Harvest Monday November 20, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I am harvesting the fall veggies now on pretty much an as needed basis. Though one exception is broccoli, which pretty much needs to be cut and harvested on its terms whether it is on the menu or not! I had two heads of Green Magic that were ready to be cut last week. There was a little browning of the beads on one, but they each weighed 12 ounces and I am always happy to get broccoli at any size. I roasted one of these for lunch Saturday, and I believe I will make soup with the other head.

Green Magic broccoli

Green Magic broccoli

I pulled a couple of daikon radishes to go in a batch of Baechu Kimchi (made with mostly napa cabbage) I started fermenting last week. I grate the radishes for this kimchi, though when I make radish kimchi (Kkakdugi) I dice them into medium cubes. The long radish is Summer Cross and the shorter one is Alpine. Both do well for me when planted in late summer and they mature in fall or early winter. I’ve also got Sweet Baby and Bora King planted and some of those should be ready soon.

daikon radishes

daikon radishes

I cut a few leaves of the Tronchuda Beira to go in a pot of veggie soup I cooked up over the weekend. In summer I freeze bags of mixed veggies like snap beans, squash and cabbage to use later for soup. I added a bag of the frozen veggies to homemade broth, then cut up the greens and added to the simmering soup. Then I added some cooked Rancho Gordo Ojo de Cabra beans for protein. That day I also cut a small head of Minuet napa cabbage, which will likely go in another jar of kimchi. It’s a little wonky looking (or a lot), but it cleans up well and we try our best not to waste food here at HA. The Minuet only weighed a pound, but it was dwarfed by the giant Tronchuda Beira leaves which weighed half as much!

Tronchuda Beira and Minute cabbage

Tronchuda Beira and Minute cabbage

I’m still getting a nice supply of lettuce as we need it. I made several cuttings last week, including some Red Sails and Simpson Elite we used for wilted lettuce salads.

Red Sails and Simpson Elite lettuce

Red Sails and Simpson Elite lettuce

I’ve taste-tested most of the 2017 sweet potatoes and I am about ready to do a review. My latest tasting was a Grand Asia potato I baked whole and served up simply with a pat of butter and a little salt. The Grand Asia came from Duck Creek Farms as a substitute for Red Japanese which apparently was sold out. It had a fairly dry and sweet white flesh which I think compared favorably to the Red Japanese potatoes I have bought from our local Asian market. But it was the least productive of the ones I grew this year, so I still want to try Red Japanese next year to see how it does.

baked Grand Asia sweet potato

baked Grand Asia sweet potato

I found a few more ripe peppers from a Lady Choi plant I have growing in a container in the greenhouse. This a a Korean pepper usually used to make kimchi, and I dehydrated these for that purpose. I used some of these peppers from an earlier harvest to make a jar of kimchi which is now fermenting. I want to see how they compare with the commercial pepper flakes (gochugaru) I have been using.

Lady Choi hot peppers

Lady Choi hot peppers

And since I made a pot of veggie soup, that means I also made bread to go with it. This time I made a version of Baguettes à l’Ancienne from the William Alexander book 52 Loaves, using this recipe. It’s a hybrid recipe using both commercial yeast and a natural levain, and it has an overnight ferment in the refrigerator to give it extra flavor. I used a steam treatment to give it a crisp, shiny crust.

Baguettes à l’Ancienne

Baguettes à l’Ancienne

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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November Garden Update

It’s been a while since I last did an update on what’s growing in the garden, so today I want to give a quick tour. In the area near the house I call the kitchen garden, the four cold frame beds are full of veggies. The first bed is planted in kale and turnips. The kale is Starbor and Meadowlark, while the turnips are Hakurei and Scarlet Queen. The turnips were late planted so I may get only greens from them, but that’s okay since we prefer them to the roots anyway. I haven’t harvested anything from this bed yet. There’s a radish in there that volunteered and I left it to see if it would make anything edible.

cold frame bed planted with kale and turnips

cold frame bed planted with kale and turnips

The second bed is all lettuce, and I have started harvesting from it. It’s an assortment of varieties including Tango, 21st Century Fire, Pele, Simpson Elite and Red Sails. I’ve already replanted down the left side with Pele transplants, and I’ll replant others as they are harvested.

cold frame bed planted with lettuce

cold frame bed planted with lettuce

The third bed was planted in kohlrabi back in August. That’s all been harvested, and I’ve replanted the bed with lettuce for overwintering. It’s always a gamble to plant lettuce this late, but I’ve got some hardy types like Winter Marvel and Red Tinged Winter plus others that may or may not be hardy. With a long range forecast calling for a milder than normal winter, the gamble just might pay off! I’ve got lettuce in the greenhouse too, and it’s almost certain to produce through the end of the year if not longer. You’ll notice the cold frame itself is in bad shape. I had hoped to replace it with a new one this fall, but it hasn’t happened yet and it will likely be next year now before I get it done.

cold frame bed newly planted with lettuce

cold frame bed newly planted with lettuce

The last bed is planted in mizuna and Topper turnips, which are grown for the greens since they don’t make roots. The mizuna plants have truly given us more than we can eat so far, which is not a bad problem to have. I’m just about ready to cut some of the turnip greens the next time they are on the menu. This cold frame is also in need of replacement.

cold frame bed planted with mizuna and turnip greens

cold frame bed planted with mizuna and turnip greens

In the main garden area, I’ve done some cleanup work getting the garden ready for winter but more work remains. I cleaned up the are where the vining squash was growing and planted a cover crop of oats and field peas. To get it ready I moved the mulch of straw off to the side and lightly forked up the soil before sowing the seeds.

main garden area

main garden area

Both the peas and oats will eventually winter kill here, but they will give the soil some protection from erosion and the stubble should help keep the spring weeds down. You can see the weeds are already sprouting though along with the peas and oats.

cover crop of oats and field peas

cover crop of oats and field peas

Next to that bed is where I planted the garlic, shallots and multiplier onions last week. I’ll cover that bed with straw in a week or two. That bed and the bed next to it were planted in sweet potatoes earlier. I sowed mustard seed in the second bed for a cover crop. It too should winter kill, but provide cover for the soil. Erosion isn’t usually a big problem in our garden but it can happen, and I don’t like to leave the soil completely bare if I can help it. Even weeds are better than bare soil I think. At least that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

beds where sweet potatoes were planted

beds where sweet potatoes were planted

The mustard is just now emerging, and so far it is beating the weeds. I use a number of different cover crops in fall, including turnips and radishes, but this time I sowed some mustard seed. I avoid crops that survive the winter because our wet springs make it difficult to get the cover crop turned under before it’s time to start planting. Leaves are blowing in from a nearby maple tree, which is not a bad thing at all.

cover crop of mustard

cover crop of mustard

The fall brassicas are occupying two beds, and I’ve been harvesting on them for a few weeks now. There were tomatoes growing on either side of the brassicas, and I need to get both those beds cleaned up. The brassica bed is a little weedy, but most of the plants will be gone in a month or so. Thankfully I am pretty much the only critic of how the garden looks, and weeding is not a high priority for me there right now.

fall brassica beds

fall brassica beds

Dazzling Blue is a colorful selection of lacinato kale from Wild Garden Seeds. The leaves are sturdy and hold up well to soups and other treatments. It’s supposed to be more hardy than other lacinato types, but I doubt it will survive our winters.

Dazzling Blue kale

Dazzling Blue kale

The Wild Garden Kale Mix is also fairly hardy, but it has yet to survive one of our winters unprotected. Since I have kale planted in the greenhouse and in a cold frame bed, I let the plants in the main garden fend for themselves. Covering tends to promote an aphid explosion, and for me that is not worth the added degree of winter protection.

Wild Garden Kale Mix

Wild Garden Kale Mix

The cabbage plants are slowly but surely starting to head up. This is one called Vantage Point. It is supposed to make large heads but it needs to get going!

Vantage Point cabbage

Vantage Point cabbage

I also have several savoy cabbage plants including this one of Melissa. I was harvesting it in December last year, so I’m not too concerned about its size at this point. Not that I can do anything about it, of course.

Melissa cabbage

Melissa cabbage

I hope you have enjoyed this look at the garden here in November. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday November 13, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’m getting a few new veggies in the harvests now that we have transitioned from summer to fall and winter harvests. I got a cutting of turnips greens one day, our first taste of the season. This is a Japanese variety called Nozawana that is grown specifically for the greens (it doesn’t make roots) which are smooth and mild tasting. I’m also growing one called Topper for the greens, plus Scarlet Ono Revival which has large leaves plus pink/magenta roots. The Nozawana cooked up literally in a few minutes. I only harvested the leaves and left the plants to grow more.

Nozawana Turnip greens

Nozawana Turnip greens

Another first for the season was a harvest of broccolini or stem broccoli. I’m growing three plants each of Artwork and Apollo and they both made small heads at the same time. In the below photo it’s Apollo on the left and Artwork on the right. The main heads of Apollo are a bit bigger, but it’s the side shoots that are the main attraction for these two. Though it’s getting late in the year hopefully the plants will hang on long enough for me to get a few more cuttings. I should get some of the heading broccoli this week since those plants are heading up too.

Apollo(L) and Artwork(R) broccoli

Apollo(L) and Artwork(R) broccoli

I also cut most of the Minuet Napa cabbage last week. I got one big head and two smaller ones that weighed just under four pounds total. That will give me enough for two quart jars of kimchi with a bit left for perhaps a stir fry. I’m still waiting on the other cabbages to make heads big enough to harvest. As always, the slugs had a feast on most of the outer leaves, but it cleaned up nicely for the kimchi.

Minuet cabbage

Minuet cabbage

I made a cutting of the Tronchuda Beira last week, which is something I haven’t grown in a couple of years. I set out three plants in early August, and they have grown quite tall by now. I cut a bit over a pound, which was plenty for a batch of Caldo Verde I cooked up last night for dinner. The leaves are huge, and I want to try stuffing them too using Michelle’s recipe as a starting point. I’m looking for suggestions for other ways to use this productive green.

Tronchuda Beira leaves

Tronchuda Beira leaves

Something else I haven’t grown in a few years is bulbing fennel. This year I started some of the 2017 AAS Winner Antares for a fall planting, and I’m glad I did. I got a half dozen bulbs of fennel for my efforts, weighing about two pounds after trimming off the leaves.

Antares fennel

Antares fennel

We like fennel grilled or roasted, and these wound up getting roasted in a cast iron skillet. I’m planning on growing this one again next year for sure.

roasted fennel

roasted fennel

Speaking of cooking up the harvest, my wife baked a pumpkin pie to take to a carry-in dinner last week, using some of the Dickinson puree I cooked up a while back. She used her recipe for Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie, and made pie dough leaves to decorate the top. I thought it was yummy, and there were no leftovers to bring home from the dinner! I see another pie in our future for Thanksgiving however, and more to come since we have several of the Dickinson pumpkins left. I baked a batch of my Multi-Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls to take along.

pumpkin pie

pumpkin pie

I managed to find a few more sweet peppers that survived the recent frosts and freezes. I was shocked, because it got down below freezing on a couple of nights. But while the foliage on the peppers was definitely zapped, the peppers slightly down below looked fine. From top to down in the below photo it’s Cece, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso and Orange Blaze. Some of them wound up in a frittata I cooked up yesterday, along with a bit of fresh tromboncino, shallots, and dehydrated tomatoes. It’s a treat to have any fresh peppers here in November.

Cece, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso, and Orange Blaze peppers

Cece, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso, and Orange Blaze peppers

And in the previous harvest department, one of my favorite new kraut creations is the Pineapple-Turmeric-Ginger Sauerkraut I made from some of the spring planted cabbage. The sugars from the pineapple get fermented away, and the results is a tart pineapple taste with overtones from the turmeric and ginger. I added about a half cup of chopped pineapple to the salted cabbage, along with a teaspoon of turmeric powder and a heaping tablespoon of fresh grated ginger. I served it as a side dish for a salmon burger I ate one day for lunch, using one of my sourdough buns for bread. I hope to make more of this kraut if the fall cabbage ever heads up, using some of our homegrown turmeric and ginger.

Pineapple-Turmeric-Ginger Sauerkraut

Pineapple-Turmeric-Ginger Sauerkraut

As I’ve said before, around here soup calls for bread, and for the Caldo Verde I thought it would be appropriate to serve a Portuguese Corn Bread called Broa. I’ve never eaten or made this bread before, and I settled on a King Arthur Flour recipe since I couldn’t find a recipe for it in any of my cookbooks. This is a yeasted bread, enriched with a bit of honey, milk (I used almond milk), and oil. For the cornmeal I used a stone-ground meal we got from the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. I think it turned out nicely, and my version looks a lot like the one at King Arthur. It was sturdy with a crisp crust but had a soft crumb, and my wife and I both thought it went well with the soup. Together they were just the thing for a cold, gray, dreary day like it was here yesterday.

Broa Bread

Broa Bread

crumb shot of Broa Bread

crumb shot of Broa Bread

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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2017 Garlic Planting

Today was garlic planting day here at Happy Acres, and I got all the main crop 2017 garlic planted – 184 plants total. I will plant a bit more for green garlic later on in another spot. Last year I planted the garlic on 11/11, so I’m pretty much right on schedule. I’ve planted the main crop at slightly different times over the years, ranging from mid October to early November. That’s in line with the planting times for local growers, and it seems to work well for me. Our ground rarely freezes up until late December or early January, if then. While I was it I planted a couple dozen shallots (Conservor and Dutch Yellow) and two dozen of the Yellow Potato Onions (a multiplier type) since I had a bit of room left in the bed.

garlic bed ready for planting

garlic bed ready for planting

I’m growing the garlic in the bed where sweet potatoes grew earlier, since that bed is empty and available. I’ve been using that rotation for a few years now and it seems to work quite well.  The soil is still fairly loose after digging the sweet potatoes, and it’s easy to get it ready for the garlic. I did not amend the soil or add any fertilizer before planting the sweet potatoes, so I did that a week ago. I added about three bushels of compost plus fertilizer and amendments as indicated by a soil test from earlier this year. I will top dress with a bit more fertilizer in spring, and also water the bed with liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer a couple of times. If I’ve learned anything about growing garlic, it’s that it is a fairly heavy feeder.

planting holes showing spacing

planting holes showing spacing

After a few years of experimenting, I’ve settled on planting my garlic in a six inch by eight inch grid pattern. This gives each plant 48 square inches of growing space. Closer spacing  usually results in smaller bulbs but might give a greater overall yield, and giving the plants more room can result in larger bulbs. This spacing works well for me, and I’m happy with the size of the bulbs I harvest and with the total haul. Every gardener needs to experiment and see what works best in their own garden.

big bulb of Red Toch garlic

big bulb of Red Toch garlic

I select the planting stock using the biggest cloves from the biggest bulbs, avoiding any with any signs of disease or rot. The bulb in the above photo is Red Toch, an artichoke type that has done very well for me the last two years and is one of author and garlic grower Chester Aaron’s favorite cultivars. Mother Earth News has an informative article that discusses bulb selection and other planting and growing issues. And I also learned a lot by reading The Complete Book of Garlic by Ted Jordan Meredith and Garlic Is Life by Chester Aaron.

garlic cloves ready for planting

garlic cloves ready for planting

I wait until planting day to separate the cloves from the bulbs, a process known as ‘cracking’ the bulbs. I don’t soak the bulbs before planting, and I try and keep the skins intact. I’m trying a couple of new varieties this year, including the turban Early Portuguese and the silverskin Sicilian Silver.

garlic planting jig

garlic planting jig

After amending the soil I rake it down to get it smooth and flat. I use a planting jig to mark the planting holes in the bed. When I press it down into the loose soil, it leaves holes behind as a guide to planting the garlic. It really helps me speed up the planting process, and the uniform spacing makes it easier for me to weed later on.

planting clove of garlic

planting clove of garlic

The jig marks four rows running down the length of the bed. I plant the individual cloves pointed side up about two to three inches deep, using a narrow trowel (Wilcox Mini Trowel #51) to widen the planting hole. Those in colder areas may want to plant theirs a little deeper. The process goes pretty quickly using the jig, and I can plant a couple hundred or so cloves in just over an hour. It would go even quicker if I didn’t plant so many different kinds. I mark each of the varieties with a label indicating how many I plant, and I also have a map in computer form (nothing fancy, just a Word document) with the planting order listed, since the labels have a tendency to heave up out of the ground over the winter.

I’ll come back in a few weeks or so and mulch the bed with some straw. I also want to get the green garlic plus a few more shallots and multiplier onions planted soon in the kitchen garden area. You can read more about my garlic planting methods in this post: 2015 Garlic Planting. For more information on growing garlic, and on how I made my planting jig, check out these related posts:

  1. Growing Green Garlic
  2. How To Have Fresh Garlic All Year Long
  3. 2014 Garlic Planting
  4. 2013 Garlic Planting
  5. Homemade Garlic Planting Jig

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