December Harvests

Around this time of year people often ask me “is your garden done for yet?” I always tell them no, because gardening is a year round thing here at HA. And with winters that seem to be getting milder each passing year, with a little planning it’s pretty easy to have fresh food from the garden available year round. This past week is a good example of the kind of harvests we are getting here this year in December.

sack of turnips for food pantry (click on any image to enlarge)

I pulled up some more turnips for donating to the food pantry this week. This fall I planted one unused bed with some turnip seed, mostly the Purple Top variety. I didn’t do a great job of thinning the seedlings, but I still got over 20 pounds of turnips and greens from this little planting (so far). I harvested 10 pounds and took them in Tuesday to donate, and they were gone in about an hour or so. One gentleman took one of the small ones and ate it raw, just like an apple. It was neat that I got to talk to a few of the folks that were taking them home, though they didn’t know who donated the turnips. I’ll be doing this again next year for sure. Every year we have gardeners bringing in turnips by the bucketful, and they are always appreciated.

Salad Bowl lettuce

I got some nice Salad Bowl lettuce from one of the cold frames. It was used on some Turkey Chipotle Tacos we had this week. My wife made the filling with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and we stuck it in the freezer for use later. I cooked up a batch of black beans in the pressure cooker to go with them, and it made for a great meal.

Turkey Chipotle Tacos with Salad Bowl lettuce

I also got some lovely arugula from the same cold frame. This was some that volunteered from a spring planting that I had let go to seed. Of course I missed harvesting some of the seed, so I had a thick carpet of arugula seedlings in that bed all summer. I let them grow, and planted lettuce amongst them this fall even as I kept on pulling the arugula and using it. I think this is the last of the arugula in that bed, but there may be more sprouting next spring. Which is not a bad thing if you like arugula. We used this bunch on some pizza. I just love arugula on a pizza! I have more planted in the greenhouse, both in a bed and in a salad box. Did I mention we love arugula?

arugula for pizza

Another harvest this week was some Asian greens from the greenhouse. This was a mix of Maruba Santoh, Purple Rapa Pop Mix mustard, and Joi Choi pak choi. The Maruba Santoh is a hard to classify green, growing and tasting much like Fun Jen or Tokyo Bekana, but the leaves are smooth instead of frilly. It’s good raw, but also works when briefly cooked. The Purple Rapa Pop Mix is a new addition to our garden, but a good one. The plants in the greenhouse didn’t get as purple as the ones we planted at the Impact Community Garden, but they were tender and tasty. I’ll be growing this one again. As an added bonus, both it and the Maruba Santoh produce edible flower sprouts in spring.

leaves from Maruba Santoh (L) and Purple Rapa Pop mustard (R)

I usually favor the green stem pak chois like Shanghai and Mei Qing, but I decided to grow some Joi Choi this winter for a change. I do love the mild white stalks on this variety, and since it grows mostly upright it is a good choice for intensive plantings. The aphids seem to bother it a bit less than some of the green and yellow leafed vegetables, which is another plus. Aphids can sometimes be an issue in the winter greenhouse or cold frames, and this year is no exception.

Joi Choi pak choi

I chopped up the mix of Asian greens and stir-fried them along with some mushrooms and sliced garlic. They cooked down in a couple of minutes, and I added a splash of soy and a little sesame oil for seasoning. This is my favorite treatment for Asian greens, and it’s quick and easy to prepare.

Stir-fried Asian greens

Another treat this week was some Lacinato kale I harvested to make into Kale Chips. So far this kale is still going strong, and actually looking better than the Beedy’s Camden. The Lacinato survived the winter last year, and I have high hopes it will do as well this winter. So far, so good on that count. If it does survive then I will try and save seed from it next spring. We do love kale chips, and these went well with some curried chicken salad we had for lunch yesterday.

Lacinato kale

I pulled a few more carrots this week too from the kitchen garden. I roasted some with sweet potatoes for a Christmas luncheon with friends, and cooked a few more by themselves for a side dish one night. These fall carrots are so sweet, you’d think they had sugar added to them, but they don’t need it. I also used some of them in the Pasta e Fagioli I fixed this week. We will sure miss these fall planted carrots when they all are gone!

carrots went in Pasta e Fagioli

That’s a look at what we’ve been harvesting here this December. And you can see we still have a nice assortment of fresh food to choose from as we near the end of 2012. For a look at what other gardeners from around the world are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays.

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15 Responses to December Harvests

  1. Daphne says:

    You are still harvesting quite a bit of food from the garden. I only have little bits here and there to harvest. Not much variety. But I do have things in the freezer so I’ll be using those soon.

  2. becky3086 says:

    What a great harvest. I am jealous of all your good greens. Makes me want to go plant more. I wonder what else I can fit in my greenhouse 🙂

  3. Patsy says:

    I’m awed at what you are still getting. Except for a few tiny carrots out there, I’m about done here. But I seem to extend it a little more every year and your post inspires me to keep trying!

  4. kitsapFG says:

    I love to use my greens in a simple stir-fry too. You have such a bounty from your winter garden and I know how pleased the recipients must be to have fresh fare offerings this time of year. Our Giving Garden is still producing periodic harvests for our local food bank too and they are astounded at how much we are able to still bring in.

  5. Leanne says:

    I bet the fresh turnips were very much appreciated at the food bank. It’s a huge buzz to harvest straight from the table for the dinner plate isn’t it. I bet your wife enjoyes cooking with your harvest.
    Love Leanne NZ

  6. Michelle says:

    Yes, arugula on pizza is a big yum! Your December harvests are truly impressive.

  7. What a fabulous harvest for anytime, but especially mid-December. I’m just amazed. Your greens look so clean and unchewed by insects too.

  8. Norma Chang says:

    That’s a substantial harvest so late in December. I too am impressed by how nice and wholesome your greens look. My lacinato kale did not survive but my beedy’s kale is still growing, I should harvest some this week.

  9. Mimzy says:

    Dave,
    Can I come made soap with you and Lynda one day this winter when you two tackle that project?

  10. andrea says:

    Wow what beautiful greens and what a treat to be guests at your table !!!!

  11. Stoney acres says:

    Dave,
    I’m super jealous right now. Because of our move this is the first winter in 4 years where we won’t have crops all winter long. I can’t wait to get settled in our new place and get going on the new garden. You’re harvesting a great variety for this time of year, that salad bowl lettuce looks great. Keep the posts coming, my fellow bloggers are my only link to gardening right now!!

  12. Such an inspiring array to cook with! And thanks for the report on taking turnips to the food pantry; there have been lots of them donated this year but didnt know if they were being taken. We’ve also had problems with aphids under the row covers, and lost most of our Tokyo turnip crop to them — any thoughts on controlling them?

    • Dave says:

      I’ve yet to find a good solution for the aphids. They seem to really thrive in the protected environments like under row covers, cold frames, etc.

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