Around this time of year people often ask me “is your garden done for yet?” I always tell them no, because gardening is a year round thing here at HA. And with winters that seem to be getting milder each passing year, with a little planning it’s pretty easy to have fresh food from the garden available year round. This past week is a good example of the kind of harvests we are getting here this year in December.
I pulled up some more turnips for donating to the food pantry this week. This fall I planted one unused bed with some turnip seed, mostly the Purple Top variety. I didn’t do a great job of thinning the seedlings, but I still got over 20 pounds of turnips and greens from this little planting (so far). I harvested 10 pounds and took them in Tuesday to donate, and they were gone in about an hour or so. One gentleman took one of the small ones and ate it raw, just like an apple. It was neat that I got to talk to a few of the folks that were taking them home, though they didn’t know who donated the turnips. I’ll be doing this again next year for sure. Every year we have gardeners bringing in turnips by the bucketful, and they are always appreciated.
I got some nice Salad Bowl lettuce from one of the cold frames. It was used on some Turkey Chipotle Tacos we had this week. My wife made the filling with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and we stuck it in the freezer for use later. I cooked up a batch of black beans in the pressure cooker to go with them, and it made for a great meal.
I also got some lovely arugula from the same cold frame. This was some that volunteered from a spring planting that I had let go to seed. Of course I missed harvesting some of the seed, so I had a thick carpet of arugula seedlings in that bed all summer. I let them grow, and planted lettuce amongst them this fall even as I kept on pulling the arugula and using it. I think this is the last of the arugula in that bed, but there may be more sprouting next spring. Which is not a bad thing if you like arugula. We used this bunch on some pizza. I just love arugula on a pizza! I have more planted in the greenhouse, both in a bed and in a salad box. Did I mention we love arugula?
Another harvest this week was some Asian greens from the greenhouse. This was a mix of Maruba Santoh, Purple Rapa Pop Mix mustard, and Joi Choi pak choi. The Maruba Santoh is a hard to classify green, growing and tasting much like Fun Jen or Tokyo Bekana, but the leaves are smooth instead of frilly. It’s good raw, but also works when briefly cooked. The Purple Rapa Pop Mix is a new addition to our garden, but a good one. The plants in the greenhouse didn’t get as purple as the ones we planted at the Impact Community Garden, but they were tender and tasty. I’ll be growing this one again. As an added bonus, both it and the Maruba Santoh produce edible flower sprouts in spring.
I usually favor the green stem pak chois like Shanghai and Mei Qing, but I decided to grow some Joi Choi this winter for a change. I do love the mild white stalks on this variety, and since it grows mostly upright it is a good choice for intensive plantings. The aphids seem to bother it a bit less than some of the green and yellow leafed vegetables, which is another plus. Aphids can sometimes be an issue in the winter greenhouse or cold frames, and this year is no exception.
I chopped up the mix of Asian greens and stir-fried them along with some mushrooms and sliced garlic. They cooked down in a couple of minutes, and I added a splash of soy and a little sesame oil for seasoning. This is my favorite treatment for Asian greens, and it’s quick and easy to prepare.
Another treat this week was some Lacinato kale I harvested to make into Kale Chips. So far this kale is still going strong, and actually looking better than the Beedy’s Camden. The Lacinato survived the winter last year, and I have high hopes it will do as well this winter. So far, so good on that count. If it does survive then I will try and save seed from it next spring. We do love kale chips, and these went well with some curried chicken salad we had for lunch yesterday.
I pulled a few more carrots this week too from the kitchen garden. I roasted some with sweet potatoes for a Christmas luncheon with friends, and cooked a few more by themselves for a side dish one night. These fall carrots are so sweet, you’d think they had sugar added to them, but they don’t need it. I also used some of them in the Pasta e Fagioli I fixed this week. We will sure miss these fall planted carrots when they all are gone!
That’s a look at what we’ve been harvesting here this December. And you can see we still have a nice assortment of fresh food to choose from as we near the end of 2012. For a look at what other gardeners from around the world are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays.