Monday Recap: Last of May Brings Firsts

One of the many things I love about growing our own food is that every season has new ‘firsts’ to look forward to. I always look forward to the first asparagus, the first blueberry, the first ripe tomato, and so on. Last week we got our first taste of raspberries. The first to ripen this year is a yellow variety called Anne. I expanded our planting of it this year by setting out three additional  plants, and the canes flowered and set a few fruit. You are probably supposed to pick off the flowers on a new plant, but raspberries are so vigorous I can’t imagine this is going to slow them down very much. They were already potted up and showing new growth when I bought them anyway. The red ones are starting to turn too and should keep us supplied for several weeks.

Anne raspberries

Anne raspberries

Another first came from our little orchard. The North Star pie cherry tree gives us a slightly bigger harvest each year. Last year we got less than a pound from it, but this year the harvest was close to two pounds. My wife handles the harvesting chores for this crop. She hangs pie plates and old DVD’s in the tree to keep the birds away.

harvesting our cherries

harvesting our cherries

We still plan on a trip to a local orchard to pick sweet and tart cherries for freezing, and they should be ready there soon. Until then we will enjoy our own cherries, fresh from the tree.

North Star tart cherries

North Star tart cherries

I had two of the North Star trees planted at my old place, and when they were mature they gave me all the cherries I could eat and freeze every year. I dug up an old photo from 2006 of my wife harvesting one of those trees. It took a stepladder, and several buckets to get the job done that day. And it also called for a good cherry pitter.

Lynda picking cherries at my old farm

Lynda picking cherries at my old farm

Another first came in last week. What’s purple and looks like something from outer space? That sounds like Kolibri kohlrabi! This hybrid kohlrabi has a great flavor and is early too. We enjoyed these first two raw, with a little yogurt tahini dip to go with them.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

I made the first cutting of the Senposai greens last week. This F1 hybrid  is a cross between cabbage and komatsuna, and Fedco says the “round medium-green leaves are wonderful in okonamiyaki or for braising.” So I removed the stems, chopped up the leaves and braised them in a little water with some shiitake mushrooms. After 30 minutes of cooking, the leaves were still not exactly tender. I wish I could say I liked the flavor, or the texture, but my wife and I both agreed they were tough and not particularly tasty. We disliked it so much that the leftovers went on the compost pile.

harvest of senposai

harvest of senposai

The large round leaves remind me of collards, but even collards are usually edible after 30 minutes of cooking. It’s possible younger leaves might be more tender, but it seems to me I’d be better off growing komatsuna, or mizuna, or pac choi. All of those are relatively easy to grow and reliably tasty to eat.

large leaf of senposai

large leaf of senposai

On the other hand, the spring planted kale has turned out a lot better than the senposai. I got a nice cutting of the White Russian variety yesterday, and another smaller one earlier in the week. While the leaves aren’t quite as sweet as those that mature in the cooler weather of fall and winter, they are tender and flavorful and I have really been enjoying them this spring. There’s almost a pound of them in the below photo. I also planted the frilly leaf Scarlet kale, which isn’t quite ready for cutting yet.

White Russian kale

White Russian kale

In the ruh-roh department, something has been eating on the leaf amaranth plants, and it isn’t me! I saw what appeared to be striped cucumber beetles on it one day, but a little research now tells me they are pigweed flea beetles. This native pest feeds on pigweed and other members of the amaranth family. The amaranth plants now look like Swiss cheese! I have sprayed with neem oil, and we will see if that slows them down any. I really need to get a taste of this before I decide if it’s worth the effort to deal with the beetles. Covering with row cover would keep them out but it’s too late for that now. And hand picking is difficult since they jump!

pigweed flea beetle

pigweed flea beetle

It’s not a first, but I got another nice cutting of garlic scapes last week. Many of these came from the rocambole types, like Russian Red and Spanish Roja. We’ve been turning some of them into Daphne’s Garlic Scape Salad Dressing, and others into pesto. It’s my wife’s turn to cook this week so we will see how she decides to use them all. Some went in a frittata she made for us yesterday, as did some of our bumper crop of asparagus. Speaking of asparagus, today is the last day we will harvest this year. We’ve gotten over 33 pounds so far this year.

handful of garlic scapes

handful of garlic scapes

On their way to winning the ‘first tomato to the top of the cage’ race are the cherry tomatoes Sungold and Supersweet 100 I planted in the kitchen garden area. Sungold is usually the first tomato to ripen for us too, and it is blooming right about now.

early tomato plants

early tomato plants

I baked up a batch of Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns last week. This recipe never fails me, and I made this batch using 50% Red Fife whole wheat flour. I’m loving this wheat so far, and it made some tasty buns that browned up nicely. I topped them with black and white sesame seeds before baking.

Moomie's buns made with Red Fife wheat

Moomie’s buns made with Red Fife wheat

To close I’ll show off a t-shirt my wife dyed for me recently. She was experimenting with blue and gray colors, and I liked one of her test pieces so much I asked her to make me a shirt with the same colors and sunburst pattern. I love how it turned out!

me in my new t-shirt

me in my new t-shirt

That’s a look at what’s been happening here lately. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.

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15 Responses to Monday Recap: Last of May Brings Firsts

  1. Daphne says:

    I grew senposai in 2010. Lovely plants and the taste was OK. But like you I hated the texture and decided I would never grow them again. I decided if you had chickens they would be a good green to grow for them as they are so prolific. Otherwise not.

    I’ve never seen a striped flee beetle like that before. I used to control them by hand at my last house. I would use a white bowl filled with soapy water and try to chase them into it. I’m sure I looked amusing doing that. But it did reduce the numbers enough to let the plants grow better.
    Daphne recently posted…Garden Share Collective – June 2015My Profile

    • Dave says:

      I would have been better off planting more kale instead of the senposai. Or more mizuna. I’ll know that next time!

  2. Norma Chang says:

    I am so drooling over your yellow raspberries. I will be looking out for pigweed flea beetle and try to get rid of them using Daphne’s method as soon I see sign of any.
    Norma Chang recently posted…Harvest Monday, June 1, 2015 – Garden UpdatesMy Profile

  3. Marcia says:

    Dave, you grow such an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Some I’ve never heard of before.
    Here’s a link to the pin of the grilled bok choy recipe. I didn’t follow it entirely. I skipped the sugar and added in garlic. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/371969250450698934/
    Marcia recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 1stMy Profile

  4. Dave's SFG says:

    Nice tip on the senposai. It was down on my list of things to try, but there are plenty of other greens to grow. Too bad about the amaranth. That is one big flea beetle, never encountered that one. You could try spraying with Spinosad. OMRI-listed and I have found it effective against the crucifer flea beetle. The trick is to strike at first emergence to knock down the size of the first generation before they reproduce.

    • Dave says:

      Spinosad would have been a good choice if I had noticed the bugs sooner. I think the population has already exploded!

  5. Margaret says:

    Hurray for all of your “firsts” this week – especially those raspberries! I’m crossing my fingers that my canes will give me a taste before the year is out – both varieties I planted are supposed to bear two crops per year, so I may get lucky & get a few this fall.

    I love “firsts” too – it wasn’t until I started doing the Harvest Monday posts that I realized that I had a “first” practically each week, be it a new type of veg or a different variety – it’s amazing! Lovely shirt, btw – your wife did a great job once again.
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 1, 2015My Profile

  6. Jennifer says:

    Wow, everything looks so good! I’m hoping to get a few raspberries (and blackberries and blueberries) this year. And your cherries!!! I’m going to have to take a trip to one of the cherry orchards to pick some, now that I have them on my mind.

  7. Dave, your garden never ceases to amaze me. Thirty-three lbs of asparagus is astounding. Your yellow raspberry harvest looks like my strawberry harvests–just a handful to go on some cottage cheese. But you will get loads next year, I’m sure. I like Mizuna and Komatsuna. Never heard of your collard-green-looking stuff, sensomethingorother. 🙂
    Lou Murray’s Green World recently posted…Peaches and Spot Prawns–but not together!My Profile

  8. Michelle says:

    That is one serious cherry pitter! I have a little hand held one-at-a-time pitter, but it works for the few cherries that I pit every year.

    I grew Senposai one time also and wasn’t impressed enough to grow it again. Kale and Tronchuda Beira are both much better.

    Yuck, that is a nasty big flea beetle. I’m glad we don’t have those here.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 1, 2015My Profile

    • Dave says:

      I had one of the hand held kinds too, but when the harvests got bigger I needed a faster pitter. I’ve had this one for years. It only does one thing, but it does it well!

  9. Susie says:

    Everything looks amazing, but wow, that cherry tree at your old place? Fabulous!! I just spotted my first cucumber beetle on the weekend (I’ll look closer if I see another one, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that pigweed thing).

  10. DDd says:

    Thirty-three lbs of asparagus is amazing. Thanks to your blog/timeline. I have three pounds of asparagus in 2015, and I am very pleased. You and your wife grow so many variety of vegetable and fruits, you eat very WELL.

  11. mac says:

    Wow that’s a lot of asparagus, I love all the cherries and raspberries you’re harvesting. I grew Senposai once many years ago but never cooked or ate it, I tossed them away when I felt the leaves were to thick and waxy for my taste.
    Your wife did a good on the t-shirt, it looks nice on you.
    mac recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 1, 2015My Profile

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