We are finally in a slower period of the harvest season here at Happy Acres. Cooler temps and shorter days have definitely slowed the vegetables growth down, even as the frosts have made some of the harvests sweeter. Like the kale, for instance. I’m growing 3 varieties here this fall: Lacinato, Beedy’s Camden and Rainbow Lacinato. We’re also growing the hybrid Winterbor at the Impact community garden, and it always seems to do well around here. A few frosts have certainly sweetened up the kale, and more freezes are in the forecast.
Lacinato doesn’t always survive the winter here, but last year it did, and we enjoyed harvests from it well up into April before it started bolting. This year I plan on saving seed from it, if it makes it to spring. I’ve really grown to like the sturdy and flavorful leaves of this heirloom kale. I remember when my wife and I went to Italy several years ago, it was autumn and almost every little backyard garden I saw had some of this ‘black’ kale planted. It’s been grown in the Tuscany region for centuries, but I saw it in other areas as well. I braised a mix of the Lacinato and Beedy’s for dinner one night, and the tender leaves were done in a little over 5 minutes.
Kale isn’t the only game in town though. The fall planted lettuces are still going strong in November. I’ve got one 4×4 foot cold frame bed planted all in lettuce, and they’ve been feeding us for a couple of months now. I have been harvesting mostly individual leaves up to this point, but now it’s time to cut whole plants since I would like to replant some more for winter use. Anuenue (ah-noo-weh-noo-weh) has done great this fall, and the red romaine Outstanding has really lived up to it’s name.
At Happy Acres we love our wilted lettuce. I always plant several varieties that have big, thin, tender leaves that do well when wilted. My favorites are Simpson and Simpson Elite, Red Sails and New Red Fire. We had some last night with hamburgers. My wife has a great recipe for wilted lettuce and I need to get her to share it sometime!
I planted lots of turnips this fall, including one bed where I intend to give it all away. I harvested over 10 pounds this week to take to the food pantry. There are lots more left in the beds for us and for donating. The ones in the photo are a mix of Purple Top and Hakurei. Fresh food donations are sparse this time of year and I know a few folks will enjoy these turnips and greens.
Radishes and carrots are doing well in the fall garden too. The carrots were camera shy this week, but one of the Daikon radishes did pose for a photo. I’ve got a mix of Asian type radishes growing this year. The one in the photo below is a huge Shinden Risoh. I’m thinking this one will get pickled. China Rose has been great on salads, with a taste that mixes sweet and spicy in the same bite. I’ve only recently started growing the Daikon types, but so far they are quite easy and very productive.
And last but not least in this November update are our Asian persimmons. The two trees are still quite young, and not very big, but they managed to bear 15 lovely persimmons this year. The Ichy Ki Kei Jiro tree was planted in 2008, and Gwang Yang in 2009. These trees are barely head high, and I couldn’t be more pleased with their output this year. And unlike many tree fruits, these grow just fine with no spraying necessary. We have really been enjoying these ‘ripe when firm’ non-astringent persimmons for eating fresh. The trees are bare of leaves by now, and the hanging persimmons are a pretty sight indeed.
That’s a look at what we’re harvesting here this November. To see what gardeners from all over the world are bringing in, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of the Harvest Monday series. And Happy Growing to all you gardeners out there!