Harvest Monday February 20, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The fresh harvests continue to trickle in here. I pretty much harvest what we have on an as-needed basis. This week I cut the last of the Mei Qinq pac choi from the greenhouse and stir fried it for a side dish, along with a few mushrooms. It had quite a few aphids on it, but after rinsing several times it cleaned up nicely. The warm winter weather has made for more aphids than usual in the greenhouse, and I will need to do some work before I can start moving seedlings out there or they will all be quickly covered too! I think more harvesting and cleanup is in order, plus some spraying with insecticidal soap.

Mei Qing pac choi

Mei Qing pac choi

I also cut some arugula I have growing in a salad box on the greenhouse bench, a mix of Speedy and Adagio. It too had a lot of aphids on it. After cleaning it went on a pizza I cooked up Saturday night.

arugula for pizza

arugula for pizza

The pizza featured a lot of homegrown goodies, starting with the pizza sauce I used for the base that was spread over the homemade whole wheat crust. The pizza sauce has one ingredient, tomatoes, and I cook it down thicker than a sauce but not as thick as I do for tomato paste. The pizza was also topped with slow-roasted tomatoes, pickled baccatum peppers (Malawi, Kaleidoscope and Aji Golden), and the fresh arugula. I sprinkled my half of the pizza with some fermented Aji Angelo pepper flakes to give it a little extra zip. It was zippy enough for my wife without them! I do like the pepper flakes, and fermenting the peppers first gives them extra flavor as well as a little salt from the brine.

not delivery pizza

not delivery pizza

I got a nice cutting of sunflower shoots one day from the basement light garden. These went in some wraps we had for lunch, along with grilled chicken and some homemade hummus. The sunflower shoots are so easy to grow, and we have really been enjoying the truly fresh ones.

sunflower shoots

sunflower shoots

Last week I cooked up a mess of chickpeas in the pressure cooker that I used for the hummus and for some quinoa falafels I made for dinner one night. Chickpeas are easy to cook that way, about 35 minutes at high pressure for unsoaked ones, and I think they taste a lot better than canned ones.The falafels also featured some of the cilantro sprouts I have growing under lights. I sort of made up the recipe as I went along, taking my usual falafel patty recipe and adding a cup of cooked quinoa to it. In addition to the chickpeas, quinoa and cilantro, I also add ground cumin, minced garlic and salt along with egg and a bit of flour to help bind it together. Then I dip the patties in bread crumbs before I cook them in a little olive oil in a skillet. This gives me and my wife our falafel fix without having the deep fried version you usually get in a restaurant. The quinoa made a nice addition I think and I will be making these again for sure.

Quinoa Falafels

Quinoa Falafels

I’ll close with a photo of something that isn’t exactly from the garden, but that will surely impact my gardening plans this year. We have daffodils blooming already, in February! This is at least a couple of weeks earlier than usual, and on par with when they bloomed in 2012. That year saw the asparagus popping up in early March, so I think it is safe to say we are likely going to have an early spring here this year. I will try and push up my seed starting times by a week or so. We’ve had reports of mosquito sightings here too, so it’s probably going to be a bad year for bugs of all kinds. On the brighter side, early asparagus will be a welcome sight indeed. And I can’t say I’ve minded the milder winter temps.

daffodils in February

daffodils in February

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Seed Starting Update

It’s time for an update on my recent seed starting activities. On 1/31 I started seeds for parsley, fennel, chives and catnip. All those went into 3.5″ plastic pots, one for each variety. Those seeds have now germinated, and are growing under my fluorescent light setup in our basement. This week I started seeds for several varieties and colors of Wave petunias (2/12), as well as seeds for mizspoona, arugula, pac choi and lettuce (2/14). The petunia seed went into 3.5″ pots, covered with plastic film like I did for the parsley, while the rest went into a 128 cell plug flat. The greens will stay in there until planting time, and I will take the flat out to the garden and prick out the plants using my widger. Some of these plants are likely destined for the greenhouse though.

starting greens in 128 cell plug flat

starting greens in 128 cell plug flat

I’ve been using the plug flats for quite a few years now, and I always seem to get a few questions about them. They come with different cell sizes but overall are about the size of a standard 1020 nursery tray. I use either the 128 cell or 72 cell flat for salad greens, herbs, and brassicas. The 72 cell flat gives the plants a bit more room for the roots, and I generally use it for my cabbage, broccoli and kale seedlings. I tend to let them get bigger before planting, which helps them from the bird attacks. My theory is that the larger plants are either less attractive or less vulnerable to the birds. In the below photo, clockwise from upper left, you can see the 128, 72 and 50 cell plug flats side by side for comparison (with a U.S. quarter). The 50 cell flats are suitable for larger transplants like tomatoes and cucurbits. I got my plug flats from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, where they are sold in lots of 5 of one size. The Greenhouse Megastore also has them and you can buy them individually, though I have not ordered any from there yet.

128, 72 and 50 cell plug flats

128, 72 and 50 cell plug flats

Since I started parsley seeds in 3.5 inch pots, I will need to prick them out and pot them up into individual containers once they start showing their true leaves. Parsley has a reputation for not liking to be transplanted, but I find if I am careful and don’t disturb the roots too much they don’t seem to mind. I also try and get them in the ground before they get too big and root bound in the containers. I see at least one true leaf forming in the below photo, so it won’t be long before these get potted up. I will put one parsley plant in its own 3.5″ pot, where they will stay until planting time.

parsley seedlings

parsley seedlings

Next up in my seed starting activities will be the spring planted brassicas, followed by another planting of the spring greens like lettuce and choi. I’ll start warm season crops like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant beginning in early March.  You can find my general timeline in my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule. I hope you have enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Harvest Monday February 13, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. My harvests this past week were truly tiny, pretty much not enough to weigh. I was on a restricted diet for most of the week, which kept me away from many of my favorite menu items. I did make a batch of potato/cauliflower soup one night, which I topped with some scallions I have growing in a container in the greenhouse. The potatoes and cauliflower were not from the garden though. I also sprinkled some homemade smoked paprika on top for a bit of color and extra flavor.

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup

Once I was free to eat what I wanted, I made bean tacos one day for lunch. The lettuce came from the grocery and the Rio Zape beans from Rancho Gordo, but I was able to harvest a bit of cilantro sprouts to put on the tacos. The sprouts have a lot of flavor, and with a few of the seeds still attached you get a little coriander taste as well.

cilantro sprouts

cilantro sprouts

I served the tacos with some of our fermented veggies on the side. We’ve been enjoying the ferments all winter, and this day I opened a jar of Curtido I made back in November. I made it using our cabbage, onions, peppers, garlic and oregano, and it was tart and crisp with much the flavors of salsa, despite the fact there are no tomatoes in it. I kept the heat level mild by using our ripe Aji Angelo peppers and a bit of mild green Senorita jalapeno.

Curtido with bean tacos

Curtido with bean tacos

I’m growing the sprouts in the basement under fluorescent lights, and it has proven to be an easy way to grow cilantro in the winter time. In the below photo you can see the cilantro in front and some sunflower shoots growing in the back. The sunflowers have done quite well for me this winter too. They are ready to harvest too, and sprout sandwiches are on the menu for lunch today. I also have a container with microgreens planted in them, and they should be ready in a day or too.

cilantro sprouts growing under lights

cilantro sprouts growing under lights

On Saturday the temperature got up near 70°F, very warm for early February to say the least. My wife and I went for a long walk, and later on I took advantage of the warm temps to grill some burgers. I made a fresh batch of Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns for the occasion, and they turned out tall and fluffy. This recipe never fails me, and we haven’t bought buns (or any other bread) for many years now. This batch is topped with sesame and poppy seeds.

Moomie's Famous Burger Buns

Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Harvest Monday February 6, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. First off I want to say thanks again to Michelle (From Seed To Table) for hosting while I took a month off from HM. As it turned out, I had a nasty cold bug for most of January that left me coughing and hacking for three weeks. I’m slowly getting back to normal but now I have a colonoscopy scheduled for this coming week so I am on a restricted diet. Oh well, it shall all pass soon enough and meanwhile I am happy to have a few fresh harvests that I can actually eat!

harvest of Western Front kale

harvest of Western Front kale

I got a nice cutting of kale from the greenhouse last week. I have one plant of Western Front kale growing in there that gave up some nice big leaves. They did have a few aphids on them, but nothing that couldn’t easily be rinsed away. Aphids are usually a problem in our greenhouse in winter and this year is no exception.

Beauregard sweet potatoes

Beauregard sweet potatoes

I combined the kale with some Beauregard sweet potatoes from storage to make a skillet of kale and sweet potato hash. It makes for a tasty and easy side dish, though if you added some eggs or beans for protein it could easily serve as a main dish too. There’s a little vole damage on one of the taters but it was easily trimmed off. We love our wonky veggies here!

kale and sweet potato hash

kale and sweet potato hash

I also cut some of the Vivid Choi I have growing in the greenhouse bed. This green has proven to be a great grower here in the winter greenhouse, giving us lots of tasty leaves. It had a few aphids hanging out on it like the kale did. The leaves of this Wild Garden Seeds introduction sort of look like a komatsuna or a turnip green, and are very tender and mild tasting with crunchy stems. It is supposed to bolt into rapini come early spring, which should be an added bonus. I gave this batch a quick stir fry, along with some shiitake mushrooms. I cooked the mushrooms first then added the greens and cooked them only until they started wilting, which took less than a minute. I added a splash of sesame oil and a bit of umeboshi vinegar and it was ready to eat.

Vivid Choi

Vivid Choi

One more thing I want to mention didn’t come from our garden, but did make for a memorable dish. I cooked up a batch of Michelle’s Cast Iron Roasted Brussels Sprouts, using sprouts from the grocery. I used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet that belonged to my mother, and is probably older than I am. Since I can’t have seeds or nuts on my current diet, I kept it simple and added only some chopped up local smoked bacon, plus a splash of lambrusco wine vinegar stirred into the finished dish. I’ve oven roasted sprouts before, but I never thought about using a cast iron skillet, which does a great job of browning them up. I’ll be making this one again, and next time I want to try some of the other add-in options like pine nuts, pepitas or almonds.

Cast Iron Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cast Iron Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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