Harvest Monday April 25, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The asparagus is coming on strong now that the weather has settled and is seasonably warm. We hauled in 16 ounces one day last week, which was our biggest daily harvest. A few days later we got 21 ounces to add to the totals. We’ve gotten 11 pounds of it so far this year. It is a highlight of seasonal eating for us here, and even though the calendar year starts in January the harvest season starts with the first asparagus.

homegrown asparagus

homegrown asparagus

Much of that in the above photo wound up on the grill. I love it prepared that way, but I have to say I like it most every which way, including raw. Asparagus is a prebiotic food when raw, but I like it mostly just because it tastes good! The grilled asparagus wound up in a meal I’ll talk about later.

grilled asparagus

grilled asparagus

I also steamed a big bunch of it for a lunch of Asparagus Mimosa. I like to use the bamboo steamer for that, as it can hold more asparagus than our stainless steel steamer.

steamed asparagus

steamed asparagus

Other than asparagus, I made a cutting from a couple of Wild Garden Kale Mix plants that survived the winter unprotected. One had fairly flat leaves while the other one was more frilly like a Red Russian. Both were tender and sweet tasting.

Wild Garden Mix Kale

Wild Garden Mix Kale

Some of the kale wound up in a hash I made with purple fleshed Purple sweet potatoes and the white fleshed Bonita. I think the combo made for a visually appealing dish that was tasty and nutritious as well. Add beans or eggs and you’d have a main dish meal. I used it as a side dish for some fish.

Kale and Sweet Potato Hash

Kale and Sweet Potato Hash

The salad boxes in the greenhouse continue to give us a steady supply of lettuce leaves for salads. It’s been so nice to have while I wait for the plants in the cold frame beds to size up.

mixed lettuce harvest

mixed lettuce harvest

I used some of my recently prepared Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce to make a batch of bean enchiladas. I made the filling from Black Tepary beans. I have some of these beans I plan on growing this year, and I have to say they seem to be pretty versatile in the kitchen. They hold their shape well for salads or soups, but they also work well when mashed up for refried beans. I made the enchilada sauce from some of our homemade unseasoned tomato sauce and some of my homegrown chile powder.

Black Tepary bean enchiladas

Black Tepary bean enchiladas

I made a batch of Michelle’s Green Quinoa Pilaf last week. I used green garlic and parsley instead of the scallions and cilantro she used, since that was what I had. I used the overwintered flat-leaf Splendid parsley I have growing in the greenhouse, which is only now starting to bolt but still loaded with lots of leaves.

green garlic with Splendid parsley

green garlic with Splendid parsley

After baking I topped the dish with a mix of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Asiago cheeses and put it back in the oven for a minute to melt the cheese. My wife and I both really enjoyed the dish. Lynda even called it “comfort food like macaroni and cheese.” I totally agree, and I can see making this dish again for sure. Since our season for fresh spinach is fairly short here, I may try making it with kale. I will definitely use scallions too when I have them, which should be fairly soon. The pictures don’t really do it justice. I’m always looking for new ways to use quinoa, and thanks to Michelle I have another one!

Green Quinoa Pilaf

Green Quinoa Pilaf

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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Weeding, Planting, and Mulching

I’ve been taking advantage of a recent spell of warm and dry weather to get things done in the garden. I did some weeding and mulching in the cold frame beds, starting with the kohlrabi I planted late last month. The plants have been in the ground almost a month now, and are growing along nicely. I have Winner, Kolibri and the 2016 AAS winner Konan planted in there, for a total of 35 plants. I did spread some more Sluggo Plus before mulching with straw to keep the slugs at bay. That’s Konan in the below photo.

Konan kohlrabi

Konan kohlrabi

Another cold frame bed was in need of more Sluggo, since I was beginning to see holes in the leaves of the Tokyo Bekana and Mei Qing pac choi plants. I actually found a small slug on one of the plants, so I positively ID’d the culprit! I still need to mulch in that bed, but the weeds are not bad in there yet. The Tokyo Bekana is a loose headed Napa cabbage that can be used either raw or cooked. It’s more reliable for me in spring than the heading types, though I do have a couple of those planted in the main garden. Time will tell if they head up or bolt first. For that matter, the Tokyo Bekana sometimes bolts in spring too, with cold weather usually being the culprit as it tricks the plant into thinking it has overwintered and it’s time to flower.

Tokyo Bekana cabbage

Tokyo Bekana cabbage

A more pressing chore was weeding and mulching the garlic bed in the main garden. I always put down straw after planting in fall, but by spring there are always weeds growing anyway. It’s mostly chickweed and dead nettle, but the garlic does not like competition and it was time to clear it all out. I also added fertilizer, in this case Happy Frog All-Purpose 5-5-5. Then I came back with an application of a liquid fish emulsion and seaweed mix to give the garlic a little foliar feeding until the other fertilizer kicks in.

garlic after mulching

garlic after mulching

Some of the garlic is getting quite big already. I have found that plants with big stalks tend to make big bulbs. If that’s so, then the Red Toch (an artichoke type) should be a whopper this year! Red Toch is a favorite of author, teacher, and garlic grower Chester Aaron, and is named after the  small village of Tochliavri in the Republic of Georgia. My garlic is generally ready to start digging sometime in July, beginning with early varieties like Red Janice and Maiskij and continuing through the artichokes and rocamboles and finishing with the long-keeping silverskins like Nootka Rose and Silver White.

Red Toch garlic plant

Red Toch garlic plant

My wife has been busy weeding and mulching in the asparagus patch. She uses shredded paper along where the asparagus spears emerge, and newspaper and cardboard covered with straw down between the rows. She’s the Asparagus Queen, and I think she has it looking great! I also spread some All-Purpose fertilizer down the rows last week to give the plants a boost.

asparagus bed mulched

asparagus bed mulched

Visitors this time of year are usually underwhelmed by the asparagus beds, giving us some sort of “but where’s the asparagus?” kind of comments. In the below photo you can see what all the fuss is about, with spears ready to be cut. Once the harvest season is in full swing, it requires daily harvesting, sometimes twice daily. Another common thing is that people are surprised that it comes in all sizes, unlike the graded and packaged ones you find in the grocery!

asparagus spears waiting to be harvested

asparagus spears waiting to be harvested

I still need to finish mulching around the plants in the brassica bed in the main garden. Last year I used only straw, and that was a mistake as it didn’t do a good job of keeping down the weeds. This year I am putted down newspaper first, a mix of shredded and whole sheets, with the straw on top of it. That is what I do for cucurbits, tomatoes and other crops and it does a better job of smothering weeds. I’m still waiting on the potatoes to emerge, and when they do I’ll do some weeding on them as well.

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