"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, December 23, 2013

Today's Harvest and Some Winter Squash too

I picked a nice batch of Lacinato Kale and will make my favorite Tuscan Kale Salad for Christmas this year.

 Rocket Arugula, Swiss Chard and a few leaves from Giant Red Mustard, Russian Kale and Swiss Chard.  I am growing Bright Lights and Ruby Red Swiss Chard this year.

 Close up of Rocket Arugula

 This is Bok Choy Tatsoi Rosette an Heirloom seed from Botanical Interests.  It is very mild and taste similar to the green and white swiss chard. I love to saute this with garlic and also enjoy the leaves and stems in salads. It is wonderful used in place of the bulb like Bok Choy and used in a stir fry. Tatsoi is wonderful used in place of Chinese cabbage in Kimchi a traditional spicy, fermented Korean condiment. 

 I plant onion sets about every two weeks, I pick about a dozen a week for salads, etc.

 This is Round Black Spanish Radish, an Heirloom seed from Botanical Interests.

 Radish greens from the Black Spanish Radish.  I will add them to cooked beans for the greens, or add them to vegetable soups.

Here is a close-up photo of the Black Spanish Radish, I picked these about 2-3 inches in size but you can let them get even larger; I was impatient and wanted some in our Christmas salad.

I didn't grow these squash but wanted to share in this post. The squash in the back is Buttercup.  Buttercup grows like the turban squash you see in the markets right now. It is very sweet and I like to use this one in Indian Pudding with cornmeal. The first two are Kabocha Squash, a sweet flavored Japanese variety, the skins on these are edible.  Steam it or bake it, either way a delightful treat.  Kabocha is one of my favorite winter squash, it can be used in place of Yams or Sweet Potatoes in your recipes. One of my favorite ways to use this is in a Vegetarian Black Bean Chili.  Here is a link to a great recipe using Sweet Potatoes.  Give it a try and substitute your favorite winter squash; it is also delicious using butternut squash.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Garden Update 2013

Onions amongst the Arugula and Bright Lights Swiss Chard. I removed the Red Winter Kale seedlings that you might be able to see here in the center of the onions, and transplanted to another area so they will have room to mature.  This area is the second planting and is growing leaps and bounds with the rains we are having. Just enough rain to keep the soil wet enough so I won't need to use the sprinklers.

A few of the Red Winter Kale I transplanted on Sunday.

Beets, Early Wonder, Bulls Blood and a Gourmet Blend, all from Botanical Interests Seeds.  I will thin them out to give them room to expand and eat the baby beets with the tops attached.  I just scrub the tiny ones lightly, and eat with the roots and all.

  Third planting of Lacinato Kale and Little Gem Romaine Lettuce.

I think this is Red Velvet, and below is Little Gem Romaine, both organic heirloom seed from Botanical Interest Seeds.  I started these a couple of months ago and put them out on Sunday.


Salad Burnet, is ready to pick and some will be in tonight's salad.  This herb grows year round for me, I keep it next to the house on the West side, but it is in the shade which it prefers this far South.  Salad Burnet has a light cucumber-melon flavor and is wonderful added to a vinaigrette dressing or just mixed in with your salad greens. It is lovely added to cucumber tea sandwiches or sprinkled over Cucumber Bisque.  Lucky for us it will still be here when I am growing cucumbers.

Winter Savory growing in my herb garden.  It is much stronger and pungent in flavor than the Summer Savory and holds up well in hearty Bean dishes.  Although the flavor is strong, add it fresh, near the end of cooking. Try adding it to white wine vinegar, it will give it a spicy peppery note.  I add Winter Savory in my bouquet garni when making my vegetable broths.
Here is one of several Nasturtium Fiesta Blend patches that cover my front bank. I pick the leaves and flowers when small and tender and add them to our salads.  Many people use the flowers to stuff with cream cheese and herbs.  Both the leaves and flowers have a light peppery taste. I love the leaves tossed with apple cider vinegar and pears as a salad.  In late summer I pick the seeds that will form and when they are green you can pickle them; they will be similar in flavor to caper's.

The Snow Peas and English Peas are blossoming now.  The white blossoms are from the English Peas and the pretty, pale pink blossoms shown in photo below are from the Snow Peas.  I picked a few of the tendrils to add to my Ginger-Honey Roasted Carrots for tonight's dinner.

I didn't plant enough radishes this year, but here are some from the Easter Egg Radish blend from Botanical Interest Seeds.  The one above is large at two inches across. Too big now to enjoy as it will be hot.  I will add it to the vegetable broth pot, along with the green tops. I don't waste the roots either, I just clean them well and add to my soups or chop finely and sprinkle onto salads or use in my vinaigrette's.

Easter Egg Radish and French Breakfast Radish.

I thinned out the Parisienne Carrot's and have just enough for my recipe tonight.

I have at least 5 volunteer tomato plants coming up.  I transplanted a few of these to give them some room as they were all coming up in the lettuce and onion patches. I have no idea if they will make it through the winter months or what variety they are, but that is what gardeners love about a volunteer, the surprise. 

Here are a few Bright Lights Swiss Chard seedlings that I transplanted out on Sunday.

I think this is Arugula Rocket Salad, from Botanical Interest Seed. Most of my markers faded in the sunlight, I will know in a few weeks if it is indeed arugula.

Here is Giant Red Mustard an heirloom from Botanical Interest Seeds, just now showing its colors. This is one I transplanted on Sunday so it is looking a little sad right now. The rain will perk it up and it will grow beyond 2 feet tall if I let it, but I will start picking the leaves in a few weeks. If let to grow too tall they become bitter and tough.

I will leave you with one of many Borage seedlings; annual volunteers that pop up all over my front yard and bank.  They don't enjoy being transplanted so I leave them where they decide to sprout and work around them.  This is what is in store for us in a couple of months Borage Ice Cubes.  The leaves are also edible with a cucumber flavor, and when picked young can be added to sandwiches and salads. But don't harvest when too old or large as the leaves are 'hairy' and get prickly shape.
Hibiscus Flower Tea adorned with Borage Flower Ice Cubes.  The flowers also look lovely floating in light, creamy soups and have a slight cucumber flavor.

Who loves a garden
Finds within his soul
Life's whole;
He hears the anthem of the soil
While ingrates toil;
And sees beyond his little sphere
The waving fronds of heaven clear.

Louise Seymour Jones

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Harvesting Kale and Mesclun

Earlier in November the cabbage moth worms were devouring our lacinato kale plants. I would check each day and if I found any, I would toss them in a garden far from my vegetable garden. I hoped that the birds would find them and eat them before they made their way back to my plants, besides I hate to kill anything.  This is the first nice batch I have picked from my plants, I would get enough now and then to add to a soup, but now I am getting at least two dozen leaves at a time.

The mesclun salad mix I planted is flourishing too.  This batch is from the Mesclun Sassy Salad seeds from Botanical Interests.  

Yesterday I also seeded more areas and transplanted some of the Red Winter Kale that was coming up in the mix, I want to make sure it has enough space to grow to full size.  Also transplanted some of the  Giant Red Mustard plants as these leaves grow to tremendous size and need the extra space.  If you like to harvest your Mesclun mix when small, you will not need to transplant any of them, but I like to allow some of  the seedlings to grow to full size.  These larger leaves are nice to use in soups, and fresh  salads.  I can pick a couple of the larger leaves and have plenty for a big pot of vegetable soup.