Harvest Monday April 24, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It was another good week for harvesting asparagus. We got about an inch of rain Friday, and that really made it pop up. We got our largest harvest on Saturday of 14 ounces, bringing the weekly total to 4 pounds. We’ve been enjoying it stir-fried and grilled, and yesterday we had some steamed.

Saturday cutting of asparagus

Saturday cutting of asparagus

It’s my wife’s turn to cook, and she suggested Asparagus Mimosa for lunch yesterday. We both love this treatment, so simple but so tasty when you have really fresh asparagus. We steamed it in a bamboo steamer until just tender, then used a microplane grater to grate hard-boiled egg over the asparagus. We gave it a sprinkle of sea salt, a drizzle of some good extra-virgin olive oil, and then tossed on a few capers to finish it. It made for a filling main (and only) course, and I truly enjoyed every bite of it.

Asparagus Mimosa

Asparagus Mimosa

My only other harvest of the week was another cutting of lettuce from a cold frame bed. I believe this batch includes Australian Yellow and Red Sails. I cut those particular plants to make room to plant kale and mizuna in that bed.

harvest of leaf lettuce

harvest of leaf lettuce

In the future harvest department, the Natchez blackberries are blooming and the plants are covered with the pinkish white blossoms. Our other blackberry we have growing is Apache, and it blooms a bit later than Natchez. If the blooms and buds are any indication, it should be a good year for blackberries. Last year we hauled in 44 pounds of them, and we still have quite a few in the freezer. Looks like it is time for smoothies, and perhaps sharing a few with friends.

Natchez blackberries blooming

Natchez blackberries blooming

My bread bake of the week was a batch of buns. I made these using white whole wheat, and they got a topping of my homemade ‘everything mix’ that includes black and white sesame seeds, dried onion, flaked sea salt and poppy seeds. I don’t think the white whole wheat is quite as flavorful as the Red Fife wheat I often use, but it does get more lift and for a bun or roll that is a plus for me.

Moomie's Buns made with white whole wheat

Moomie’s Buns made with white whole wheat

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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Kitchen Garden in April

Today I want to do an update on the area we call the kitchen garden. We call it that because it’s close to the house and with easy access to the kitchen. It’s also where the greenhouse is located. The beds around the greenhouse itself give us about 200 sq.ft. of growing space, and about half of that is protected by cold frames. The rest of the beds are not protected and I either have to grow things the critters won’t eat, or else cover it with netting.

kitchen garden beds

kitchen garden beds

Two of the unprotected beds are planted in onions, shallots and radishes. The shallots and multiplier onions were set out last fall, and the other onions (from Dixondale Farms) were planted about a month ago. I was happy to see that all the overwintered shallots and onions survived just fine, as did the green garlic which I have already harvested. The radishes are just now coming up, and I have begun thinning them. That’s Alpine Gold coming up in the below photo, a Korean daikon radish.

radishes coming up

radishes coming up

The first of the four cold frame beds has a mix of overwintered lettuce and new plantings of kale and mizuna. The kale is Prizm, a hybrid curly type that I grew last year and a 2016 AAS Winner. For the mizuna I have the red leaf Miz America and the green leaf mizuna/tatsoi cross called Mizspoona.

cold frame bed #1

cold frame bed #1

I got the Miz America plants from Robin’s Nest Flowers, my favorite local nursery. My wife and I went there to pick up a few perennials for the shade garden, and Robin pointed out the mizuna and had me taste a leaf. I was hooked, and brought a 4-pak of it home to grow. Some growers list this one as a mustard, but then the lines are pretty blurred with many of these greens.

Miz America mizuna

Miz America mizuna

Some of the overwintered lettuce is heading up and almost ready for harvest. I have two plants of Wonder of Stuttgart, a butterhead type. I got the seed from Wild Garden Seeds, and it promises to be a good candidate for late fall and early spring plantings here. To the right of it in the below photo are a couple of Winter Marvel plants I harvested earlier that are re-sprouting and sending up new leaves.

Wonder of Stuttgart lettuce

Wonder of Stuttgart lettuce

The second cold frame bed is planted in kohlrabi. I have two varieties planted there,  the green skin Konan and the purple Kolibri. Konan is another 2016 AAS Winner, and it did quite well for me last year.

cold frame bed #2

cold frame bed #2

The Konan is a bit earlier than the Kolibri, and some of the stems are already starting to swell up. I planted the kohlrabi fairly densely in this bed, and squeezed in about 30 plants.

Konan kohlrabi

Konan kohlrabi

Cold frame bed #3 is planted in lettuce. I set out the plants almost four weeks ago, and they are starting to size up nicely. It’s a mix of varities, colors and shapes in there, including Three Hearts and Garden Babies butterhead. Loose leaf types include Red Sails, Simpson Elite and Elf Ears plus I have the romaine types Outstanding, Jester and Pele. I see the leaves of a curly dock plant in the back that I need to dig up!

cold frame bed #3

cold frame bed #3

Cold frame bed #4 is also planted in lettuce. I have a lot of lettuce growing now, and my hope is that I staggered the plantings enough that it doesn’t come ready all at once. This bed was planted just last week, and the varieties in there include Australian Yellow, Black Seeded Simpson, Red Sails, 21st Century Fire, Tall Oaks, Pele and Wonder of Stuttgart. There’s also a few plants of the non-heading Chinese cabbage Tokyo Bekana in there.

cold frame bed #4

cold frame bed #4

My next chore is to clear the area behind the greenhouse, where I plan to grow a couple of cherry tomato plants plus ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and lemon verbena. This bed is on the south side of the greenhouse, and offers a somewhat protected microclimate that warms up early in the season. It looks pretty weedy at the moment, but the weeds are almost all purple deadnettle and it won’t take much more than an hour to clean it all up and prep it for planting. That’s on my to-do list for later in the week.

weedy area behind greenhouse

weedy area behind greenhouse

I also have a long, unprotected bed near the cold frame beds where I plan on growing a few more tomatoes. These plants will all have to be covered with netting, since our local deer have developed a taste for tomato vines, along with everything else they eat. I also need to put down some mulch in the walkway between that bed and the cold frames. I have already put cardboard down, now I need to cover it with some straw. And it looks like a few of the cold frame covers need to be re-covered with bird netting. It’s safe to say my to-do list often exceeds my time and energy this time of year!

cold frame beds along greenhouse

cold frame beds along greenhouse

I hope you have enjoyed this look at how the kitchen garden is doing this April. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday April 17, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It is officially asparagus season here. We are getting daily harvests now, and they are starting to add up. We’ve gotten a bit over three pounds so far, with most of it coming in the last week. The spears in the below photo came from Tuesday, when we got almost 12 ounces of it. Non-gardener friends are often surprised to see it comes in all sizes, unlike the uniform sized ones they find in the grocery. So far we have enjoyed the asparagus stir-fried and grilled, though I also enjoy eating it raw.

freshly harvested asparagus

freshly harvested asparagus

Other than the asparagus, it’s pretty much the same old players here in the harvest basket, not that I am complaining. I’m still cutting overwintered lettuce in the cold frame beds. The mild winter was easy on the plants, and now they are growing fast in the warm spring weather. It’s a mix of Pele, Jester and Red Sails in the below photo, with a few leaves of Tall Oaks thrown in for a little green.

harvest of lettuce

harvest of lettuce

And there’s still overwintered kale in the greenhouse. This cutting was mostly from the Western Front plant, though I cut about a dozen rapini from several plants. All of it was tender and cooked up in no time.

Western Front kale and rapini

Western Front kale and rapini

Also from the greenhouse came a small but tasty harvest of arugula. It’s a mix of Astro and Speedy, and wound up on a pizza I made for dinner Saturday night. My wife and I take turns cooking, and it was the end of my two week tour and I wanted to go out in style. Well, I also wanted to go out easy and made use of a homemade pizza crust I had previously frozen.

Astro and Speedy arugula

Astro and Speedy arugula

My wife did help out though with the cooking and baked up a dish of Blackberry Cobbler we took to a carry-in. We still have lots of blackberries in the freezer, and I believe she plans on making some blackberry leather in the near future. Our plants are just now showing signs of blooms, and it won’t be too much longer before it is blackberry season.

blackberry cobbler

blackberry cobbler

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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April Greenhouse Tour

I gave a tour of the greenhouse last month, but a lot has changed in just a few weeks so I thought I would give a quick update on what it looks like in there today. It’s still loaded with trays of seedlings, and there’s a lot of edibles growing in the beds and on the benches. I’ll start with what’s in the beds.

looking in the greenhouse

looking in the greenhouse

I have had good success growing cucumbers in the summer greenhouse. They actually seem to do better for me there than they do in the open garden. I grow only parthenocarpic varieties that don’t need pollinating, and most are also gynoecious with all female blossoms. This year I’m growing a couple of tried and true slicing cukes I’ve grown before, Tasty Jade and Corinto, plus a new beit alpha type called Socrates. I’m also growing several pickling types, including Harmonie and Vertina. I use remesh cages to support the vines, which is easier for me than putting up a trellis in there given the relatively tight quarters.

cucumbers with remesh cages

cucumbers with remesh cages

I started the cucumbers in 3.5″ pots, two seeds to a pot. Since cucumbers are fussy about being transplanted, I handle them carefully and disturb the roots as little as possible. Most all of the seeds germinated, and I will thin to one plant in a few days once they have started to get settled in. I’ve got five planted in the bed on the right side.

cucumbers before thinning

cucumbers before thinning

Since the shelves are full of flats at the moment, I also use the tops of the cages to hold a few extras. Some of the petunias have started blooming in the pots. The pink blooms in the photo are Tidal Wave Pink. I’ve already planted a few of these outside in containers.

flat of petunias sitting on cages

flat of petunias sitting on cages

Also in that bed I have parsley planted. I harvested all but one of the overwintered plants to make room for new ones. I left one plant, a flat leaf variety called Splendid, so that we will continue to have parsley while the new plants get growing.

Splendid parsley

Splendid parsley

On the other side, the bed there has overwintered I’itio onions and kale growing. The kale is starting to bloom, and I am harvesting the rapini along with the leaves. I’ll leave these plants for a while so we can enjoy the kale a bit longer.

kale rapini

kale rapini

I plan on setting a couple more cucumber plants in this bed too. Right now I need to find a home for the window box containers which are planted with lettuce, mizuna and pac choi. I can’t leave them outside because the deer would eat them all up in no time. Currently I am taking them outside during the day and then bringing them in at night.

greenhouse bed

greenhouse bed

On the benches, I have several salad boxes planted with greens. That’s lettuce in the below photo, and it’s almost ready to begin cutting.

lettuce in salad box

lettuce in salad box

I’ve got two mini salad boxes planted with arugula. Some of that is going on a pizza I have planned for later in the week.

arugula in mini salad box

arugula in mini salad box

And I just planted another mini salad box with more lettuce. I have lots of lettuce seedlings ready to plant and I am trying to find homes for them.

lettuce in mini salad box

lettuce in mini salad box

One of those flats of lettuce seedlings is sitting on the potting bench. My plan is to get them planted in one of the cold frame beds later this morning.

lettuce seedlings in plug flat

lettuce seedlings in plug flat

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the greenhouse in April. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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