Harvest Monday November 29, 2021

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. Once again I’ve decided it makes sense to take a break from the Harvest Monday posts for a couple of months, until next February. Harvests are few and far between for many, and I always enjoy taking a bit of downtime from gardening this time of year as do many other gardeners. I’ll be back with Harvest Monday on February 7th. Until then, I will post here about other garden news as it happens, and you can always follow my Facebook page for harvests and other garden news.

lettuce harvest

It is still salad season here, and with fairly mild weather lately the greenhouse lettuce is plentiful. I think the winter lettuce is usually the best tasting lettuce I grow, and we have been enjoying it greatly. I also cut a few Mizuna greens for use last week in salads. They have a peppery, tangy flavor that I like to add to our salads in small doses. I’ve also been adding grated kohlrabi to the salads, which adds another layer of flavor as well as a bit of crunch.

Central Red and Miz America mizuna

salad with greens and kohlrabi

It is also greens season here, and they have been growing lushly outside in the veggie garden. Turnbroc is one I’m growing for the first time, and it is a cross between turnips and broccoli. It has smooth leaves with a mild taste, and it is a new favorite here.

Turnbroc greens

The collards are also plentiful, and one called Nancy Malone Wheat Purple is a family heirloom from Alabama with purple veined leaves. The family waited until after two or three frosts to harvest, since it improves the taste. Ours have been frosted on and frozen several times, and the flavor was wonderful. It’s my first time growing this one, and I hope to grow it again next year.

Nancy Malone Wheat Purple collards

Another heirloom collard I’m growing for the first time is called Georgia Blue Stem. It has large, thick green leaves and has likely been around since before 1900. The Heirloom Collard Project has information on quite a few heirloom collard greens. Seeds for many of these are available from either the Seed Saves Exchange or Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. My only problem is that I want to try them all!

Georgia Blue Stem collards

As for previous harvests, I baked up and pureed one of our Centercut squashes for our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. My wife uses her family recipe for Whisky Pumpkin Pie, decorated with leaves made from extra pie dough.  In addition to adding a bit of whiskey to the batter, she also beats the egg whites separately and folds them in the mix at the last. It results in a pie that is lighter than most I’ve ever eaten and is my favorite pie.

pumpkin pie

In non-harvest news, I made a batch of tortillas last week, using a mix from Hayden Flour Mills that is a blend of white corn masa harina and soft white wheat flour. They puffed up and browned nicely, and were flexible and tasty as a base for tacos. I use a cast iron tortilla press to form the dough, then cook them on an electric skillet. The skillet makes for a controlled heat source, and doesn’t set off the smoke alarm like using a cast iron skillet does!

making tortillas

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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Harvest Monday November 22, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests this time of year are small but much appreciated. I made the first cutting of the winter greenhouse lettuce last week to use with bean tacos we had for lunch one day. With the weather turning cold lately, soup has been on the menu more than salads though. We should have plenty of lettuce to keep us supplied for the next few months regardless.

Navara lettuce

bean tacos

I pulled a few more turnips and cut greens to go with them. I usually cut the outer leaves on the plants so they keep on growing. That lets me keep on harvesting until the weather gets really cold. They are quite hardy though, and sometimes survive our winters on through to spring.

turnips and greens

While the kohlrabi are also pretty cold hardy, I don’t think the that repeated freezing and thawing really improves the texture of them. So I pulled the rest of the fall planting, and we will use these in the next couple of weeks. I didn’t grow a lot of them this fall, but we harvested almost 30 pounds of them this year from the spring and fall plantings combined.

last of the fall kohlrabi

Our sweet potatoes have been curing in the relatively warm basement for several weeks now, so I decided to cook one up and see how it tasted. Bonita is one of my favorites for baking whole, and it has white flesh that is sweet and moist.

Bonita sweet potatoes

The first one didn’t disappoint, and went well with our meal that included turnip greens along with pork tenderloin medallions. We typically enjoy sweet potatoes with our Thanksgiving meal, and we have plenty of them to eat thanks to the bountiful harvest this year.

baked Bonita sweet potato

That’s all I have for this week. 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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Harvest Monday November 15, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests were a bit slim last week, as we used up veggies from the previous week’s harvests. I did pull up a few more kohlrabi, as we needed some for a Thai dish that featured the stir-fried kohlrabi and sweet peppers. There’s a few more peppers in the refrigerator but they are almost all gone now.

kohlrabi harvest

I did get a few hot Thai peppers from a container grown plant in the greenhouse. This strain came from the Seed Savers Exchange, and the peppers are a bit bigger than the one I have been growing for some years now. They are quite hot, and one goes a long way in adding heat to a dish.

Thai peppers

It was also time to harvest the turmeric plants I had growing in containers.  They did quite well that way, and I took out the biggest rhizomes and replanted the rest for next year’s crop.

turmeric in container

I had three varieties growing from seed stock I have bought over the years: Indira Yellow , Hawaiian Red and White Mango. All have different flavors, with White Mango having a mild taste and Indira Yellow being quite pungent. Indira Yellow had the biggest yield this year for me. Whenever we visit Hawaii, the farmer’s markets always seem to have big piles of the Hawaiian Red for sale, so it must enjoy the climate and long growing season there.

turmeric harvest

I also cut a few Mizuna greens for use last week. It is soup weather here, and these went into a mushroom and noodle soup. It was seasoned with ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil with soba noodles, carrots and chicken. We topped it with some of our flat leaf chives from the greenhouse.

Mizuna Central Red

Mushroom Noodle soup

I also cooked up a pot of chili con carne that featured our tomato sauce from the freezer. It was seasoned with lots of my homemade chile powder I make from the guajillo peppers I grow. I used bison meat for that along with both red and black beans.

Chili Con Carne

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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Harvest Monday November 8, 2021

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. Last week here was pretty much all about harvesting the tender crops before the freezing weather came. We had below freezing temperatures four days in a row, which killed all but the hardy vegetables. Before it happened, I brought in a lot of peppers, mostly hot ones. I found enough Peppadew peppers to make two quarts of pickled peppers, which we use in a number of dishes including on pizzas. I also found a few eggplant to harvest, which is amazing here in early November.

pepper harvest

November harvest

I began fermenting five jars of the hot peppers, including Aji Golden, Aji Angelo, Sugar Rush Peach and Aji Rico. The Aji Rico peppers did great this year, with one big plant giving me over three pounds of ripe peppers this week before the freeze came. This 2017 AAS Winner has crunchy, mildly hot peppers with a sweet citrus flavor. They make a tasty hot sauce, which is what I’m doing with most of these. This year I want to try single variety hot sauces to do taste comparisons. I usually just blend them all up into one mixed sauce, but since I have so many this year I though it would be fun to keep them separate. I’ll let these ferment for a week or so before turning them into sauce.

Aji Rico peppers

fermenting hot peppers for sauce

I did find a few sweet peppers too. A few weren’t totally ripe so I left them sit out to finish the process. It’s been a great year for peppers here and I will miss having them fresh.

sweet peppers

The fall kohlrabi was finally ready, so I pulled several of those as well. I planted Kolibri and Terek this fall, and the purple skinned Kolibri was ready first. We are eating these raw, stir-fried and roasted.

Kolibri kohlrabi

I pulled a few more baby Hakurei turnips, plus I cut enough of the All Top greens to cook up with the turnips. All Top has big leaves and a mild taste, and I’m just cutting the larger outer leaves and leaving the plants to make more. We ate on this batch for two meals. I planted a lot of greens for fall, and now that they have been frosted on they should be even more tasty.

turnips and greens

In non-harvest news, I had a couple of container-grown coleus plants I brought inside to overwinter. I also took a few cuttings to make new plants. Main Street Beale Street has dark red leaves, and doesn’t flower until late in the season. Our plants required no pinching or pruning during the growing season, which made them easy to grow compared with many older varieties I have grown in the past. This one was a 2020 AAS Winner, and I look forward to growing it again next year. It added color all summer long to our sun garden.

Coleus Main Street Beale Street

Lately I’ve been experimenting with using Durum wheat in bread. Durum is mostly used for making pasta, but I also use it for pizza crust as well as for bread. My latest crusty sourdough bread is 100% Durum, with 20% whole grain flour I ground myself and 80% Italian durum flour (aka Semola Rimacinata). A long, slow ferment (20 hours) and baking in a clay baker made for a tangy, crusty bread that went well with soup. I sliced up the leftovers and they went in the freezer for later meals.

sourdough bread made with Durum wheat flour

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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2021 Sweet Potato Review

The sweet potato harvest is always a big event here at Happy Acres, and this year that was perhaps even more true than usual. Last year the sweet potatoes did not do well, which I attributed to a lack of rain while the roots were sizing up. The 24 slips I planted produced just over 40 pounds of sweet potatoes for an average of 1.74 pounds per plant. This year wes had ample rain, regularly spaced out in the summer months, so I had high hopes for the sweet potato yields. The vines grew long and lush, venturing out into the neighboring beds and vining up the cages I use to support peppers and tomatoes. When the digging was done, I was not disappointed, and I hauled 90 pounds of them into the house to cure.

sweet potato vines before harvesting

I set out the same number of plants as last year, and the same varieties. This year the average yield per hill was 3.7 pounds, which is more than double last year’s yield and one of the best since I’ve been growing them here in this garden. The best performer this year was Murasaki, which is a Japanese variety with reddish purple skin and creamy white flesh. It has a nutty, sweet flavor and the flesh is drier than most sweet potatoes. It makes for a good all-purpose sweet potato, tasty when baked up whole or when turned into hash, oven fries or sweet potato chips. The 5 hills of Murasaki made a whopping 20 pounds, outperforming even the very productive Beauregard.

Murasaki sweet potatoes

typical Murasaki sweet potato

Speaking of Beauregard, this dependable variety produced over 18 pounds from 5 hills, which is also a great yield and better than usual. This variety has moist, orange flesh and is much like most of the sweet potatoes you would find in the grocery here in the U.S. We often bake these whole, or use them for a side dish like Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes. The sweet potatoes have tender skin right after digging, so I don’t clean off the soil until it’s time to cook them.

Beauregard sweet potatoes

baked Beauregard sweet potato

The second most productive variety this year was Bonita, which usually does well for me here. 3 hills made just a bit less than 12 pounds of roots, which was only a bit less yield than the Murasaki. Bonita has a pinkish tan skin and moist white flesh, and is one of my favorites for baking whole.

Bonita sweet potatoes

baked Bonita sweet potato

Korean Purple is another one of my dependable performers, and as the name suggests it has purple skin with a dry white flesh. It is truly one of my favorites for making hash, oven-baked fries and sweet potato chips. The sweet flesh crisps up well and caramelizes in the oven for a real taste treat. The 6 hills made just over 20 pounds of potatoes, which should keep us well supplied!

Korean Purple sweet potatoes

And last but never least, the purple skinned and purple fleshed Purple did quite well this year, with 6 hills making 19 pounds of potatoes. I’ve been growing it for several years now, after Norma (Garden To Wok) shared some planting stock with me. Its fairly dry flesh is great for the same uses as Korean Purple, and the two work well together in those dishes.

Purple sweet potatoes

Purple sweet potato slice before cooking

I will let the sweet potatoes cure in a warm place for several weeks before we begin eating them. The basement is the best place we have for curing, and I spread them out in a thin layer in cardboard boxes. As they cure, the skin toughens up and the starches convert to sugars. After curing, they will keep until next spring.

For more information about growing sweet potatoes try these sources:

Growing Sweet Potatoes in Missouri

Sweet Potato -University of Illinois

The Sweet Potato – Purdue University

Sweet Potato Growing Guide – Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Grow Sweet Potatoes – Even In The North (Mother Earth News)

 

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