Harvest Monday, November 23, 2015 – Overwintering Swiss Chard + Harvest

Decided to harvest all but the 2-3 center leaves from each of the 10 spring planted Peppermint Swiss Chard and leave the leggy plants in the ground to hopefully survive in the garden over the winter.

DSC08769weblarge copy

Peppermint Swiss Chard

This will most likely be the last harvest for the year. Total harvest was slightly under 2 pounds.

Cut chard into bite-sized pieces, combined with a thinly sliced leek (leek was camera shy). Sauteed in garlic and fresh ginger infused oil until tender, S&P to taste. Tossed in grated lemon zest, dried cranberries, toasted slivered almonds and a squirt of fresh lemon juice to taste. Yummy!

The chard had a milder flavor and sweet taste after the frost.

DSC08762weblarge copy

Leggy Peppermint Swiss Chard with 3 center leaves

As you can see from the above photo the plant (one of the 10) is very leggy. Throughout the year I have been harvesting the outer leaves reason for the  legginess.

The photo above and the photo below were taken 4 days apart, I think the chard grew during that time. Who knows, I may get another harvest after all. That’s parsley on the left.

DSC08780weblarge copy

Mulched Peppermint Swiss Chard

A mild winter is predicted by some so decided to mulch the leggy plants (instead of pulling them as I have been doing previous years) with shredded leaves hoping they will survive the winter.

Swiss Chard is a biennial (will seed the second year). If my plants survive the winter I will have a jump start on the growing season when I harvest tender Swiss chard early in the spring. What a delicious treat for that time of year especially when not much is happening in the garden yet.

When the plants are about to go to seed I will pull them all to make space for other crops.

Do you overwinter crops? Please share your experience.

∗ ∗ ∗

Got another basket of Red Giant Mustard, the leaves have a darker maroon color due to the cold weather, so pretty.

DSC08764weblarge copy

Red Giant Mustard

All the mustard in the basket are volunteers.

∗ ∗ ∗

Harvested all the snow peas growing in the foam ice chest mentioned in my November 9, 2015 post. Only 12 peas but still a good looking bunch and a treat for late November.

DSC08774weblarge copy

Container Snow Peas

These are the last snow peas for the year until spring. Now that I have proven that it is possible to grow snow peas successfully in container I will be growing more next year.

∗ ∗ ∗

Container Bronze Mignonette Lettuce (left in photo below) continues to grow well and I am still harvesting outer leaves as needed. It sure is a hardy lettuce.

DSC08776weblarge copy

Window Box Lettuces

The lettuce on the right (not sure of the variety) in the above photo started to bolt so I brought in the whole head.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   …  …

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

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Container gardening, Cooking, dairy free, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments

Harvest Monday, November 16, 2015 – Growing Sweet Potatoes In Container Update

Throughout the year I had made quite a few promises to post updates about my many garden ventures/experiments. Today’s post is  keeping one of the promises.

2015-1011_1138 IMG_3831sweet potato

Purple Sweet Potatoes grown in container from one (1) slip

Some of you may remember the photo below (the purple sweet potato slip I planted on April 18, 2015 in a container for my daughter, Kathy, and wrote about on 4/20/15. Click on link to read post).

growing purple sweet potato in container (07374)

A single Purple Sweet Potato slip planted on April 18, 2015 in a 6.87 gallon (26 liter) container .

April is way too early to plant sweet potatoes outdoors in the Northeast which means  bringing the container into my garage every night until around late-May when the nighttime temperature is warm enough and stabilized.

My daughter came for her plant around mid-May. All she had to do is give the sweet potato plant full sun, water, watch it grow and harvest before frost.

The photo below shows what that single sweet potato slip looked like on October 11, 2015  just prior to harvest.

Prior to harvest

Prior to harvest

Look at all those beautiful sweet potato leaves. It’s a shame my daughter did not harvest the leaves and cook them. (The 2 containers on the right rear are her fig trees, she picked 200+ figs from the 2 trees.)

2015-1011_1115 IMG_3814weblarge copy

All that’s left after all the sweet potato vines were cut off.

Sweet potato plant was dumped out into the wheel barrow. Bump on the right caused the container to split open.

2015-1011_1120 IMG_3818weblarge copy

Dumped out plant reveals a ton of roots.

Photo below shows what caused the bump.

2015-1011_1119 IMG_3816weblarge copy

Sweet Potato peeking where the container split open.

Yep, there was a sweet potato tuber trying to escape. It grew and pushed and split the container.

Clearing away the soil & potatoes are revealed.

Clearing away the potting mix & sweet potatoes are revealed.

Large clump with the thick stem still attached

Large clump of sweet potatoes with the thick stem still attached

2015-1011_1138 IMG_3831weblarge copy

Final harvest.

All of the sweet potatoes in the above photo are grown from the one potato slip.

Total harvest over 9 lbs, 5 ozs

All cleaned, weighed & ready for curing. Total harvest 9 lbs, 5 ozs

Freshly dug sweet potatoes are not sweet. They should be cured to turn their starches into sugar, curing also heals the cuts and nicks in the skin. Ideally, sweet potato should be cured at 80-85°F at 80-90% humidity for about 10 days.

Personally, I place my cleaned sweet potatoes in a newspaper lined container, cover container with a clean dish towel and place container in my utility room. Since I do not have the ideal environment, my sweet potatoes take longer to cure, 2-3 weeks. I do check occasionally and remove any that show signs of decay. Once cured I store them in the basement where the temperature is about 60°F.

2015-1012_1255 IMG_3835weblarge copy

Two of the 4 large straight ones.

2015-1012_1258 IMG_3837weblarge copy

This strangely shaped monster weighed 4 lbs 5 ounces.

What caused the above sweet potato to grow like that?

CONCLUSION: Growing sweet potatoes in container is doable.
You will need large straight-sided (prefer) container/tub
Fill container/tub with a good potting mix and/or compost. Add some peat moss as sweet potatoes prefer a low pH. Grows best with soil pH between 5.0 to 6.0.
Only one slip in each container. Give the plant full sun and do not allow soil to dry out.
Harvest before frost.

WONDERING: Since purple sweet potatoes is a short season variety (90 days) would planting the slip in May instead of April give the same result?

NOTE: My very organized and methodical daughter took all the photos (except the 2nd one) and made the notes.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   …  …

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

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Container gardening, Growing sweet potatoes, Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Harvest Monday, November 9, 2014 – Container Snow Peas + Herbs + Overwintering Experiment

Last week was a wonderfully gorgeous and delightful summer-like week, in the 70’s. Cooled down a bit over the weekend and woke up to a frosty 29°F this morning but not complaining. Took advantage and got quite a lot of outdoor chores completed, still more to do, but garden chores like house chores never ends.

One of the chores that needed attention was getting rid of the snow pea vines in the foam ice chest. Imagine my surprise when I saw snow peas and pea flowers, lots of pea flowers on the vines. Decided to give the plants a good drink and leave them alone. The weather this week will continue to be nice so those peas should plump up and who knows, those flowers may produce more peas.

container snow peas (08732)

Snow Peas in Foam Ice Chest

Can you see the snow peas hanging down and the many white flowers on the vines? The above experiment proves it is possible to grow snow peas successfully in container.

NOTE: The vines would have been taller if the woodchuck had not eaten part of it earlier (what you are seeing in the photo are regrowth that I did not think would produce) and I am sure there would have been many more snow peas as well.

∗ ∗ ∗

No harvest from the garden but harvest a bit from the containers and window boxes.

lettuce (08743)

Happy Rich Broccoli, Bronze Mignonette Lettuce & Snow Peas

Lettuce in the window boxes continue to grow well. I am still only harvesting the outer leaves as needed daily.

Cabbage worms were crawling all over the Happy Rich broccoli leaves, they looked well fed from feasting on the leaves. Did not want to spray so pulled all the plants. Got a few pitiful ounces of usable stalks.

The 4 snow peas are from the above mentioned plants. Looking forward to future harvest.

∗ ∗ ∗

One of my container napa cabbage showed signs of bolting so harvested it. Hope the remaining 4 have time to form solid heads.

container napa (08735)

Container Napa Cabbage

Look closely in the center of the plant and you will see the flowers.

Combined the napa cabbage, Happy Rich broccoli and snow peas and made a simple stir fry, made a delicious side dish.

∗ ∗ ∗

The Walking Onions continue to do well and are happy it their location.

walking onion (08756)

Walking Onions (aka Egyptian Onion & Tree Onion)

Have been harvesting as needed and use as scallion.

∗ ∗ ∗

Am surprised how well my rosemary is growing and was not affected by the frosts and deep freeze.

rosemary (08741)


The rosemary plant is growing in a sheltered location by my back door. Not hardy in our area but am leaving it in the ground to see if it will survive the winter (in its little micro climate area) especially since we are supposed to have a mild winter courtesy of El Niño.

∗ ∗ ∗

The Chives, Scallion, Lemon Thyme, Regular Thyme, Sage and Oregano all survived the frosts and deep freeze also and are thriving.

herbs (08739)

Scallion, Lemon Thyme & Sage

Having the herb bed by the backdoor makes it convenient to snip as needed.

∗ ∗ ∗

Driving to Locust Grove Thursday morning (Thursday morning is our heritage vegetable garden volunteer day) I was thinking about overwintering root vegetables. When I got to the garden I posed the following question to LG Horticulturists Tim Steinhoff and Susan MacAvery:

“What if I replant the harvested carrots, celeriac and leeks (without cutting off the tops and roots) in a container and keep them in my garage over the winter, how well will they do? Will keeping the leaves intact affect the quality of the roots?”

Their answer was: “It’s worth an experiment.” (I make life interesting for Tim and Susan with my many “What if …..” questions.)

So I brought home 3 carrot, 2 celeriac and 2 leeks and replanted them in Pro-Mix in a foam ice chest.

root crops (08749)

Carrots, Celeriac & Leeks ready for winter

My ice-chest garden is a bit overcrowded but hopefully by staking the celeriac everyone will be happy. Shall bring you up-to-date on the results of my experiment in the spring.

∗ ∗ ∗

The following photo was taken 2 weeks ago when my Seedless Red Maple was at its peak color. Breathtaking! My photo does not do the color nor the tree justice.

seeddless red maple (08622)

Seedless Red Maple

All the leaves have fallen and the tree will remain bare until spring.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   …  …

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

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Container gardening, Garden pests, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Locust Grove | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Harvest Monday, November 2, 2015 – Garden Survivors + Volunteers

Amazing how hardy many crops are, below are photos of survivors (of the many frosts and hard freeze for the past weeks) in my garden.


radicchio (08629)

Palla Rossa Mavrik Radicchio

Hoping the above radicchio will form solid heads. The ones planted in May were eaten by woodchuck so I re-sowed mid-July in cell pack and transplanted into the garden early August. July sowing is a bit late but still hoping.

∗ ∗∗

Celeriac & Parsnips

celeriac & parsnip (08666)

Left: Celeriac, right Parsnips

celeriac & parsnips (08711)

Left: Celeriac. Right: Parsnips

Pulled 6 celeriac, they were pretty good sizes. Shared with neighbors and friends who never had celeriac before but were willing to give it a try. Gave them ideas on how to use and they all loved it.

Parsnips are small, they never fully recovered from the damage done by the woodchuck earlier in the year. Leaving most of the plants in the ground and will mulch thickly with the hope that they continue to grow over the winter and by spring they will be larger. Parsnips are extremely hardy.

∗ ∗∗


leeks (08661)


Will mulch thickly before the ground freezes and harvest as needed over the winter months. If we have a mild winter they will survive until spring, but if we have another winter like the last one I will surely lose some, taking a chance.

∗ ∗∗


napa (08643)

Napa Cabbage

Kinda late in the season so the above napa may not form solid head, still usable, need to keep an eye on the weather and harvest before a killer frost.

∗ ∗∗


lutz beets (08651)

Lutz Beets

The above were sown in mid-June and have formed nice roots. Trying to decide whether to pull all the plants now and store in the garage or take a chance, mulch and harvest as needed over the winter, beets are not as hardy as the parsnips.

beets (08713)

Beets, Left: Unknown Variety. Right: Lutz

The beets on the left are from LGHVGarden spring planting leftover seedlings. Was worried they would be woody but they were fine. The Lutz beets on the right was my second crop directly sown mid-June.

∗ ∗∗

Swiss Chards

swiss chard (08652)

Swiss Chard – Fordhook Giant, Golden & Ruby Red Rhubarb

The above chards were directly sown mid-July. The Peppermint chard below were started in cell pack in March and transplanted to the garden in early May, leggy but still growing strong. Need to harvest all before a killer frost.

peppermint chard (08658)

Peppermint Swiss Chard

∗ ∗∗


parsley (08657)

Flat Leaves Parsley

Parsley is pretty hardy, will leave in the garden.

∗ ∗∗


goji (0867)

Goji plant with Berries

Was most surprised to see so many Goji berries on the plant.

∗ ∗∗

I allow some of the mustard plants to go to seeds and self sow, now I have 3 different varieties of mustard volunteers growing in the garden. All will be harvest before a killer frost.

Volunteer Mustards

red giant mustard (08680)

Red Giant Mustard

green mustard (08670)

Green Mustard

red & green mustard (08723)

Mustard – Left: Green. Right: Red Giant

Harvest over one pound of green and red mustard, all volunteers. These will go into the freezer for later use in soup.

ruby streaks mustard (08682)

Ruby Streaks Mustard

ruby streaks mustard (08727)

Ruby Streaks Mustard

rubt streaks mustard (08729)

Ruby Streaks Mustard

Planted only one variety in the spring, some of the plants seeded and self-sow. Don’t know why, but now I have 2 different varieties of Ruby Streaks Mustard.

∗ ∗∗

Had a few nice days and was happy to get my cell packs and trays washed, sterilized and ready for next year’s seed starting and spring planting. Now I can winterize my hoses.

Got my winter deer fences up, azaleas, mountain laurels, … are protected from foraging deer.

Did some pruning and weeding but still much to do. Pleasant weather is in the forecast for this whole week, nice treat, would be great if I can get all outdoor chores completed before the end of the week, working towards that goal.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   …  … … … … …

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

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Heritage vegetable garden, Locust Grove | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Harvest Monday, October 26, 2015 – Purple & Okinawan Sweet Potatoes + Planting Garlic + Best Method to Peel Garlic + Goji Berry

Did dig in my Purple Sweet Potatoes and Okinawan Sweet Potatoes before the frost and hard freeze but did not post last Monday because I had no photos.

As the photo of the Purple SP below illustrates my harvest consists of different sizes and shapes, would be nice if they were more uniform but not complaining.

purple sweet potatoes (08599)

Purple Sweet Potatoes

The Purple SP on the left weighed in around 2 pounds, the little one on the right weighed in at 4 ounces.

∗ ∗ ∗

July of last year I received a gift of Okinawan SP slips from Angie, The Novice Gardener. I did not succeed due to the late start. Decided to grow slips as houseplants over the winter so that I could try again this year.

Will I succeed if I start early? From all that I have read the growing season in the Hudson Valley is too short for growing Okinawan sweet potato.

But what if I start really early, like March? I actually started March 10, indoors.

As you can see from the photo below, I succeeded. Got 5 good size Okinawan SP from 1 plant (planted 2 plants but one did not make it) the largest weighing 9½ ounces for a total of 2+ pounds. Not a huge success but not bad either.

I am going to try again next year, putting one plant in a very large container (black if I can locate one) and one maybe 2 in the garden for comparison. Wonder how different the results will be?

Okinawan sweet potatoes (08500)

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes & Vine

As the above photo shows, I managed to spear all 5 of the tubers.

You see, the tubers of the Purple SP form pretty close to the soil surface and I assume it is the same with the Okinawan SP, so when I carefully remove a few inches of soil from around the base of the plant and saw no tuber, figured I had failed again so pushed my garden fork down to turn over the soil. Well the minute I did that I hit something hard and knew I had speared a tuber. Now you think I would be smart enough to get down on my hands and knees and use a hand trowel to see if there are any more tuber/s buried in the soil, but no, I continued to dig with my garden fork and speared all the tubers.

I am not the brightest light bulb.

∗ ∗ ∗

The 2 photos below are of uncooked and cooked Purple SP and Okinawan SP.

cross section of sweet potatoes (08510)

Cross Sections of Uncooked Purple Sweet Potato (left) & Okinawan Sweet Potato (right)

purple and Okinawan sweet potatoes (08517)

Steamed & Peeled Purple Sweet Potato (left) & Okinawan Sweet Potato (right)

Both the Purple SP and Okinawan SP are of the “dry flesh” type. I find the Okinawan a tad drier than the purple. Both are tasty.

∗ ∗ ∗

Planted my garlic, again only planting 2 varieties – German White and Duganski.

For garlic planting how to, visit Cornell’s Vegetables Growing Guide – Garlic.

Each head of the German White is made up of 5-6 large/huge cloves, each head of the Duganski is made up of 10-12 small cloves.

garlic (08602)

German White Garlic (left) & Duganski Garlic (right)

As you can see from the above photo one clove of German White is the equivalent of 2-3 cloves of the Duganski.

∗ ∗ ∗

Had a bit of time on my hand and was in the groove to put up some of my remaining garlic into the freezer. But before I do that I had to separate & peel each clove, roast them, cool, do an IQF (individual quick frozen), pack into freezer bag, date & label then return the filled bags to the freezer.

duganski garlic (08605)

Duganski Garlic Cloves

The above is only ¼ of the amount I needed to peel.

After trying different methods, personally I found the following the easiest:

Easiest Garlic Peeling Method
1. Place garlic cloves in a container and cover with luke-warm water.
2. Allow to soak for at least 5 minutes.
3. Drain and peel. If the peel is not coming off easily, soak a few minutes longer.

garlic (08609)

Soaking Duganski Garlic Cloves

4. Rinse and drain peeled garlic cloves.
5. Spread on a clean dish towel and pat dry.

peeled garlic (08613)

Peeled Duganski Garlic Cloves

Stove-Top Roasting Peeled Garlic Cloves
1. Place peeled garlic cloves in a heavy bottom pot/pan.
2. Add oil to coat each clove.
3. Cover pot/pan and place on stove. Turn stove to medium low.
4. Roast on medium low temperature until garlic cloves are soft, shaking pot/pan every now and then to toss around cloves for even roasting.

NOTE: Due to the different sizes, I roasted the Duganski and the German White separately, the Duganski took about 30 minutes the German White took about 45 minutes.

garlic (IMG_1082)

Stoved-top Roasted Duganski Garlic

5. Spread roasted and cooled garlic cloves, single layer, on a plastic lined sheet pan.
6. Cover with plastic and place in freezer.

garlic (08618)

Roasted Duganski Garlic ready for the freezer

7. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bag/s, date, label and return to freezer for future uses.

roasted garlic (08628)

Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) Duganski & German White Garlic

I combined the roasted Duganski and German White and filled 3 quart-sized bags. This should hopefully last until next year’s harvest, doubtful though.

There are endless uses to frozen roasted garlic, add to stir-fry, sauces, stews, dips, spreads, …, and because the cloves are IQF it is easy to just take out the amounts called for in recipes.

∗ ∗ ∗

Two or maybe it was 3 years ago Mac, High Desert Garden, gifted me with a few Goji sprigs for rooting. They not only rooted they flourished in my garden and this year I am harvesting a few fresh Goji berries. The plant survived the recent frost and hard freeze so I guess it is very hardy, the plant also tolerates shade.

I don’t know much about using Goji and would welcome any feedback and suggestions. Understand both the leaves and the berries are supposed to be good for ones health and has anti-aging properties (wondering how much I need to consume to get rid of my wrinkles)?

Tasted the berries, they are slightly sweet/sour kind of tomatoey flavor and leaves a slight medicinal aftertaste (not unpleasant) in the mouth.

fresh goji berries (08587)

Fresh Goji Berries (aka Wolfberries) & a Corn Kernel

That is a kernel of corn next to the Goji berry. The yellow spots in the cross sections are seeds. I counted 7 seeds.

∗ ∗ ∗

Completely forgot to harvest my Asian pears before the hard freeze and lost all that were on the tree, which was most of the crop, ah well lesson learned, will remember next year.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   …  … … … … …

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

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Cooking, Gardening, Growing sweet potatoes, Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments