Fall is my favorite time of year to garden. The pace is so much slower now and more enjoyable to me, not to mention that some of the tastiest things are at their best right about now. Like carrots, for instance. We had lots of carrots from the spring planting, but the ones I am harvesting now are so much sweeter. The deer have munched on the tops a bit, but hopefully some bird netting will help keep them away while the carrots keep on growing and getting sweeter. The ones in the below photo are Yaya, and some were steamed for a side dish and the rest are going into a stir fry tonight or tomorrow.
Another veggie that is tastiest about now is kale. We’ve had several heavy frosts, and one night with temperatures well below freezing, so the kale is nice and sweet tasting. That in the below photo is a mix of Beedy’s Camden and Wild Garden Mix. We braised part of it for a side dish, and some went into a batch of Minestra Maritata I made last night for dinner. I also used some carrots, celery and cabbage from the garden for the soup, plus a few leaves of Lacinato kale. That soup turned out well, and my wife thinks I need to share that recipe here so I will try and get it written up soon.
But despite the frosts and freezes, a few figs are still managing to ripen. The leaves on the plants have mostly fallen off, but the figs hang on. They are sure easy to find now! The varieties we have are Brown Turkey, Conadria, and Hardy Chicago. Many won’t ripen in time before it gets really cold, but we are enjoying the ones that do ripen.
Since the figs here sometimes die back to the ground in winter, they grow more like a multiple stemmed bush rather than a tree with a thick trunk. Some of the stems are at least 10 feet tall, despite my having pruned them back severely in spring. These late summer and fall figs are produced on the current years growth of wood, so we usually get a crop even if they do die back in winter.
Also hanging on are the Asian persimmons. Those leaves also got zapped by the freeze and have all fallen off. The persimmons are ripening fast, and I harvested the first one last week. The two varieties we have planted are Gwang Yang and Ichy Ki Kei Jiro, both non-astringent types that can be eaten while still firm. Our 2013 crop is a total of 11 persimmons, and we have been eagerly waiting all summer for them to ripen. I recently saw Fuyu persimmons in the store for $1.99 each, so they are a pricey treat in this part of the world. The two trees have already paid for themselves, even though we are still waiting to get a big crop. I have read that it takes about 5 years before the trees really start producing, so we still have a year or two to go.
I have been drying many of the figs for use later and I decided to try drying one of the persimmons too. The dehydrating intensifies the flavor of the figs, and I figured it would do the same for the persimmons.
The dried persimmons are very tasty, and I can see that will be a great way to preserve them once the trees get bigger and the harvests increase. Drying the figs also helps bring out their flavor. These late ripening ones aren’t usually as sweet as earlier ones, but drying them concentrates the flavor and they wind up being plenty sweet for me. Figs are highly perishable, keeping for only a day or two when fresh, so drying also helps extend the eating season for them.
Another veggie that is liking the fall weather is the radish. I have mostly Asian types planted this fall. In the below photo that’s China Rose and the daikon Miyashige Green Neck. China Rose is one of my favorite radishes for storage. It may not win any beauty contests, but this heirloom o/p radish is easy to grow, cold hardy, and keeps for a long time after harvest. I also love their sweet/spicy flavor. These radishes are going in a stir fry tonight to add a little crunch. At least some of them, because I think there will be more than enough there.
That’s a little look at what is coming in from the garden here in early November. To see what others are growing and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.
My Beedy’s kale is doing well this year, thanks for the seeds.
I too have been experimenting with drying persimmons and like the texture and flavor very much. Unfortunately I do not have home grown and must buy, and yes, they are pricey in my neck of the woods too.
My figs are still ripening too and I’m shocked. I always thought they needed hot weather to ripen. I made some into jam. That certainly adds sweetness to the late figs. And I get to eat them all year long. I’m thinking fig jam with some brie and roast beef might make a nice winter sandwich.
I made some fig preserves a couple of years ago and that was very tasty. I decided not to make any this year because we have so much strawberry and blackberry jam already. That jam sandwich does sound good. I have used strawberry jam in a combination much like that, even though it sounds odd.
Lovely. I’ll have to remember about dehydrating the persimmons. I’m hoping to get my first crop next year!
I hope your trees are as trouble free as ours. They have been sooooo easy to grow here, with no spraying necessary and minimal pruning.
I’m really impressed at how many climates can grow figs. We’ve got a baby orchard, and I’m looking forward to the time when we get a larger crop. We’re way behind you on persimmons. I think they’ll be properly ripe around Thanksgiving.
Your carrots look lovely! I am still waiting for mine to size up a little but I think I will be disappointed. I need to add Yaya to my seed list for next year. I have heard good things about it from several bloggers. Love the fruit you are bringing in. I didn’t know figs and persimmons ripened so late in the season.
Persimmons and figs are fruits I’ve never thought to try growing, but your posts make the idea very intriguing!
Despite the fact that I garden in California, figs are turning out to be a marginal crop for me. I think it just doesn’t get warm enough here. I may have to experiment with growing them against a south facing wall. It’s fun and inspiring to see how well they do for you.
I hope we don’t get an early frost here, most of my Happy Yummy peppers are slow to ripen, there’s loads of green ones left on the plants.
I have our figs growing along the south side of our shop building. I’m sure that does help them ripen a bit better.
I hope those Happy Yummy peppers ripen for you. I saw the photos on your blog, and they seem to be loaded. I moved one of the Aji Angelo peppers into the greenhouse so it can ripen more of the peppers.
My parents have a persimmon tree. I’m not a big fan – I prefer my fruit to have a little more acid – but the birds are and every year they compete with my dad for the trees fruits. Mostly the birds win but fortunately the tree is pretty prolific and my dad still gets a few.
So far the bird have left the persimmons alone here. It’s the deer and the possums I don’t trust!
I have an Asian persimmon. I’m not sure how to tell when it’s ripe. In prior years, the ones I’ve tried have tasted inferior to the native persimmons. I tried one of mine a week or so ago. It was astringent. (I’ll have to look up which variety I have; it’s been a long time since I bought it.) The mockingbird doesn’t seem to mind that they aren’t ripe.
My Beedy’s Camden Kale is doing fine.
I think the taste of the Asian persimmons is more subtle than the native ones. I do like the crunch of the non-astringent types. You can use them for salads and other dishes that the native ones wouldn’t really work well in.
I am glad to hear your Beedy’s kale is doing good! Ours is looking good too, and loving this cool weather we are having.
Hi DAve, could you please tell me the taste difference in Gwang Yang and Ichy Ki Kei Jiro when eating fresh? Which would you prefer if you had to pick one?
Sadly the trees died the next year and I really didn’t taste enough of them to form an opinion. I have decided they are only marginally hardy in our area, and stopped trying to grow them or figs.