Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring harvest of fall crops

Farmer's market stand? Produce section at Whole Foods? No, just a small part of what I harvested out of my garden on Friday morning. Time to make way for the warm-weather crops!
Cool-weather-crop harvest
Left to right: Danvers 126 carrots, "baby" oakleaf lettuce, Easter egg radishes, late flat Dutch cabbage, the world's tiniest Brussels sprouts, Detroit Dark Red beet greens, and "baby" Catalina spinach. (I don't know why they call 'em "baby". They got plenty big, and still plenty tasty, too.)

This was my first effort at a fall vegetable garden, and I think it all went very well! Now, I didn't do it alone. Jack built the frames for the beds and hauled in tons of compost, but I planted the seeds, fertilized and mulched. With one hand, mind you.

All the various lettuces and greens I planted were very prolific producers, thanks to the rains and cool temperatures. This is the lettuce bed after harvesting and giving away 5 heads of lettuce this week, and eating salad 3-4 nights a week for a month.
I hope we'll be able to eat or give away the rest before it all bolts like the arugula and mache have. Yes, this is the same bed I blogged about in this post in January.

I harvested almost all the spinach on Friday--nearly 2 pounds worth--and there's still more out there. Luckily, we lurve spinach. I'm thinking spinach omelets for breakfast, spinach salad for lunch, and spinach enchiladas for dinner! Wonder what Jack will think?
Broccoli surrounded by spinach
That's a broccoli seedling in the middle. I'm not sure it's going to achieve much before it gets too hot. Oh well, it was worth a try.

But wait, there's more! I haven't even harvested the Fordhook Giant swiss chard yet. These three plants are holdovers from last spring, and they are still producing.
I guess they like the shady spot under the coral honeysuckle.

The Easter egg radishes did well. Most of them were nice and sweet, but a few were very peppery, especially the tiniest ones. Go figure.
Easter egg radishes

I was surprised at how well the carrots did. Mostly straight, crisp and sweet, with just a hint of an aromatic herbal note to the flavor. Wonderful!
Danvers 126 carrots

Of course, there's always a few oddballs, from seeds planted too close together or on top of a stray rock.
Oddball carrots

And it looks like a few stray seeds of other carrot varieties made their way into my seed packet.
The odd seeds in the Danvers 126 packet

Now for what didn't do so well, starting with the beets. Very odd, as they were planted in the same bed right next to the carrots. Lots of nice lush green tops (which I saved), but the beets themselves were no bigger than radishes. They were in the ground for plenty of time; if I'd left them alone any longer, they might have gotten a tiny bit bigger, but likely more woody as well, and I might have lost the greens, so I pulled them.
Baby beets

The Brussels sprouts also did not do well. I only planted one plant, because Jack doesn't like them and the plant gets very large. Alas, the sprouts on top of the stem went to seed this week, before the bottom sprouts matured.
Broccoli sprouts gone to seed
I harvested the tiny sprouts off the stem anyway; they were no bigger than a dime. I got about a cup--plenty for a serving for me.

What did well (or not so well) in your veggie garden this past season?

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Wow, Caroline, that's quite a harvest for your first try. I wonder if it got too hot too quickly for the beets and brussel sprouts? And just why is it that we always seem to skip the 60-70s for our temps in the spring, anyway? Nice pics; spinach 3 times a day...I love spinach, too, but that might challenge my taste buds, not sure about Jack's!

  2. Great-looking vegetables! Too much spinach is a nice "problem" to have.

  3. I wondered about the recent heat, too, but I planted those beets and Brussels sprouts in late November, so they had over three full months in the ground before it warmed up. I planted the beets at the same time as the carrots, and the Brussels sprouts at the same time as the cabbage. It's like the cauliflower and the broccoli--same bed, same soil, same fertilizer, same watering; broccoli did great and the cauliflower didn't. Can't win 'em all!

  4. I think your garden was quite the success. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who didn't have great success with the beets--I pulled one up the other week and it was no bigger than a radish, I bit into it and it tasted like a radish but bitter. I don't know what I'll do with the others...

  5. Your veggies look beautiful. I have given up on brussel sprouts and cauliflower. The chard, kale, lettuces, beets, turnips, carrots, arrugula, and spinach all did pretty well and my asparagus bed is coming along nicely.

  6. I will try the beets again. I've been reading up and have decided that I may not have thinned them enough. I may try another variety (although Detroit Dark Red is supposed to do well here, and I have plenty of seeds leftover in the fridge).

  7. That's wonderful! I'm still struggling with the concept of fall planting and spring harvesting.:) I guess I just can't imagine a winter where its not minus forty, frozen solid and a ton of snow. I think it may have been too hot for the sprouts anyway, they like to be hit with a few good frosts, before harvesting, it improves their flavour.

  8. Caroline, I stumbled across your blog today. What a wonderful garden! I live in Texas (Houston) and have my own garden as well. Good luck this spring.

  9. Wow - I'm impressed and astounded, Caroline! What a wonderful harvest and it's interesting to know the row cover worked so well during the freezes.
    You're giving me winter-garden ideas!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. I also tried a fall garden for the first time this past season. Started small...just a bed of carrots and a bed of broccoli. They did far better than I expected, especially the broccoli - half of it bolted before we could eat it, but the bees loved the flowers which was fun. :)

  11. Wow, your veggies are amazing! We're overflowing with collards, kale and lettuce right now. Cilantro and arugula gone to seed...I love the winter garden...

  12. That's an impressive haul, Caroline! You should be so proud of your work - it realy paid off. Your veggies are making my mouth water (except maybe those few little mutant carrots!). My beets have been a bust twice, too. I took a bunch of produce that we won't be able to eat to the food bank yesterday - giant box o chard!

  13. Wow, that's quite impressive. As far as the beets, it wasn't a beet year. Carol Ann at Boggy Creek Farm blamed the lack of sun, although I don't know why it would be a carrot year if there weren't enough sun. Oh well, guess that's the fun of gardening.