Early December Harvests

With snow, freezing rain and frigid weather predicted for last week, I harvested all that I could before the weather turned ugly. There’s lots of harvest-ready kale in the main garden right about now. Or at least there was before I started harvesting it. The plants themselves will take a lot of cold weather, but the individual leaves don’t always do well with snow and ice. I also find that the Lacinato kale is less hardy for me than some of the others. So, I figured they would be safer if they were in the frig, or eaten.

lacinato kale

lacinato kale

I’ve also got several other kales planted, including Red Ursa, Beedy’s Camden and the Wild Garden Mix. Each of them had leaves ready for harvest, so I got some from everybody for a nice mixture of colors and textures.

harvest of mixed kales

harvest of mixed kales

I made some of the kale into a massaged kale salad last night. I dressed it with a honey-lemon vinaigrette (using a Meyer lemon) and added a little cooked quinoa. Massaging the kale and dressing together helps tenderize the leaves and gives it a nice smooth texture. It also helps remove any bitterness, though I think this winter grown kale was pretty sweet to start with. It made for a great side dish, and with a little more protein it would make a good main course dish. I will be making this one again, and the honey-lemon dressing would be good for any green salad.

wilted kale salad

massaged kale salad

I harvested quite a few lettuce leaves from the cold frame and greenhouse beds. The lettuce is pretty hardy too, but the cold frames might not hold up to a lot of snow and ice. The lettuce was nice and tender and mild tasting, and I got enough for several meals. I cut some of the arugula too, while I was in the neighborhood.

lettuce harvest

lettuce harvest

Some of the lettuce went into a salad, and I took some carrots and radishes from storage and grated them to add to it. I know we are going to miss the carrots when they are gone. Now that I have finally figured out how to grow them (I think), it would be nice to plant a few more of them. I just need to prepare the soil in one of the beds and loosen it up a little deeper than usual.

salad with lettuce, arugula, carrots and radish

salad with lettuce, arugula, carrots and radish

Another hardy crop growing outside in the garden is turnips. I harvested enough before the snow arrived so that we could enjoy both the greens and the roots, though at this stage there seem to be more usable bottoms than tops.

turnips from the garden

turnips from the garden

I cooked up the greens the same night I pulled the turnips. I cut up one of the small turnips and added it to the pot along with the chopped greens. They cooked in a very short time. I like them served with a bit of spicy hot vinegar I make up and keep in the refrigerator (vinegar, sugar, whole cayenne pepper). My wife prefers hers without the vinegar, but I like the tangy taste that it adds.

turnips greens ready for cooking

turnips greens ready for cooking

After all that harvesting, I responded to the arrival of the snow and frigid weather by going on a cooking spree. While it was still snowing outside I made a big pot of vegetable soup with veggies from the freezer, and I baked a loaf of sourdough bread to go with it. Then for something sweet I made a batch of blackberry muffins with some of our frozen blackberries. My wife calls me the muffin man because I like to bake muffins. Oh well, I guess that’s okay as long as she doesn’t start calling me the ‘muffin top’ man because I’ve eaten too many of them!

blackberry muffins

blackberry muffins

We wound up with about 6 inches of sleet, ice and snow on the ground from the winter storm last week. Hopefully all of that will give the cold frames a nice insulating blanket to keep everything alive inside. It will be later this week before temperatures get warm enough to melt everything, so it will be a while before I can check under the covers. It is pretty to look at, even if it is cold and slippery.

cold frames covered in snow

cold frames covered in snow

I was fortunate to see a sun dog the other day. It looked like a small rainbow, off to the right of the sun as it made its way down through the western sky. I think it is the first time I ever captured an image of one. The sky was pretty that afternoon, with high cirrus clouds, criss-crossing contrails and for a brief moment the sun dog.

sky photo with sun dog

sky photo with sun dog

That’s all I have for now. I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of the harvests we are getting here in early December. I’m always amazed at what the garden can produce this time of year. To see what others around the world are harvesting or cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.

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9 Responses to Early December Harvests

  1. Kira says:

    Everything looks so beautiful under the clean white snow! Our winter just means more overcast weather and a little bit of precious rain… I’m sure it comes with its challenges but I am a little jealous of your white winters 🙂
    Kira recently posted…Purple!My Profile

  2. Karen Faivre says:

    The produce all looks so delicious and the muffins – yum! There is definitely something satisfying about baking muffins.

  3. Daphne says:

    I always grow kale that does survive the winter. So I’m pretty limited on the varieties I can plant. But I do mostly use it as an early spring harvest. I might get out this week and pick a bit though.

  4. Patsy says:

    Loving the look of your salads! I have learned to love massaged kale salad too, makes those tough leaves very tasty. Your lettuces look great and make me want a cold frame badly!
    Patsy recently posted…Back From My TravelsMy Profile

  5. Michelle says:

    It is amazing what you are harvesting at this time of year, but you are a smart gardener who is prepared for the cold. We are having much colder than usual weather this week and I’m really not prepared for it. At least I heeded the weather forcast and cleaned most of the tender edibles out of the garden. Most of the rest is at the mercy of the weather.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – December 9, 2013My Profile

  6. What i nice harvest. I have lived in the southern part of the US my whole adult life so I have not had the opportunity to see a lot of snow like I did growing up in Michigan. It’s beautiful where you live.
    karrie jablonowski recently posted…Harvest Monday!!My Profile

  7. Norma Chang says:

    Your snow covered ground is so pretty. Our predicted snow accumulation never materialized and I am not complaining, got only a light coating last night. Your lacinato kale are so perfect, mine got eaten by cabbage worms.
    Norma Chang recently posted…Harvest Monday, December 9, 2013 + Growing Scallion Stubs + Container LettuceMy Profile

  8. Thomas says:

    Great looking harvest, Dave. I’ve always been envious of your cold frame and greenhouse lettuce. As of date, I’ve yet to be able to grow lettuce in the winter that’s not bitter! You’ll have to tell us your secret one of these days.

    BTW – the greenhouse is looking great.

  9. Mark Willis says:

    I think that is a damn fine harvest for December! I have some of the kale you call “Lacinato”, but we call it “Cavolo Nero”. The variety I have this year is called “Black Magic” and is a lot darker than this type of kale normally is. Your technique for massaging the kale is not one I have come across before, though it sounds as if more people ought toknow about it!
    Mark Willis recently posted…Griddled Halloumi with roasted vegetablesMy Profile

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