Harvest Monday, April 12, 2010

So far this year the Asian greens have truly been star performers in our garden. I had grossly underestimated the amount of this vegetable we harvested in the last two years. I estimated we got about 10 pounds last year, but it’s only April and already we’ve eaten almost 11 pounds of the tasty greens! I’ll have some planted all summer, and then in Fall it will become another cool season staple for us. They are truly Vegetables For All Seasons – dependable, quick and easy to grow, as well as nutritious.

pac choi and other greens

This week I harvested some Violetta and Mei Qing pac chois, along with some tatsoi and mizuna. I stir-fried the tender, mild mizuna for a solo lunch I had, while the rest went into another stir fry of mixed greens and mushrooms.

We are also harvesting a few spears of asparagus almost each day. We got over a pound of it this week alone. It’s all been grilled so far.

Another big part of the harvest this week was some kale that overwintered in the main vegetable garden. This was late planted, after birds killed all of my earlier fall planting of kale and collard greens. I managed to keep the birds away from about a dozen plants, but we got nothing at all from them last year.

I left them on their own for the winter, and I was surprised to get almost a pound and a half of leaves from the mostly Dwarf Siberian kale. This kale is a good candidate for growing under tunnels next winter. It was showing no signs of bolting yet, but I pulled the plants to make room for other crops.

overwintered kale

I used the kale in a favorite recipe called Carolina Kale from one of my Moosewood cookbooks that features it in a spicy concoction of tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin and hot peppers. (Note to self: dried serranos are even hotter than fresh ones, and there is NO need to taste them to confirm that fact). The kale was quite tasty, after my mouth recovered from it’s Serrano Encounter.

Speaking of bolting, the spinach in the greenhouse is showing the first sign of bolting. I still managed to get another 25oz of it, which makes almost 8 pounds of it this year. We ate some and I froze another package for use later.

I also got a nice lettuce harvest, picking the first of the many Radichetta lettuces I planted, along with some Ruby and Green Star. The Radichetta will get even bigger than the plant below, but it is still a nice sized lettuce plant. It has an exceptional taste as well. It’s one of my favorite “finds” of recent years.

Radichetta lettuce

So this weeks harvest tally is:

Asian greens(18 oz)

Asparagus(21 oz)

Kale(21 oz)

Spinach(25 oz)

Lettuce and salad greens (22 oz)

Total Harvest 6.7 lbs

To see other gardeners’ harvests, or to add your own, visit Harvest Monday at Daphne’s Dandelions.

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14 Responses to Harvest Monday, April 12, 2010

  1. vrtlaricaana says:

    That Radichetta lettuce is still in m mind since last time you had a harvest.
    I was looking at my pictures and noticed that one of my lettuce seedlings has similar leaves:
    Could it be?

    • Villager says:

      Sorry, I can’t really tell from the photo. The Radichetta leaves are serrated, and the whole plant grows quite tall.

  2. mac says:

    Lovely greens and fantastic harvest as usual.
    You inspired me to grow asparagus even though I don’t have much space to play with, but I found a little corner where asparagus fern may look better in covering the fence than flowers. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort as I planted only 6 roots, I read you cannot harvest the first year, that means I’ll have to wait until 2012 to harvest my first asparagus.

  3. Angela says:

    Um… Violetta Pac Choi, I take it to be the red one in the photo, right?
    I generally stick to a variety or two of Asian greens that I love, but you are making me curious about trying new ones. Are you planting a variety of Asian greens because of their differences from a cooking point view (taste, texture) , or the differences are visual and horticultural? They definitely look lovely!

    • Villager says:

      Angela, great questions! The Violetta is the purplish-red pac choi in the photo. It is beautiful to look at, but tastes the same as most of the green pac chois, at least to me.

      As for the variety of Asian greens we grow, I am experimenting to see what works in our climate and what suits our tastes. Up until a few years ago I was largely unfamiliar with this whole group of vegetables, so I am making up for lost time!

      We usually cook our Asian greens, using most of them in stir frys and soups. Tatsoi (or tah tsai) is a favorite for taste, but it isn’t a great use of space because it grows “out” more than “up”. It does hold well without bolting though. Yukina Savoy is a hybrid cousin that grows more vertically.

      I don’t grow the white stem pac chois (like Joi Choi) because I find the white stem is too juicy and makes a watery stirfry, even though it is a great use of space. So I grow the smaller green stem pac chois like Mei Qinq, Black Summer, Shanghai, etc. which have more leaves than stems. Many of them stand our hot, humid summer as well.

      I love the taste of mizuna raw in salads when young, or cooked when older. But it isn’t as prolific as some of the others either. Komatsuna is a new favorite, with a great taste and a nice space-saving upright habit. It seems to hold well for harvest too, plus the leaves can be harvested individually.

      Other greens like choy sum and santoh I am still figuring out how and when to grow successfully. And there’s more plants I have yet to even try. I would urge you to experiment yourself with some different varieties, then blog about your results so the rest of us can learn from your experiences!

      • Angela says:

        Thanks a lot for your detailed response. Lots of new varieties I never heard of. I will need to make up for lost time too! I have komatsuna in my list of plants to try. I do like the white stemmed pac chois but my husband, who fixes the stir-fries at home, insists that they be very dry before adding them to the pan. He may be trying to compensate for the juiciness of the stem. I love mizuna in salads too, although I have trouble with it when mature because I feel it too bitter for my taste. It could be that here it gets too hot for it. Suitability to climate and time of year it’ s what ends up being most important. It affects taste too, specially for those of us who are very sensitive to bitterness.

  4. Your greens always look so impressive Villager. I love the Moosewood cookbook too!

    By the way, we’ve bestowed the ‘Honest Scrap’ award on you. I know some bloggers don’t accept awards (I usually don’t), but at the very least I wanted you to know that we love reading Our Happy Acres! Ok, off to check on my own Tatsoi!

    • Villager says:

      Now I am blushing! I enjoy reading the happenings at Curbstone Valley too – especially the newly “hatched” Fowl Fridays!

  5. Meredith says:

    I’m a Moosewood fan, as well. Here’s hoping you are quite recovered from your serrano encounter. We first discovered how hot they get when dried back in December, when I nearly ruined a stir-fry by adding in the amount I would have used fresh. Yikes! Luckily, F. likes it hot…

    Your harvest is so pretty, and as usual I think you are such an expert you should teach classes on greens growing and cooking. This is really a lost art form among my generation, and yet people used to *survive* these early spring months partly on their ability to grow and prepare great greens, and now the medical establishment is recognizing how important they are to our general health. Your house must be full of delicious scents and healthy, thriving people. 🙂

    • Villager says:

      Meredith, you are too kind! I don’t consider myself an expert on greens, and I’m not sure what I could teach about cooking them. We do like eating them though!

  6. Jane says:

    Your greens are beautiful! I’m just amazed how hardy kale is and how it emerges from the snow so green and fresh!

  7. Nice green (and red) harvest. I love the looks of your asian greens. I was just saying that it’s alliums and brassicas that usually hold centre stage at this time of year for me. That lettuce head is fantastic to behold!

  8. Daphne says:

    Oh no. I hope you didn’t burn your tongue too much on those serranos. I pickled mine to save and they get milder when they are pickled.

    You have some really nice harvests there. I think I need to plant asparagus at the new house once we move in. I love it dearly, but just didn’t have room here. I find it amusing that I have half an acre here and 1/5 an acre at the new house (with two town houses on that space), but will have more growing space there. Here it is all in trees.

  9. Ali says:

    Thanks for visiting Henbogle! I am happy to read about your Asian greens, as I am trying some myself this year. Yours are gorgeous, and apparently can be started pretty early!

    Your comment about weighing your produce hit a chord, I guess I need to be better about weighing mine this year. I always feel like we get a lot but in looking back through my blog it never seems like that much, probably because I don’t record it all.

    I’ll be back to read more. Thanks for the descriptions of the greens.

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