Seedybeans Blog

Celebrating the Humble Harvests of High Desert Homesteading

Archive for Harvests

Weighing In

Greenhouse lettuce harvest-Planted Christmas

Today I went to harvest my first crop of lettuce of 2011 in my greenhouse and I realized my harvest sheet from 2010 was still hanging on the fridge.  After years of working in school gardens trying to convince people that not only were school gardens great teaching tools but productive members of our local food systems, I trained myself to take careful records of everything I ever grew.  Many people asked me how much of my own food I actually grow and I really never had a good answer– So I brought the record keeping home for 2010 and now have an idea of what my garden produced.  So here are the tallys for 2010, May it inspire you all to grow your own.

Garlic Harvest

Home Garden Harvest 2010

 

 

Name                           Total lbs

 

 

Lettuce                  8.75

 

Orach                           3.75

 

Spinach                  1.25

 

Cilantro                  0.25

 

Chinese Cabbage         1

 

Tat Soi                  0.75

 

Mustard Greens         0.75        

 

Carrots                  0.75

 

Zucchini                  31

 

Summer Squash         22.75

 

Potato                  6.25

 

Tomato                  20.5

 

Armenian Cuc.         26.25

 

Japanese Cuc.         4.5

 

Pickling Cuc.         5.9

 

Basil                           3

 

Garlic                           5        

 

Onions                  0.5

 

Beets                           4.25

 

Green Beans         1

 

Plums                  0.5

 

Kale                           1

 

Chard                           2.75

 

Parsley                  0.15

 

Squash Blossoms         Many

 

Cabbage                  23

 

Winter Squash         8

 

                          

 

Total Lbs of Vegetables—–162.05

Maybe next year I will actually add up the cost of the vegetables to show how much money I saved, but we all know that is only part of why we grow our own, now isn’t it.

 

                           

 

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News Years Blessings

The new year has come, the seeds catalogs have begun to arrive daily in the mail box, but I feel like winter has just arrived.  Though the temperatures are frigid these days making walks shorter and fires burn higher, I find comfort somehow that the chill of winter has finally arrived.  December is always finicky, with warm days and snowstorms and then warm days again, but this year seemed especially odd.  But I will say that it did have it’s rewards.

To begin with…We had tomatoes in the greenhouse, lush and ripening, until last night when the record low temps snuck in the wee hours and nipped the tomatoes once and for all. I am just amazed that they have been producing since June and deeply greatful.  In a way it was a relief, though sad to see them die. I finally cleared them out and got to start the new year with a layer of compost, freshly dug in and raked even and clean, a perfection my garden seldom embodies except on those few days of spring when seed beds are created and planted.

Even though the temperatures are low at night, it is still warm in the greenhouse during the day.  In fact our greenhouse is attached to our bed room so on cold winter days, we actually open the doors up to the bedroom to help heat the house, we just need to remember to close the doors before the sun starts to sink and the warm air turns and rushes out for the evening.  Though we get this warm air—the soil temperatures are what are really important to seed germination.  Most vegetables need the soil to be at least 45 degrees to germinate, and many can germinate when the soil is up to 80.  Just to see, I put a soil thermometer in the bed for a couple of days.

I got a steady reading of 40 degrees, but decided to plant a thick sowing of lettuce and spinach anyway.  My hope is that when the soil does warm up they will germinate and provide us with an early salad crop before March, when I will install my tables that I will cover with the rest of the seedling flats.

I have faith my plan will work.  Not just because I am a desperately hopeful gardener, but because I have been pleasantly surprised by my little lettuce plants.  The delightful surprise came in the form of Christmas salad.  A crop I planted in late October, too late I thought, but did it anyway.

It is covered by an old window cold frame that Christmas morning was covered with frost and ice.  I was sure it would be frozen, but to my surprise, the lettuce was lush and spring green.

We ate a huge salad for Christmas and then again for New Years, and to my delight, it seems to still be holding despite these frigid nights.

Ode to garden miracles, in the midst of winter freezes.

Happy New Year to all and blessings on your dreams of green for the coming year–

Home for the Harvest

I haven’t written in while because we have just spent the last 2 weeks in Southern France with family.  I was am amazing trip at an optimal time of year, though I must admit I was worried about our garden.  You see, today is our one year wedding anniversary.  Last year I grew a ton of flowers in the yard for the wedding and the night before, yep, that’s right, a light frost.  Luckily we had a surprisingly generous offer to cut whatever we liked from the Seeds of Change Farm a few days before that very frost, so there was no shortage of flowers for the wedding.  But because of that frosty memory, as I was snapping photos of every French kitchen garden I could (mostly from moving cars), my heart cringed at the idea of coming home to frost bitten green tomatoes and brown basil and rotten cucumbers.  So you can imagine my joy when I came home to fruit ripe and heavy on the vine.  I have been happily gathering up all the fruits of the year, preserving, canning, drying, saving seed, and turning things down for the winter.  And to my surprise, all in a tee-shirt– this weather seems oddly warm for Oct, but hey, I will take it.  So glad to be home, thankful for the warmth and sunshine & even rain!!  Can’t wait to share the french garden pics with you all, they are truly impeccable and inspiring.

Holy Boly!!

 

      

Oh the glories of gardening, verdant life all around your home, plucking your nourishment from right outside your back door, truly a glorious and satisfying act.  But what I find even better, is food, wild and free, there for the plucking with no effort needed by me but a keen eye and a gracious heart.  Nature in her perfect cycles is sprouting life everywhere, only for wandering humans to stumble across it, gather it up and be feed, it is the most natural thing in the world.  Wild food is so simple, yet feels like such a miracle every time I am gifted with some.  Well, these blessed rains have been kind to the wild foodies this year, especially the mushroom hunters. On any given day in August you can take the drive up to the ski basin and find tons of hikers wandering off the trails into forest groves, baskets in hand, looking for mushrooms.  We have gone up three times already and have never come home with empty baskets, the only trouble is everybody else is doing the same thing, so there isn’t much to go around and unfortunately people are tearing through in a way that looks like anywhere too many people have traveled–trampled ground, yanked and discarded fungi, and yes, trash, sad but true.  I will however commend a hiker that made my day.  He exited the trail and as he passed us he asked how the harvest was.  We had found one nice Boleta (we were only there for about 30 minutes) and showed him.  He said, “Check out what I scored” as he opened up a plastic shopping bag.  It was full to the brim with garbage!!  I was delighted he had harvested trash instead of mushrooms so we gave him our prize and thanked him heartily.  I love when people impress me!! It is not always about what you get, but what you give.

Though our harvest from the ski basin was less than abundant we simply love being there, wandering in the forest and soaking up the medicine of the forest itself.  We brought our nephew who visited from Barcelona last week and he had the time of his life with his wild mushroom hunting uncle.

Though the harvest was minimal, we were happy to have gotten up to the forest three times in 2 weeks and were content.  But last we got a tip about a mushroom forest from a friend who we had turned on to mushrooming and by golly I have never had so much fun in the forest before in my life, well maybe in high school while mushrooming!!  It was like a candy store, mushrooms everywhere, I really did feel like an elf, gitty with the abundance, slowly being lured deeper into the forest by another glimmer of color among the fallen leaves, fairies just watching from the trees as we were being put under their spell.  To go mushrooming, one must go slow, at a mushroom pace.  You must watch and listen and let them call to you.  It is like tracking, only when you do find the critters they just seem to smile and peer up at you, rather than dart away.  It is like playing hide a go seeks with a four-year old, who has more fun being found than eluding you.  The harvest was totally glorious, in fact I weighed in when we got home, 25lbs of mushrooms!!  Mostly Boletus Edulis, which I call holy boly!! They are a sponge mushroom, opposed to a gilled mushroom and almost the whole family is edible, with a few exceptions so beware.  By no means am I a mushroom expert, though I may be good at finding them, there are so many millions of kinds, I simply have learned a few and stick with them.  If you want to learn more about mushrooms I recommend Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.

 He is kind of zanie, but a total expert.  He even mentions on page 546 the Boletivorus clandestinus, a strange breed.  Studying a field guide is totally helpful and can really be fun, even if harvesting isn’t your thing.

So now what to do with 25lbs of Mushrooms? Well, we dried them on screens in the sun and jarred them up for the winter. I made cream of mushroom soup last night from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and though it looked like brown mush, it really was wonderful!  I will be hunting more recipes as the season goes on, but for now it is all about enjoying the wilds and putting food up for winter.

Ode to friends with fruit

perfect little apricots

 

The other day I got random phone call from a friend—she was pickling and wanted some dill and could trade for apricots!!!  I made a quick evening drive through the clouding evening sky to do a picking trip.  

Evening Sky opening on 503 toward Chimayo

 

She fed me dinner and then we all—me and her family of 6, picked happily into the evening as we watched the rain roll in. 

It was a bountiful trade on my end as I ended up with a huge basket of luscious apricots—which just twenty minutes away are nonexistent on the trees by my house.  I also have a small garden with immature trees so it was a great way to share an evening and our individual abundances.

I have been to receiver of great gifts from my bees as well, so I decided apricot jam with honey is what would be made.  A little planning ahead was on my side too, as last fall when my husband I got married we decided to buy 10 cases of canning jars instead of glasses.  It was a DIY wedding in the woods that lasted all weekend, so we had plenty of glasses for everyone and now….plenty of jars for canning.

Adding it all up, I only needed to buy lemon juice and the pectin, which turns out I don’t really need either.. I found a non pectin was of jamming here…….jam without pectin

I must admit though, after using totally sugar-free recipe, I decided to add some at the end, it was just too tart to have 12 jars of.

12 jars of jam

 

Now I have  12 jars of apricot, honey, sugar & spice jam, which will last a while and may come in handy for trades in the future.

It reminded me of a friend who was concerned with good food for her family last fall.  She was envious of our garden and since she lives in town, just doesn’t have the abundance of produce to preserve.  I suggested buying seconds (damaged but perfectly good produce) from farmers when the harvest comes in.  Buying food in bulk when it is in season helps your food stash as well as the farmers who are drowning in the harvest and may not have the right venues to move such abundance of food in the short window of ripeness.  You can also ask, if you make the trip to their farms to pick if they would give you any deeper discounts.  Bring the kids and make it a day.  

Little Sophie visiting Fat duck farm with the home school group last summer

 

We may not all have money right now, but we may have the time.  Just figuring out what we do have and trading helps us all figure out new economies and ways to get closer to each other, our food, not mention try new things, we may not even know we love.  Happy harvest!!

Back at it

It has been a while since I have written, the June heat took me down and watering was pretty much all I did.  I think I was so organized this spring, I just needed a break, to sit back and watch the garden grow.  Now that the rain is finally here, I have been reinvigorated to not only reap what I have sown, but start planting again for fall.

Garlic in its many forms, dirty and clean, dry and fresh out of the ground. All harvested in the past couple of weeks.

 

Pretty curly garlic scaps, or flowering tips. I once made a wreath out of them and sold it for $50!!

 

I have starting preserving, freezing and of course eating.  I harvested over 5 lbs of garlic making a huge stock pile of winter hard neck and some beautiful braids of soft neck.  Garlic is pretty much ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow and flop over.  Many farmers cut off the scaps, the flower buds—you can cook and eat them and I have seen many people at market even selling them as they have a great flavor and can be used in almost any way garlic is used. If you choose to leave the scap on it will produce a little bunch of garlic babies which, when planted will produce garlic in 2 seasons.  I usually plant the cloves of the bulb, but have harvested the result of leaving those little bulbs and sprinkling them through the land 2 years ago.  Booth have produce good crops.

As for what to plant next—I sowed carrots and beets last week and got so super blessed by this rain that they have all germinated beautifully!

Next friday and Saturday the moon will be in a water sign so I will get a bed ready for spinach, lettuce and fall greens, like kale, chard, and collards.  Many folks love fall peas which I will pop in the ground in a couple of weeks too. When I plant spring greens early—March- I usually leave a bunch to bolt in June—by now they are going to seed.

Blessed bolting lettuce this particular variety bolted last year and was the first lettuce to come up in spring. It now has a mind of its own in the garden and saves me lots of trouble by just appearing offering me salad

 

 I simply collect the seed, save some for next spring and plant the rest for fall.  I figure if mother nature is dropping her seed in the garden, I must be time.  

One lettuce plant produces tiny little flowers that look like sunflowers( yep, same family!!) from one flower you get a bunch of seeds, so lettuce is a great plant to save seed from and get big bang for your buck!!

 

Mama knows best , right?  So clear out that garlic and those potatoes, harvest those bolting cilantro and spinach and re sow—the gardening season is no where near done, that is unless you are….

Stalking the Spring Salad

 

With this new flush of lettuce from our cold frames, we now are eating salad every night!! And so perfectly timed with mother nature’s spring offerings, the lettuce is really a small portion of what ends up in the salad bowl.  Most of what I am harvesting is growing in the cracks of the garden, around the edges, completely volunteering their life in on our fertile land, with no effort on my part.  If there is one thing I have learned from gardening in the southwest is it how much can I get way with NOT doing.  I realize that creating a lush fertile environment not only attracts the right friends, but the right foods.  Build it and they will come, and oh they do!   Salad harvest time is right at dust, my favorite time, when everything is perky from the cooling air and just calling out to me pick! me pick me!.  I can wander in an area of about 10 feet and gather Orach, salad burnet, perennial Arugula,french sorrel, yellow dock, dandelion leaf, lambs quarters, mint, loveage and even volunteer lettuce.  It all feels so effortless.  Granted, much of the work has been done, the soil turned and seeds laid years back..now new things find their way in, go to seed and have whole new gaggles of youngens below them next year… I planted nothing that is in my salad tonight– this year that is, but that lettuce, bless it!  Here are some wild friends to invite into your salad bowl or garden.  

Arugula rustica-Diplotaxis tenuifolia- Perennial - cool season peppery, spicy flavor very italian

 

French Sorrel- Rumex acetosa 'De Belleville' perennial cold season-lemony flavor

 

Salad Burnet-'Sanguisorba minor'- Perennial cool season - fresh & tasty

 

Dandelion-'Taraxacum Officinale'- perennial all season- bitter & zesty leaves

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