Harvest Monday March 27, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’m happy to have a few fresh harvests from last week I can share. I’ve been prepping the cold frame beds for planting, which means I need to clear out whatever is growing in them now, ready or not. I pulled overwintered kale from one bed. This is Meadowlark, a curly leaf type I grew for the first time last year. The leaves are tender and tasty, but as my wife noted the curly types are harder to clean than some of the others I grow. I’ll factor that in for planning and planting this year. Thankfully it was relatively clean of aphids.

harvest of Meadowlark kale

harvest of Meadowlark kale

Another cold frame bed had overwintered lettuce. It’s a mix of varieties, and I recognize Red Sails, Jester and Pele in there. It’s been nice having lettuce again for salads.

overwintered lettuce

overwintered lettuce

And I pulled more kale plus a bit of green garlic from another bed. The green garlic volunteered from some I grew the year before, while the kale was from several plants that overwintered in that cold frame. These harvests cleared the way for me to replant two cold frame beds with kohlrabi and lettuce. Another bed will get kale and other greens once they are ready to plant. That leaves one more bed to plant and I haven’t yet decided what will go in it.

kale and green garlic

kale and green garlic

It’s not a harvest, but I baked up a loaf of naturally-leavened sourdough bread in the clay baker this week. It was a whole wheat loaf using fresh-ground Red Fife wheat, and we enjoyed it in a number of ways including crostini and toast. I want to make this bread in a loaf pan and see how it does that way. I mixed up the dough last night and I will bake it sometime this morning, and I will let you know how it turned out. I don’t yet have a good sourdough sandwich loaf recipe and I’m hoping this will be the one.

whole wheat sourdough loaf

whole wheat sourdough loaf

And last but not least I want to share some news from nature. It appears we have a nesting pair of bluebirds using one of the PVC nest boxes. We’ve had bluebirds hanging around all winter, and we see them at the suet feeders fairly often. This pair is off to an early start on nesting, and I hope the weather stays favorable for the eggs to hatch. I’ll be keeping a close eye on them for sure!

bluebird nest with 5 eggs

bluebird nest with 5 eggs

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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March Greenhouse Tour

It’s been several months since I showed what’s happening in the greenhouse, so I thought I would give a quick tour in there today. It’s a busy place right now, as I begin moving seedlings out there to grow on before I plant them outside. And I’m also growing things in the beds and on the benches as I try and maximize the space in the 8×12 foot greenhouse. To start, I had a bad outbreak of aphids in the greenhouse this winter, no doubt helped by milder than usual winter weather. Before I moved seedlings out there I did a pretty thorough cleanup, harvesting a few things and pulling older leaves that had a lot of aphid coverage. Then I sprayed everything down with PyGanic, an organic pyrethrin-based insecticide.

looking in the door of the greenhouse

looking in the door of the greenhouse

Since pyrethrins are non-selective insecticides I use them sparingly, since they will kill beneficial insects and pollinators. But at this time of year the only insects in the greenhouse were the aphids and a few slugs and snails, so I sprayed down all the plants in the beds and on the benches. Then I sprayed the benches and shelves as well. I am happy to say that it reduced the aphid numbers down considerably, though I will have to watch because they multiply so fast and they love the tender young seedlings. And it appears that the PyGanic has not harmed those young seedlings like insecticidal soap often does, while it definitely knocks the aphids down on them.

flat of kohlrabi seedlings

flat of kohlrabi seedlings

And speaking of seedlings, the shelves are filling up with flats of them. That’s Konan kohlrabi in the above photo, a 2016 AAS Winner that did quite well for me last year. I’m keeping the warm weather veggies like peppers and tomatoes inside under lights, but the cool season crops and herbs are all out in the greenhouse now. You can see some of them on the shelves in the below photo, including individual pots of catnip, fennel and parsley. Most of the seedlings in the greenhouse are now in 3.5″ pots.

flats on greenhouse shelf

flats on greenhouse shelf

There’s still quite a few of the overwintered veggies growing in the beds at this point. In the below photo you can see onions and lettuce. Both are ready for harvesting as needed.

greenhouse bed on left side

greenhouse bed on left side

The onion is the multiplier onion called I’itoi. It’s my first time growing it, and I have planted it in several places. In addition to that in the greenhouse bed, it’s in a bed just outside the greenhouse. I also have a few planted in a container in the greenhouse. It’s growing nicely in all locations, and I’ve been pulling the young onions for use as scallions as needed. You can pull a single onion and leave the rest of the clump to grow, which makes it very convenient since typically I only need a single scallion at a time.

I'itoi onions

I’itoi onions

And the overwintered kale still has a lot of edible leaves as well, though it is starting to flower. It’s a mix of several varieties, including True Siberian and Meadowlark. I believe it is the Meadowlark that is showing flower buds.

overwintered kale

overwintered kale

The bed on the other side has greens like Mizspoona and Vivid Choi planted, as well as overwintered parsley. The Vivid Choi is starting to flower there, and I will leave the plants until I have replacements ready. We will enjoy the flowers as well as the leaves for as long as they last.

greens and parsley

greens and parsley

Over on the bench I have three salad boxes planted with lettuce and arugula. It will be a few weeks before there’s anything edible there, but it shouldn’t take long for the arugula. I’ve got more lettuce ready to go in a cold frame bed once I can get one worked up and ready to plant. The weather tomorrow looks promising, so that will be on my to-do list for sure.

salad box with lettuce planted

salad box with lettuce planted

Also I have several pots of chives on the bench, along with planter boxes with cilantro and the I’itoi onions.  I’ve got more chives planted outside, but it is handy to have these in winter when the ones outside are dormant.

potted chives

potted chives

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

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Posted in Greenhouse | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Harvest Monday March 20, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I guess spring starts officially for us this morning, though the weather here has been mostly spring-like for weeks now. Whatever the season, it was a light harvest week for me. I cut a couple of heads of the Winter Marvel lettuce for salads. This has been growing in one of the cold frame beds all winter, and is now starting to size up. It’s a butterhead type lettuce, and I got my seeds from Fedco where they say it’s “bar-none the best overwintering lettuce we grow.” I have to agree, and it has survived the last two winters for me in the cold frame beds. It can’t take the heat though, so I only grow it in late fall for overwintering.

Winter Marvel lettuce

Winter Marvel lettuce

Some of the lettuce also wound up in wraps we had for lunch yesterday, where it was joined by sunflower shoots and my wife’s Curry Chicken Salad. For a side dish I had a bit of homemade kohlrabi kimchi (kohl-chi?), while my wife had fermented kohlrabi pickles. The fermented veggies show up often in our meals. In addition to being tasty, I think they are a great way to preserve the harvest.  Most of the fall kohlrabi was pulled by November, but thanks to fermenting we are still enjoying it here in March. I harvested 36 pounds of it last year, and I am hoping to plant a bit more this year in hopes I can top the 2014 harvest of 46 pounds. I am sure we would have no problem using it all up!

lettuce on wrap

lettuce on wrap

Other than that, I have no harvests to show. I did bake up a batch of Multi Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls to go with soup I served for dinner one night. I think these rolls are one of my best recipe creations, and they are exactly what I was looking for when I created the recipe. The leftovers crisp back up nicely if you pop them in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes. And I freeze what’s left, so that we usually have some in the freezer when we need them. This week I need to bake a batch of buns as we are currently bun-less here at Happy Acres!

Multi-Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls

Multi-Grain Seeded Dinner Rolls

Since I am short on harvest photos I will resort to a gratuitous pic of our cat Puddin. In many places it is considered good luck to rub the belly of the Laughing Buddha statue. At Happy Acres though, we rub the belly of the Reclining Puddin! She doesn’t seem to mind, in fact I think she poses that way on purpose, because she knows we can’t resist giving her a little rub or tickle.

Reclining Puddin'

Reclining Puddin’

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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Mid March Seed Starting

I did another round of seed starting yesterday afternoon. I started the main crop of tomatoes, using a 128 cell plug flat to start them in. I had already started some early tomatoes back in late February, cherry types including Sun Gold, Supersweet 100, Champagne Cherry and Mexico Midget. Those are up and growing and I have transplanted them into 6-cell paks. I hope to get large plants set out behind the greenhouse once the danger of frost is past to give us a taste of tomatoes early before the main crop is ready. I also started seeds last week for Patio Choice Yellow tomato, a 2017 AAS winner that I plan on growing in a couple of containers. Next in line are the eggplants, followed by basil. I also received my onion plants from Dixondale this week and I need to get the bed worked up and get them in the ground ASAP.

 

pepper seedlings

pepper seedlings

It is also time to pot up herbs and petunias I started back in February. Those will go out in the greenhouse to grow on, but a recent cold snap sent temperatures down below 20°F last night and as a result the greenhouse froze up as well. Things are supposed to warm up a bit Friday and I hope to get out there and get those potted up. That will free up space under the lights inside so I can start more seed indoors. I am sure this scene is being played out by countless gardeners all over as they juggle seedlings both inside and outside. The petunias have gotten quite big and definitely need to be potted up into individual pots.

petunia plants at one month

petunia plants at one month

The parsley is also looking good. It’s been six weeks since I sowed those seeds indoors, and the plants are almost ready to set outside.  I also grow a few plants year-round in the greenhouse. I hate to pull the overwintered plants in there since they are supplying us with tasty parsley, so I will likely wait until they start flowering before I replant them with the new crop. What I may do is leave one mature plant for a while longer and set out a few seedlings to replace the ones I pull up. That kinda sounds like a plan to me!

Splendid parsley

Splendid parsley

It’s also about time to get some snow peas planted. I will pre-sprout them indoors, something I did last year with good results. I have a trellis already in place out in the garden leftover from last fall, so all I need to do is clear any weeds from the ground and dig a little trench to hold the sprouted seeds.  I hope you have enjoyed this update on seed starting activities and I’ll be back soon with more news as it happens!

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