Monday, February 26, 2018

Harvest Monday - Feb 26th, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday!

I did a bad thing.

Compost food - Chard and Favas

Compost food - Favas and Chard

So much chard.
So many fava greens.
So much shame.

Technically, I did harvest them. But then I composted them. I'm sure there are at least twenty calories wasted in that pile there. There are starving kids in Africa, Day. How dare you.

-- that's what my brain's been yelling at me since the Wednesday chop.

Michelle told me in a different conversation that I lack the ruthless gardener gene. I think she's right. Though on a GOOD NOTE I did finally rip out the chard!

no i didn't
Oh jeepers, don't look...

Trimmed Chard looking derp.

I grow cinder block pineapples now, in case you were wondering. AKA: shaved cat chard.

Either way, they look ridiculous.

Yeah yeah, I'm sure they look perfectly normal to you, but you don't understand. Did you not see how many chard leaves were on that table? These weren't plants, these were shrubbery. Topiaries. I could have trimmed them into fawns, or built tree houses in them. It was a psychedelic LSD jungle of elephant ears. I'd forgotten there were cinderblocks under there.

Now they're all just glaring at me like...

Personified Chard.

...yikes. Sorry.

The second picture at the top was supposed to highlight the fava devastation, but honestly... it wasn't that devastating. On the plants, at least. All those clipped above were from just from jaywalkers, non-bloomers, or weak spindly side shoots trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

And I know I complained I wouldn't be getting any beans this year, but after thinning out the herd I found about 1/4 of the stalks had at least one pod near the base. Which is great, except now these suckers also get a reprieve from rip out. Because I want those beans. Dried, please, for seed. Because I've decided I will always grow favas from now on -- and you should too. (Something I'll discuss in a future post.)

For now, back to Harvest Monday -- and on to some harvests I actually did eat!

Mixed lettuce

just kidding.

Mixed lettuce, one plant

Looks good though, right? Everyone loves a galactic black hole of lettuce fresh from the garden.

Ants farming aphids on lettuce

Aphids included.

This came from the second, smaller patch of  accidentally dry-farmed lettuce. Sure, it's gotten copious water since I returned in January.... buuut I was still impressed by it's survival for five weeks with no water, yaddda yadda, you know the story.

Up until last week, it's also been completely pest free. Famous last words.

I was sorta hoping that our crazy fluctuating temperatures lately would cause it to bolt (I know, what gardener begs their lettuce to bolt?) because I'd love to replant more of this miracle seed across the garden in patches, to act as a living mulch. Annnnd because I need the bed it's currently in... so the sooner it bolted, the better.

This lettuce doesn't want to bolt.
And then the ants found it, which means the aphids own it now.

...but I ain't even mad

Ladybug eggs on lettuce leaf -- gardener's gold.

because Ladybug eggs! Yellow blop = eggs.
My phone's camera won't focus any closer than this, so this is as macro as it gets I'm afraid.

It seems my summon horny ladybugs spell from a few weeks ago has proved fruitful. Though the dandy red buggers were spending so much time of the favas I figured that's where they'd be hiding their eggs. Wrong. They've picked the favas clean of aphids (which is awesome) and have now located the smorgasbord of food hiding in the 'lettuce forest.'

Leggy lettuce
Un-thinned lettuce forest, inside look.
So ultimately, even if I had the energy to wash off the aphids and reclaim my lettuce, I certainly don't have the desire to lose these golden beauties and their promise of a spider mite free (ha!) tomato season.

And since they need food when they hatch, well... I guess the lettuce dodges the compost noose once again.


So: Did I eat a damn thing from my harvests this week?! 

Fava tops, volunteer basil, skeptical cat
I ate the cat.
Wait no --  Fava tops. I ate fava tops. 

oh and that there wee laddie of basil, on top.

fava tops

Unlike the ones in the first two pictures, these fava greens came from prime, healthy, un-tripped-over-and-stepped-on stalks. I only took the top two inches or so, and here were the parameters:
  1. They'd already set beans lower on the stalk, however small. Apparently cutting off the growing tips encourages them to ripen what they have, instead of focus on putting out more flowers. And we need to hurry this along.
  2. They'd put out lots of flowers in the past, but had never set any of them into beans. Time's ticking - no slackers allowed. Ain't got time for just a pretty face.
  3. They hadn't started putting out flowers yet. So i definitely wouldn't have gotten pods from them before those beds need to be cleared for 'summer' stuff.
So I topped maybe a dozen plants, with infinitely more to go. I'm trying to do it in small batches, as the favas flowers are the only bee food in my garden right now, and I'd really like to keep the pollinators aware of my little urban oasis.

The recent cold snap we had (my zone 9b garden hit mid thirties at night -- yet across town, Jane's zone 10 birdbath was frozen - go figure) has made all the hot loving crops I planted in January go bug eyed and cross. They're not dying, but not growing either. Just staring at me accusingly and shivering. So I'm unsure what my next 'bee bloom' vegetable will be now... as a result, I'll try to keep at least some of the blooming favas around as long as possible.


Now, normally I'm not a big 'food photo' poster, but I did use up some of my 'stores' from last year's harvest:

Mayflower, Calima, and Purple Teepee dry beans -- mixed with store bought great northern

I cooked up some extra Mayflower and Calima seed stock that I had surplus of, and what remained of  the Purple Teepee beans which were useless and I'm not growing again. I thought I already got rid of the Purple Teepee beans, but then found another little bag of seed I'd saved from last summer. Apparently, leaving seed in baggies to randomly discover later is a trend with me.

All together, that gave me only a cup of beans... wow. So I had to combine them with a cup of store bought white northern whatever beans. Boo. People always comment on how many plants it takes to harvest a decent amount of dry beans, but yeah... nothing puts that into perspective quite like a measuring cup.

Which is the opposite of corn, I swear. I'm pretty sure dry corn multiplies when you're not looking. I've been eating from my corn stores for weeks now. The volume of the bowl has gone down, hm, maybe a centimeter.


Here's a tiny bowl of the end result of the slow cooker bean corn meat onion baked bean soup shlop thing.
I've made it before, and I love it.

Buuuuuut I screwed up this time... I forgot to soak the corn overnight with the beans. Oops. Suffice it to say, the above bowl was a bit... chewy. But luckily, good shlop gets better and better than longer you cook it, ad infinitum.

And the quickest way to my food heart is through quick cooking leftovers that get better with age.

So I put it all back in the slow cooker the next day and did my run, chores, yadda yadda, then in the afternoon I cooked up half of the fava greens from above with some store bought mushrooms and whatever random spices I was craving... (I think turmeric? I've been on a turmeric kick lately. That, or I've been feeling masochistic and enjoy trying to scrub clean my once white spatula again and again).

Anyway, when the favas and shrooms were ten seconds from being done, I added a couple ladles of shlop to the pan, mixed, bowled, whallah -- food. The rest stayed in the slow cooker, getting more and more tender in time for dinner.

And tomorrow's breakfast...

And tomorrow's dinner.... 

and overmorrow's breakfast...


Golden Sage cuttings sending out roots
It's aliiivee...

So the first cutting of golden sage (one of the jars I've been using fresh) has recently grown skeleton legs and now wishes to rise from the dead. Normally my necromantic powers pale in comparison to my other forms of garden magic, but it seems this week I had a mind to reincarnation. Perhaps after killing all that chard. Hm.

Suffice it to say, I definitely don't need more sage in the garden. But they are lovely. Tasty and decorative. So I think I'll stick a few of these herb zombies into solo cups and see how they do. If they live, great -- they'll get gifted to the neighbors who wouldn't take my chard >_>

On the contrary, the second cutting of sage is staying dead, as it's supposed to, and drying nicely on its perch above the back of the fridge.

Golden Sage - drying

 Oh, and just in case you were wondering...

wee man the pea man and his toothpick
Wee man the pea man still going strong.


That's it for this week at the Shandy Dandy! Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave @ Our Happy Acres: make sure to swing by and see what's he's harvested, and link up if you have harvests of your own.

Happy Planting!


  1. My strategy on homegrown lettuce is to give it a good wash and then don't look too closely whilst eating it! We always grew chard at the community garden when I volunteered there, because it was soooo prolific! And hardy around here, too. I'll be looking forward to your post on favas too. And speaking of turmeric, I'm sure you could grow your own if you aren't already. It took two years for me to get a crop, but I finally did. I'm going to grow it again this year, along with ginger which gets to harvest size for me in one summer.

    1. Chard really is an apocalypse vegetable! I don't know what it is about the greens though, but my system just hates it. Never thought of growing turmeric! I'm going to look into that -- thanks for the idea!

  2. Had to go check the favas. Much to my surprise, I found little half-inch beans. Yay!

    1. They sneak up on you -- I was convinced I had no beans setting. All the flowers looked like they'd just shriveled up and died, so I stopped checking regularly. Little did I know some of those blossom shrivels had little baby beans inside. I agree, Yay!

  3. I repeat, with emphasis, you truly do lack the ruthless gardener gene. That cut job on the chard was barely a trim! You need some chard loving friends like I have. Check out my June 6, 2016 harvest post - keep scrolling until you see the Chard Rescue Society...

    I use Dave's approach to aphidy things, it's just some extra protein, although I do have my limits. You need to get more flowers into the mix that will attract a host of beneficial parasitic insects. I keep sweet alyssum going all year long, let cilantro bloom all over the place, and fennel blossoms are excellent for attracting good bugs too. As a result I find not only lady bugs but syrphid flies (their larvae are the aphid cleanup champs!), soldier beetles, tiny parasitic wasps, and tachinid flies amongst other good bugs. All those good bugs like to eat pollen and nectar in their adult forms but their larvae eat aphids and other bad bugs. Oh, and the bees love all those bloomers too. But what I'm trying to say is that I do find fewer aphids when I manage to keep a good amount of the flowers blooming in the garden.

    Sorry to be lecturing....

    I'm still waiting for my favas to be big enough to steal some shoots from. The latest wacko weather cycle, oh wait, it's actually normal to have cold wet weather now, it is still technically winter. Anyway, everything has slowed down because it's been COLD. And today it's actually raining. woo hoo!

    1. Haha oh so true, I'm a wretched bleeding heart, I know. Useless Day can't even pull out her chard! That post you linked is great, and the Chard Rescue Society, what a riot! I definitely need more people in my life who respect the veg. I run with a very "meat & beer & potatoes & no green stuff" crowd -- I'm a black sheep for eating vegetables, much less growing them!

      Seriously you are not lecturing at all; the ONLY reason I have a gardening blog is to compare notes, get advice, and share advice with other people growing their own food or passionate about vegetable genetics like I am. Ignorance is dumb. Egos are pointless. I'm never offended when advice is offered, even if it's something I already know about or have tried. The fact you're willing to take time out of your day to offer up what you know, what's worked for you, etc., automatically earns you an A+ in my book. :)

      You're spot on about blooming things = attracting beneficials, and also right that my garden doesn't have enough blooming things right now. I've been trying to build up my ecosystem, but not trying hard enough in all honesty. I've been lazy about allocating space to things that I don't eat, like flowers, cilantro (gag), etc. I'm trying to be better though, and you've reminded me that I probably should do a post on that so I can share what I've got growing, and get advice from others on what's worked for them. Sweet alyssum, for example, I love! But it won't grow for me. I've used up three seed packets in different spots, and it just doesn't like my super sandy soil and hot weather. Poo.

      Hasn't this year's weather been wacko? It's finally winter, just time for spring?! So happy you are getting rain. They claim we'll get half an inch or so on Thursday, but 3/4 of the times they've said it's going to rain it hasn't, so I'll believe it when I see it! (Or when Jane tells me it's going to rain, lol - the only LA weatherperson I actually trust!)

    2. I'm glad I didn't offend you with unwanted advice. How about coriander seed? Even if the good bugs didn't like blooming cilantro I would still let it go to seed because the fresh green seeds are SO GOOD! Same goes for fennel seed. The dried stuff just doesn't compare.

      I'm with you about blogging, I've learned so much and been so inspired by other garden bloggers and unfortunately we seem to be dying out. There's too many garden bloggers I used to follow who have abandoned their blogs. There's lots of gardeners posting pretty and not so pretty pics on instagram but they don't offer up much information much less practical advice and these days my instagram feed is so choked with ads that I can barely bring myself to look at it.

      Jane is a wealth of information! I love her blog.

  4. That is an impressive amount of chard. And the cinder block planters are...inventive to say the least! I really like the way your soup looked and I bet it was delicious.

    1. Inventive is... one way to say it! I won't even pretend -- I got bored, jacked on coffee, and scrolled through too much Pinterest. Two hours later I had a cinderblock bed filled with dirt and a head filled with regrets XD

      Nothing sounds very attractive when it's called 'shlop' I know, but you're absolutely right -- it's amazingly good. At least, I think so. And good thing, because it's on the menu again today... and probably everyday until next harvest monday. I may have made a bit too much... just maybe. XD

  5. What are you going to grow in your cinder blocks once you get rid of the chard? It's amazing how well your lettuce did without water, hopefully you can get some seeds out of them. And I've never thought of drying corn, it must save a lot of space, I've only ever froze it.

    1. It's funny you should ask -- that'll probably be the topic of my next post. The corn I grow is flour corn, so when it dries you can easily chew it between your teeth. I'm waiting on a grinder, so I've been experimenting with ways to eat it whole/cooked. I wouldn't try it with flint/dent/popcorn though, as you're liable to break a tooth. I didn't eat any of it fresh last year, but that's definitely the plan for year, since I have enough dry seed stalk for a few seasons now.

  6. That's interesting about the corn producing more than you'd think. I've been really intrigued by flour corn / polenta varieties, but I have a lot of apprehensions. I feel like you need to dedicate a lot of space to guarantee successful pollination, but also I've seen a lot of internet corn failures? I'm a wimp. I want to see someone near me do it successfully first. Do you have any varieties you recommend?

    I wasn't planning on doing any corn this summer, but honestly this cold weather snap created a weird wrinkle in my seed starting so maybe I'll have a ton of extra space and need something I can direct seed.


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Trolls will be thrown in the compost.