Monday, May 30, 2016

Harvest Monday 5/30/16

My garden is picking up the pace.  I harvested my first ever Chinese cabbage.  I've never grown it before and I've also never eaten it before.  Here it is with my first amaranth greens of the season.

With my first ever Chinese cabage I'm going to make some stir fry.  I hope that I like it.  I grow the amaranth and cabbage under a row cover and was very disappointed to find that the amaranth were covered with aphids.  The rest of the veggies under the row cover looked fine except for the amaranth.  I grow amaranth for the greens.  It and Swiss chard are my reliable summer greens.  After the cabbage and broccoli are done, then I will remove the row cover so that natural predators like ladybugs can get to the aphids.

Also this week was plenty of lettuce.

This will probably be the last week of this All Star mix before it starts bolting.  I do have some heat tolerant lettuce planted to continue the lettuce harvest as the temperatures continue to increase.

This is a random assortment of an onion (white castle), peas (I think those are green arrow) and our first ever apple that was not successful.

Our apple trees are now three years old and this spring was the first time they flowered and set a few fruits.  This little apple was looking so perfect and we were hoping we were going to harvest our first apple ever this year.  Sadly that was not the case, as this little apple fell from the tree.  We are going to have to wait even longer for the first apple harvest.

I continue to have plenty of greens, mainly kale and Swiss chard.  They get sauteed and added to my breakfast.  I've gotten a bit tired of the green smoothies, but still make them one or two times per week.

I also harvested turnips this week.  I've had a lot of damage to my turnip greens this year that you can read about here.  I was happy to still get some decent sized turnips despite the leaf munching.

I made garlic parmesan mashed turnips that were very delicious.  I'm not a huge turnip fan, but when you add cheese, butter and garlic they are much more edible!

I also harvested some snowpeas and made some fried rice that included more greens.

Weekly harvests:

Turnips 1.4 lbs
Lettuce 1.75 lbs
Chard 0.5 lbs
Kale         0.5 lbs
Peas         0.9 lbs
Onion 2.2 oz
Chinese cabbage 2.8 lbs
Amaranth  0.6 lbs

Yearly total: 98.8 lbs - almost at the one hundred pound mark!

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday on Our Happy Acres.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Turnip Leaf Damage

As I walked the rows of my garden, I noticed that my turnip leaves were looking ragged.  Something has been chewing away on the turnip greens, which is odd.  I’ve never had this problem in the past.  On further investigation, I discovered many insects hanging out in my little turnip patch.  Here I interrogate three turnip eating suspects to determine the guilty pest.

Turnip Eating Suspect #1:  Grasshopper Nymph

Grasshoppers will definitely eat leaves, but this was one small insect so I’m thinking that all the damage wasn’t due to this one tiny grasshopper.

Turnip Eating Suspect #2:   Harlequin Bug

This pretty bug isn’t a gardener’s friend.  Harlequin bugs are sap suckers, so I can’t blame it for all the eaten leaves.  However, these bugs can cause plants to wilt and die due to sap sucking.  Cabbage is one of their favorite plants along with other Brassicas, including turnips.  I found two of these in my turnips, which isn’t a good sign and may cause problems in the future, but they are not the ones eating the turnip leaves.

Turnip Eating Suspect #3: Yellowmargined Leaf Beetle

These little beetles look harmless.  However, there are a ton of them among the turnip leaves.  This is a non-native species from South America that has invaded the southeast of the United States.  They like to eat the leaves of Brassicas and turnips are their favorite crop!  It appears I have found the guilty suspect.   

The next question is what to do about these yellowmargined leaf beetles.  This website from the University of Florida has some helpful information.  For conventional growers, use of insecticides is effective.  For the organic grower, like me, the prognosis isn’t as good.  It is difficult to control their populations without synthetic pesticides.  Some good news is that they are only active during cool weather and become inactive once the temperature is consistently above 80 F.  We’ve had unusually cool weather the last week, but it is warming up, so hopefully they won’t do too much more damage.  

The spined soldier bug is a predator of the yellowmargined leaf beetles.  Unfortunately I did not see any among my turnips, yet.  Maybe reinforcements are on their way!  In the meantime, I will use my tedious pest management technique: a jar of soapy water, my hands and the time to pick off the little bugs.  I know it will be impossible to get every individual, but hopefully if I can put a dent in their population then my turnips can grow and survive.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

Harvest Monday 5/23/16

Spring is rushing by.  We've had plenty of downpours this month, which has made the garden grow, along with the weeds.  It is also officially summer vacation for me, so I get to be a full-time gardener for the next three months!  Along with the veggies growing, the bug populations have also exploded.  Despite the bugs, I've had plenty of harvests coming in.

The big harvest this week is peas at 3.1 lbs.  The English peas we eat raw- pop open the pods and munch away.  I have used the snowpeas in stir fry and have more to cook.  Domino also enjoys peas.  When I harvest them he will stand there with his sad eyes and wait for me to give him an imperfect pea.  However, he has now learned to take harvesting into his own paws, or more accurately, his own teeth and pulls them off the vine all by himself!

The greens are very abundant right now.  I've harvested lettuce, kale and Swiss chard this week.  The lettuce is the Allstar mix from Johnny's Selected Seeds.  It is a beautiful and tasty mix.

The kale and chard have been sauteed with eggs, cooked in a quiche, roasted and I have finally resorted to making green smoothies.  I have found that I prefer Swiss chard over kale in smoothies.  The color of the smoothies when you add frozen strawberries turns a not so appetizing brown. I will spare you a photo.

I also harvested the first of the spring turnips.  I will be making mashed turnips later this week to go with lentil loaf (a vegetarian version of meatloaf).

Weekly harvests:
Turnips: 2 lbs
Lettuce: 1 lb
Swiss chard: 0.7 lbs
Kale: 0.6 lbs
Peas: 3.1 lbs

Yearly total: 92.4 lbs

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week.  To see what others are harvesting, check out Harvest Monday on Our Happy Acres.