in fabric pots have been enjoying the rainy weather and have some good top growth. I've been trimming out the greens to cook with since I know that the overly crowded plants don't have much of a chance of producing sizable bulbs and I have a bunch in the garden that should produce good bulbs. That silver box behind the onions is a mouse trap. I accidentally discovered that that area behind the pots is a mouse highway and I've caught numerous mice that have tried to pass through.

So that's my belated tour of the January garden. I hope we get enough of a break in the weather so that I can get back out to the garden and finish up cleaning and planting spring veggies. I read that there's a very good chance that another atmospheric river may be in store for California in the next week which doesn't bode well for my efforts in the garden. I am truly grateful that we are getting rain this year but you can get too much of a good thing.