Monday, October 26, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 26, 2015


With my main focus being end of season cleanup, I have done very little actual harvesting this week.  In fact, I only harvested one thing – a whopping head of tatsoi:

Tatsoi
 
This was supposed to go into a Chinese stir fry yesterday, but I opted to use some broccoli I had in the fridge instead.  None of my spring tatsoi’s grew anywhere near as large, so I’m not sure how that will impact it's texture.  Bok choy is still lovely even when large, so I'm hoping that this tatsoi is the same.  We’ll find out when I cook it this week.

I have also included the last of the tomatoes in the tally:

Mountain Magic - Last of the tomatoes
 
The tomatoes were actually harvested a couple of weeks ago at the green stage.  About ¼ of that final harvest was chucked as the tomatoes were either not ripening well or they showed evidence of blight.

One of the tasks I had been meaning to get to for the past few weeks was cleaning up the garlic & onions that had been sitting in the garage curing since the summer.  Well, I finally got to it this past week.

The onions were harvested starting at the end of July and into August.  This year I grew 4 varieties:  Copra, Rossa di Milano, Ailsa Craig and Red Wing.

Ailsa Craigs & Red Wings heading for the garage
 
I brush off any loose soil from the onions, but that is about all the prep that I do before I lay them out on the onion curing rack (which I described HERE).

Copra onions (front) & Camelot shallots (rear)
were the first to be harvested & laid out on the rack
 
The garlic was harvested at the beginning of August, tied into bundles and hung up to dry.

Cured garlic ready to be cleaned up for storage
 
The bulbs were cleaned up, trimmed & their stalks cut.  I grew 7 varieties of garlic this year and they all did ok (although nothing spectacular):

Garlic
 
Several of these varieties were grown from single bulbs that I purchased at the Stratford Garlic Festival last year, specifically Duganski, Portugal 1 and Pitarelli.  I've already separated out my planting stock and I'm quite happy that I'll still have a few cloves from each variety left over to actually enjoy this year.

The golden shallots were laid out on a frame lined with chicken wire that I placed on the floor underneath the onion rack:

Golden Shallots
 
In addition, I grew Camelot shallots (pictured in the onion drying rack) which are large shallots grown from seed (vs. typical shallots that are planted as bulbs and then multiply).  Last year I included these in my onion totals - they were so large, I considered them to be more like small onions than shallots.  However, I have since realized that I have been using them as exactly what they are - large shallots.  They do come in very handy when a recipe calls for a few shallots and I only have to peel and prepare one of these instead.

Although braids of onions are really nice, they do take quite a bit longer to prepare than bagging.  In the past couple of years, I have been saving net bags specifically for onion, shallot & garlic storage:

I snip off one end when I initially open the bag
so that I can repurpose it for my own onion and garlic storage
 
I use these for both the garlic and a good chunk of the onions.  Each garlic variety is placed in a separate bag which makes it easy if I want to use a particular variety as well as when it comes to comparing them and assessing how well each does in storage.

These are hung from a wire shelving unit in the basement
 
For the onions, I usually place a dozen or so in each bag, also keeping the varieties separate.  I didn’t have enough bags to accommodate all of the onions, so I ended up braiding most of the Copras:

Braided Copras
 
Just like the garlic, this was a good, but not great, year for onions - the overall weight was almost 20 pounds less than last year.

All of the onions, garlic and shallots are now hanging in their permanent storage space in the basement.  For the onions, I secured a heavy chain to the ceiling rafters and I use 'S' hooks to hang the bags and braids along the chain.

Onion bags & braids hanging in the basement
(unfortunately, the basement lighting is not the best)
 
Our basement is partially finished and the onions and garlic go in the unfinished section where I also close the heating vents so that it stays cooler than the rest of the space.

I do keep a stash of onions and garlic in the kitchen in a wire basket - whenever I need to replenish, I simply grab a bag or braid from the basement and empty it into the basket.  They do just fine on the counter for the couple of weeks it takes to use them up.

Overall, I harvested a total of 227 onions, 67 shallots and 95 bulbs of garlic.  In the coming months, I’ll be doing detailed end of season reviews with all the numbers and prior year comparisons.

My harvest totals this week were:

Chinese Greens – 408 grams (0.90 lbs)
Garlic – 3,080 grams (6.79 lbs)
Storage Onions – 26,628 (58.70 lbs)
Shallots – 2,699 grams (5.95 lbs)
Tomatoes – 746 grams (1.64 lbs)

Total for Week – 33,561 grams (73.99 lbs)

Total to Date – 198 kg (436.74 lbs)

To see what everyone else has been harvesting over the past week, head on over to Our Happy Acres where Dave is 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

35 comments:

  1. Even though your onion tally is less this year the quality looks great. I wish I had a basement, they're pretty rare around here, my onions and shallots are sitting in baskets on the living room floor. I have to find a new spot for them once I turn the heat on, it's in the floor...

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    1. Thanks Michelle. One thing I actually forgot to mention was that I had significantly less onion maggot damage than I did last year, so that was a big plus this year. And I must say that a basement comes in very handy, not only for food storage but also "don't know where else to put it" storage ;)

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  2. Very impressive collection of onions and other stinky stuff, and so well organized, too! And that tatsoi head is amazing.

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    1. Thanks Will - we do love our stinky stuff around here! Well, when it comes to onions and garlic anyhow. My son after a soccer practice is a whole other story ;)

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  3. Wow! Is the tatsoi supposed to get that big?

    Great idea on the net bags too.

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    1. I'm not sure if it's supposed to get that big - the spring ones I harvested were about 1/3 that size. I did end up having the tatsoi for lunch today and it was wonderful, although the base of the stems was a bit stringy. I have a couple more in the garden & I'll probably trim the stems an inch or so before cooking next time.

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  4. I have truly never seen a tatsoi that big! I bet it is still quite tasty even at that size. Your onion harvest is very impressive, especially since I have all but given up on growing them. Looks like you got a good return on your garlic too.

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    1. The tatsoi was delicious, so I'm happy! That's so sad that you had to give up on onions - I'm sure there are going to be one or two veg that eventually land in that boat for me. I have given my garlic numbers a cursory look and wasn't overly impressed - I decided to change things up on my bed prep when I planted the cloves (this afternoon!)...details to follow in a future post!

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  5. That is one huge tatsoi! Thanks for the tip to save a couple bags to store my onions in next year! My tomatoes that I wrapped in newspaper are ripening also. just wish I had more and they would ripen at different times! Nancy

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    1. Wish I had more tomatoes too - in the fall it doesn't take long to go from tomato overload to tomato longing, although I seem to have missed the overload stage this year.

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  6. Fantastic onions, oh my gosh, I'm almost envious enough to try harder myself next year (or maybe not, they seem really hard for me to grow). Actually, I didn't post much about my onions because I thought I failed so badly only to realize that a good portion of the "small" onions were actually the shallots I planted. LOL ...

    I'm glad you mentioned the tomatoes were harvested two weeks ago because it seemed awfully surprising that you still had tomatoes after that freeze a week or two ago. As it turns out, I lost all of my peppers even in the greenhouse that night. I thought the day temps would keep it warm enough but it hit -7 C and nothing made it except the beets (which are growing at a snails pace).

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    1. Oh, that's hilarious! I'm sure your shallots will be savoured over the coming months - I actually find that they store exceptionally well. That's one of the reasons I love growing onions so much - they are one of the few veg that you can eat "fresh" all winter long.

      Oh yes, my tomato plants are loooong gone and it won't be long before these last ones are a distant memory as well. Yikes - minus 7 is definitely bone chilling. I wonder if you could keep cold hardy greens like kale growing in the greenhouse over the winter.

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    2. I have a couple of small kale plants leftover so I'll see how long they last. A bit disappointing as I thought I could keep things until at least December.

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  7. That is an impressive tatsoi and a beautiful collection of onions and garlic. I have not been able to grow onion successfully but am determined to give it another try next year.

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    1. That's the great thing about gardening, isn't it....each year we get a fresh start. I'm looking forward to reading about your onion adventures next season!

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  8. Wow! I have never seen such a large Tatsoi before. You had a great onion, shallot, and garlic harvest this year! I love the braided onions.

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    1. Thanks Rachel! I love the look of braided onions and garlic too. If I had more time on my hands, I'd likely also have more braids in my basement ;)

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  9. Very, very impressive, Margaret! You know what you're doing in the vegetable garden! That's quite an impressive system you have going there. The braided onions and boxed garlic look so pretty.

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    1. Thanks Beth! Well, I'm definitely learning as I go - as with anything else, the learning curve is pretty big in the beginning and it feels good when at least a few things work out as expected. Makes up for the not so stellar moments ;)

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  10. Nice to hear you are making your garden ready for harvesting. All the best!

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    1. Thanks - there are still a few things left to harvest before both the garden and I take a well deserved break over the winter.

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  11. Your harvest beats ours hands down. That's a really interesting way of drying onions.

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    1. Well, I never thought that THAT would happen...I know you haven't been down to the plot this past week, so you will likely have quadruple the harvest next week and I'll be green with envy ;)

      I wish I could take credit for the onion rack idea, but it was all Daphne - she has one just like it!

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  12. Your onion harvest looks fabulous and how attractive they look when braided but I can understand the convenience of mesh bags. It's great that you have things stored to use through the winter.

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    1. I tell you Jo, each time I grab an onion from my basket in the kitchen I get a little joyful feeling. I haven't purchased onions since my first onion harvest last year and I'm hoping that this will continue indefinitely.

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  13. Holly cow, that's a HUGE tatsoi! never seen one that big! Love your clean and neat piles of garlic and beautiful onion braids - so pretty to have them hanging like that.

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    1. Thanks Jenny - I hadn't really looked at that bed in a week or so and was equally surprised when I saw how big they were. Thank goodness they are still delicious at that size!

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  14. Your procedure and "hardware" for drying and soring onions etc is so well organised! I don't have a basement, but I have a garage which remains quite an even temperature all year round, so I use it for storing stuff - like wine, for instance!

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    1. Thanks Mark! The garage is such a convenient space to store stuff especially as you don't have to deal with stairs. I was thinking of storing our fig trees in there but I'm worried about them surviving the winter. To be on the safe side, I'll be schlepping those pots downstairs too...not a task I'm looking forward too!

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  15. That tatsoi looks as pretty as peacock feathers. And I so love how your onions hang, wonderful - truly - must make you smile the efforts of all your love and labour.

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    1. Thank you Shaheen - you know, when it's the middle of winter and I grab an onion or jar of tomato sauce, knowing that it came out of my garden really does make me smile :)

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  16. I have no idea what tatsoi is but it's pretty!! You're a one woman farm stand. :o)

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    1. I had no idea what it was either until last year - it's often used in stir fry's like bok choy, but can also be used raw in salads. There are so many interesting greens out there and each year I seem to discover one or two new ones.

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  17. Beautiful!! All of it! That tatsoi is gorgeous. I have seeds for the tatsoi.

    Your onion and garlic storage is really nice. You do a very nice job. Well everything you stored. I need to work on cleaning more of the dirt lol off mine I think.

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    1. Thanks! This was my first year growing tatsoi, so I'm quite pleased...especially as it also seems to be one of the few Chinese greens that isn't being attacked by aphids this fall! I don't generally take off the loose, dirty outer layers until after the garlic and onions are cured & ready for storage...they do clean up nicely, though, don't they :)

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