Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It was a good news/bad news kind of week in the berry patch. In the good news department, the Natchez thornless blackberries have started ripening. These berries are sweeter than most blackberries, and I enjoy eating them with my morning muesli, though they all aren’t as big as the two in my hand in the below photo.
In the bad news department, it appears I waited too long to harvest the gooseberries. The deer decided they were ready to eat and beat me to the punch! I know it was the deer because we caught a doe in the act, eating the gooseberries in broad daylight. I had no idea they would eat them, or else I would have thrown some netting over them. Oh well, I will know better next time. There was probably close to a quart of berries on our young bushes, but not anymore. We will have to net the nearby blackberries because I know they will eat them too, since they eat the wild ones. In the meantime, if anyone wants a few deer in their yard I will be happy to give you some (or all) of ours!
Back to some good news, this time in the main garden. I dug a couple of the early garlic plants and decided several varieties were ready. I dug all of the Red Janice, Xian, Uzbek and Shilla plants, for a total of 43 bulbs. They are now hanging up and curing in the basement, where we have the dehumidifier running to help them along. That’s Red Janice in the below photo, which is usually one of the larger of the Turban cultivars I grow. I won’t weigh the bulbs until they have been cured and trimmed up, which usually takes three to four weeks. The artichoke types should be ready in a few more days, and I will dig one or two of those to see if they are ready too.
The basement is fragrant right about now, because my wife has been busy harvesting lavender and hanging it up down there to dry. We have several varieties planted, included a white flowered one called Melissa that is great for culinary use. Lately I have been using some of our dried lavender to make Herb Infused Iced Tea, using about a teaspoon of the dried lavender per pitcher of tea. You can read more about how she processes the lavender (and how we use it) here: Harvesting Lavender 2016.
Also coming on strong right now is the broccoli. I’ve cut all the main heads now of Packman, Artwork and Apollo. The latter two are so-called broccolini types, and we did a taste test of them the other day using some of the side shoots. That’s Artwork on the left and Apollo on the right in the below photo.
I steamed the broccoli and seasoned it only with salt and a splash of olive oil. My wife and I thought both were tender and tasty, and couldn’t tell much difference in the taste or texture. That’s Artwork on the left and Apollo on the right on my plate in the below photo, along with a frittata and some grilled whole wheat pita bread. We will see whether Artwork and Apollo hold up in the heat and continue to give us more side shoots. The frittata featured homegrown snow peas, spring onion, dried tomatoes and peppers, and a few garlic scapes. I sprinkled some of my smoked Dulce Rojo paprika on top.
Speaking of garlic scapes, since I had quite a few of them hanging out in the refrigerator I decided to try lacto-fermenting a jar of them, loosely following a recipe from Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. I cut the flower buds from them first, as they are a bit more tender than the stalks and supposedly don’t ferment as well. I made a 3.5% brine using about 1/4 cup of sea salt in a half gallon of unchlorinated water, packed the scapes in a half gallon jar and covered with the brine. I’ll leave them sit on the kitchen counter to ferment until they suit my tastes. I’ve never had pickled garlic scapes, but I love pickled garlic, so the odds are I will like the scapes as well. It will certainly help preserve them too.
Also in the lacto-fermented department, I have been enjoying the kimchi I made recently. I got lucky with the amount of dried Aji Angelo peppers I used, and the finished product is spicy but not overwhelming to my taste buds. I’ve been enjoying it as a snack, though I need to slow down or it will be gone in no time! I used some of it to make a grilled kimcheese sandwich yesterday. I baked up a loaf of Rye Whole Wheat bread (still tweaking the recipe) just for the occasion. I used Swiss cheese because I had some on hand, but I think Colby or Cheddar might have been a better choice to stand up to the flavorful kimchi. I will surely be growing more Napa cabbage this fall so I can make more kimchi.
I also cut some main heads of broccoli from Green Magic and Bay Meadows. We’ve been enjoying the broccoli raw in salads or lightly steamed. That’s Green Magic in the below photo. It’s looking like 2016 will be a better year for broccoli than 2015, and I’ve already harvested four pounds of it. It usually does better here as a fall crop, so whatever I get in spring is really a bonus. Green Magic is one that usually does pretty well here in spring, and has held up to near 100°F temps while it was heading up. It’s hard to believe, but it is almost time to start sowing seeds for the fall brassicas.
With all the hot weather, the spring lettuce is still hanging in there though suffering in quality. I cut some of the Black Seeded Simpson to use for a wilted lettuce salad last week. It was bolting, which reminded me why I usually grow Simpson Elite in spring, since it typically resists bolting a bit better. I still have some of the Simpson Elite waiting to be harvested, though even it is starting to think about bolting given all the hot weather we have had this month.
The smallest harvest of the week was likely some scallions and a bit of parsley I cut to go into a lentil salad I made. The scallions are a variety called Flagpole I sowed in a window box back in March. They were just the right size for the salad. The wide-leaf parsley is Splendid, and I got the seed for it and Flagpole from Wild Garden Seeds.
Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!