First harvest of 2017

Picked some lettuce and cilantro. The flavors, aromas and textures of homegrown produce sure can’t be beat. Fresh cilantro is so powerfully fragrant — an entire supply at the grocery store can’t even come close to the aroma coming from just a few stalks from the garden. And the taste! A little bit truly goes a long way. With just a few leaves, I could actually taste the herb contributing to the flavor of my soup.

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Even lettuce did not disappoint. The main quality I noticed was the texture and crispness of the fresh leaves. They were tender and had…I don’t know how to describe it…the substance of an actual leafy vegetable. It was lettuce that didn’t leave me feeling empty after eating it, unlike the kinds I’m used to in a typical salad or fast food burger. These sure made some good lettuce wraps.

Good golly garlic

Numerous plants have come and gone through the garden and the time has arrived for some others to get uprooted: the garlic. I planted the cloves at the end of last November, cut back the scapes in May and June, and by now most of the leaves on the stalks have turned brown. According to the instructions that accompanied my garlic bulbs, this is the ripe time to dig them out. Like a kid anxiously testing a spot presumably concealing buried treasure, I carefully brushed away several inches of dirt surrounding one of the stalks and discovered a fully developed, white garlic bulb underneath! I harvested the rest of the bulbs, wiped as much dirt off them as I could, and stored them in a relatively dark hallway in the house where they will be left to cure for 4-6 weeks.

Samarkand Persian Star garlic (left), Music garlic (right)

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These all originated from the cloves of two garlic bulbs!

Spring evaluation

When the lettuce is bolting and the cucumbers start appearing, that means summer is officially here. Pictured below is the latest harvest consisting of Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage, Dragon Carrots, and a Boothby’s Blonde Cucumber:

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The spring has provided a good bounty so far. Listed here are the total yields from each set of plants and recommended adjustments for next spring:

  • Beets (Detroit Dark Red) – Devoured by mice before I could harvest them. Gopher baskets offered no protection. Will try planting in containers.
  • Bok Choy – 11.90 lb from 9 plants, seeds started in February, last harvest in mid June. 9 plants provided a continuous harvest, will try staggering plantings to 3 at a time. Wire mesh box provided good protection from pests. Great steamed and in stir fry.
  • Cabbage (Mammoth Red Rock) – 2.13 lb from 1 plant, seeds started in February, harvested late June, 1 plant left to harvest. 2 plants that were transplanted later were destroyed by rabbits since the cabbage plants were out in the open. 4 plants may be a good number, will keep the plants protected by wire boxes.
  • Carrots (Dragon) – 0.94 lb from 5 plants, seeds started in March, harvested late June. Leaves were partially eaten by pests, gopher baskets provided OK protection, except for the few carrots that had portions of the root nibbled on. Will try planting in containers.
  • Cauliflower (Early Snowball) – Devoured by mice before the cauliflower heads had a chance to form. Wire mesh box provided no protection. May need to try container planting.
  • Kale (Red Russian) – 15.75 lb from 6 plants, seeds started in February, still heavily producing. Wire mesh box provided good protection from rabbits, but leaves started being inhabited by aphids near the beginning of June. Suggestions for next season: reduce number of plants to 4, use row cover for additional pest protection. Kale chips from this variety were OK.
  • Lettuce (Speckled) – 2.1 lb from 6 plants, seeds started in February, last harvest in mid June. 6 plants at once provided a continuous but short harvest due to bolting. Will keep lettuce north or east of taller plants to give them shade. Wire mesh box provided good protection from pests. Great in sandwiches and for lettuce wraps.

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  • Peas (Golden Sweet) – Devoured before they could grow taller than ~6 in regardless of what protective devices I used. Currently attempting to grow peas in a container at home.
  • Radish – Harvested too late and ended up growing too big and tough for eating. Next time harvest after just a month.
  • Spinach (America) – Encountered difficulties raising the seedlings. Some seedlings already started bolting, even with just a couple sets of true leaves, and got infested with some small insects. Next time will grow seedlings in shade and protected by row cover.

Spring harvest, summer planting

Sometimes it’s fun to reap what you sow. After expending much time, energy, and love preparing the garden, I’ve started to cash in on some hefty bundles of produce.

Red Russian Kale (3.18 lb)
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Bok choy (3.49 lb)
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Hello, kale chips and stir frys!

The garden has mostly been taking care of itself, yet I haven’t stopped singing for my supper. I recently spent a good day weeding, reapplying mulch, and transplanting all my summer starts into the ground. Keeping the weeds under control has been as challenging as slaying the Hydra…until I found this:

This man speaks the truth. For one thing, the Garden Weasel cultivator is indeed a piece of junk (I used to have one, can’t say it lived up to its expectations, unless that expectation was for it to break). But more importantly, the claims made about the stirrup hoe are, thankfully, the real deal. I bought one this past weekend and…well, let’s just say, for the sake of analogy, this thing performed the labor as if it were Hercules.

Bok choy harvest

Five of the Bok choy plants were teeming with leaves bigger than my hand, so it was picking time. Rather than harvesting the entire plant, I cut out just the outer leaves in order to obtain a longer lasting supply (slightly similar to what this video demonstrates).

This first harvest totaled 1.48 lbs of Bok choy leaves (a digital fish scale was conveniently lying around the house for use as a produce scale).

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My experience cooking with Bok choy is limited to using it in soups, so I simply steamed the leaves and served them with a stir fry dish. Here’s to the beginning of eating fresh and healthy again!

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