Like any year, 2011 brought its share of both rewards and challenges in the garden. But for the most part, last year was a great year for gardening here. The fall garden thrived with record rains, and so far our winter has been pretty mild. That means I have been able to keep harvesting a lot of goodies on an as-needed basis.
We’ve really been enjoying the fall planted spinach. It has been wonderful in salads and soups. It has also found its way onto several pizzas, and into frittatas. The arugula has been doing great too. It’s growing in the greenhouse and cold frames, and has been showing up in some of the same places the spinach has, plus in a few pasta dishes.
This week I harvested some pak choi from one of the cold frames to make a batch of Green Choi Soup. I cut the plants just about the soil line, so hopefully they should resprout and grow more greens. I also cut a couple of leaves from the Maruba Santoh plants for the soup. It’s a large leafed, mild flavored relative of Chinese Cabbage that’s growing in the greenhouse.
My last harvest in 2011 was a bowl of baby salad greens I cut for a New Years Eve salad. I was able to harvest most of the leaves from some leftover seedlings that have been growing in the greenhouse for some time now. I call that a real bonus harvest! I snipped a few leaves of arugula and radishes as well. The radish I harvested is the Saisai Purple variety that is grown for the mild tasting leaves. If you look closely you can see the purple stemmed leaves in the bowl, along with some frilly purple mizuna.
Bringing in the New Year was more greens! So far the mild weather has left all of the kale plants alive and well. The first harvest of 2012 included Portugese Kale (Tronchuda). I can’t say that it is my favorite tasting kale, but it has been prolific.
The Lacinato kale has also been doing great this season too. It may well be my favorite of all the kale varieties. It has a lovely bold flavor and a sturdy texture that’s good in a variety of dishes. I took a cutting of it yesterday, and also harvested the last head of cabbage from the fall planting.
The last harvests of 2011 took us to a total of 1050 pounds for the year. I have to say we have been really blessed to have that much food available to eat and to share with others. Who knows what 2012 will bring, but at least we’re off to a good start, and hope springs eternal for this gardener! To see what other gardeners are harvesting visit Daphne’s Dandelions.