Harvest Monday December 10, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It was another light week of harvests for me here. I made a cutting of turnip greens to cook up with dinner one night. The Topper turnips have held up well in the weather, which turned wintry here long before the official start of the season. They don’t make roots, just big tender leaves that cook in no time. I’ve been cutting individual leaves and leaving the plant to grow new ones. I don’t have them covered or protected in any way, and we’ll see how long they last in the garden. I’m tickled they have held up this long so any more harvests will just be a bonus.

Topper turnip greens

Topper turnip greens

And I found a few more daikon radishes to pull, plus one Kossak kohlrabi. I didn’t plant a lot of radishes, but the ones I did plant have done well. It’s a couple of the purple KN Bravo and two of the white fleshed Alpine this time. There’s a few runts left in the garden but I doubt they will size up this late in the season.

radishes and kohlrabi

radishes and kohlrabi

I used the radishes to make another two pint jars of radish kimchi (aka kkakdugi). It’s my favorite way to use the radishes, and one of my favorite ferments for that matter. I used my dried homegrown peppers to make the seasoning paste. I eat the kimchi as a side dish or a topping for many dishes, and yesterday I had some along with a frittata my wife cooked us for lunch. This batch was made with the purple KN Bravo radish and the bright red dried Kimchi pepper flakes, which turned out to be quite mild.

purple radish kimchi

purple radish kimchi

In non-harvest news, Puddin has been getting in my wife’s corded bowl that sits by her window and has a great view of the bird feeders outside. Our beloved Ace was the first to do it, then Ally carried on the tradition and now Puddin has joined in. She is a bit too big for the bowl though it hasn’t stopped her so far!

Ally in the bowl

Ally in the bowl

Puddin in the bowl

Puddin in the bowl

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 of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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Harvest Monday December 3, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. My harvests lately have been all about the greens, since that’s what I have growing at the moment. I got a small cutting of collard greens last week, enough for us to get a taste of them. I planted three heirloom varieties this fall, and they needed more time to grow before cold weather arrived. Next year I need to set them out at least a month earlier. This cutting was from White Mountain, which is supposed to get three feet tall. My plants are barely a foot high, and since I’ve never grown them before I have no idea how hardy they are. The leaves were tender and tasty, and left me and my wife wanting more.

White Mountain collards

White Mountain collards

The kale is doing much better, and I’ve gotten several cuttings already. This week I tried a new one I’m growing called Casper. It didn’t color up quite as white as the photos in the catalog, but it is decorative nonetheless as well as good tasting.

Casper kale

Casper kale

I also made a cutting from one of my favorite kale varieties, the Wild Garden Mix. This open-pollinated kale makes plants with varying colored and textured leaves, but they are all fairly hardy and very tasty.

Wild Garden Mix kale

Wild Garden Mix kale

I did get one harvest that wasn’t a leafy green. I plucked two Senorita jalapeno peppers from a plant I had in a container and brought indoors. I used them to make a jar of Jalapeno, Cilantro and Lime Sauerkraut. Hopefully these mildly hot peppers will give a little zing to the kraut. If not, I can always add a few hot pepper flakes which will surely do the trick.

Senorita peppers

Senorita peppers

I loosely followed this recipe, skipping the lime zest and adding some sliced onion along with the cabbage, lime juice, peppers and cilantro. It’s fermenting away on the counter now, and I should get my first taste of it in a week or two.

Jalapeno, Cilantro and Lime Sauerkraut

Jalapeno, Cilantro and Lime Sauerkraut

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 of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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2018 Sweet Potato Review

Sweet potatoes are a big thing here at Happy Acres, and I want to share my review of the ones I grew in 2018. I’ve been growing sweet potatoes in my garden for as long as I can remember, and they are a dependable and productive crop for me. Last year was the best year I’ve had since we moved here, and I harvested 170 pounds from 51 plants for an average of 3.33 pounds per plant. This year the yields weren’t quite as big, but they were still big enough we should be well supplied for ourselves and have plenty for sharing with friends. The 51 plants I planted in 2018 produced 118 pounds of sweet potatoes for an average of  2.31 pounds per plant. That is a lot of sweet potatoes any way you look at it!

freshly dug sweet potatoes

freshly dug 2018 sweet potatoes

The most productive variety this year is also one of my favorites. Bonita averaged 3.8 pounds/plant, with the 6 plants giving us 23 pounds of roots. Bonita has a pinkish tan skin and moist white flesh, and is one of my favorites for baking whole. This is my 4th year growing Bonita, and it has consistently performed well for me. I have had problems the last few years on some varieties with scurf, which is a fungal disease that discolors the skin of the roots. It’s harmless to humans, and doesn’t effect the taste or the flesh of the potatoes any. The disease persists in the soil for 2-3 years, so crop rotation is the best way to keep the disease from coming back. You can see the discoloration on the skin in the below photo. It’s a little harder to spot on the varieties with a dark skin.

Bonita sweet potatoes showing scurf

Bonita sweet potatoes showing scurf

The second most productive variety this year is one I trialed called Murasaki. It looks a lot like another one I grew called Red Japanese. Both have a reddish purple skin and a sweet white flesh. Murasaki was considerably more productive though, averaging 3.3 pounds/plant while Red Japanese averaged 2 pounds/plant. In the below photo it’s Murasaki on the left and Red Japanese on the right.

Murasaki and Red Japanese sweet potatoes

Murasaki and Red Japanese sweet potatoes

I baked one each of these two and we tasted them side by side, and my wife and I couldn’t really tell the difference. Both have a sweet, nutty flavor with a slightly dry texture. I plan on growing Murasaki next year since it did so well this time.

Red Japanese and Murasaki sweet potatoes

Red Japanese and Murasaki sweet potatoes

The third most productive one is another trial variety called Ginseng, averaging 3.0 pounds/plant. I got my slips for it from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The Sand Hill Preservation Center lists varieties called Ginseng Red and Ginseng Orange, but this one from SESE was listed as just ‘Ginseng’. I have no idea if it’s the same as one of those other two, since I’ve never grown them.

Ginseng sweet potato

Ginseng sweet potato

Ginseng has a dry, light yellow/orange flesh and a rich sweet flavor. When I decided to grow it this year I thought it might be a rival for Beauregard, but actually it is in a league of its own. It might well be the sweetest of all I grew this year. I do believe more tasting will be required, until the whole 8 pounds of them is gone! I only set out 3 plants this year, but I plan to plant even more of it next year. I guess I better remember to leave one root to make slips.

Ginseng sweet potato

Ginseng sweet potato

Coming in at fourth in productivity and ranking high on taste is my long time favorite Beauregard. It averaged 2.7 pounds/plant, down considerably from last year when it made a whopping 5.3 pounds/plant. Beauregard has a moist, sweet orange flesh and can make large roots even in areas with short growing seasons. It is the sort of sweet potato you might find in a grocery, and the type many people in the U.S. think of when they think about a sweet potato. We use it for baking whole, and for dishes like my Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes. I don’t think it’s the best choice though for hash or sweet potato fries since the moist flesh doesn’t crisp up as much as varieties with a drier flesh.

Beauregard sweet potato

Beauregard sweet potato

My favorite of the ones with drier flesh are the purple-skinned white-fleshed Korean Purple, and the purple-skinned purple-flesh Purple variety. They came in at #5 and #6 in productivity this year, with Korean Purple averaging 2.7 pounds/plant and Purple averaging 2.4 pounds/plant. I don’t think the flesh of these two is quite as sweet as some of the others I grow, but that means they work well in savory dishes as well as for fries and hash. I like to put sweet potatoes in a curry, and Purple works very well for that since it holds up nicely without becoming too mushy.

Korean Purple sweet potatoes

Korean Purple sweet potatoes

Purple is especially stunning with its deep purple flesh, and I use it when I make Rio Zape and Sweet Potato Salad. Both Purple and Korean Purple are also great for making baked sweet potato chips, which you can see in the below photo.

Purple and Korean Purple sweet potato chips

Purple and Korean Purple sweet potato chips

Other trial varieties I grew this year include the orange-fleshed Carolina Ruby and Garnet and the white-fleshed O’Henry. All three did poorly here, and I don’t plan to grow them next year. It’s my second time trying Garnet, and it has done miserably both times. Carolina Ruby made just less than 1 pound/plant. O’Henry made 1/7 pounds/plant and had a moist sweet flesh, but it’s not an improvement over the other white-fleshed varieties I grow.

Carolina Ruby sweet potato

Carolina Ruby sweet potato

I baked one of the Carolina Ruby potatoes along with a Beauregard so we could do a comparison taste test. Carolina Ruby was quite tasty, but the lack of productivity means I won’t be growing it next year.

Carolina Ruby and Beauregard sweet potatoes

Carolina Ruby and Beauregard sweet potatoes

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2018 sweet potato crop. My plans for 2019 are to plant about 30 or so slips of Beauregard, Bonita, Ginseng, Korean Purple, Murasaki and Purple. I plan to grow all these slips myself, and currently I don’t plan on trying any new ones. Of course plans can change, especially since I love to experiment! One variety I may want to try is one I’ve grown in the past called Centennial. And I also want to eat a few of the tender young sweet potato leaves like I did this year.

sweet potato leaves

sweet potato leaves

Sand Hill Preservation Center has an impressive list of sweet potatoes and is a good source for slips. I have also ordered from Duck Creek Farms and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in the past.

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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Harvest Monday November 26, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests here have been small in number, but much appreciated. I pulled a tubtrug of turnip greens last week to cook as a side for our Thanksgiving dinner. This batch is a mix of Topper and Nozawana, both of which are grown for their greens only since they don’t make edible roots. Topper seems to be the most hardy of the turnip greens I am growing this year, and I will factor that into my plantings for next year. Nozawana shows some leaf damage from our recent ice and snow, but Topper is truly unfazed. I could cover them to protect from the weather, but in my experience the aphids usually take over under cover so I leave them bare. I’d rather have a few wonky looking leaves and not have to deal with cleaning aphids off them.

turnip greens

turnip greens

I made a cutting of Lacinato and Dazzling Blue kale to go in a soup I cooked up Saturday night. Dazzling Blue is a lovely lacinato type kale that is a bit more hardy than the usual lacinato types. Like Topper, the Dazzling Blue leaves came through the recent weather in great shape, while some of the Lacinato leaves had signs of frostbite and burning on them.

Dazzling Blue and Lacinato kale

Dazzling Blue and Lacinato kale

I also got a small cutting from the Artwork and Apollo broccolini plants. It was just enough to get a taste, and I roasted them in a cast iron skillet. The fall planted broccoli has not done well this year, and Artwork and Apollo are the only ones that gave us anything at all.

Artwork and Apollo brocolli

Artwork and Apollo brocolli

In other news, I roasted one of the Turkeyneck squash last week. After roasting I turned about half of it into puree. My wife used the puree to made a pumpkin pie for a community dinner we went to where we ate turkey and lots of tasty side dishes. Then for our Thanksgiving dinner she baked another pie and we ate it all ourselves. This squash weighed right at eight pounds, and I saved some of the neck portion for roasting and some of it to go in the soup with the kale. The soup had a base of chicken broth, plus white beans, cubed squash and chopped lacinato kale along with aromatic vegetables. The squash was sweet and mild tasting and worked well in both the sweet and savory dishes. The roasted squash was also quite tasty. I cut the neck into 1 inch thick slabs and roasted in a cast iron skillet until tender and browned.

baked Turkeyneck squash

baked Turkeyneck squash

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 of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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Harvest Monday November 19, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The cold wave continues here. We got sleet, freezing rain and snow on Thursday, and that had me harvesting quite a few fall veggies. While they can take a good bit of cold, in my experience the plants do not much appreciate freezing rain and snow. The fall cabbage has never really sized up, but I cut two heads that were at least big enough to eat. Tendersweet normally makes heads in the 2-3 pound range, but these two heads together weighed a bit less than 2 pounds total. It’s always great for fresh eating and I plan to use some of these in soup tonight.

Tendersweet cabbage

Tendersweet cabbage

The kale I planted this fall is doing much better. I made cuttings from the Beedy’s Camden and White Russian plants and got almost two pounds of leaves. We cooked some up for a side dish last week, and the rest in going in the soup tonight. The leaves are sweet and tender, and since it looks like they survived the weather last week I hope to make more cuttings this week. We had a heavy frost Saturday morning, and that should sweeten them up even more.

Beedy's Camden and White Russian kale

Beedy’s Camden and White Russian kale

I also pulled the rest of the Kossak kohlrabi. It never sized up like it usually does, but there has been plenty to eat and to ferment. These weighed a bit over 5 pounds total. I used a few of them to make a jar of kohlrabi kraut and we roasted one of them Saturday night in a cast iron skillet.

Kossak kohlrabi

Kossak kohlrabi

I pulled a few more of the Alpine radishes and started another jar of kimchi with them. And yes, I love my fermented radish kimchi!

Alpine radishes

Alpine radishes

And last but not least I pulled a big bunch of Hakurei and Oasis turnips to cook up for dinner one night. I cooked some of the roots along with the greens, and saved a few of the roots for roasting later on.

Hakurei and Oasis turnips

Hakurei and Oasis turnips

Lately we have been tasting the 2018 sweet potatoes. I baked one each of the Red Japanese and Murasaki last week so we could taste them side by side. Visually they look almost identical, both outside and inside. After cooking, the taste was almost identical too, though the Murasaki might have been a bit more moist. I grew several test varieties this year, and I’m wanting to pick our favorites and grow them next year.  Productivity is important too, and Murasaki was the 2nd most productive one I grew this year.  It was 50% more productive than the Red Japanese, and I will likely grow it next year.

Red Japanese and Murasaki sweet potatoes

Red Japanese and Murasaki sweet potatoes

In non-harvest news, I finally managed to get fall alliums planted before the freezing weather returned. I worked last Monday in temperatures barely above freezing to get it all planted and mulched with straw. It’s a good thing too, because a few days later it was covered in freezing rain and snow! I planted 216 total sets/cloves of garlic, multiplier onions and shallots in a bit over 2 hours, and that allowed for taking a couple of breaks indoors to warm up my hands and fingers which got quite chilly poking around in the cold soil. In the below photo you can see the snow covered broccoli and cabbage plants next to the allium bed. Time will tell if they recover and produce anything more. I still have plenty of garden cleanup work to do but I will wait for slightly more agreeable weather.

snow covered bed of garlic

snow covered bed of garlic

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 of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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