Monday Recap: Digging, Drying and Fermenting

Last week it was time to do some more digging for buried treasure in the garden, starting with potatoes. I wanted to try some of the Yukon Golds and see if they were ready. The tops were finally dying down so I figured it was about time. They have become our favorite all-purpose potato, and we use them for baking, mashing and other things as well. With rain in the forecast, I wound up digging all of them and the rest of the potatoes too.

Yukon Gold potatoes

Yukon Gold potatoes

This year I experimented growing blue potatoes for the first time. I planted Adirondack Blue, Purple Majestic and Magic Molly. The Adirondack Blue was the most productive here of the three. I’m still trying to decide which one I like best in the kitchen. That’s Magic Molly in the below photo, which is a fingerling type. I’ll try and show a comparison of the three later on when I get a chance to try them all. I’ll probably pick my favorite of the three to grow again next year.

Magic Molly potatoes

Magic Molly potatoes

Next up was the garlic. The softneck varieties were flopping over like onions do, so I dug a few to see how they looked. I was happy at how big and fat the bulbs were, so I went ahead and dug them all. There were also a few of the hardneck types left so I dug them too. They’re all drying down in the basement now. Some of the softneck Nootka Rose made double bulbs. You can’t beat two for one! Nootka Rose is my favorite softneck, as it does well here and is a good keeper. It doesn’t seem to mind our variable winters either, despite being an heirloom variety from the Pacific Northwest. I have to say the silverskins Silver White and S&H Silver also did well this year, despite our colder than usual winter. I won’t weigh the garlic harvest until all of them are cured.

Nootka Rose garlic

Nootka Rose garlic

While I was in the mood for digging, I also dug up some of the spring carrots. I tried growing two varieties of purple carrots this year for the first time, Purple Haze and Purple Dragon. I planted about a two foot section of each variety, and each wound up producing right at two pounds. Both made nicely shaped, colorful carrots. In the below photo, that’s Purple Dragon on the left and Purple Haze on the right.

Purple Dragon and Purple Haze carrots

Purple Dragon and Purple Haze carrots

Of the two carrots, I think the Purple Dragon has a more uniform purple color on the outside, but as you can see in the below photo the purple coloration goes further on the inside flesh of the Purple Haze. Both have a nice mild taste raw, but my wife and I agreed that Purple Dragon had a little more flavor. I’ll grow both of them again this fall and see how they do then. I need to dig more of the carrots as time and space permits, but the refrigerator is pretty full of other things at the moment.

interior of Purple Dragon(L) and Purple Haze(R) carrots

interior of Purple Dragon(L) and Purple Haze(R) carrots

A harvest that didn’t require digging, bending or kneeling was the first of the 2014 pole beans. That’s Gold Marie and Musica in the below photo. I grew Musica last year and it is a fine tasting and heavy producing flat Italian bean. It’s my first time growing Gold Marie but the flat yellow Italian type beans usually do great for me here. I’ve also got Fortex and Rattlesnake planted, and they are just now starting to bloom. The Cherokee Trail of Tears beans shouldn’t be far behind.

Gold Marie and Musica pole beans

Gold Marie and Musica pole beans

We managed to get away from HA for a day last week and made time for a picnic. My wife and I went on a picnic on our third date, and they have been a regular part of our lives ever since. We drove to the nearby Lincoln State Park (which is right across the road from the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial) and enjoyed a lovely lunch of Curry Chicken Salad and Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts. I used green beans, cherry tomatoes, onions and parsley from the garden. The Sun Gold and Supersweet 100 tomatoes were tasty in this salad.

Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts

Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts

After eating, we worked off some of the lunch with a hike around the lake. On that third date, my wife was expecting I would pick up something at a deli. But little did she know she would be dining on some of my homemade goodies like Smoked Salmon on Field Greens and Orzo Salad with Chickpeas. While I was trying to impress her a little, it was also true that I ate like that pretty much all the time. I guess it worked, we’re still going on picnics together!

me on the trail at Lincoln State Park

me on the trail at Lincoln State Park

I got enough of the smaller tomatoes last week to start dehydrating them. We are almost out of our stores of them, and it is a great way to preserve the tomatoes. After drying, we will package them up with our FoodSaver and stick them in the freezer. They keep well for more than a year that way, as opposed to leaving them on a shelf in the pantry. That’s Juliet in the below photo, cut into quarters for drying.

Juliet tomatoes ready for dehydrating.

Juliet tomatoes ready for dehydrating.

I’ve been making lacto-fermented vegetables again. My first batch this year was a jar of kohlrabi pickles. I cut the kohlrabi into about 3/8″ sticks before packing into a quart jar and covering with brine. I let them ferment at room temperature for five days, then tested one to see how it tasted. My wife and I both loved the salty crunch of the mildly-fermented kohlrabi, so I put the jar in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation.

lacto-fermented kohlrabi pickles

lacto-fermented kohlrabi pickles

Next I made some sauerkraut, one batch using cabbage and the other with shredded kohlrabi. For these two I mixed each with salt (2% of the vegetable weight) before putting in the jars. You can read about the process I used here: Homemade Sauerkraut. I’ve not tried using kohlrabi before, but after the great taste of the kohlrabi ‘pickles’ I thought it might make some tasty kraut too.

jars of Kohlrabi and Cabbage kraut

jars of Kohlrabi and Cabbage kraut

The blueberries are continuing to roll in. Every day my wife goes out and harvests the little blue jewels. She’s hauled in 38 pounds of them so far, and they’re not done producing yet. I eat some every day for breakfast, and there will be lots in the freezer to enjoy when they are done for the year.

daily blueberry harvest

daily blueberry harvest

I’ll close with a photo of some of the calendula flowers I’ve been harvesting and drying. These will get used for soap and lotions, and I use them to make Calendula Infused Oil. I gave away quite a few seeds last year and I hope they are doing as well for other folks as they are doing here for us. It’s an easy to grow annual with so many beneficial properties. And the varieties I grow have been selected for a high resin content for medicinal uses

calendula flowers

calendula flowers

To see what other gardeners are digging, drying, harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne graciously hosts Harvest Mondays. And many thanks Daphne for keeping this going every week!

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13 Responses to Monday Recap: Digging, Drying and Fermenting

  1. Daphne says:

    Wow 38 pounds of blueberries. I wouldn’t mind one, but for some reason they really aren’t happy here. Last winter I had several die on me. I think I’m going to put something else where they are now.
    Daphne recently posted…Harvest Monday, 14 July 2014My Profile

  2. I love the purple carrots! It will be interesting to hear what you think of the flavor of the fall batch once kissed with a little frost. The Green Bean and Bulgur Salad sounds delicious.
    Rachel @ Grow a Good Life recently posted…Harvest Monday: July 14, 2014My Profile

  3. Michelle says:

    You certainly had a productive week in the garden and the kitchen! I’m growing some calendula for the first time this year, I thought the petals would be pretty in my salads but I’m not sure what else to do with them. Interesting that you keep your dried tomatoes in the freezer, I keep mine in the fridge, it helps to preserve the color and texture. I wonder if they would keep even better in the freezer.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – July 14, 2014My Profile

    • Dave says:

      The quality of the frozen dehydrated tomatoes is almost as good as the day they were dried. I keep dried peppers in the freezer too, as long as I can find the room for them.

  4. Margaret says:

    Those are some fine looking potatoes. Are they good in storage? I find that homegrown produce lasts a lot longer than store bought. My garlic will often last up to 10 months or more, while the store bought stuff starts going bad or sprouting in less than a month. So I was wondering if potatoes are the same. The carrots are beautiful and those calendula’s – wow! I’m adding that bulgur salad to my list once my tomatoes and green beans are in.
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – July 14, 2014My Profile

    • Dave says:

      The Yukon Golds keep well in storage. We don’t have an ideal spot for them (it’s too warm this time of year), but they still last well into winter.

  5. Jenny says:

    Fantastic harvest! Potatoes and carrots looks so yummy, but those blueberries take the top spot!
    Jenny recently posted…Harvest July 14My Profile

  6. Julie says:

    Digging for garden treasures is always fun. I’ve been wanting to try blue potatoes too. Where do you order your seed potatoes from? I always shop online and then I’m shocked by the shipping costs and end up getting potatoes locally at our Farmer’s Exchange, which doesn’t carry exotic things like blue potatoes.
    Julie recently posted…Harvest Monday 7/14/14My Profile

    • Dave says:

      I got the Adirondack Blue and Magic Molly from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I order quite a few seeds from them too so the shipping costs weren’t just for the potatoes. The Purple Majesty came from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (aka GrowOrganic.com), along with the other fingerling types. Our local garden centers don’t have much selection either. The Yukon Golds are so cheap to buy that way, it’s too bad I can’t get them all locally.

  7. Mike R says:

    The fermented kohlrabi sticks look like they will be delicious. I’ve been thinking trying my hand at fermenting.
    Mike R recently posted…Monday July 14My Profile

    • Dave says:

      I’ve been very pleased with the results so far with lacto-fermented foods. Garlic is tasty that way, as are radishes and turnips. It’s fun to experiment!

  8. Jay says:

    I love the potatoes and garlic. Everyone has done well with theirs but ours wasn’t that big. Oh well, try something new I guess.
    Jay recently posted…Harvest Monday, July 14, 2014My Profile

  9. Thomas says:

    Wow, great harvest, Dave. The carrots look perfect. I tried growing purple haze a few years ago but the result was rather tough and bitter. Your potatoes look excellent as well.

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