Harvest Monday November 11, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’ve been fighting a cold bug all week and not wanting to go outside any more than necessary. Having said that, with a hard freeze and record cold temperatures in the forecast I did what harvesting I thought necessary, and to give us a few fresh veggies to eat. Early in the week I cut a few collards and the last main heads of broccoli. The broccoli was Aspabroc, and while tasty we decided it was the least favorite of the ones I grew this fall which also including Artwork, Apollo and Happy Rich. I will adjust my spring plantings accordingly.

Aspabroc broccoli and collard greens

One variety we are loving is the Burgundy purple sprouting broccoli. I grew this in spring and it did well then too. This came from an August planting in the main garden, but I also have a few plants of it in the greenhouse, along with Rudolph and Santee which hopefully will give us sprouts early next year when not much else is happening.

Burgundy purple sprouting broccoli

spear of Burgundy broccoli

I cut over 8 pounds of collard greens last week, some for fresh eating and the rest for a batch of collard kraut. It took a bit more than 4 pounds of whole leaves to fill the crock, and then I poured in a 3% salt brine to cover. I will let it ferment for 2 to 3 weeks before we taste it. I imagine we will cook this kraut, since I doubt the leaves will be very tender raw. We usually eat our kraut raw, since cooking kills the probiotic bacteria. Cooking won’t hurt the flavor any though.

assortment of collard greens

Ole Timey Blue collards

Flash collards

I saved out some of the Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage and the Purple collards for fresh eating. The leaves of Purple were the biggest of any I grew this year. The listing on the Seed Savers Exchange where I got the seeds says they can get tough, so we will see how how they are when cooked. Jernigan’s Yellow Cabbage has tender and sweet tasting leaves, and I grew it last year also.

Purple collard greens

It hasn’t been so good for the root crops this fall. I got a few radishes to size up, but no kohlrabi so far. It’s my first time growing Big Time, and this Korean daikon type made several that were worth pulling up. The largest of these weighed right at a pound, and I will use most of them to make radish kimchi (aka kkakdugi). They aren’t the prettiest things to look at, but I am happy to have them!

Big Time daikon radish

In non gardening news, I baked up a batch of Dark Rye Potato Buns last week. I sometimes bake these up into rolls, but last week we needed buns so that’s what I made. The dark color comes from cocoa powder and molasses that’s added to the dough, along with about 35% fresh ground whole grain rye flour. I also baked up a loaf of rye sandwich bread, since meatless reubens were on the menu for lunch yesterday.

Dark Rye Potato Buns

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!

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Harvest Monday November 4, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We got our first hard freeze last week, along with a couple of heavy frosts. The frost crystals were beautiful on the fall brassicas. and should make the greens all the sweeter for it. I thought it was particularly pretty on the big collard leaves which were literally covered in frost.

frost on collards

another frosty collard leaf

I harvested a few leaves of Georgia Cabbage collards last week before the frosts, and they were tender and flavorful already. I can hardly wait to taste some of the greens now. The kale is quite hardy but the collards a bit less so, and collards will get priority on harvesting for a bit. The collard kraut is supposed to be better tasting after a frost, so making that will be on my to-do list this week.

Georgia Cabbage collards

Before the freeze I raided the pepper plants and found a few more for drying. I also found a few eggplants while I was at it. I’m amazed the plants produced fruit given our cool weather, but they did and we roasted them up and enjoyed what will surely be the last of the season.

late season peppers and eggplant

Korean peppers for drying

I also managed to get almost two pounds of pole beans from the vines. I cooked most of these, and froze the rest. It’s been a great year for beans, and the freezer is full so we will be enjoying them all winter and spring.

late season pole beans

I finally got a couple of heads of flathead cabbage to size up. I used most of these two to make a jar of sauerkraut. I still have a couple of pointed cabbages sizing up, if the weather doesn’t get them. That should give us a bit for fresh eating.

Tendersweet flathead cabbage

With the freeze forecast, I pulled in all the remaining winter squashes left on the vines. These are all neck pumpkins types that I will roast in the oven and turn into puree. The smaller ones are the Centercut squash we enjoyed so much as a summer squash. We will see how they do when they mature! The larger ones are Turkerneck, and while they were smaller than usual they still weighed between four and five pounds each.

Centercut and Turkeyneck squashes

And finally I cut more broccoli, this time Apollo. The stem broccoli is so sweet when roasted, that is our favorite way to prepare it. The purple sprouting broccoli is now ready to start cutting, so we should be supplied with broccoli for a bit longer.

Apollo broccoli

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!

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Collard Kraut and Other Fermenting

This is the time of year I typically ferment a lot of vegetables from the garden. The cool fall weather provides good growing conditions for things like cabbage, kohlrabi and radishes, all of which are tasty when fermented. This year I have added collard greens to the list of foods I am fermenting. I first heard about making collard kraut on an episode of A Chef’s Life that aired on our local PBS station. I didn’t have enough greens to ferment last year, so this year I made sure to plant more so we had plenty for fresh eating and for fermenting.

Flash Collard greens

For my first collard ferment, I choose to make a recipe from Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. Whole Leaf Collard Greens is a quick ferment that uses whole collard leaves that are rolled up like a rug and fermented in a salt water brine solution for a week or less. My leaves didn’t quite fit in a quart jar after rolling , so I folded them in half before stuffing in the jar and covering with brine. I let them ferment at room temperature (around 74°F) for one week. I used leaves from the hybrid Flash for this batch since it had a lot of big ones.

collard leaves fermenting

We got our first taste of them yesterday. The leaves are not as tender as cooked collards, but they have a lovely flavor. My idea was to use them as wraps for a savory filling. Chef’s Life star Vivian Howard has a recipe for Collard Dolmades in her book Deep Run Roots, which should serve as a good starting point for recipe ideas. The salty, tart leaves should pair well with a number of fillings. They could also be cooked, but that would kill the beneficial probiotic bacteria.

leaf of fermented collards

The kimchi I started earlier in the month is now ready to put in the refrigerator and start eating. I got my first taste yesterday when I had some for a side dish at lunch. It was tasty at 18 days old, and I think it gets even better with age. Since I made two quarts it should be around for a bit.

jars of kimchi fermenting

The kimchi has a deep red color from the homemade gochugaru powder I used. The cabbage gets brined overnight in a 5% salt brine. I also like to add a bit of grated daikon radish and some green onion to the cabbage after brining. Then I make a seasoning paste from garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce and soy sauce along with the gochugaru powder.  I add the paste to the cabbage mix and into the jar(s) it goes for a couple of weeks.

kimchi seasoning paste

mixing up the kimchi

Another thing I like to do with the kimchi is add it to grilled cheese for a ‘kimcheese’ sandwich. I make it with homemade rye bread, and toast it in a skillet on low heat so as to preserve all the probiotic bacteria in the kimchi. It’s also tasty as a topper for other sandwiches, and if I are hot dogs or brats more often I would surely use it on those!

Sweet Baby daikon radish

Next in line for fermenting will be some of the daikon radishes I have sizing up in the garden right now. The purple Sweet Baby daikon radishes make a particularly colorful and tasty kimchi. I hope you have enjoyed a look at some of what’s happening here in late October.


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Harvest Monday October 28, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The fall veggies are the main focus of my harvests now. I cut a few collard greens to make a test batch of the leaves fermented. If I like the taste, I plan to make a bigger batch of collard kraut. This is a popular dish in North Carolina, and I first heard about it on an episode of A Chef’s Life. This is the hybrid Flash, which had some big leaves that were easy to roll up and fit in a quart jar.

Flash collards for fermenting

I also made a cutting of the Topper turnip greens I cooked up for a side dish one night. This variety is grown primarily for the leaves, though it will eventually make edible roots. There was a little bit of insect damage on the leaves but they were mostly free of problems.

Topper turnip greens

And I got a good sized cutting of Artwork broccoli last week. This is a stem type broccoli, which has tender and edible stems. The side shoots are the main attraction, although these made fairly large main heads. I set out a dozen plants of the broccolini types and six purple sprouting broccoli plants for the fall garden. The Burgundy PSB is starting to head up now too.

Artwork broccoli

I began cleaning up the pepper plants I have growing in containers, harvesting the peppers as I go. I plan to overwinter about a half dozen plants indoors, and then set them out in the ground next year. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and the second year plants get off to a quick start and usually make earlier peppers than the seed grown transplants I set out. This was a mix of hot peppers, including almost two pounds of the Kimchi variety which I will dry and grind up into gochugaru powder for seasoning kimchi. Others in the below photo include the baccatum peppers Malawi Piquante and Aji Rico. I still have a few containers of peppers to work on, so there should be more hot peppers on them as well.

hot peppers from container plants

In the wonky vegetables department, I cut a huge tromboncino squash that had escaped my attention when it was smaller. It was too mature to use like I usually do, so I let it grow on to use as a winter squash. This plant was trained up a trellis, and it appears the fruit got caught between the ground and the trellis. That kept it from forming the usual long and mostly straight fruit. It didn’t stop it from growing altogether though, so it curled and twisted and turned into Monster Squash! I don’t think the tromboncinos are the best tasting winter squash I grow, but this one weighed 13 pounds and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. I will have to bake it up in batches though because I doubt it will all go in the oven at once.

mature tromboncino squash

I’ll close by introducing you to the newest resident here at Happy Acres. The local shelter was full to overflowing with cats, so we decided to add another set of paws to our household. Molly is almost 5 months old, and joins 2 year old Ally and the 13yo Puddin. We are hoping Molly and Ally can keep each other occupied, since most days Puddin just wants to be left alone – not that I can blame her.


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!


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Another Greenhouse Update

The new greenhouse is up and ready to use, and I’ve been putting the finishing touches on it the last couple of weeks. The old house was 8×12 feet, and the new one is 8×16 feet which gives me more room for the planting beds and the shelves I use to hold seedlings. I’ve got most of the beds planted now with things that will overwinter in the greenhouse like kale, parsley and purple sprouting broccoli. And I’ve got lettuce and other salad greens that will be ready to plant in a few days.

inside look of the new greenhouse

I grew purple sprouting broccoli in the beds last winter, and they gave us our first ever taste of homegrown PSB. We liked it so well I planted even more of it this year, and the plants have taken off already after setting out. The varieties I’m growing are Rudolph, Santee, and Burgundy. I’ve been growing kale in the winter greenhouse for years, and it should give us greens to eat in winter plus rapini in early spring when the plants start flowering.

purple sprouting broccoli plant

I’m using rubber pavers for the inside of the greenhouse. I found they are much easier on the feet and legs than the concrete ones I used the first time around. They are also easy to install, if a tad more expensive. I’ve got the bench and table sitting on concrete pavers to give them more height, which I’ve found makes it easier on my back  when working on potting and transplanting chores.

rubber pavers on floor of greenhouse

One new addition to the greenhouse is a wall mounted ventilation fan. I had been using a much smaller one that sat on the shelf and was always falling down. This one is much larger, moves more air, and I mounted it up high on the back wall where it should be out of harm’s way. It will help move the air as the greenhouse heats up, which it does even in winter when it’s cold outside.

wall-mounted ventilation fan

Now I’ve been working on the outside, doing landscaping around the perimeter. I put down landscape fabric first, then covered with a cyprus bark mulch. And I put a few of the rubber pavers at the front to give me a well-defined entrance.

greenhouse with landscaping

My next task will be to get the outside potting bench in place. I plan to sit it on concrete pavers, with landscape fabric underneath to help keep down the inevitable weeds. I have a few rubber pavers left over which I will put down in front of the bench where I stand. I moved a couple of the concrete pavers into position which you can see in the below photo. The ground is really uneven though, so my first task will be to level it up a bit. It doesn’t have to be perfectly level, just a bit more so than it is at the moment.

side of greenhouse where potting bench will sit

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the greenhouse project, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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