Monday, June 1, 2015

Harvest Monday - June 1, 2015


This past week I harvested my first ever good crop of radishes:

From left to right:
1 Scarlet Globe, 2 Easter Egg & 5 French Breakfast
 
For the last few years, I had been intercropping the radishes amongst other brassicas.  They are such a fast maturing crop & can be spaced so close together that I figured this would be a great way of saving space.

But my radish harvests were always mediocre - I would harvest a few adequately sized bulbs, but most would either be fairly small or even nonexistent as the plant would bolt before it formed a bulb.  I wasn't sure what the problem was until Mark made a comment in one of his posts last year about poor growth on radishes if they were planted with other crops that shaded them out.  The light bulb went on at that point - that is exactly what I had been doing.  I would plant the seeds in long rows in between other brassicas such as collards and bok choy, and then these plants quickly overshadowed the radishes.  My few good radishes were likely those that were planted near the edge of the bed.

Just to give you a better idea what a big difference planting the radishes in their own spot made - my first harvest of Scarlet Globe last year weighed in at 38 grams (1.34 oz) for 4 radishes; this year the single Scarlet Globe I harvested so far weighted 20 grams (0.71 oz).  That's twice as large as the bulbs I harvested last year.

An Easter Egg & French Breakfast Radish
In hand for perspective
 
I also harvested the first of the Russian kale to use in a salad.  Last year I grew Red Russian and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I decided to give it's sister variety, White Russian, a try this year.

White Russian on the left; Red Russian on the right
 
Both varieties are growing side by side in the bed, but the first thing I noticed when harvesting was that all of the White Russian plants were larger than the Red Russian.  The White Russian was definitely due for a harvest, but the Red Russian was just barely ready, so I only picked a few leaves from it.

I harvested the largest leaves from both varieties - you can see the difference in the photo above.  At this stage, I'm not sure if this is because Red Russian is actually smaller or if it simply doesn't grow as quickly as the White Russian.

I use Russian kale primarily raw - it's tender, easier to clean than curly kale, and has just enough texture to work well in a salad.  Jo had asked if there was a difference in taste between the white & red varieties, so I did a bit of a comparison.  Although there is not a huge difference between them, I did find the white variety to be slightly sweeter & not as strongly flavoured as the red.  Now, this is based on what the leaves taste like raw and these differences may be muted or disappear entirely if the kale is cooked.

Also harvested this past week was some spinach.  All of the Galilee & a couple of the Viroflay were bolting.  I pulled the bolting plants and harvested what I could from them, which wasn't all that much, especially from the Galilee.  For that one, even the tiny seedlings that germinated from directly sown seeds were bolting.

Viroflay Spinach
 

Galilee Spinach
 
I'm giving up on Galilee; I think I'm just in the wrong latitude & it will likely bolt early, no matter when I plant it.  Considering what a hard time I'm having trying to grow spinach as it is, it's just not worth fiddling around with a variety that's obviously not suited to my area.

Also harvested but not photographed was the little onion from last years onion bed that overwintered; I used it up as a green onion.

My harvest totals this week were:

Radishes – 164 grams (0.36 lbs)
Kale - 188 grams (0.41 lbs)
Bunching Onions - 28 grams (0.06 lbs)
Spinach - 194 grams (0.43 lbs)

Total for Week – 574 grams (1.27 lbs)

Total to Date – 1.77 kg (3.91 lbs)

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

Till next time…

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

33 comments:

  1. It is interesting your comparison between White and Red Russian kales. In general I've found that to be true for all red/purple brassicas. I want to grow the colored type, but they just aren't as nice. I've grown both kales before (and both got huge) and never noticed much of a difference, but then I never did a side by side taste test. I picked red to grow because colorful food is supposed to be good for you. I'd grow a lot more purple types if I could. But the mizuna just bolts too fast and doesn't grow as well. The purple bok choy is very slow to grow and smaller, and is slightly bitter. I tried the purple choy sum this year and I didn't like it as the stems got too tough. I even quit growing kolibri because winner grows so much better for me and doesn't get woody as fast. Red Russian however I like. So I'm keeping it. At least for spring. It won't over winter here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The taste difference between the red and white was fairly subtle - I doubt I would have noticed it if I hadn't done the side by side taste test. I haven't grown that many differently coloured leaf vegetables yet other than lettuces. This year I'm growing peppermint chard (unfortunately all my Bright Lights seedlings damped off...not sure yet if I'll start another round of those) along with the standard green Fordhook Giant. I'm wondering if I'll notice a taste difference for those. I'm also trying kolibri. The Vienna kohlrabi I'm currently growing doesn't seem to get very large before getting woody, so the kolibri won't have too much competition on that front. I love having a rainbow of colours on the plate but, like you, I doubt I would continue to grow a variety that doesn't perform well or taste good, simply because of the colour.

      Delete
    2. I grow a white chard because it tastes better to me. I keep wanting to put in the pretty colored ones but they taste too beety to me. I hate beets. I even cut the stems from the chard and toss them as they taste too much like beets for me. But you mentioned lettuce. You found a green where I like the red varieties about as much as the green. Though to be honest my favorite, Deer Tongue, is green. But I've been growing Red Sails for longer than any other lettuce variety.

      Delete
    3. Oh, that's too funny! I'm not a beet fan either - one of the few veg I really dislike where I wouldn't eat it if it was on the plate. I do eat the stems from the green chard and never noticed a beety flavour, although they are usually mixed in with the leaves (in soups, curries, etc) so I'm not sure I've ever had them by themselves. So now you have me wondering how I will find the Peppermint chard - it's so pretty, I hope I like it.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the link and for answering my question. I think I shall try one of the Russian varieties next year providing the kale I'm growing this year doesn't suffer from whitefly infestations. I had terrible trouble with it on my last allotment site but now I've moved, I'm trying it again. I'm hoping that the change of location might help. You're doing well with your harvests already this year and isn't it great when you've had a bit of trouble with something to finally manage some perfect specimens? The radishes look really great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jo! I love solving problems and I especially love solving gardening problems. If I am able to solve even one issue, big or small, each year, I will be very happy. I hope you have better results growing kale in your new plot; it's such a great crop to grow & relatively easy if only those pests would keep their little mouths off of it. In my garden, cabbage white butterfly is rampant, so the brassica beds are first in line to be covered with netting in the spring.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations on your fine radishes! I haven't had much success with them either, and maybe it's because I have also been interplanting them. This year, I interplanted them along with my beets and it has been my most successful year with radishes... having harvested a small handful of them, which is pretty dismal considering how many plants I have growing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Live and learn, right? When I first read that they may be shaded out by the other brassicas, it was one of those "now why didn't I think of that" moments. It seems so obvious....after the fact.

      Delete
  4. Good looking variety of radishes. Are they different in flavor? Interesting different kind of spinach. Money saved!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All of the radishes were crunchy, with a bit of bite at the end. They all tasted really good - I couldn't tell much difference between them.

      Delete
  5. Nice job on the radishes. I think I have tried interplanting them, usually in teh corners a square with a slower growing plant. But given my flea beetle problem, I can only grow them if I cover them or spray them, so that limits what I can plant them with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The radishes are in a brassica bed which gets covered to protect it from the cabbage white butterflies. I'm trying to keep plant families together in the same bed for crop rotation but one of the side benefits is that it simplifies things when it comes to covering the beds. Although based on how things seem to be progressing each year, pretty soon most of my beds will be covered for one reason or another!

      Delete
  6. Spinach is weird, some varieties grow well for me and others I try just never make it, so I tend to stay with the ones that will grow. When I plant radishes they usually go into the squash bed at the corners. By the time the squash are big enough to shade them they are out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, so far my experience with spinach has been either marginal or bad...so I'm getting rid of the bad and hoping to improve on the marginal! I'm trying 6 varieties this year and none are doing amazing, but we did have a very hot spell in the last few weeks. Sometimes it's hard to tell if the reason for a bad harvest is the variety, the weather, the soil or something else entirely.

      Delete
  7. I love your side by side photo and comparison of the Russian kales. I've grown Red Russian before in fall, and it doesn't overwinter for me here either. It's my first time growing White Russian, and I usually eat kale cooked. My first (and second) impression of the White Russian was "wow, that has a great taste". The size is definitely larger for me than the red one.

    Let me add that White Russian is a Frank Morton (Wild Garden Seeds) introduction, and I am a big fan of his creations. He has worked to introduce new o/p varieties, and improve existing strains. I love his Wild Garden Mix kale, and Purple Peacock broccoli, Red Ursa kale and Mizspoona are all his creations too. I've grown a lot of his seeds over the last few years, and for the most part they are great performers in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that bit of history - I'll be reading up on Frank Morton (and I'm sure adding to my ever expanding "to try" list in the process!).

      I had a feeling that the White may be bigger as a variety simply because of how it's laid out in the bed. If one of the Russians was going to grow faster/bigger, I would have thought it would be the Red as it's at the edge of the bed, so it gets a bit more light. The White is in between the Red and the NCK.

      I haven't yet tried the Russian kale cooked, and I have a feeling I'm missing out - I sometimes forget that it's not only one way or the other.

      Delete
  8. I plant red Russian but not white Russian, will try that next season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really nice, Norma...a definite must try.

      Delete
  9. Great improvement on your radishes! The french breakfast look wonderful. I grew red kale last year alongside tuscan kale - loved them both. This year, I've added curly kale for the first time and white russian kale (no more seeds for the red variety). I seem to like all varieties so far. My arugula has bolted this spring - honestly, first time I've ever had that happen - it's just been such a hot spring for us here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has been so hot, I was actually thinking that the radishes would be much more strongly flavoured than they were for that reason.

      I can't wait to see how you do with the curly kale. I was going to try it last fall as an overwintering crop, but, as I'm sure you know, the seeds I purchased didn't produce a curly kale at all. Other than for overwintering, I haven't been anxious to give it a try as the thought of cleaning all those nooks and crannies has put me off...but maybe it's not as bad as I think.

      Delete
  10. Nice comparison on the radishes, I usually put them with the beans but haven't grown them in couple years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm quite liking having them in their own little spot; I'll be trying to succession sow some more in the same spot (to get the most from my bed!) as soon as these are pulled although I don't know how well they will do in the heat of summer.

      Delete
  11. Interesting comparisons. I may never find out. My white Russian Kale I tried this year has been eaten down completely now by "it". I give up. I have far too much going on right now --still trying to plant. Had frost yet again. Sigh.
    Your radishes look amazing. I've not had good luck with them. They tend towards being quit "rooty"---lots of threadlike roots coming out of the sides. I'll try again in the fall, of course, but this springs crop was an embarrasment!
    Have a good week

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This weather is driving me nuts too from sweltering heat one day to almost freezing the next. After having hardened off my peppers & eggplants, I had to bring them back in the house for a couple of days because of the cold temps.

      I know all about bad radishes - so many of mine were simply "roots" last year. Considering the freakishly hot weather a couple of weeks ago, I'm actually surprised they did as well as they did this year. I hope you have better luck with your radishes in the fall. And have a wonderful week too!

      Delete
  12. I'm trying radishes in the Woodblocx raised bed this year and in soil based compost - they didn't like the rubbishy compost that I used last year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't wait to see your radish harvest - those Woodblocx beds are just made to produce fabulous root crops. btw - what is soil based compost vs. regular compost - around here, there is just plain "compost".

      Delete
    2. It's called John Innes and instead of having peat or green waste it is made from loam, peat, sand or grit, and fertiliser, We have mixed it with top soil. Composts based on green waster here are very unreliable.

      Delete
  13. I've also found that radishes need their own space to do well. Lately I've been giving them a bit of light shade and an extra sprinkle of water on warm days. The surface soil in my big planter boxes dries out, especially when I rely solely on the drip lines, so I give the shallow rooted and newly planted veggies a sprinkle now and then. The radishes do seem to appreciate it.

    Both Russian kales are beautiful. I have seeds for the red one but haven't grown it yet, perhaps I should finally get around to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great point! I had the radishes in a bed with drip lines last year. As you said, the surface soil does dry out, even when the soil is fairly moist an inch or so down. I never really thought about that impacting shallow rooted veg. This year the radishes are planted in a bed that doesn't have drip installed yet, so I've had to use the sprinkler to water it - that may have very well contributed to the success.

      I really love the Russian kales - can't wait to try them cooked, I bet they will be equally delicious.

      Delete
  14. Hi Margaret, I haven't been posting or keeping up to my blogs lately very well. Gardening sure keeps one busy. Glad you found the secret to growing radishes. I just planted some more today by my potatoes so now am wondering if it will be too shady for them! Interesting to read the kind of kale you planted. I planted Kale Premier, Dinosaur/Lacinato, Italian Nero Toscana Kale and Siberian Kale, Just a little of each. Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't I know it about gardening keeping you busy...I think I bit off a bit more than I should have this year.

      My "NCK" (which was supposed to be curly kale but isn't) is probably some sort of Siberian kale - it's really good, so I'm still growing it. I do want to give the Dinosaur kale a try at some point. It's the classic gardener's dilemma - too many varieties to try & not enough bed space to fit them all in!

      Delete
  15. Hi. Do you have any of the white russian kale seeds you are willing to trade? I have lots of different types of seeds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - Unfortunately, I purchased my seeds from Pinetree so the packet I received was quite small - about 30 seeds - and I only have about half of those left which is just enough for next year including a few extras in case I have issues with germination. I would suggest you look at purchasing some from Pinetree - I believe they were less than $2 for a packet. One of the reasons I love them is that I usually prefer to grow several different varieties of a veg (instead of a ton of a single variety) and Pinetree offers small quantities at equally small prices.

      Delete

I appreciate and thoroughly enjoy all of your lovely comments :) Please note that in order to foil those pesky spammers, comment moderation has been enabled for older comments.