It’s Dec. 6. We had a dusting of snow just before Thanksgiving — thankfully it didn’t stick. This week will be the last time the township collects leaves and yard debris until March, so we did our best to send them off with a few big piles (and that’s after the really big pile of leaves turning into compost behind the forsythia at the back of the yard).
The Brit decided to make a mint (from the garden) and pea (not) risotto for dinner, with greens from the garden on the side, and decided I should help with the harvest.
And what a harvest! I hadn’t paid much attention to many of the beds recently, and we’ve had quite a bit of rain recently. So when we peered over the chicken wire, we could see the tops of some Easter Egg radishes popping through the soil. We quickly picked the fattest of those, hoping the remaining ones will take the opportunity to spread out.
Across the bed, I spotted some oblong white ones through the leaves. When I parted the foliage, I could see these white “icicle” radishes had pushed themselves halfway above the soil. They looked more like popsicles (a word the Brit learned only last weekend, thanks to the neighbors — they’re ice lollies in Brit-speak) than icicles. So we harvested most of those. I don’t remember having had quite this size of crop in the past. Definitely super-easy to grow as long as your soil is crumbly.
The question was then what to do with the greens. Were they edible? A quick Google search turned up this recipe for radish leaf pesto, and into the food processor everything went. We ended up with a vivid green spread. That will be set aside for something tomorrow — grilled chicken, perhaps? or slathered on top of a slice of roasted eggplant?
The Brit has decided we need a new bed for salad greens and herbs with an easy-off top that will make the plants more easily accessible than in Fort Knox.
So off we went to Lowe’s today to buy wood for a (small!) four-by-four bed, plus the plastic pipes that will support the chicken-wire cover (including a top). The frame is done, as you can see, and the rest will be done sometime in the next week or so, around work and travel. He’s got some elaborate plan for soil mixture, courtesy of Square-Foot Gardening, though he says he is looking for a more sustainable alternative to peat moss. Feel free to weigh in. I think it’s all yet another attempt to find a way to win against the squirrels with strawberry plants.
On Saturday, we harvested some leeks that had fattened up over the winter. Yum! They were skinny seedlings, about the thickness of a blade of grass, packed in a four-pack that he found in Michigan last May. Not bad…
Finally, the garden is looking very green, and I feel like we have filled in the flower beds even more than last year. A few bearded iris have bloomed, and I think the big pop is just a few days away. I’ve spotted a few tiny, bright yellow petticoat-like daffodils, but otherwise they are gone. The creeping phlox also is starting to fade. The big color right now is from the columbines:
We left some Swiss chard and greens under the cold frame all winter and finally harvested them today to use in lasagna instead of frozen spinach. The Brit also pulled out some leeks, which he sauteed “low and slow” in butter, following a recipe from his new Nigel Slater vegetable cookbook. The result is tender leeks with a touch of sweetness, even if the amount of butter was a bit Paula Deen-esque.
Almost makes up for it being so dry that the peas we planted three weeks ago haven’t sprouted (and maybe have been baked in this heat).
Our 4 1/2-year-old next-door-neighbor excitedly pointed to the cherry tomatoes in his family’s garden. Kind of strange, since he doesn’t like tomatoes, but he does like his garden and he’d just gotten his dad to dig up a few carrots, so he was pretty excited. It didn’t take much pleading to get him to let me have one. Mmmmm…… Flavor. So much better than the hard piece of tomato that I just ate (purchased from the store yesterday).
They bought their plants from the farm down the road, and it was always clear that they would have tomatoes first. But ours (mostly started from seed in the basement) are catching up, with flowers and even some green tomatoes. We have two that we transplanted over Memorial Day weekend into our DIY Earth Boxes (see http://www.abovergroundfarming.com for directions). The black cherry tomato plant is already taller than we are, and the Ramapo isn’t far behind. So far, no critters have invaded the front porch for a taste.
What we do have is a glut of salad greens. The Brit started so many from seed under the lights, and I fear some are still there. (At least it’s easy to get some for a sandwich). He is using garlic scapes plus some arugula that bolted to make a pesto for tonight’s pasta. But I think we have a solid month of Thai green lettuce (seeds courtesy of my sister-in-law) already ready to harvest. That’s before the mustard greens and other Asian greens growing happily in the beds. Offer your best salad ideas because this is the summer I’m going to have to learn to love it!
Finally, some shots of the garden, courtesy of a friend who stopped by on yesterday’s garden tour:
We’re starting to harvest from our square feet (being square-foot garden adherents). Asian snow peas, white heirloom radishes from the sister-in-law’s seeds gift, giant Swiss Chard leaves (never has this kind of success with them before), plus arugula, various salad greens and broccoli raab that has seen better days. (We ripped it out tonight and replaced it with water spinach seedlings we bought at our Farmers’ Market. What’s water spinach? We have no idea!)