Monday, November 17, 2014

Harvest Monday - November 17, 2014


This is it....and by IT I mean my harvests are officially at an end for the 2014 season.

I messed up this past week…and instead of a harvest, it was more of a salvage operation.

When temperatures first went down earlier in the week, I didn’t realize that they would go quite so low or be as sustained.  I went out to the garden the other day and all of the brassicas that were left in the beds – Russian kale, pak choi & some tiny broccoli heads - had a decidedly droopy appearance.

Temperatures have been a lot colder than average.  Last year was pretty bad, but prior to that, I’m pretty sure the ground wasn’t even frozen yet by the end of November.  Our average temperatures at this time of year should be around 6°C (43°F) with lows around -1 (30°F).  In the past few days, I don’t think we got past 2°C (36°F) with lows of -4°C (25°C).

In fact, I see that we are expecting lows of -8°to -9°C (17°F) for 5 days in a row this coming week….yikes.  We don’t normally get that cold until the end of December.  I guess when they said it was going to be a bad winter this year, they also meant that it was going to be an early winter.

So I went out to the garden and harvested what I could of my droopy, frost bitten veg.
 
Frozen Harvest on a Snowy Deck
Yup....winter is officially here
The kale was not too bad.  Normally I had been using this variety in salads, but in it's droopy state, I decided to blanch & freeze it instead.

Final Harvest - Red Russian Kale
 
The broccoli was ok too.  I also picked some of the tender top leaves and the whole lot was made into a cream of broccoli soup.
 
Final Harvest - Munchkin & Packman Broccoli
 
The pak choi didn’t fare as well.  The leaves were useable but the constant freeze & thaw took its toll on the stalks.  So unfortunately, the stalks ended up in the compost.
 
Final Harvest - Joi Choi Hybrid
 
There was one other harvest, so to speak, in that the coriander seeds were dry and I was able to pack them up.
 
Dried Coriander Seeds
 
I took Michelle & Dave’s suggestion and picked the flower heads while most of the seeds were still green and then left them in the garage to dry.  Originally I wasn’t going to include these in the tally as I thought they would amount to maybe a few grams.  But in the end those few plants gave me over half a cup of seeds!  And wow - were they ever fragrant!  No more store bought coriander seed for me!!

And….drumroll please…..I managed to just squeak past the 500 lb. mark.  And when I say squeak I mean SQUEEEEEEK – it was the cilantro seeds, of all things, that brought me over the top. 

Hip hip hurray!  I was so sure - as I reluctantly cut off the frozen pak choi stalks - that they would have made the difference between being over or under the 500 mark.

Broccoli - 190 grams (0.41 lbs)
Chinese Cabbage – 372 grams (0.82 lbs)
Kale – 200 grams (0.44 lbs)
Cilantro Seeds – 36 grams (0.08 lbs)

Total for Week – 798 grams (1.76 lbs)

Total to Date – 226.83 kg (500.06 lbs)

Back in the spring, I didn’t even hazard a guess as to what my harvest total for the year would be.  Not only did I expand the garden by 3x the original size, but I was also growing a number of crops that I had never tried before.

In the grand scheme of things, a pound here & a pound there makes very little difference.  But knowing how much you harvested is really gratifying.  I also like to see how changes in culture and variety, together with factors such as weather, impact on the harvest.  I have been tallying my harvests since the beginning – long before I started this blog - and I will definitely continue doing so in the future.

To see what everyone else has been harvesting over the past week, head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions, our host for Harvest Mondays.

And now I will leave you with what we woke up to this morning....

First Big Snowfall of the Season
 
Other than the fact that I hadn't covered my garlic/strawberry beds with straw yet - I am NOT looking forward to that - the first big snowfall is always exciting.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

14 comments:

  1. Brrrr. And congrats on the 500 mark. It is hard to know what to expect for the first year of a garden. Though to be honest it is hard to know what to expect from one you have had for a few years either. I harvested a third more in 2012 than I did in 2013. Gardening always brings you surprises, both the good and the bad.

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    1. Thanks Daphne! That is so true about gardening surprises - every year seems to bring it's fair share, that's for sure!

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  2. Congrats on that 500lb mark! Who knew that coriander was that mighty? The cold we are having here took me by surprise too. I was out covering the garlic with straw even as snowflakes were starting to fall yesterday. The snow should act as insulation for your garlic (and mine). They are predicting a low of 10°F here tonight.

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    1. Thanks Dave! The long range forecast shows a "warm" spell by the end of the coming weekend with temps going into the 40's...I'm hopeful that I will be able to get the straw on the beds & then not have to worry for the rest of the winter. Otherwise, I will be out there shoveling my garlic bed ;)

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  3. Aren't green coriander seeds a revelation! I love them. It's sad to see your harvests come to an end. Congratulations on hitting the 500 pound mark! I bet next year your harvests will be more abundant than ever.

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    1. Thanks Michelle! The coriander is amazing....I couldn't believe how fragrant it was...just heavenly. I'm so looking forward to using them.

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  4. Congratulations, 500 pounds! Fantastic results. I'm inspired to track my own tallies next year. I also neglected to mulch the garlic (or at least not as much as I had intended to). I like to think of these early cold temperatures as the advancing of winter with the hopes of an earlier spring! :)

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    1. Thanks Susie! Wouldn't an early spring be nice...I enjoy winter, but usually by February, I've had enough & am itching for the first signs of spring.

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  5. Had a coating of snow last week but all disappeared before mid-morning and no harm was done to the crops. this week is a different story though, going to be a frigid week. Congrats on reaching 500 pounds.

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    1. Thanks Norma! Looks like everyone east of California is getting a bit of frostbite this week.

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  6. Hey, 500lbs! Wow that's a lot of food! Hmm, like Susie, you guys are really making me want to measure everything too but I'm not sure how diligent I'd be.
    You still had a good week considering the weather though! Some years we don't even get snow or get it weirdly in March or April. But when we have had bad winters the brassicas seem to pick up again despite looking droopy for a long time so you never know, if you leave the kale etc in you might get some spring leaves.
    I don't do very well with coriander / cilantro, it tends to bolt, though if you're after seeds that's a good thing!

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    1. Our winters have been relatively mild (for us!) in the last decade or so - it was always a guessing game as to whether we would have a white Christmas or not. But last year we got walloped....and the elusive "they" said that we would be getting another bad winter again this year. Looks like "they" were right!

      We are expecting a bit of a thaw this weekend so I'll be out there covering the garlic & strawberry beds with straw. I'm also going to put some straw on the beds with the kale & am hoping this will help them get through the winter for some early greens.

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  7. Good for you to get 500 lbs. I gave up on weighing mine. I have a little kale under a plastic box with a pillowcase over it! It still gets frozen a little but I cut and bring in the house and it is still good. Mine is still small. Nancy

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    1. That little kale must be so yummy! One of these days I will be organized enough to protect some of those cool weather veg so that I can extend the harvest into the early winter.

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