One of the many things I love about growing our own food is that every season has new ‘firsts’ to look forward to. I always look forward to the first asparagus, the first blueberry, the first ripe tomato, and so on. Last week we got our first taste of raspberries. The first to ripen this year is a yellow variety called Anne. I expanded our planting of it this year by setting out three additional plants, and the canes flowered and set a few fruit. You are probably supposed to pick off the flowers on a new plant, but raspberries are so vigorous I can’t imagine this is going to slow them down very much. They were already potted up and showing new growth when I bought them anyway. The red ones are starting to turn too and should keep us supplied for several weeks.
Another first came from our little orchard. The North Star pie cherry tree gives us a slightly bigger harvest each year. Last year we got less than a pound from it, but this year the harvest was close to two pounds. My wife handles the harvesting chores for this crop. She hangs pie plates and old DVD’s in the tree to keep the birds away.
We still plan on a trip to a local orchard to pick sweet and tart cherries for freezing, and they should be ready there soon. Until then we will enjoy our own cherries, fresh from the tree.
I had two of the North Star trees planted at my old place, and when they were mature they gave me all the cherries I could eat and freeze every year. I dug up an old photo from 2006 of my wife harvesting one of those trees. It took a stepladder, and several buckets to get the job done that day. And it also called for a good cherry pitter.
Another first came in last week. What’s purple and looks like something from outer space? That sounds like Kolibri kohlrabi! This hybrid kohlrabi has a great flavor and is early too. We enjoyed these first two raw, with a little yogurt tahini dip to go with them.
I made the first cutting of the Senposai greens last week. This F1 hybrid is a cross between cabbage and komatsuna, and Fedco says the “round medium-green leaves are wonderful in okonamiyaki or for braising.” So I removed the stems, chopped up the leaves and braised them in a little water with some shiitake mushrooms. After 30 minutes of cooking, the leaves were still not exactly tender. I wish I could say I liked the flavor, or the texture, but my wife and I both agreed they were tough and not particularly tasty. We disliked it so much that the leftovers went on the compost pile.
The large round leaves remind me of collards, but even collards are usually edible after 30 minutes of cooking. It’s possible younger leaves might be more tender, but it seems to me I’d be better off growing komatsuna, or mizuna, or pac choi. All of those are relatively easy to grow and reliably tasty to eat.
On the other hand, the spring planted kale has turned out a lot better than the senposai. I got a nice cutting of the White Russian variety yesterday, and another smaller one earlier in the week. While the leaves aren’t quite as sweet as those that mature in the cooler weather of fall and winter, they are tender and flavorful and I have really been enjoying them this spring. There’s almost a pound of them in the below photo. I also planted the frilly leaf Scarlet kale, which isn’t quite ready for cutting yet.
In the ruh-roh department, something has been eating on the leaf amaranth plants, and it isn’t me! I saw what appeared to be striped cucumber beetles on it one day, but a little research now tells me they are pigweed flea beetles. This native pest feeds on pigweed and other members of the amaranth family. The amaranth plants now look like Swiss cheese! I have sprayed with neem oil, and we will see if that slows them down any. I really need to get a taste of this before I decide if it’s worth the effort to deal with the beetles. Covering with row cover would keep them out but it’s too late for that now. And hand picking is difficult since they jump!
It’s not a first, but I got another nice cutting of garlic scapes last week. Many of these came from the rocambole types, like Russian Red and Spanish Roja. We’ve been turning some of them into Daphne’s Garlic Scape Salad Dressing, and others into pesto. It’s my wife’s turn to cook this week so we will see how she decides to use them all. Some went in a frittata she made for us yesterday, as did some of our bumper crop of asparagus. Speaking of asparagus, today is the last day we will harvest this year. We’ve gotten over 33 pounds so far this year.
On their way to winning the ‘first tomato to the top of the cage’ race are the cherry tomatoes Sungold and Supersweet 100 I planted in the kitchen garden area. Sungold is usually the first tomato to ripen for us too, and it is blooming right about now.
I baked up a batch of Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns last week. This recipe never fails me, and I made this batch using 50% Red Fife whole wheat flour. I’m loving this wheat so far, and it made some tasty buns that browned up nicely. I topped them with black and white sesame seeds before baking.
To close I’ll show off a t-shirt my wife dyed for me recently. She was experimenting with blue and gray colors, and I liked one of her test pieces so much I asked her to make me a shirt with the same colors and sunburst pattern. I love how it turned out!
That’s a look at what’s been happening here lately. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.