Harvest Monday, September 1, 2014 – First Napa, Leek, Chicory (Radicchio) & Asian Pear + Blue & Fingerling Potatoes

Was a bit under the weather this past week as a result not much got done in the garden or the kitchen.

Reinjured my right shoulder some weeks ago and every now and then it acts up. This past week it was “acting up” and I was forced to take it easy, am OK now just need to remember not to make certain motion with my right arm which is easier said than done.

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leek & napa (06684)

Napa & Leek

The 3 napas in the window box formed heads, click here and scroll down.

Early in the week I noticed one of the them started to bolt (you can see the flower stalk poking through the center in the above photo) so harvested it. Weighed about 1½ pounds. Like this size. Would they grow larger if planted in the ground? Will do an experiment next year to find out. Later in the week decided to harvest the other 2 as well before they bolt.

The napa seeds were a gift from Mac, High Desert Garden. Mac grows a vast variety of veggies and fruits and she post photos of the dishes she makes with her harvests. Check out her blog, you are going to drool scrolling through her dishes.

Pulled my first leek (notice the length of the white part in the above photo, a whopping 12 inches, I am so pleased). Bought the seedlings from a nursery so no idea what the variety is.

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radicchio, Asian pear (06690)

Chicory (Radicchio), Asian Pears, Strawberries & Thornless Blackberries

Harvested my first chicory (radicchio). The packet of seeds I have contains a mixed variety of chicory so I never know what I am going to harvest. Need to get single variety seed packets.

Got my first Asian pear.

Since I cut down the other Asian pear tree I had worried that I would not get any Asian pears this year (most Asian pear needs 2 varieties for pollination). Fortunately the remaining trees is a self-fertile one so I am happy to have fruits. Not knowing how much self-thinning would occur, decided not to do any thinning, as a result the fruits are not large. Now that I know this is a self-fertile tree and there is little self-thinning, next year I will thin to have larger fruits.

The critters are still taking bites out of the largest strawberries and blackberries, did leave me some (the smaller ones) untouched, a few handfuls of each. Although they were not the largest they were sweet and flavorful.

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fingerling & blue potatoes (06687)

Potatoes – Fingerlings & Blue

The fingerlings on the left were grown in the ground, the fingerlings on the right were grown in foam ice chest. I got better yield from the ice chest and it was easier to hill the plants as well, will grow all potatoes in containers next year.

The blue potato was grown in an 18-inch diameter x 16-inch high container, harvested 3½ pounds from 2 plants. The one in the above photo is the largest and weighed 4½ ounces. I think if I planted the potatoes deeper in the container I would have higher yield. Next year I am going to plant the seed potato at the lower ¼ of the pot and hill the plants as they grow. I also think the container is large enough to accommodate 3 plants.

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besweet 2001 soy beans (06693)

Green Soy Beans (edamame) – Besweet 2001

I plant 3 different varieties of soy beans – Black, Tohya and Besweet 2001. Tohya is the first to reach edible stage, followed by black a few days later and besweet 2001 a week after black. The seeds of Besweet 2001 are larger than both the Tohya and Black. Because the 3 varieties matured at different times could not do a side-by-side taste test.

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Still harvesting figs (already have 1½ quarts in the freezer), Swiss chards, sweet potato vines, Ping Tung eggplant, red & green Chinese long beans, tomatoes and more tomatoes. Garden doing surprisingly well this year.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Container gardening, Flowers, Fruits, Harvest Monday, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Harvest Monday, August 25, 2014 – Black Soy Beans, Rhizobia + Tri-color Amaranth

Pulled all but 2 of the black soy bean plants and collected all the young soy pods. The 2 remaining plants are for seed saving. Will collect the pods when they turn brown.

Actually I did not pull the entire plant, instead cut the stem of each plant at the soil level, leaving the roots in the ground to add nutrients to the soil. Learned this from Mary, Mary’s Veggie Garden. Click Here to link to the rhizobia post.

I did not inoculate my soy bean seeds at planting time with rhizobia (a general purpose bean and pea inoculant) as Mary did, but I observed many nodules on the roots of my soy bean plants, guess these are rhizobia.

rhizobia (06677)

Above photo shows the nodules on the roots of the soy bean plant I pulled. Many came off when I pulled the plant.

Will be cutting all my bean and pea plants at soil level from now on leaving the roots in the ground to add nutrients to the soil.

black soy beans (06666)

Young Black Soy Beans (Edamame)

Harvest 3+ pounds. Parboiled for 5 minutes, cool in pot, shelled, placed in freezer bag, date and froze for later use (I did snack on some, well quite a bit, fresh & tasty).

black soy beans (06664)

As you can see from the above 2 photos many of the pods are not quite filled out, needed another week, maybe more, of growing.

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tri-color amaranth (06644)

Tri-color Amaranth
First harvest
Cut the main stem (8 – 10 inches), left the side shoots to continue to grow

Cut stems and leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sautéed in a bit of oil with minced garlic and shallots, salt & pepper to taste. Simple but tasty.

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callaloo (06643)

Window Box Callaloo/Green Amaranth

After 2 weeks, the window box callaloo/green amaranths (click on link and scroll down) were ready to harvest again. Got 8+ ounces. Blanched and froze for winter use.

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purple & orange carrots (06665)

Yellow, Orange & Purple Carrots

These are thinning from my direct sown (not from transplants) yellow, purple and orange carrots. They are small, the largest ones are thumb-size the others are finger-size.

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Made a quick chicken stir-fry. Click here for recipe. I substituted yellow orange & purple carrots, purple kohlrabi and scallion for the lotus root, broccoli and cauliflower.

chicken stir-fry (06673)

Chicken, Kohlrabi & Carrots Stir-fry
Served in steamed pita halves (sorry, forgot to take photo)

The yellow carrot is yellow inside as well and stays yellow after cooking. The purple carrot is orange inside, but cooked unpeeled the skin remains purple (see the slice in the center lower 1/3 of the photo). You guessed it, I will be cooking my purple carrots unpeeled.

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red noodles beans (06655)

Red Noodles Long Beans

Decided to showcase the plant instead of the first harvest. Should have taken the photo before the harvest then you would see many more beans hanging on the vines, ah well, I do have 20/20 hindsight.

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thornless blackberry (06656)

Thornless Blackberries
Hope I get to those soon-to-be-ready berries before the critters

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strawberries (06657)

Second Crop of Strawberries
That one was BIG. Hopefully I will get some wholesome uneaten ones

I am losing the battle with the critters.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Fruits, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Harvest Monday, August 18, 2014 + A Few Frist + Maximizing Garden Space

Harvested all 5 purple kohlrabi from the window box (click on link and scroll down).

purple kohlrabi (06628)

Purple Kohlrabi
Each weights about 6 ounces

Could have waited a few more days to harvest but I needed the window box to sow my spinach seeds.

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All the items below except the fig, are first of the season harvest.

I harvest one fig in early June. This was unusually early and I was totally taken by surprise. Popped it in my mouth to see what it tasted like (it was sweet as honey) so of course there is no photo and I neglected to note the date so no accurate record, bummer.

No sign of another ripe fig until yesterday. This one was sweet also. Many starting to turn brown so more will be coming in soon.

first harvest (06636)

Top to Bottom, Left to right:
Broccoli Side Shoots, Chinese Long Beans,  Fingerling Potato, Blue Potato,
Fig, Tohya Soy Beans & Black Pearl Cherry Tomatoes

Was going to discard the lower portion of the broccoli stems, but decided to peel them and discovered the whole stem was tender.

Chinese long beans are also known as yardlong beans, asparagus beans, noodles and snake beans. The red noodles should be ready in a day or 2. To learn more and recipe click here.

Love the flavor of the Black Pearl Cherry Tomato, this is a keeper. Lost the first few as I thought it would be black and was waiting for it to get darker.

Dave, Our Happy Acres, sent me the seeds last year. You would enjoy perusing Dave’s blog, he is not only a gardener he also does all sorts of other neat things, I will let you go find out for yourself.

Got the blue potato and Tohya soy beans from Mary, Mary’s Veggie Garden. Do check out her blog. She is an organized gardener and a planner. Keeps meticulous records. Hoping some of her skills and discipline will rob off on me.

About 2½ years ago I bought different blue and red potatoes from the Rhinebeck’s Winter Farmers Market for planting and made sure I saved some of the year’s harvest for planting the following year. Last year I ate them all (forgot to save). Had no seed potatoes to plant this year. But Mary came to the rescue and gave me 2 blues and 1 red. Wondered if they are from the ones I shared with her previously?

My black soy beans should be ready need to find time this week to harvest. Both the Tohya and black soy beans are harvested while the pods are still at the green stage and known as green soy beans and edamame. To learn more about green soy beans/edamame click here and here.

The tohya soy beans went into a ground pork dish. Unfortunately I forgot to take note and have no recipe to share.

pork & soybeans (06641)

This is what I did: Parboiled the soy beans for about 5 minutes (to make shelling easy). Sautéed lean coarse ground pork (I make my own ground pork) with garlic, chopped onion and grated ginger. Seasoned with dark soy sauce, salt, pepper and honey. Add broth and soy beans and simmered for 15 minutes, stirred in 1½ tablespoons red miso, thickened with cornstarch and water mixture and served over rice.

cross sections (06638)

Left to Right: Cross Sections of
Purple Kohlrabi, Blue Potato, Fingerling Potato & Black Pearl Cherry Tomato

After peeling, the purple kohlrabi is the same color as the green one but they look pretty in the garden that’s why I plant both.

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Maximizing garden space

Swiss chard (06632)

Left: Spring planted Swiss Chard
Right: Newly Transplanted Seedlings

The Swiss chard on the left is getting leggy and will get leggier as the season progresses and I continue to harvest the outer leaves. Before long I will need to stake the plant to prevent it from toppling over. As you can see from the photo it is already leaning.

All my Swiss chards in the garden are doing exceptionally well this year so decided to do an experiment with some of the plants.

The seedlings I started some weeks ago needed to be transplanted, but instead of putting them in a newly prepared bed, decided to interplant them between a portion of the spring planted chards. Now that the seedlings are established I will pull the spring planted chards to give the new seedlings room to grow. Will continue to harvest from the other spring planted chards until the new seedlings mature.

Once the fall seedlings reach harvesting stage, I will pull the remaining spring planted chards and transplant my beet seedlings. Not sure if there is sufficient time for the beets to form but I can always use the beet greens. Did the same interplanting with my collard and kale.

By doing the above I am able to get more mileage out of the same amount of garden space, will need to do some tweaking with the timing for starting the fall seeds.

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The week’s harvest included more chards, tomatoes, Ping Tung eggplant, Chinese chives, okra and lettuce.

Made a veggie medley stir-fry with the broccoli, long beans, onion and one of the kohlrabi. Should have stopped there but last minute decided to added a Ping Tung eggplant as well and that was a mistake, did not like the result, I learnt.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

My Brand New Kitchen

All the components to make my kitchen fully functional are in place, there are, however, still some unresolved issues with the kitchen cabinets. The owner of the kitchen design company I ordered the cabinets from said he will get the issues resolved and I was hoping all will be well by now, but I am still waiting.

Actually the owner of the cabinet manufacturing company had personally assured me that all will be taken care of by him, still waiting.

May be I will get a phone call sometime this week?????

While waiting, thought I would post some photos of my brand new kitchen:

Kitchen (06608)

The owner of the kitchen design center decided to install the countertop with the sink cut out in one piece. When my contractor heard the news, he was not a happy person, his worry was that the installers were going to ruin his beautifully painted walls especially since I has specified that I do not want caulking at the end where the countertop meets the wall. “Do you know how precise they have to be?” says the contractor.

The countertop was installed in one piece as planned. Took 3 people to get the job done, very, very slowly and carefully, when the mission was accomplished the 3 guys were beaming ear to ear (obviously very pleased with themselves, there was less than a ½ inch nick by the door that was hardly noticeable). Perfect fit and NO seam, beautiful.


This “L” shape countertop was also installed in one piece and again there is no caulking along the walls.

kitchen (06600)

The cabinets on the other side of the “L” shape countertop. These are wall cabinets used as base cabinets. The correct depth for all (well most) of my small kitchen appliances.

The countertop has a 12 inch overhang where I can sit and eat or work. Need to get 2 more bar stools.

The kitchen floor looks like wood but is actually vinyl and very easy to maintain.

Can you believe I received a Thank You card from the company, Foster Flooring of Hyde Park, NY, that installed the floor telling me it was a pleasure serving me and thanking me for my business! This is a first and I surely appreciate the gesture.

Have you ever received a thank you card from a company thanking you for your business?

I would highly recommend this company. Did an excellent job with the floor installation,  was very clean and neat, but most importantly efficient and on time as promised.

stove (06610)

The convection feature of my brand new stove, an Electrolux, is very noisy, so noisy I get a headache when in use. Not loving it. Service person will be coming on the 28th to check it out.

The dishwasher, an Asko, on the other hand is very quiet so is the exhaust fan, a Broan, at low and medium speed. Loving both.

Can you imagine having a dishwasher and an exhaust fan that is quieter than the oven’s convection feature? My previous oven also had convection feature, you could hear the fan but was not objectionable.

fridge (06603)

The fridge, a Fisher & Paykel, is very well design, easy to clean both inside and out. Loving it.

The task at hand now is to get all the cabinets and drawers organized and remember where things are in this new arrangement.

Also would like to get my art works onto the walls, but they are not talking to me so I must wait. More waiting. Story of my life, sigh!

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revolve surge protector (06611)In my kitchen is this neat Revolve Surge Protector (right photo) by 390electrical. So cool looking and the outlets rotate in any direction, loving it.

It was probably designed by a nerd who had too many gadgets with various size plugs and the strip surge protector just did not serve the purpose, that surely frustrated him/her.

He/she must be thinking: “How cool would it be to have a surge protector where the outlets rotate to accommodate any size plugs!” That was the “aha” moment when this surge protector was born. Was that what actually happened, don’t know, I made this up.

The green light on the Surge Protector indicates it is plugged into a grounded outlet.

The blue light indicates everything is protected. If the blue light goes out it means the surge protector has absorbed a surge and needs to be replaced.

There is also a 2-outlet unit available where the prongs can be folded for easy travel.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.


Posted in kitchen reno, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 52 Comments

Harvest Monday, August 11, 2014 – Windowbox Gardening

This past week was a bountiful one.

Early in the week: harvested Swiss chard, beets, red & green mustard, sweet potato leaves, romaine garnet rose lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

Later in the week: harvested more chard, SP leaves, lettuce, Chinese chives, chive flowers and the last kohlrabi.

Did not take any photos as I gave away most of the harvest.

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Today I am focusing on window boxes. Needed to know what else will grow well in my 29 inch x 8 inch window boxes.

These are the same boxes I used the previous year. Can I, should I, reuse the potting mix?  Hate to dump out the old potting mix and put in new mix as the mix I use is pricey ($34.99 for 3.8 cubic feet). Decided to reuse (I am cheap).

Before planting the seedlings I did, however, enriched the old mix with organic granular fertilizer and composted cow manure.

Below are photos of this year’s window boxes experiment and the results.

Swiss chard (06473)Swiss Chard
These are the same chard I planted in April (see 4/14/14 post) and have harvested many times

Swiss chard (06477)

Swiss chard
Harvested about ¾ pound from the window box on July 16, 2014

Swiss chard (06474)

Swiss Chard Stubs
Removed all the stalks/leaves except the small leaves in the center
(photo taken July 16, 2014)
Fertilized with fish emulsion fertilizer after harvesting

Was going to pull up all 6 plants (I needed the box to plant fall spinach), but my inquiring mind wanted to know what if I remove all the stalks/leaves except the small ones in the center will I get a harvest? How long will it take?

Since the Swiss chards in the garden are doing very well (so well I have been giving away to friends and neighbor) decided to experiment. If the experiment fail I still have chards to harvest from the garden.

The photo below is the result.

Swiss chard (06616)Swiss Chard (photo taken 8/8/14)
Took 3 weeks & 2 days for the stubs to grow to this size
There are 6 plants in the box, a bit crowded, 5 would be better

In the above photo, look at the 3rd from right chard, do you see the side shoots sprouting from the base? What would happen if I cut away all the stalks/leaves just above the side shoots? That is just what I did yesterday (below photos). I also harvested most of the stalks/leaves from the other plants so these side shoots will have room and sunlight to grow.

Swiss chard (06625)Swiss chard (06626)

Will the side shoots grow at a faster rate and have good size stalks/leaves? Update coming in a future post.

P.S. Have I bored you to death so far with my Swiss chard? You are probably thinking: OK Norma, get a life, that’s an overkill.

Anyhow, the remainder of the post goes very quickly, promise.

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callaloo (green amaranth) (06583)

Callaloo (Amaranth)
Harvested the main shoot (8 – 10 inch) got about ½ pound
Left some of the side shoots to continue to grow

callaloo (green amaranth) (06596)Also harvested ½ pound red amaranth (from the garden). Was going to make a soup combining the 2, but since the leaves and stems were very tender decided to do a stir-fry (like spinach) instead.

No photo. Delicious, but was not a good looking dish.

Right photo: red amaranth & callaloo.

callaloo (green amaranth) (06592)

Callaloo  (amaranth) after harvesting main stems
Side shoots will continue to grow and ready for harvest in a few days
Fertilized with fish emulsion fertilizer after harvesting

Did not know how well callaloo would do in the box so put in 10 plants, too many. Next year I will plant only 6

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kohlrabi (06615)

Kohlrabi, Purple
The large ones are about 2½ inches in diameter
Next season I will put 6 plants in the box instead of 5

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napa cabbage (06617)

Napa Cabbage
Only 3 plants in the box, just the right number
The one in the middle & the one on the right are starting to form heads

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romaine garnet rose (06587)

Lettuce, Romaine Garnet Rose
There are 6 plants in the box, just the right number
Easy to grow and very pretty

romaine garnet rose lettuce (06624)

Harvest all the lettuce but left the stumps (1-2 inches) to see what will happen

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CONCLUSION: Many veggies will grow well in window boxes. The secret is not to overcrowd. More frequent watering and fertilizing are needed (I feed with fish emulsion fertilizer at ½ strength once a week). I also find there are less diseases and insects control is easier.

If you are lacking garden space or suitable growing conditions or have difficulty kneeling and bending, window box or container gardening is your answer. I will do a post about my larger containers, including my foam ice chest, at a later date.

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For the record, this is my 250 posts.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 43 Comments