Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Harvest Monday 1/30/12

Somehow this week has started off a bit busy.  Here's my harvest Monday on Tuesday evening:

Broccoli: 1.4 oz
Turnip: 1.5 oz
Spinach: 0.6 oz
Lettuce: 2.2 oz
Radish: 13.3 oz
Beets: 2.2 oz

I got a bit impatient with my beets.  They've been in the ground since November, so I pulled some hoping there was more beet below ground than what I saw above ground.  Well, not really.

The radishes are much larger than the beets:

My weekly total was 1.77 lbs bring the first month of the year to 13.63 lbs.  Even though I would love to see some snow, this mild winter is making my first winter garden far more productive than I ever thought possible.

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter Hike

Today was a gorgeous January in Saturday with unusually warm temperatures.  It was the perfect day to go for a hike and do a little photography.  I love how the winter makes me notice the details of tree branches and bark.
Creek with logs and twisted vine

A Horsetail

Reflection of trees in a very green pond

A large pine- I love the branching pattern

Close-up of pine bark- must be giant ridges for ants!

White bark and blue skies
Sycamore bark - the original camouflage

Tree sap

Ant on a beech tree

View through a hollow tree

Tree stump circle

Rock wall with moss

Flower and fungus

Contorted tree trunks

Raccoon tracks

I hope everyone had a wonderful Saturday.  As for the garden, I planted peas!  This is the earliest I've ever planted peas and I'm hoping it'll stay warm enough for them to grow and produce before those 90 degree and higher days arrive.  At the rate our weather is going this year, I'm expecting an early spring and hot temperatures by April.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard... Turnip Time

I've had a steady supply of turnips for about two months.  I'm not drowning in them, but every week brings about two or three turnips.  Normally I boil them and mash them like potatoes and add a bit of butter with salt and pepper.  After a couple of weeks, it was time to try something new.

So this week, my recipe attempt is a turnip soufflé.  I have never made a souffle before and went into this recipe completely naive about the difficulties of falling soufflés.  I also decided to alter the recipe because I thought it required way too much butter.  I cut the butter in half, but didn't change the amount of flour and as I was cooking thought that this might be a problem.  I also replaced the heavy cream with 2% milk.  I'm posting the original recipe since I'm no soufflé expert.

Turnip Soufflé

SERVES 4 – 6

This recipe is from Clementine Paddleford's classic How America Eats (Scribner, 1960).

3 medium turnips, peeled, trimmed, and diced
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. yellow onion, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 eggs, separated

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 6-cup soufflé dish with 1 tsp. butter, dust with flour (tap out excess), and set aside.
2. Boil turnips in a pot of salted water over high heat until soft, 8–10 minutes; drain well and mash until smooth. Melt remaining butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in cream and mashed turnips and cook until thick, about 5 minutes.
3. Add onions and salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Remove pot from heat and gradually stir in egg yolks. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
4. Whisk egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form, gently fold into turnip mixture, and spoon into prepared dish. Bake until puffed and golden, 35–40 minutes.

This is how mine turned out:

With a not so happy looking face in the center!  I am still no soufflé expert, but I thought it was fluffy and yummy.  I definitely don't taste turnips in this recipe, so if your tired of turnips and have a pile of them, you should try this recipe.

If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I went to check on my seed trays and was very thrilled to see the beginnings of germination!  It's only been two days since I planted the seeds!  I am officially convinced that heat mats speed up germination.  I think this baby cauliflower agrees:

And this little head lettuce too:

Well, that was my exciting garden news of the day.  I'm hoping these tiny little seedlings grow to be healthy and productive members of my spring garden.   Perhaps I will finally harvest cauliflower this year.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Harvest Monday 1/23/12

This week has been all about the rain.  It has been dreary with a damp chill, but rarely below freezing.  I uncovered the beds in hopes of letting the plants air out and not rot. 

This week's harvest is similar to last week with 3.8 oz of broccoli:

The broccoli has only a couple of more small harvests remaining.  It has been nice to have a bit of broccoli throughout the winter.  I think next year I will devoted another row towards broccoli planting.  I just started broccoli seedlings for the spring and I'm thinking of planting more (if I can find the space). 

Unfortunately, cauliflower has not been a success.  I have six cauliflower plants and zero harvests.  One started producing a head and it turned brown and rotted while it was still very small.  Two of the plants were not planted in a bed with a row cover and though they are still alive, I doubt they will produce anything.  The remaining three plants are under a row cover and show no evidence of producing a head.  They have lots of leaves and look healthy, perhaps they will do something when spring arrives.

Also this week, I harvested three turnip roots at 8.6 oz:

And a handful of spinach at 0.5 oz:

My weekly total was 12.9 oz, bringing my yearly total to 10 lbs.

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Faith in a Seed

It's already that time of year to start seeds and I thought a little Thoreau could inspire growth.

I got two 48" x 20" heat mats, seed trays with plastic domes, and a light.  I was trying to decide what kind of light bulbs to get and ended up getting one cool bulb and one plant bulb.

For the soil I used Ferry Morse Seed Starter Mix.  I'm sure its cheaper to make my own mix, but I had this on hand.

Filled up the seed trays and planted seeds..

On the seed planting list is broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, onions, parsley, cabbage, and head lettuce.

I also started a spreadsheet to keep track of the seeds I plant and how they do, so I can learn what works and what doesn't.
Now its time to be patient, have faith in a seed, and expect wonders!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard... Radish Top Soup

I actually cooked something!  Usually I saute or steam veggies and that's about the extent of my cooking, but this week I got ambitious.  I have radishes hiding out under row covers.  Some days they look a bit pathetic, but they always bounce back.  I don't like throwing all the radish greens in the compost bin, so I started looking into recipes using radish tops.  I came upon a recipe for radish top soup.  This is not a recipe to make for your kids unless they love the color green.  It is not the prettiest soup, but it is tasty.

Here's the recipe with my changes in italics:


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, sliced
  • 4 cups raw radish greens
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 5 radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and saute until tender. Mix in the potatoes and radish greens, coating them with the butter. Pour in broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Allow the soup mixture to cool slightly, and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.  Don't try to blend it all at once.  At least my blender couldn't handle it and started smoking!!
  3. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Mix in the milk. Cook and stir until well blended. Serve with radish slices and Parmesan cheese.
Here's the finished soup:

I also made the French bread using Kittencal's French Bread recipe.  It was my first attempt at making French bread and I was very happy with the results.  A perfect meal to enjoy on a chilly winter evening!

If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Permanent Additions to the Garden

In planning for my spring garden, I have decided to add some permanent members to the landscape. 

One permanent addition I have been dreaming about for years is asparagus.  I have planted asparagus in the past, but I have never been able to stay long enough to harvest.  I'm hoping this time I can still be at my current location in three years to enjoy fresh asparagus.  I decided to order Jersey Knight roots because they are mostly male and are suppose to be highly productive.  I have the bed picked out for the asparagus to call home.  Currently broccoli are in that bed, but they are about done with only side shoots left for harvesting.  Soon I will pull them and add some compost and await my asparagus roots and then I will be waiting for awhile for those first fresh asparagus spears:

 Next on my list of permanent garden additions is grape vines.  The arbor at the entrance of my garden looks empty and I dream of clusters of grapes greeting me.  In searching for grape varieties, I decided I want seedless red grapes.  We are lucky to have a muscadine vine naturally growing next to the driveway.  They have a wonderful flavor that brings back childhood memories of  muscadine eating and picking.  They have a very thick skin and plenty of seeds, so I want something different in the garden.  After reading descriptions I decided on Reliance grapes because they are suppose to be one of the best tasting and I want grapes for snacking rather than wine or jam making.

I have been wanting to add berries to my harvest because they are so yummy and not too cheap at the store especially if you want organic. I have already gone on and on about my blueberry dreams.  Next on my wish list for berries are raspberries, which were a maybe for this year because I have to build a new bed for them.  However, since I already filled my shopping cart with two grape vines and 25 asparagus roots, I thought I might as well throw in raspberries and save myself some shipping fees.  I began researching what raspberries to plant and I learned that raspberries don't like hot and humid weather, which is an accurate description of SC for almost half the year.  The best bet for the south seems to be Caroline raspberries, from what I read they seem the most heat and drought tolerant.  So I added five raspberry plants to my order, which means I have to build a bed for them soon.  I want a raspberry bed like this gardener in Alaska made:


It's going to be a busy spring!  As for that garden budget, these permanent additions cost me $87.80 and so far this year my harvest is worth $12.98.  January and I already have a garden deficit!  I definitely will not be making my money back from these permanent additions any time soon.  Long term investments will eventually be worth it.... right?  Hopefully they live long enough to produce yummy harvests.  I also have a feeling I will be battling the birds for berries and grapes.

Do you have permanent garden plants?  Which ones are your favorite?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Harvest Monday 1/16/12

First I have an exciting new addition to my weekly harvests:

Not the broccoli, the digital scale!  I ran into it on sale last week and now I've been happily weighing my veggies with a new sense of accuracy.

On to the harvest: I had 6.4 oz of broccoli, 7.2 oz of radishes (I weighed the roots and leaves separately because I used the tops to make radish top soup- I'll post recipe and pictures soon), 0.6 oz of spinach, 0.7 oz of lettuce, 0.4 oz of pac choi, and 10.9 oz of turnips.  

My weekly total was 2.18 lbs, no complaints for mid January. 

Year total: 9.2 lbs

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bean Seeds Dilemma

Last weekend felt like spring, but this weekend actually feels like winter.  I wanted to do some work in the potting shed, but I haven't mustered up the motivation to go out in the cold.  Instead I'm at looking up seeds, which is dangerous.  I have problems with self control when it comes to seeds.  They are relatively cheap and they are magical- a packet of seeds can have me dreaming about where they will go, anticipation of their germination, joy of watching them grow, curiosity of their flowering and fruiting, dreams of harvesting, eating, and thoughts of new recipes I can try-  all this from a little seed packet!

I already went through and inventoried my seeds and made a list of what I needed.  The list wasn't too long: broccoli, cauliflower, pickling cucumber, parsnips, leeks, onions, summer and winter squash, peanuts, eggplant, parsley, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  I already ordered all these seeds (most from Heirloom Seeds) and they have arrived, but seed catalogs also keep arriving.  Why do there have to be so many choices?  I love the ideal of heirlooms, but I get overwhelmed with all the choices!

After drooling over more seed catalogs and circling the varieties I want to try (not this year!), I decided to map out my spring garden and see how much I have room for and how many seeds I can squeeze in.  The results of my mapping reveal that I probably need to order more bush beans. Yes, more seeds!!  In the past I have mostly picked beans as snap beans, but I want to try more dried beans.  Black beans and kidney beans are the ones I buy the most for cooking and eating, so I should grow them.  Of course in looking for beans I have now picked nine varieties that look fabulous:  Appaloosa, Calypso Red, Cannellini, Dabble Grey, Hidatsa Red, Koronis Purple, Lina Sisco's Bird Egg, Tiger's Eye, and Black Turtle.

Tiger's Eye

Dabble Grey
Lina Sisco's Bird Egg

Red Calypso
Koronis Pur


Black Turtle
Hidatsa Red

Now my goal is to narrow this list down to about three varieties.  I should go with the Black Turtle since I use black beans a lot.  The Appaloosa are described as being similar to kidney beans, so they should make the cut.  I don't think I can turn down the Tiger's Eye because of their color and they are good for making refried beans, so that would be different from the other two.  That's already three, huh?  Ok just one more.  I dropped the Hidatsa Red because they can have 3' vines and I want more compact bush beans.  Cannellini would probably be the most useful and versatile, but Lina Sisco's Bird Egg beans are sooo pretty!  Decisions, decisions!

Anyone have a dried bean variety that you absolutely love? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Much Are My Veggies Worth?

I am interested in knowing how much my organically grown veggies are worth, but trying to get an accurate price seems difficult.  I could always go to the farmer's market or scope out the produce section at the grocery store for the prices, but finding organics can be a challenge for a lot of veggies here.  (South Carolina has 122 acres of organic agriculture out of a total of 4.8 million acres!)  I could always search online, but the price I find might be in California or New Hampshire and may not be accurate for produce here. 

However, I have found the solution.. thanks to USDA.  They have a database of market prices and you can search according the region, type of fruit or veggie, organic or not, and dates.  You can also download the data as an Excel file, which will make it easy to sort.  This makes me very happy!  It allows me to get the most accurate price and if there's not an organic option for my region then I can get the national average.

Here's a screen shot of the database:

To test it out I had to look up my two whole weeks of harvest this year: organic broccoli for $2.99/lb, cabbage at $0.98/ lb, spinach $5.10/lb, romaine $2.99/lb.  I did find a limitation to this database.. it does not have all vegetables.  No turnips or rutabagas are included in the database, but it is definitely a great place to start.  My veggies for 2012 so far are worth $7.57 (excluding turnips).

Can't wait until the summer bounty comes in and I can find out how much my gardening habit is worth!

Harvest Monday 1/9/12

After the brief appearance of winter this week, we are back up to the upper 60's, in January... crazy!  I have made it through the second harvest Monday of weighing everything.  Well, except for three green onion stems that weigh nothing according to my scale!  I'm still eying that digital scale.

This week there was 2 oz of broccoli.  Not a lot, but I won't complain because broccoli is one of my favorite veggies, so I will take what I can get.

Also this week, I picked a handful of spinach that weighed 0.5 oz.  I realized while eating it that I forgot to take a picture.  The rest of my harvest this week was lettuce- mostly romaine leaves and green leaf lettuce.  It went into my falafel sandwiches (yummy!) that I was addicted to this week.  I remembered to take a picture one day:

For the week, I harvested 1 oz of lettuce.  This week's harvest was only 3.5 oz, putting my year total so far at 6.83 lbs.

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions