Harvest Monday November 30, 2020

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It is still salad season here, and with mild weather so far the greenhouse lettuce is plentiful. I think the winter lettuce is often the best of all, with tender and mild flavored leaves. I made several cuttings of lettuce last week, plus other salad greens like sorrel, mizuna and baby kale. The Central Red mizuna has purple stems and a mild flavor I really like both raw and cooked. I’ve got it growing in a container in the greenhouse and in one of the cold frame beds outside.

lettuce for salads

greens for salads

I didn’t plant much broccoli out in the main vegetable garden this fall, though I did set out a few plants. I got a few side shoots of the green Artwork and two main heads of the purple sprouting broccoli Burgundy. I roasted all of this for a side dish one day. I have 10 PSB plants in the greenhouse which should give us broccoli in the January to March time frame when harvests are few.

Artwork and Burgundy broccoli

I also didn’t plant much kohlrabi this fall. It has been a great year for kohlrabi here though, and these two big Kossak kohlrabis weighed a bit over a pound each. That makes 38 pounds of kohlrabi for 2020, and obviously we love it here which is why I plant so much of it. These two will get grated and turned into kohlrabi kraut, and should make a quart jar of it. I still have a couple of the smaller kohlrabis in the refrigerator for fresh use.

Kossak kohlrabi

Collards are still going strong. I took two leaves of the Yellow Cabbage and used them as wrappers for bean enchiladas. First I blanched the leaves in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then cooled and dried them. Next I filled the leaves with refried beans and a bit of cheese, and rolled them up around the filling. Then I topped with some homemade and homegrown tomato sauce and baked for 30 minutes or so. I added a bit of grated local cheddar cheese on top, and it made for a tasty lunch one day last week. I think a bean and rice filling would also be tasty with this treatment.

Yellow Cabbage collard leaves

collard and bean enchiladas

I made a bigger cutting of Hen Peck collards I cooked up for a side dish, and we ate on those for a couple of nights. I only set out two plants of Hen Peck, and there was a big difference in the leaves of the two. The one on the right is a bit more “frilly” and not quite as large, though both have the characteristic notches on the leaf margins which led to the name.

Hen Peck collards

At Happy Acres though, collards are not just for eating! My wife selected a few leaves to use in her art studio for leaf printing. These are best used fresh for this purpose, and once printed they may wind up in any number of art projects in the future.

collard leaf printing

removing collard leaf

I think one of the finished pieces is really stunning, and pretty amazing that something like a humble collard leaf could be used to make art!

collard leaf art

She also put her artistic talents to use in baking up a pumpkin pie last week for Thanksgiving. I baked one of the mature Centercut neck pumpkins and made into pumpkin puree, and she used that for the pie. I have quite a few of the Centercut and Turkeyneck pumpkins in storage, and with any luck they should last us throughout most of the winter. We use a lot of them in fruit smoothies, and I also use some for baking into breads and rolls in addition to the occasional pie.

pumpkin pie

Once again I’ve decided it makes sense to take a break from the Harvest Monday posts until 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 1st. I will post about other garden news as it happens though, and you can always follow my Facebook page for harvests and other garden news.

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 23, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I made another cutting of collard greens last week, this time one called Alabama Blue. The blue color is lost in cooking, but the leaves are tender and mild tasting. This is one of the varieties that overwintered for me last year, and I am anxious to see how it fares this time around. We love our greens and the collards are one of my favorites.

Alabama Blue collards

I made a small cutting of arugula to go a pizza. I may sound like a broken record, but arugula is one of my favorite pizza toppings and whenever I have it growing some of it winds up on pizza. I also like to make arugula pesto occasionally, plus we use it on salads.

arugula for pizza

Speaking of salads, the greenhouse lettuce is keeping us well supplied. This batch in the below photo went on tacos, and there’s a few sprigs of cilantro in there with the lettuce.

lettuce for tacos

I grew a few plants of the Portuguese kale Tronchuda Beira this year, and I made a cutting of these last week to make a pot of Caldo Verde soup. My meatless version of this classic soup included beans for protein along with potatoes, carrots and celery. We ate on this for a couple of meals, served up with cornbread I made from stone-ground cornmeal.

Tronchuda Beira

I pulled a couple of Sweet Baby radishes to go in a stir fry dish. These colorful purple daikon radishes were a 2016 AAS Winner and I’ve been growing them every year since they were introduced.

Sweet Baby radishes

I didn’t plant much broccoli in the main vegetable garden this fall, and it is all either broccolini type or purple sprouting broccoli. This harvest was from Apollo and Artwork, and I have some of the Burgundy PSB almost ready to cut. I blanched this batch briefly then sauteed in olive oil to finish cooking, which made for a fresh and simple side dish.

broccoli

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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Variety Spotlight: Collard Greens

This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

Today I want to share some photos and information about the collards I am growing this year. When I first grew collard greens back some 30-plus years ago, there was a very limited number of types of seed available to me. But in the last few years quite a few heirloom varieties have become more widely available, and I have been experimenting with growing some that are completely new to me. The Heirloom Collards Project is working with the Seed Savers Exchange to trial over 70 heirloom varieties that have been collected from gardeners all over the southern U.S. where collards are popular. I’m growing several of the ones from their project this year, and I’ll list my seed sources at the end.

the 2020 collard greens

This year I am growing 3 different hybrid varieties, and 11 open-pollinated heirloom varieties. The hybrid ones are Top Bunch, Flash and Tiger. The heirloom varieties are White Mountain Cabbage, Yellow Cabbage, Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage, Alabama Blue, Hen Peck, Ole Timey Blue, Georgia Green, Georgia Cabbage, Green Glaze, Purple and McCormacks Green Glaze. I am also growing out seeds from 4 varieties I grew last year that survived the winter and went to seed. Those were Alabama Blue, Ole Timey Blue, Purple and Green Glaze.

collard greens

The hybrid varieties I’m growing have made similar sized leaves with a dark blue-green color. In my garden, the plants of these are a bit more compact and definitely more uniform and true to type. The flavor is good, though I have to say I don’t think they are as tasty as many of the heirloom varieties. It’s possible that I am biased in that regard, though that seems to be the consensus of others with taste buds more refined than mine.

Top Bunch collards

Flash collards

Tiger collards

The heirlooms come in a variety of colors and sizes, and there is less uniformity in the individual plants. Some of the varieties are relatively stable, but others can produce plants that are wildly different in size and shape. I am growing two varieties with yellow-green leaves called Yellow Cabbage and Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage. Both are called ‘cabbage’ types because of their tendency to try and form small heads in the center of the plants. As a rule, the cabbage collards are noted for a mild flavor and thin tender leaves. I have recently harvested both of these varieties so there are not as many leaves on the plants as some of the others.

Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage collards

Yellow Cabbage collards

Another cabbage type I’m growing is called White Mountain Cabbage. This heirloom from South Carolina has dark green leaves that are savoyed. This one has also made the largest plants of any I’m growing this year, with my two plants almost three feet tall at this point. Georgia Cabbage has yellow green leaves and is a bit shorter though still taller than the hybrids.

White Mountain Cabbage collards

Georgia Cabbage collards

Georgia Cabbage collards forming head

Some of the varieties have distinctly blue or purple leaves, and I’m growing Alabama Blue, Ole Timey Blue and one called Purple this year. I just harvested Alabama Blue last week, and those leaves were tender and tasty. I’ve yet to harvest the other two this year, but last year both did well for me. All three of these overwintered last year, and my records show I harvested leaves this January which were a real treat to eat. In milder climates, collards are generally hardy enough to keep producing throughout the winter months.

Alabama Blue collards

Ole Timey Blue collards

Purple collards

Hen Peck has yellow-green leaves with toothed edges that look like a bird has nibbled on them. My two plants are tall and vigorous, and they are next in line for tasting. It’s my first time growing this variety.

Hen Peck collards

closeup of Hen Peck leaf

Green Glaze has glossy green leaves, but it also makes off-type plants that lack the gloss or seem to have less of it. That’s what my two plants did this year. The slick leaves are said to deter pests like the cabbage worm. McCormack’s Green Glaze is an improved selection with better cold tolerance and exceptionally glossy leaves. According to the listing, it has survived temperatures down to 0°F. It’s my first year growing it, so we will see how hardy it is here. The original Green Glaze survived here last winter, which was a bit milder than usual but still got down to near 0°F on several occasions.

Green Glaze collards

McCormack’s Green Glaze collards

As for growing the collard plants themselves, I have been sowing seed indoors in early June and setting them out in late July when the transplants are about six weeks old. That gives them plenty of time to size up before weather gets too cold. I set out the plants 18 inches apart in a double row that is 4 feet wide. I believe they would benefit from even wider spacing if one has the extra room. Before planting I amend the soil with compost and organic fertilizer, and then mulch the plants with straw.

collard seedlings ready for setting out

Last year we had record cold temperatures in November (6°F) that put an end to harvesting the greens, except for 4 plants that survived. This year the weather has been more moderate and our lowest temp has been 24°F according to my weather staion. The plants are still growing strong, and only time (and the weather) will tell how long we will be harvesting from them. I plan on preserving some of the leaves by fermenting them, which will also help extend the harvest. Covering the plants with row cover material would likely extend the harvest season, which is something I’ve done in years past.

assortment of collard greens from November 2019

The hybrid collards I’m growing are widely available in the U.S., and here are the sources where I got my seeds for the heirloom varieties:

Alabama Blue, Georgia Cabbage, Georgia Green, Hen Peck, McCormack’s Green Glaze, White Mountain Cabbage Collards are available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Green Glaze, Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage, Ole Timey Blue, Purple are available from the Seed Savers Exchange (Purple is listed for members only).

Yellow Cabbage I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Restoration Seeds, but it is not listed with either at the moment.

If you are a member of the Seed Savers Exchange, quite a few more heirloom varieties are available through their exchange program. In 2020 there are over 30 different varieties listed, many of which I have never seen offered commercially. I have already received seeds for Georgia, North Carolina Yellow and Georgia Blue Stem that I plan to trial here next year.

I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on the varieties of collard greens I am growing this year. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday November 16, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’ve settled into a seasonal pace here with gardening. The chores outside are minimal, which leaves me time and energy for daily walks. And I can harvest things pretty much on an as-needed basis. I made a cutting of the Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage collards last week to cook up for a side dish. This variety has large yellow leaves with a mild flavor, and it’s one of my favorites.

Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage collards

Jerniigan’s Yellow Cabbage collard leaf

I’ve got various kinds of greens growing in the greenhouse for cutting as needed. We had mushroom and soba noodle soup last week, and I cut red pak choi and purple stemmed mizuna to add to it at the end of cooking. This was an Asian flavored soup, broth based and seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. It’s loaded with mushrooms too.

greens for soup

The fall planting of lettuce in the greenhouse is ready for cutting now. These Salanova types in the photo were the first to get ready, along with a few leaves of Bergam’s Green I plucked to go on a sandwich. With any luck we should have lettuce from the greenhouse throughout the winter, which is really a treat to have in the colder months here.

Salanova lettuces

Bergam’s Green lettuce

I also cut some greens to go on the lettuce salad we enjoyed one day for lunch. This time I got leaves of Mars Landing and Purple Moon kale along with French Sorrel. The sorrel adds a tangy lemon flavor, and the leaves are especially tender this time of year.

greens for salad

I still have quite a bit of kale maturing in the outside garden now. This cutting was from White Russian, and was just enough to go in a dish of kale and sweet potato hash we enjoyed last week using some of our smaller sweet potatoes. The smaller potatoes and ones with damage from voles (or my digging fork) don’t seem to last as long so we try and use them up first.

White Russian kale

In non gardening news, I baked a batch of Pretzel Sandwich Buns last week. It was my first time making these, using a King Arthur recipe, and I am happy how they turned out. After forming into round buns, the dough is lowered into a boiling soda water bath that gives them their characteristic chewy exterior. They made for sturdy buns for ham and cheese sandwiches we enjoyed for lunch one day. I froze the extras for later use.

Pretzel Sandwich Buns

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 9, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We got the predicted hard freeze here last week, so all the tender vegetables and herbs are done for the year. I’m happy to move on to the fall planted crops though, including root veggies like radishes and turnips. I didn’t plant a whole lot of either, just enough for fresh eating and to make some radish kimchi. For the latter, I pulled some of the bigger daikon radishes last week. This year I planted two purple fleshed varieties I have grown before, Sweet Baby and Bora King. I pulled enough for a couple of jars of kimchi plus some for fresh use, and we used a couple of them in a stir fry last week. Both of these varieties sometimes make white roots in addition to the purple ones.

Sweet Baby radishes

I also pulled a few of the Hakurei turnips for cooking. This is the only turnip root I am growing this fall, though I do have the greens-only variety Topper planted.

Hakurei turnips

I made a cutting of arugula to go on a pizza we enjoyed for dinner one night. I love greens on pizza, and arugula is without a doubt one of my favorite toppings along with spinach. I fondly remember the arugula topped pizza we enjoyed at Flora Farms during our trip to Cabo San Lucas in February. We got back from there just before the pandemic hit the U.S. hard, and I believe it was the last time we enjoyed eating pizza at a restaurant this year! We do make it at home quite often though.

arugula for pizza

The fall planting of cabbage didn’t do all that well for me this year, but I got one head of Minuet Napa Cabbage last week. It had a lot of slug damage to the outer leaves, but weighed in a bit over two pounds so I was happy to have it. I have hopes that a couple of heads of regular cabbage will be ready soon.

Minuet cabbage

I cut some baby greens for salads last week, including Tuscan Baby Leaf and Mars Landing kale, mizuna and red pak choi. I have these growing in containers in the greenhouse, though I also have them planted outside where I am letting them get full sized. It’s my first time growing the Mars Landing, and this variety from Renee’s Garden truly does look “out of this world” with its dark purple/bronze leaves. The Tuscan Baby Leaf kale also comes from Renee’s Garden, and I am growing their Purple Moon kale this fall as well.

baby greens for salad

In non-harvest news, I pickled another batch of hot peppers last week, using the mildly hot Malawi Piquante, Aji Golden and Tangerine Dream peppers. We use these on salads and pizza, plus they make a tasty pepper aioli sauce. This is the basic recipe I follow, though I omit the ginger and spices. I soak the peppers in a 10% brine solution overnight, then prepare a sweet brine from white wine vinegar, sugar and water. I add a few cloves of garlic to the jar for added flavor. I began pulling the pepper plants yesterday and adding them to the compost pile.

pickled peppers

pickled peppers

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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