Harvest Monday February 18, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. My harvests last week looked a lot like other recent harvests. I made a small cutting of lettuce from the greenhouse, this time green Tango. This wound up on a taco salad we had for lunch one day.

Tango lettuce

Tango lettuce

And I harvested the rest of the sunflower shoots from the planting I made a couple of weeks ago. This batch yielded right at 4 ounces of shoots, enough to keep us supplied until the next batch is ready. The going rate locally is about $5 for a 1.5 ounce bag, which means I grew around $13 worth of sprouts using a small amount of seed. I’d grow them even if it wasn’t so cost-effective because my wife and I both enjoy the taste and use them on salads, sandwiches and other dishes.

sunflower shoots

sunflower shoots

I did bake a loaf of no-knead sourdough bread last week.  I proofed it in an oval brotform then baked it in my Breadtopia oblong clay baker. It had a crispy crust and great flavor, and much of it went into the freezer for later use. I try and have a variety of bread in the freezer for us to use, even though we don’t necessarily eat a lot of bread. When we do eat it though, it’s homemade since we haven’t bought any in almost 10 years now.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

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 February 11, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I got another cutting of lettuce from the greenhouse planting last week. This included a green butterhead called Mirlo and a red leaf lettuce called Spritzer. Neither were full sized but they were plenty big enough for a salad. It is so nice to have even a small amount of fresh greens in the middle of winter and these were especially tasty. Both are doing quite well growing in shallow containers.

lettuce for salad

lettuce for salad

I also made the first cutting from the sunflower shoots I have sprouting under fluorescent lights. These are easy to grow, and only take about 7-10 days from sowing to cutting. I get the seeds from a natural foods store, and they cost about $3 for an 8 ounce package that makes several plantings of shoots. These are labeled for sprouting use, though any food grade raw seeds will work.

sunflower shoots

sunflower shoots

I put these on the salad I made from our lettuce.

salad

salad

On a wildlife note, we had a Pileated Woodpecker come and visit the suet feeder last week. This is the largest woodpecker we have around here, and they are occasional visitors to the woods around us and occasionally to the feeders. The photo is a little hazy since I shot it through the window, but you can see how big and brightly marked the bird is. The underside of the wings are half black and half white, and it makes quite a display when flying.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

And I’ll close with a cat pic. It has taken Ally and Puddin several months to truly warm up to each other, but they have finally bonded. They took turns giving each other a bath Saturday before settling down together for a nap in the sunshine.

Ally and Puddin

Ally and Puddin

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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Let the Seed Starting Begin

Once again it’s time to start seeds for the garden. This time of year I start all of my seeds indoors using fluorescent lights setup in our basement. On February 3rd I started seeds for parsley, cilantro and chives. All those went into 3.5″ plastic pots, one pot for each variety, and have not yet come up. I will need to prick them out and pot them up into individual containers once they start showing their true leaves. Parsley has a reputation for not liking to be transplanted, but I find the small seedlings do quite well this way. Since parsley takes a long time to germinate, usually 2 to 3 weeks, I have covered those pots with plastic to help keep them moist.

starting parsley seeds

starting parsley seeds

Yesterday I started seeds for lettuce in a 128 cell plug flat. The lettuce will emerge in a few days, and in about three weeks the seedlings will be ready for planting out in the greenhouse and cold frame beds. For a potting mix, lately I have been using Pro-Mix All Purpose Mix or Pro-Mix Organic Seed Starting Mix. I prefer to use a seed starting mix without added fertilizer so I can add my own as needed, and Pro-Mix is usually available locally. Once the seedlings are a couple of weeks old I will use a weak fish and seaweed fertilizer like Neptune’s Harvest to give them a little food. I’m not trying to plug or endorse these products, but people often ask what I use.

plug flat with lettuce seed

plug flat with lettuce seed

About a week ago I started sunflower seeds for using as sprouts (aka shoots). They are ready to begin cutting, and the first batch will go on a salad we are having for lunch today. Next I will start seeds for greens like arugula and pac choi, tatsoi, mizuna and other mild mustard greens. Near the end of February I will start seeds for broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi. You can find my general timeline in my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule.

sunflower sprouts

sunflower sprouts

I hope you have enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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Harvest Monday February 4, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. First I want to thank Michelle (From Seed To Table) for hosting Harvest Monday last month. Getting a break was much appreciated! My harvests this time of year are meager but they are much appreciated too. With the first polar vortex of 2019 headed our way last week I made a cutting of lettuce from the greenhouse before it got frozen up again. This batch is a mix of Tango and Salanova Butter types. This lettuce has been frozen and thawed several times out there, and it is amazing how hardy it is, especially when protected.

lettuce in winter

lettuce in winter

I also made another cutting of the collard greens before the big freeze came. I’ve been laid up for a week now with a hacking, coughing cold bug and soup has been on the menu a lot. I made a Collard Green and Black Eyed Pea soup that was especially tasty to me. I added the chopped greens to the soup near the end and they were amazingly sweet and tender. I didn’t use all the collards in the soup and I plan on cooking the rest for a side dish. This is a mix of White Mountain, Yellow Cabbage and Jernigans Yellow Cabbage. These are all part of the Heirloom Collard Project, which aims to preserve many of these old-time collard varieties and make them available to gardeners. I plan  on growing all three of these again this year.

collard greens

collard greens

And I grabbed a handful of Darkibor kale leaves to go in a couple of dishes we cooked last week. I got these after the vortex moved on and it started to warm back up, and you’d never know they were out in near 0°F temperatures just a day earlier.

Darkibor kale

Darkibor kale

Once again we have bluebirds that are hanging around the feeders this winter. Last year they were eating suet, but this year they have mostly been eating sunflower seeds. That is amazing to see and a real joy as well.

male bluebird at the feeder

male bluebird at the feeder

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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Planning the 2019 Garden

Like many other gardeners I know, I really enjoy garden planning. For me it’s a pleasant task on a cold winter’s day, though actually my planning starts way earlier than that. I take notes throughout the year on how things are doing and new things I want to try. I get a lot of ideas from reading other garden blogs. And I get ideas from my own eating experiences, as well as my wife’s.

For instance, last year she went to an art class and the food they served included okra, which she loved. It had been roasted and mixed with other veggies in a dish and wasn’t the least bit slimy, and she couldn’t wait to tell me about it when she got back home. As for me, I love okra in all ways, slimy or not. I grew it every year in my old garden, and in our area it’s a fairly easy to grow veggie since it loves our hot summers. So this year I have decided to grow it again. I’ve already ordered seeds for one of my favorite varieties, Louisiana Green Velvet, which has 6 to 7 inch pods on tall plants that grow 7 feet or taller. I also want to grow another variety that’s familiar to me called Emerald which was developed by the Campbell’s soup company to use in their soups. It has long green smooth pods which also grow on tall plants. Stewart Zeebest is one I’ve grown here and I may try again. I’ve grown okra here at Happy Acres but it has been a while. I did grow the red podded Candle Fire as an ornamental as couple of years ago but unfortunately the deer ate all the plants before they could bear.

okra harvest from 2011

okra harvest from 2011

Tomatoes are always a big deal in my garden. Last year I tried a few varieties of blight-resistant tomatoes and I will continue that testing in 2019. So far I don’t have blight issues, but I believe the blights are coming here eventually and I would like to be somewhat prepared. Defiant and Damsel are two slicers I grew that did well and are highly resistant to late blight disease. I also want to try Mountain Merit, Rugged Boy and Peron Sprayless again. The large heirloom tomatoes were a total bust here last year, and I only plan to grow a couple that have done well for me in the past, Captain Lucky and Vinson Watts. Several hybrid tomatoes with heirloom parents did quite well for me including Perfect Flame and Big Brandy and they will be back. I’m also looking forward to growing the 2019 AAS Winner Chef’s Choice Black, which I’m guessing has some heirloom tomato in its parentage. And Big Beef, a 1994 AAS Winner, is coming back to the garden.

Big Brandy tomatoes

Big Brandy tomatoes

Jasper is a blight-resistant cherry tomato and 2013 AAS Winner that was outstanding last year, and Plum Regal is a late blight resistant Roma type that also did great here in 2018. And of course my favorite tomato Juliet will be back this year, since I can always count on it to produce loads of fruit. Juliet has intermediate resistance to both early and late blight, which is another plus for me.

Jasper tomatoes

Jasper tomatoes

This year I want to try a new hybrid from the University of Florida Klee Lab. It’s called W Hybrid, and it has 6 ounce fruits with a high lycopene content. I also plan to grow their Garden Gem and Garden Treasure varieties which have done well for me in the past. With our summers getting hotter, and climatologists predicting even hotter weather in years to come, I am looking for more heat-tolerant veggies to grow. I’m thinking if these tomatoes do well in Florida they will likely do well here too.

Garden Treasure

Garden Treasure

Usually I have a lot of new pepper varieties I want to try growing, but this year my grow out list is full of mostly tried and true names like sweet peppers Carmen, Escamillo, Cornito Rosso and Cornito Giallo plus hot ones like Biggie Chili and Aji Angelo. I do have three more Korean peppers I want to grow called Amazing 2 (a hybrid), Lady Han and Kunja. I also want to grow the Peachadew, which is an orange colored version of the Malawi Piquante (aka Peppadew) pepper. And for sweet peppers I do want to try the italian heirloom Melrose and the 2019 AAS Winner Just Sweet, which is a yellow mini bell. I’ll also grow Jimmy Nardello which is one of the tastiest peppers I grow, and Dolce di Minervino which was a big hit last year. I plan to continue growing my Sweet Happy Yummy and it’s hot cousin. For paprika I have settled on Dulce Rojo, Hungarian Magyar and Nora. And for chile powder I am fond of the o/p Guajillo pepper plus the hybrid Minero.

Cornito Rosso and Cornito Giallo peppers

Cornito Rosso and Cornito Giallo peppers

I’ve found a pretty good mix of summer squash already, and I plan to grow many of the same ones this year including Spineless Beauty and Sunstripe zucchini and the heirloom White Scallop. Last year the star summer squash was a hybrid yellow crookneck called Tempest that may be the best tasting yellow squash I have ever grown, and I’m looking forward to growing it again. For winter squash, based on our love for Thelma Sanders and Gill’s Golden Pippin acorn squashes I want to try other acorn types including the heirloom Table Gold and a hybrid called Mashed Potatoes. Turkeyneck will be back since it is my favorite for processing into puree, plus it is super productive.

Tempest and Sunstripe squash

Tempest and Sunstripe squash

Speaking of potatoes, I only want to try one ‘new’ sweet potato this year and that’s an old variety I’ve grown before called Centennial. It has orange flesh and it’s another one like Beauregard that it popular with market growers. If you live in the U.S. and have bought sweet potatoes at the grocery, you have likely eaten one or both of these two. Another popular market variety is Garnet, and it has failed miserably here two years in a row so I won’t be growing it again.

Beauregard sweet potato

Beauregard sweet potato

I won’t be growing several things at all this year, including the large bulbing onions. The multiplier onions like I’itoi and Yellow Potato do much better for me and I’ve already planted more of those last fall. I’m also about to lose my patience with growing heading broccoli. I seem to have better luck with the non-heading broccolini types like Apollo and Artwork. With that in mind I want to grow the non-heading type Happy Rich again as well as Piracicaba.

Apollo and Artwork broccoli

Apollo and Artwork broccoli

I grew collard greens last year, and while they didn’t size up like they should, the small amount we got made me want to grow them again. This year I plan to set them out at least a month earlier to give them more time to grow. I’ll try the ones I grew last year, Yellow Cabbage Collards, Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collards and White Mountain Cabbage Collards plus a hybrid called Tiger. In the past I’ve grown mostly hybrids like Top Bunch or Flash, but I want to give some of the heirlooms a try again too.

collard green in 2011

collard green in 2011

I love to experiment with growing new things, so my growing list is always long. And there are always last-minute changes to my list too. Varieties I am growing for the first time are marked with an *.

Asian Greens: Bopak pac choi, Koji tatsoi, Kyoto mizuna, Miz America mizuna, Mizspoona Salad Select, Mei Qing Pak Choi, Senposai, Summerfest Komatsuna

Basil: Amethyst, Aurelia, Corsican, Italian Pesto, Profuma di Genova, Siam Queen, Sweet Thai

Beans (bush): Derby, Jade*,  Red Swan*

Beans (pole): Bertie Best’s Greasy Bean, NC Market Greasy Cut Short, Musica, North Carolina Long Greasy, Robe Mountain, NT Half Runner, Seychelles, Turkey Craw

Broccoli: Apollo, Artwork, Burgundy,  Green Magic, Happy Rich, Gypsy, Piracicaba, Santee (PSB), Summer Purple

Cabbage: Conehead, Deadon, Farao, Kaitlin, Melissa Savoy, Minuet (napa), Omera*, Primo Vantage, Red Perfection*, Soloist (napa), Stonehead, Tendersweet

Collards: Groninger Blue*, Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collards, Tiger*, Yellow Cabbage Collards, White Mountain Cabbage Collards

Cucumber: 7082, Corinto, Diva, Excelsior, Harmonie, Itachi*, Manny, Nokya*, Socrates, Tasty Jade, Vertina

Eggplant: Aretussa*, Clara, Dancer, Fairy Tale, Farmer’s Long*, Fengyuan Purple*, Galine, Machiaw*, Nadia, Patio Baby, Shoya Long*

Garlic: Early Portuguese, Idaho Silver, K’s Backyard, Killarney Red, Lorz Italian, Nootka Rose, Red Janice, Red Toch, Russian Red, Russian Inferno*, Sicilian Silver, Siciliano, Silver White, Simonetti, Uzbek, Xian

Greens: Adagio arugula, Apollo arugula, Esmee Arugula, Pink Lettucy Mustard, Speedy arugula, Vibrant Joy mustard

Kale: Black Magic*, Darkibor, Dazzling Blue, Portuguese, Purple Russian*, Red Ursa, Starbor, True Siberian, Tronchuda Beira, Western Front, White Russian, Wild Garden Mix

Kohlrabi: Beas*, Kolibri, Konan, Korist*, Kossak, Terek

Lettuce: 21st Century Fire, Bambi, Big Island, Cardinale, Cavendish, Elf Ears, Jester, Kilauea, Lava Lamp, Mayan Jaguar, Pele, Red Evolution, Red Sails, Red-Tinged Winter, Salad Bowl, Salanova, Sierra, Simpson Elite, Slobolt, Slogun, Spritzer, Tall Oaks, Tango, Wavy Dory Romaine

Okra: Candle Fire, Emerald, Louisiana Green Velvet, Stewart’s Zeebest

Onion: I’itoi, Yellow Potato

Parsley: Georgian Flatleaf, Giant From Italy, Hungarian Landrace, Splendid

Pepper(hot): Aji Angelo, Aji Golden, Aji Rico, Aleppo, Amazing 2*, Anaheim, Bastan, Biggie Chili, Cayenneta, Chili Pie, Czech Black, Emerald Fire, Flaming Flare, Gochugaru, Guajillo, Honeypeno, Hot Happy Yummy, Holy Mole, Jalapeno JB*, Kaleidoscope, Kimchi, Kunja*, Lady Choi, Lady Han*, Mad Hatter, Malawi Piquante, Minero, Mosquetero, Red Ember, Senorita Jalapeno, Sugar Rush Peach, Sugar Rush Red*

Pepper (sweet): Carmen, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso, Dolce di Minervino, Dulce Rojo, Escamillo, Friggitello, Glow, Hungarian Magyar, Jimmy Nardello’s, Just Sweet*, Melrose*, Nora, Orange Blaze, Sweetie Pie, Sweet Happy Yummy

Radish: Alpine, April Cross, Bora King, Green Luobo, Mantanghong, Rido Red*, Summer Cross #3, Sweet Baby

Shallots: Conservor, Sante

Squash(summer): Astia, Bossa Nova, Clarimore, Flaminio, Green Griller*, Raven, Shrek*, Spineless Beauty, Sunstripe, Tatume, Tempest, White Scallop

Squash(winter): 898 Butternut*, Baked Potatoes Acorn*, Gill’s Golden Pippin, Honey Bear, Honeyboat Delicata, Jester, Naked Bear*, Table Gold*, Thelma Sanders, Tromba d’Albenga, Turkeyneck, Zeppelin Delicata

Sweet Potatoes: Beauregard, Bonita, Centennial*, Gingseng, Korean Purple, Murasaki, Purple

Tomatoes: Amy’s Apricot, Bellota, Better Boy, Big Beef, Big Brandy, Black Cherry, Brandy Boy, Captain Lucky, Celebrity, Champagne Cherry, Chef’s Choice Black*, Chef’s Choice Orange, Chef’s Choice Pink, Chef’s Choice Red, Chef’s Choice Yellow, Damsel, Defiant, Fire Fly*, Five Star Grape*, Garden Gem, Garden Treasure, Golden Rave, Granadero*, Green Bee, Health Kick, Indigo Kumquat*, Jasper, Juliet, La Roma 3*, Madera, Mexico Midget, Midnight Snack, Mochomo, Monticello, Mountain Magic, Mountain Merit, Perfect Flame, Peron Sprayless, Plum Regal, Red Racer, Red Torch*, Rugged Boy, Scipio Ibrido, Sun Gold, Sunpeach, Sun Sugar, Tasti-Lee*, Valentine, Vinson Watts, Viva Italia, “W” Hybrid*

Turnips: Alamo*, All-Top*, Hakurei, Mikado, Topper

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