This year winter has arrived here early for sure. We are having January weather in November, which has me wondering what January weather will be like! Last week I made a sweep of the garden to bring in a few more things that I didn’t want to freeze. I cut what will likely be the last of the broccoli side shoots, and pulled the last few kohlrabi. It’s been a good year for both of them, and I have enjoyed them thoroughly.
Even though lettuce can survive quite cold temperatures, that doesn’t mean it improves it any, like it does kale for instance. I had quite a bit of Simpson Elite lettuce sizing up nicely in one of the cold frame beds. I decided to bring it in so we could enjoy it while still in prime condition, even if it was not quite full sized. There was almost a pound of it, and we enjoyed it all in several wilted lettuce salads.
The Spotted Trout lettuce wasn’t nearly full sized either but it came in too. I still have Red Sails lettuce in the cold frame, and we will see how it looks after the current Deep Freeze is over. I pulled the last of the Kolibri kohlrabi from the cold frame bed while I was at it. At least we have a nice supply of lettuce for a bit.
I pulled enough carrots to last us for a couple of weeks before the ground froze. I left the rest of them, gambling that the ground will not stay frozen here for long. Normally, the ground doesn’t freeze here until December or even later, but then the weather here has been unusual lately to say the least. That’s the orange Nelson and Purple Haze in the below photo.
I went through the radishes to find anything edible to bring inside before the freeze. I planted Round Black Spanish for the first time this year, and they did not do very well. I sowed the seed in August, and several of them bolted instead of making radishes. I’m not sure what is up with that. I did manage to get one though, which you can see in the below photo. I also cut the last cuke that was braving the cold out in the greenhouse. When I brought it in, my wife said “it looked a lot bigger in the photo last week.” Which is true, but it is still a cucumber in November and around here that is a rarity. The cuke and the radish each weighed exactly 3.2 ounces. Maybe they can join one of the carrots and star in a crudite platter!
I also pulled another big daikon radish. I’m still unsure of the variety, though it could be the Soil Buster Daikon I planted last year as a cover crop. Whatever the variety, they have made some lovely, large and tasty radishes. The one in the below photo weighed exactly two pounds after trimming off the top. I think it would be a good candidate for lacto-fermentation, perhaps with a few cloves of garlic added to the brine.
I finished shelling all the dried pole beans last week. And I was right about them not doing as well this year. The three varieties (Trail of Tears, Good Mother Stallard and Rattlesnake) weighed a total of 31 ounces, which is less than the 44 ounces the same ones made last year. They had about the same amount of growing space both years too. The Trail of Tears was least productive, making only 7.5 ounces of dried beans. I think I am going to try a different black bean next year, and there are a couple of bush varieties I am considering. I’ve grown Black Turtle in the past, and it did reasonably well, but I am also considering Black Coco and Black Valentine. If anyone has any experience with any of these three I’d appreciate hearing about it.
I cooked up some of the dried Hutterite Soup Beans on Saturday and made a batch of bean soup. That’s me holding them in the below photo, before soaking. These beans were great for soup, with a mild flavor, thin skins and a creamy texture. They also held their shape quite well, after a slow cooking. I’d like to grow these again, if I can work them in the garden plan.
For me, a bowl of bean soup is just begging for cornbread to go along with it. I like to bake it in a square cast iron skillet so it gets nice and crusty on the bottom. I used a recipe from King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I made it with fresh ground corn meal (from yellow popcorn), and a mix of whole wheat and unbleached flours. I also used non-fat kefir instead of buttermilk. I guess I have changed the recipe enough I ought to be able to share it here sometime, since I can’t find the recipe on the KA recipe page.
I also took the opportunity last week to dry some apples. We’ve been enjoying the apples we got from a local orchard. The Fuji, Mutsu and Granny Smith have been especially flavorful this year. The Fuji was sweet to start with, and after drying it got even sweeter. After drying I sealed them up using the FoodSaver. The dried apples are nice to add to hot and cold cereals, or to just snack on.
And speaking of drying, here’s a look at some of the hot peppers I smoked and dried a while back. In the below photo, clockwise from the left we have green Anaheim, ripe Aji Angelo and ripe jalapeno. I’ll do a separate post on them later, including the sweet ones.
One outside chore I managed to do yesterday was to mulch the garlic bed with straw. I’m not worried about the garlic surviving the cold weather, since it’s quite hardy, but I am concerned about the freezing and thawing of the soil heaving the bulbs up before they have a chance to get established. I just planted the garlic about two weeks ago, and I doubt it is very well rooted yet. Of course the straw will also keep the weeds down. I only spread it about 2-3 inches deep, and I can add more next spring if it needs it. Last night the snow started falling, and with a forecast of three to five inches total, I think I got it mulched just in time!
That’s a look at what’s going on here. To see what others are harvesting and cooking from the garden, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.
We’ve gotten snow a couple times this year, but never anything that stuck. I think the ground was so warm it melted when it hit, so just a few things had coatings on them. It is getting colder. This week will be our coldest yet with most of the nights in the 20s.
How do you like the Nelson carrot? I keep thinking I ought to try it for the early carrots as it it supposed to perform well then.
Nelson was the most productive of all the spring carrots I grew, producing 5.5 pounds from a 4ft row. I doubt it will make that many for fall, but we will see. We oven roasted the Nelson carrots from last week. You have inspired me to do a taste test with my carrot varieties. I will do that once the snow has melted and I can dig a few more of them.
No snow yet in my neck of the wood but expecting rain most of today and frigid temp. Oops I forgot to check on my daikon, cannot do it today but will do so tomorrow, yours is a good size and so perfect.
Your lettuce looks gorgeous – garden fresh lettuce is a distant memory around here. Funny about the Trail of Tears beans – I thought they were quite productive….mind you they are the only dried bean I’ve tried, so I really have nothing to compare them to.
I wish I had had the foresight to look at the weather forecast yesterday – wasn’t excepting the accumulation of snow we had. With the cold temps lasting into the foreseeable future, looks like I will have to shovel the snow off the garlic bed before I can top it off with straw.
I know the Trail of Tears has been very productive for a lot of gardeners, but it hasn’t been here. Which is a shame because I love the taste of it. I haven’t a clue why it’s not happy here, but I don’t think I can blame it on the soil, or the weather. The snap pole beans (Fortex, Musica and Gold Marie) had the best year ever in 2014, and they were just a few feet away from the Trail of Tears.
The weather seems weird everywhere. We’ve had record warm ocean water temperatures this year which seems to be keeping the weather on the mild side and we’re still stuck in drought mode as well.
I grew Black Coco this year. I started with 18 plants, maybe lost one or two, and harvested 20 ounces of dried beans. I haven’t actually cooked any of them yet though so I can’t comment on their eating quality.
It looks like your smoked pepper experiments were a success. I’m looking forward to reading more about it.
The daikon is fabulous, never tried growing them before. Everything looks fabulous! Plenty of snow here, so I now I can only live vicariously through those few of you still harvesting!
The corn bread looks yummy. I routinely make great cornbread with corn meal & whole wheat flour. No need to add u bleached. I think those roasted peppers you froze soul be yummy chopped & added to cornbread. Really enjoy reading your blog. Greeting from dry, but not freezing No. Calif. Suzanne