Harvest Monday June 19, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests are really picking up here now. I take the harvest bucket to the garden with me most every morning, and bring back whatever is ready to come in. In the below photo we have several squash, including the yellow Sunstripe, White Scallop, and green striped Bossa Nova. There’s also a few side shoots of Apollo broccolini, and a small head of Minuet cabbage. The cabbage had a lot of slug damage but still weighed in at 21 ounces, which is really a nice size for the two of us to use. It wound up in a mixed veggie stir fry, actually a couple of them.

harvest of squash, cabbage and broccoli

harvest of squash, cabbage and broccoli

I also got a head of Soloist napa cabbage last week, which I used to make a batch of baechu kimchi. That head weighed almost three pounds, which gave me enough for a quart jar of kimchi plus a bit leftover. I lost one head of the Minuet that rotted at the base.

Soloist cabbage

Soloist cabbage

I like to put daikon radish in my kimchi, so I pulled a few of the spring planted ones to see how they were doing. In the below photo it’s Sweet Baby on the left and Shunkyo on the right. The green Sweet Baby seems to be an off type, though it tasted the same as the purple ones, sweet at the beginning then spicy at the end. I wound up making a jar of radish kimchi (Kkakdugi) with three of the Sweet Babys, and used the other one in a salad. The Shunkyo is a Chinese radish with a sweet hot flavor too, though not as sweet as the Sweet Babys.

Sweet Baby and Shunkyo radishes

Sweet Baby and Shunkyo radishes

I pulled one of the Alpine Gold daikons that I used in the cabbage kimchi. I planted both Alpine Gold (from Kitazawa) and Alpine (from Johnny’s) this spring, and I am curious to see if they are the same radish or whether they are different. Both are hybrid Korean daikons that are suitable for both spring and fall planting. I’ll let both of them size up a bit before I start pulling any more. Alpine Gold is supposed to get to 3 or 4 pounds, so I definitely pulled this one early at 7 ounces.

Alpine Gold radish

Alpine Gold radish

I cut the biggest head of broccoli so far this year from Gypsy. It weighed in at 28 ounces, which is larger than I usually grow broccoli here, especially in spring. The Gypsy plants are making nice side shoots too this year, though in years past it has not done nearly so well. I wish I could find one or two broccoli varieties that were truly dependable for me, but so far I am still looking.

Gypsy broccoli

Gypsy broccoli

The Apollo broccolini has been a dependable performer for me for several years now. Another broccolini type I’m growing this year is Artwork, a 2015 AAS winner with a medium sized main head but plenty of side shoots. The main attraction for these broccolini types is the long and tender stems. Last year Artwork pumped out a lot of side shoots, and I am hoping for a repeat performance this year.

Artwork broccoli

Artwork broccoli

It is looking to be a great year for kohlrabi here. It’s one of our favorite veggies for sure. I pulled three Kolibri I had growing in the main garden, and I let them get a bit bigger than usual so I could make kraut and pickles with them. Despite their size they were still tender and not woody or tough inside.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

But the biggest kohlrabies I grow are the giant Kossak variety. This year they have really sized up nicely. The four in the below photo weighed a total of 15 pounds, with the largest one weighing almost 4.5 pounds. These will mostly get turned into kraut and pickles too. I have hauled in 32 pounds of kohlrabi this spring, which puts us on pace for a record harvest year, even more than the 46 pounds we got in 2014. There are several more of the Kossak still in the garden, plus I plan on growing more plants this fall.

Kossak kohlrabi

Kossak kohlrabi

Our new favorite way to prepare kohlrabi is to toss it with a little olive oil and bake it in a cast iron skillet. We have settled on thin slices as the preferred shape, since it maximizes the surface area that touches the skillet, and it makes for easy turning. I’m calling them kohlrabi chips, and we will be making them again soon. I’ll try and get a better pic next time! Our cast iron skillet stays busy since it works well for so many veggies.

kohlrabi chips

kohlrabi chips

I’m also getting the first cucumbers from the greenhouse. That’s the only place I have them planted this year, and they usually give us more than we need. Corinto is a slicing type I have grown for several years now.

Corinto cucumbers

Corinto cucumbers

I am growing pickling types this year too. I have a trio of greenhouse pickles in the below photo, from left to right they are Vertina, Excelsior and Harmonie. The seeds for all three came from Johnny’s.

Vertina, Excelsior and Harmonie cucumbers

Vertina, Excelsior and Harmonie cucumbers

The blackberries are ripening now as well. The Natchez variety is the first to ripen here, followed by Apollo. There was a bit over three pounds in this first picking, and the thornless canes are loaded this year. Most of these headed straight to the freezer after a quick rinse.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

Natchez is a nice sized berry with a good flavor when they are fully ripe. We have been enjoying them for dessert, and with our morning muesli where they join in with our blueberries. They’re not all as big as the ones below, but most are nice sized.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

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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Photo Friday: June Bloomers

Today I want to share some of the things we have blooming here in mid June. I’ll start in the Wild Garden, which is a sunny spot that includes many plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators. It is a riot of colors now, as quite a few of the plants are in full bloom.

the Wild Garden in June

the Wild Garden in June

The soapwort (Saponaria officianalis) is one of the plants in full bloom, and it anchors one corner of the Wild Garden. This plant is supposed to be attractive to butterflies, but they seem to prefer other blooms nearby. Regardless, it is an easy to grow plant that lights up every summer with its pinkish white, sweet smelling blooms. I grew our plant from seed, but it also spreads rather aggressively by rhizomes and I regularly thin it back to keep it from overtaking the neighboring plants.

soapwort aka bouncing bet

soapwort aka bouncing bet

One nearby plant the butterflies and bees love is bee balm. This one has red flowers, though we also have the purple flowered one that was here when we moved to Happy Acres. That one has not started blooming just yet.

red bee balm

red bee balm

Another favorite for the bees is the hollyhock. This is a single flowered heirloom strain called Outhouse I grew from seed, and it has blooms in shades of white, pink and red. The bumblebees really enjoy these blossoms, and they wind up covered in pollen as they visit them.

Outhouse hollyhocks

Outhouse hollyhocks

I’m especially fond of the maroon colored flowers. The bumblebees were working the flowers yesterday but moving too quick for me to get their photo.

maroon hollyhocks

maroon hollyhocks

A less showy bloomer is the catnip. Like most members of the mint family, the blooms are very attractive to bees and other pollinators. Of course the leaves are attractive to cats, and I occasionally bring in a few for our two feline friends Puddin and Ace.

catnip blooming

catnip blooming

The butterfly weed  (Asclepias tuberosa) is a bit showier, and it’s aptly named as it is popular with butterflies, though none were visiting the morning I was out there.

butterfly weed

butterfly weed

Always a favorite for bees and butterflies alike is the purple coneflower. We have several plants scattered around the Wild Garden and the Sun Garden, and they are just now starting to bloom. Many of these are volunteers that have self-sown, and we often move them into bare spots as needed.

purple coneflower

purple coneflower

Just now beginning to bloom is the Lucifer crocosmia. This plant is attractive to hummingbirds, and I sometimes see butterflies checking them out too.

crocosmia Lucifer

crocosmia Lucifer

We have a couple of coreopsis plants in the Wild Garden and one called Creme Brulee is blooming now. It’s a fairly short plant, and a nectar source for butterflies. This one is a bit better behaved than some of the coreopsis we have grown in the past, like Moonbeam or Zagreb which are more aggressive.

Creme Brulee coreopsis

Creme Brulee coreopsis

Over in the kitchen garden, the bees and pollinators are loving the flowers on the bolting shallots. Of course I am more interested in the bulbs forming down lower, and the flowers are not really a good sign for this allium making nice sized shallots. Still, they are pretty to look at and the bees do love them.

shallots blooming

shallots blooming

Not much is happening in the shade garden other than the hostas that are beginning to bloom. As the name implies, Big Daddy is a giant hosta with blue leaves and white flowers.

Big daddy hosta

Big daddy hosta

In the Sun Garden, the lavender is the main attraction at the moment. The white flowered one is Melissa, a great lavender for culinary use.

Melissa lavender

Melissa lavender

Also giving us some color there are several pots of Wave petunias. The Snow Queen hydrangea is sneaking in the shot to the right, and a lavender is coming in from the lower left.

pots of Wave petunias

pots of Wave petunias

Out on the front porch we have two pots of the 2017 AAS winner Evening Scentsation growing.  This one has more fragrance than most petunias, and a lovely blue color.

Evening Scentsation petunia

Evening Scentsation petunia

I hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the June bloomers here at Happy Acres. I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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Fermenting Kohlrabi Three Ways

With the spring planted kohlrabi coming in from the garden, now is the time to begin fermenting it to turn it into kraut, pickles and kimchi. In the past, my two favorite things to do with kohrabi were to make kraut and to make kohlrabi pickles. My wife and I love both treatments, and the pickles are one of her favorite ways to consume kohlrabi. I did a ‘how to’ on these two ways to prepare kohlrabi a couple of years ago called Fermented Kohlrabi Two Ways. Since then I have experimented with more options and methods, and I want to share some of them today.

lacto-fermented kohlrabi three ways

lacto-fermented kohlrabi three ways

First up, I have really come to enjoy adding garlic to all of our krauts. Either raw garlic or roasted garlic adds another level of flavor to the fermented veggies, and since I love garlic (and grow a lot) it seems like a perfect fit. For a pint jar of kraut, I generally add two cloves of minced garlic, or four cloves to a quart jar. I like to run my garlic through a press instead of chopping it up with a knife, because I think it extracts a lot of flavor plus it is easier when you have a lot of garlic to mince. For the roasted garlic version, I wrap a whole head of garlic in foil and roast it in a 400°F oven for about 45 minutes until soft and mushy. One whole head seasons a pint of kraut nicely, while I use two heads to flavor a quart. Once cooled, you can squeeze the garlic out of the skins and chop lightly before adding to the kraut.

grating kohlrabi for kraut

grating kohlrabi for kraut

Another new thing I have come to like is kohlrabi kimchi. My recipe is still evolving, but I will share it here soon when I make another batch of it. It’s a bit more involved than making kraut, or kohlrabi pickles, so I got the bright idea of making the pickles with kimchi seasoning as sort of a shortcut. I’m calling these kimchi pickles, and I have made them with both kohlrabi and with daikon radishes, or a combination of the two. After peeling, I cut up the kohlrabi into half inch slices then cut again into pieces about a half inch wide.

cutting kohlrabi for pickles

cutting kohlrabi for pickles

To season the kimchi pickles, for a pint jar I add about a tablespoon each of grated ginger and minced garlic. Then I add somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of Korean pepper flakes (gochugaru), depending on the desired heat level. I add the kohlrabi pieces, then cover with the brine. I generally add about a tablespoon of fine sea salt to two cups of water, which works out to about a 3.5% brine. I leave the pickles to ferment for about two weeks, or until they reach the desired level of flavor. Of course, if you don’t want the heat you can use less of the hot pepper, or omit it entirely.

seasonings for kimchi pickles

seasonings for kimchi pickles

It is important to always keep vegetables submerged under the brine when fermenting. The fermentista’s mantra is ‘under the brine, and all will be fine’, and I use glass pickle pebble weights to help keep my ferments covered by the brine. That’s the only special equipment I use for fermenting veggies, other than plastic storage caps. I find the metal ones corrode quickly when subjected to the acidic and salty liquids associated with fermentation.

glass pickle pebble weight

glass pickle pebble weight

glass weight in jar

glass weight in jar

For more information on lacto-fermentating vegetables, I can recommend a couple of books I use for reference on the subject. One is Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. The other book is Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten K. and Christopher Shockey. Both address the basics of fermenting vegetables at home, and also have a lot of useful recipes, many of which I have tried. Both will help to make sure your fermentation projects are successful, as well as to give you ideas.

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Posted in Food, Preserving | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Harvest Monday Jun 12, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s been a week for new faces in the harvest basket. The broccoli plants have really taken off despite early problems I had with aphids and one plant making a ‘button’ head prematurely. I cut the first big head from Gypsy, and the smaller main head from the broccolini type Apollo. Another big head of Gypsy should be ready by today or tomorrow, and side shoots are coming on the Apollo.

Apollo(L) and Gypsy(R) broccoli

Apollo(L) and Gypsy(R) broccoli

The summer squash is coming on now too. The first two I harvested were the light green Clarimore, a Middle Eastern type, and the hybrid pattypan Daize. Clarimore (from Renee’s) did quite well for me last year, and the newcomer Daize promises to be a pattypan with more flesh than other types, though you can’t tell it from the below photo.

Daize pattypan and Clarimore zucchini

Daize pattypan and Clarimore zucchini

The first two squash were followed by more, with another Clarimore and the first Sunstripe coming on a couple of days later. I’m growing the yellow striped Sunstripe for the first time, and it is a striking squash for sure, and easy to find in the garden with its bright yellow color.

Sunstripe and Clarimore zucchini

Sunstripe and Clarimore zucchini

I grilled some of each and added them to a pizza I served up Saturday night. The arugula was all bolting and I pulled it up, so we’re missing one of my favorite pizza toppings. But I made a garlic and olive oil topping with some fresh dug green garlic that was bulbing up, and added lots of slow roasted tomatoes from the freezer. I also topped it with oil-cured olives, some sauteed mushrooms, turkey pepperoni and thin sliced provolone cheese.

pizza

pizza

We are starting to get the first fruits of the year. My wife found a few ripening blueberries, which we enjoyed with our morning muesli. There may be less than we got last year, since we pulled a couple of under-performing bushes and replanted with different varieties.

first blueberries of 2017

first blueberries of 2017

Blackberries are also starting to ripen. That’s Natchez in the below photo, which ripens a bit before the Apache blackberries we also have planted. I caught a deer checking them out early one morning, which prompted me and Lynda to get the netting around the plants. The plants are loaded with berries and it looks like it should be a good year for them. That first ripe one did not make it in the house however, and neither did the next two (or three) to ripen.

first blackberry

first blackberry

Fortunately I had already netted the gooseberries or they would likely have been eaten up by the deer like they were last year. In the below photo it’s a mix of Amish Red, Hinnomaki Red and Invicta. I made a small cobbler with them, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My wife is still acquiring a taste for them, though I have been eating them since I was quite young, thanks to my mother who was also a big fan. I like a mix of red and green ones for pies and cobblers, though I am not fond of eating them out of hand like I would the blueberries or blackberries. There’s more to come, though the bushes are still fairly small and there won’t be a whole lot of them this year.

gooseberries for cobbler

gooseberries for cobbler

The snow peas are still coming on. They are likely now getting close to the end, what with our hot summer weather coming on. They are in the below group photo, along with another Clarimore squash and some broccoli side shoots. I’ve harvested about two pounds of them so far this spring, which doesn’t sound like much but actually made for quite a few meals.

zucchini, broccoli and snow peas

zucchini, broccoli and snow peas

One meal featuring the snow peas was a stir fry I made one night, with chicken, the snow peas, king oyster mushrooms, kohlrabi and a bit of spring onion. I added a light sesame/soy/ginger sauce and served it all up over soba noodles. I think the kohlrabi adds crunch like water chestnuts do. I blanch the snow peas in boiling water for about 15-20 seconds and shock them in cold water before adding them to the wok at the last minute.

stir fry with snow peas

stir fry with snow peas

I also got about a dozen more kohlrabies from the cold frame bed. There’s close to seven pounds of them in the basket, about half each of Konan and Kolibri. I grilled some one night for a side dish, and they were quite tasty that way. The giant Kossak kohlrabies are sizing up in the main garden and I’ll be pulling a few of them soon. They will likely wind up in kraut or fermented kohlrabi pickles. It’s my wife’s turn to cook next week and she will be trying to use the kohlrabies along with everything else that’s coming in from the garden.

Konan and Kolibri kohlrabi

Konan and Kolibri kohlrabi

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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Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments