Sunday, January 17, 2010

This Week's Harvest - Garden Update

January carrot and greens harvest
It's been two weeks since I've peaked inside my hoop houses. By the look of things, the garden is indeed in a state of transition. Among the healthy plants (spinach, carrots, kale, chard and wild greens) lay the dead and/or inedible ones (lettuce and wild arugula). Pretty soon, I will dig up the last of my carrots and turn over sections in each bed to make way for early spring sowings. Yesterday, the temperature underneath the garden fabric reached 70 degrees F for the first time in many weeks. Has the January Thaw actually arrived?

I made the mistake of not harvesting all of my Tango lettuce by Christmas this year. This variety has proven to be very cold hardy. In fact, it still looks pretty healthy. Unfortunately, the constant freezing and thawing have rendered it much too bitter to eat. I will just have to accept the fact that unless I can find a way to maintain a minimum temperature of 32 degrees F inside my hoop houses, winter lettuce is just not an option. And wild greens should be grown in its place. I'm wondering if the bitterness will diminish as the weather warms up or should I just pull them up? Any advice?

Seemingly unfazed by the weather is the mache...

and minutina. I sowed these wild greens way too late last fall, a mistake I will not repeat this year. My guess is that they won't truly take off until either next month or March.

minutina 2
The narrow leaves on this wild plant are succulent and very interesting to look at.

potted chard
Off topic a bit, the chard in this pot is not doing nearly as well as the ones I have planted in the ground. However, it does look like it will stick around for me to transplant in a couple of months.

mache and minutina harvest
This week, I ended up harvesting 1.71 lbs of carrots and 0.16 lbs of greens for a total of 1.87 lbs. This will be my first (albeit slight) taste of these wild greens. I hope I like them.

carrot harvest
Finally, I'm finding it interesting that my winter carrots continue to size up even in the frozen ground. They are still tasting very good and showing no signs of pest damage. I can't imagine a winter without these carrots now. If you'd like to see what others are harvesting or show off your own, visit Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.


  1. Excellent harvest, especially those carrots! How can you pull them out when soil is frozen, or you just wait for a warmer day to harvest?

    Did you taste mache and what do you think of it?

  2. Those greens look so tempting Thomas! My carrots didn't seem to be growing, but they are just under straw. The ones under plastic have been ripped out by a dog or other critter.

    With all the rain we are having the snow is just about gone, I may venture out and pull up a root or two. What variety are you pulling up again? They look great!

  3. Most of mine is done for... my chard does have healthy small inner leaves like yours, so I am hopeful! I didn't get my leeks in time, I went out the other day to get some and even though they were stressed I thought "I'll try them anyways", but I couldn't get them out of the raised bed! This is the first year since I have been gardening that my raised beds have frozen. Starting about one inch down, it's just white frost! Brrrr.... You're stuff in the hoop house looks great!

  4. Dang, that's alot of stuff for the week. Your garden sure has done well this winter.....

  5. Beautiful harvest, Thomas! I just finished Elliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest and am intrigued by mache. How does it taste?

  6. I love it when you share your beautiful. And they're just as gorgeous covered in dirt as they are clean and on the plate. I love the photo of your dirty fingers holding the wild greens. Very cool...

  7. vrtlarica - the soil in the beds are frozen solid around the edges but only frosty towards the center. Thanks to the hoops!

    Yes, I tasted the mache this morning. I wasn't expecting the taste as all! I would describe it as floral...almost like rose petals. Very interesting.

  8. Kelly - I'm putting up both napoli and nantes. The both seem to be holding up to weather very well.

    Erin, I'm hoping that my chard will survive and go to seed this summer. I would love to start seed saving seriously this year.

    EG - Thanks! This should be it for a while.

    Grafixmuse - I need to reread that book. The mache is great...see above!

    Michelle - thanks! haha...I thought, "yikes! my fingers are gross!"

    Ribbit - I had carrot envy when you dug up that mammoth carrot a while back.

  9. Another beautful harvest! I'm interested to hear what you think of mache and minutina. Mache is one of my favorite salad greens. I tried growing minutina once, but it got all aphidy and I didn't eat it, I'll have to try again.

  10. That's a pretty descent harvest. Yes, I find mache pretty much indestructible. My minutina (herba stella, staghorn plaintain... are those all the names)survived a couple years under snow cover but bit the dust in my coldframe last year. I wasn't horribly upset as I can't say I love the veggie though it made a nutritious pot herb.

  11. Your carrots are a bit prettier than mine - so I guess I have carrot envy too! Nice harvest of greens also.

  12. Carrots, parsnips, kale, and mache are staples of our winter garden. I got a late start with the mache this year - so it will be feeding us in early spring rather than right now. It's one of our favorite greens - kind of a nutty/buttery flavor that holds up well to more flavorful dressings.

    Excellent harvest Thomas!

  13. You will have to tell us if you love all your wild greens. It is too bad the lettuce turned bitter. I'm wondering if another variety might do better. There are quite a few varieties that are supposedly good in the winter.

  14. I'm loving all your winter carrots! Must try harder for a late crop this year. Your minutina looks quite interesting, can't wait to try it. Is the mache a hybrid? The leaves are forming so perfectly. I dropped you a line about growing the brussels sprouts the other day.

  15. Thomas, I can't believe you're getting all that in winter on the east coast.Those hoop houses must be something...Everything looks wonderful....I bet you really enjoy having that in the dead of winter.....

    enjoy, my friend


  16. I think of myself as a gardener, but reading your blog and others' comments, I feel like such a dillettante. I always mean to put in a winter crop and then I get too busy at work and the weather gets too cold( for me, not for growing). oh, well there's always next year!

  17. I don't think you could ask for a more perfect winter harvest, Thomas ! Excellent ! and so mouth-wateringly pretty !

  18. Thanks everyone for your comments. Dan - the variety of mache I grow is called Vit, but I don't think it's a hybrid. And yes, I got your email about the brussels sprouts! Thanks! It will definitely be a challenge to grow!

  19. All the hygiene and freshly uprooted veges...look so healthy and tempting.
    turkey holidays

  20. Nice harvest, carrot envy!
    (Something ate my last comment).

    I've never eaten mache and minutina before, what do they taste like? I'll have to grow some them later this year, need more winter greens.

  21. Hi Thomas. What a superb harvest, especially for January in Massachusetts! I wonder if you could cook your bitter lettuce...a quick stirfry in olive oil with some garlic and red pepper flakes? that's how my Italian farmer's market friend recommends cooking her more bitter greens, and they're delicious that way.