Monday, February 5, 2018

Harvest Monday - Feb 5th

Happy Monday!

I tried to invent harvests in January when Michelle was kind enough to host Harvest Monday while Dave was away getting a tan and almost blown up. But alas, the harvest gods were like... nah, you wait. The only harvests I had were cheater harvests like trimming herbs and shelling fall corn. Boo.

So I waited.

That said, inspired by Michelle, I tried several varieties of Fava beans this year, including one that performed very well for her in the past: Extra Precoce a Grano Violetto. So before getting to the main Harvest Monday part, I want to quickly show off a picture of EPGV growing next to Ianto's yellow.

Ianto's Yellow Fava Beans (left), Extra Precoce a Grano Violetto Fava Beans (right)
Extra Precoce a Grano Violetto, right of center. Ianto's yellow from flag to flag. Golden Sweet peas intermingling and climbing the wall.
No contest here. Look at all the blooms on the EPGV to the right!

EPGV, apart from being a mouthful (and having a jargon acronym), has done great in my garden - excellent germination, upright, ignored by aphids, and earlier to flower than the other varieties I'm trialing (Aguadulce, Robin Hood, Ianto's Yellow, Sweet Lorane, and Broad Windsor.)

Unfortunately, Favas have a difficult time in my climate. It's just not cool enough or wet enough. Even in winter, like now. Because, see, it's currently 86°... so much for winter. I'm not complaining, but the favas are. Despite the flowers, no beans are setting. The blooms just shrivel and die... and then it puts out more blooms.

I was very much hoping for beans, but I've been settled for eating the growing tips of the less precocious varieties for now. Lorane has since been nommed and pulled, making way for tomatoes in the coming weeks.

Since all the favas must come out between now and March, I don't think any will have time to mature pods, for eating much less for seed. But hey, it's not all bad -- they will provide lots of soil improvement and green manure, and currently feed the beans and my stir-fry dinners.

Sweet Lorane Fava Bean Growing Tips
Fava Bean growing tips

Now, on to Harvest Monday!

Seems only fair to start with the fava greens, above. That was about 1/6 of last weeks harvest, with much much much more to come. Maybe too much. We'll see how the guts like me by Friday!

Golden Sage

Here are the cheater, boring harvests -- let's get them out of the way. Firstly, Golden Sage. I have two plants and they both need cutting back. So far one plant has gotten a drastic haircut, and I now have two elegant 'vases' (old jars) of sage to show for it; plenty to use for cooking and tea.

While I don't personally ecommend a cup of tea made entirely of sage, some fresh or dried added to your tea contributes a subtle but pleasant heartiness to your cuppa. Hard to explain, lovely to taste.

Painted Mountain Corn, shelled (left), Golden Sage, cuttings (right)

Also, I finally shelled out my Painted Mountain Corn. Ended up with a good sized snack bowl (as the ones saved for seed were shelled elsewhere). Yup, I said snack bowl. Painted Mountain is a very soft flour corn, and, no joke, I grab a few kernels and pop them in my mouth whenever I have the munchies. Hey, don't knock it until you tried it.

I still don't have a grain mill, so for now these will be snack food and possibly parched like corn nuts in the near future. Another fun experiment I'll try to remember to document. I added some to my slow cooker baked beans the other day, halfway through the cycle. Delightfully chewy, but probably should have added them from the start. I was afraid they would disintegrate. That fear turned out to be unfounded.

Painted Mountain Corn - saved seed for planting
These ears were the ones saved for seed. They've since been shelled as well, but didn't end up in the snack bowl. Ok, I maaay have nibbled a few from that rightmost ear one... hush. I keep your secrets.

Swiss Chard

Chard. So. Much. Chard. It's an apocalypse vegetable. Humans, cockroaches, Microsoft paint, and Swiss Chard. Everything else will perish. This is about 5 leaves washed and rough chopped. It'll take me at least two days to go through, and that's if I'm not also eating fava greens.  I could harvest twice this amount per day, easy.

See my problem?

I have over a dozen plants (why Day) that need to be completely consumed in the near future. Why completely consumed? Because I just had a much better idea for the prime real estate space they're occupying.

I'm not going to show you a picture of that real estate, however.

Because apart from the chard and a few sad favas, that bed is... well, it's a cinder block raised bed I made in a flurry one afternoon after getting jacked on caffeine and scrolling through too much Pinterest.

Raised bed, cement, hot climate... why I thought that would be a good idea I'll never know -- oh, wait, coffee and pretty pictures. Right.

We all have our weaknesses.

Bed Beet and Stoner the volunteer tomato (top left)

This is the beet bed -- and even the beets are contributing to the Chard glut now. The Mammoth Red Mangels were being impolite and shoving their fingers in their neighbor's faces. And so, in the wise words of Hannibal Lecter:

Whenever feasible, one should always try to eat the rude.

And so they, too, were nommed.

As you can see, Greybooger the curious goober cat decided to sneak in to add scale. Top left you can also see Mr. Stoner the volunteer tomato. He's growing like crazy and putting on flowers and has some forming green fruit already, which unfortunately aren't visible in the photo. I'll post more on him another day.

Ripe Paul Robeson Tomato from overwintered plant
Speaking of tomatoes, somehow my 'Paul-Robeson-in-a-storage-tub' is still alive from last year, and hot damn is he committed to the cause. Atta' boy. First ripe tomato on February 1st, though technically I cheated since it's from a 2017 plant. But all's fair in gardening and war. Or... is it gardening and taxes?

Who cares, I have a ripe tomato in February.

The other side of the tomato is almost entirely purple, odd since it's the side facing away from the sun. Naturally, I couldn't get a good picture of it, precisely because my phone won't shoot into the sun.
(in full Harvest Monday disclosure, I'm saving seeds from this puppy so I didn't actually harvest it this week. But I could have harvested it. That counts, right?)

Sugar Snap Pea. Something ate it. Something was me.

Sugar Magnolia Tendril Pea now in my belly.

Oops. Ok, I cheated. I wasn't going to eat my peas. But but but.... ah... I love peas. And, spoiler alert, I finally learned how to cross pollinate peas! (post to come.) So as a reward, I've now given myself a pass to eat a few here and there... so long as they're not adorned with dangling jewelry tags,

Clearly, I did not have the self control to take a 'before' picture. Nom nom nom.


That's it for this week. I do have two eggplant sizing up nicely on Moriarty, who despite my best efforts is swarming with spider mites again. But the eggplants still need another week and they're going to be given to my hair cut lady anyway. Hm, maybe I can pawn off some of the chard on her too...

Harvest Monday is sponsored by Dave over at Our Happy Acres -- head on over, say hi, and take a gander at what everyone else has harvested this week. Link up if you have harvests of your own!

Happy Planting!


  1. Great post for me! Great because you are trying favas, too, and I can read your chronicles and nod my head in agreement. Great because you have carry over tomatoes in February. Now that is a great feat.

    1. I'm glad we can share fava experiences -- hopefully yours 'bean up' better than mine! I got lucky with the tomato; that plant was horribly abused during my 5 week absence, and still gave me something for my troubles a month later. No complaints!

  2. I don't think anything grows much bigger, better and easier than chard! Too bad it is the one green I like the least, though I can eat it if it has plenty of garlic added. And I say any fresh tomato in February is reason to celebrate!

    1. I agree! I had no idea though, so I over planted and treated it like lettuce. I'd never grown chard before to be perfectly honest, so I assumed it would be difficult in our hot climate like leafy greens tend to be. Wrongo. I also agree that chard is not my favorite for taste. It seems sorta... soapy? Foamy? I do like it in anything also involving teriyaki sauce though - but maybe that's just because the sauce covers up the flavor!

  3. Favas - EPGV, the best. Aquadulce good too but later and more tall. I'm growing both this year, 2/3 EPVG and 1/3 Aquadulce. Are you a pesto eater? Try it made with fava greens. And if you do get some small beans you don't have to wait until you get big fat seeds to eat them, eat the baby pods, the whole thing.

    I do a bit of nibbling on my flour corn also.

    A dozen chard plants? I understand. It took me years to figure out just how much chard I need to grow and I love the stuff. Three or four plants are usually enough to keep me in the green. The problem is if you want to save seeds and that's why I have a couple of dozen plants this year. It takes 20 to 50 plants to produce good quality seeds to maintain a variety and the single source for the variety I'm growing isn't around any longer. So I'm devoting precious garden space to that rare variety. Have you tried blanching your chard before cooking it up? That might reduce the funky flavor that you don't like.

    How have you resisted eating all your peas? I've been checking my plants at least twice a day to see if I can start harvesting. Soon.... and I will certainly eat ALL of them.

  4. My Aquadulce are lazy. Some have put out a few flowers, but otherwise they're way behind EPGV. Oddly, all my favas are about the same height, about mid thigh, despite the wide range of sizes they should be.

    What variety are you hoping to save from? Perhaps you posted about it and I missed it, but if not you should -- I'm very curious, and posts on seed saving (especially tougher biennials) are always important for posterity. I haven't tried blanching - mostly just been smothering it in olive oil/onions, or mixing it into pasta sauce or other sauces. Might give that a try though!

    Oh my god the peas. It's a daily struggle not to go out there and pick them clean. And they're hating our hot weather, so I'm not sure how much longer I'll have them for either :(


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