Harvest Monday, October 24, 2016 – Containers Sweet Potatoes: Okinawan & Ginseng Red

RAIN, finally.

Rained Friday and Saturday, on and off (mostly on) softly and steadily, not enough to end the drought but good enough to give the grounds a decent soaking. Lawn looks greener already, trees, shrubs and annuals are happy so are my veggies.

Harvested my container grown Okinawan sweet Potatoes.


Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

Got a total of 4½ pounds from 1 plant. It may not seem like much but for me it is a success. You see Okinawan SP is a late variety that requires 130-140 days to form edible tubers. In the Hudson Valley where I live we do not have that many growing days.

This actually is my 3rd attempt at growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. The first was July 2014 when I planted 2 slips in containers and all I harvested were a few pencil-size tubers. Last year I planted 2 slips in the garden mid-May and actually harvested a few good size tubers, 2 pounds total, click here and scroll down for photo.

This year I decided to grow the Okinawan SP in container and also start earlier to see if I will get a better yield. Planted 1 slip in a 15 gallons black (for better heat absorption, SP loves heat) plastic container late April. The container spent the days on my sunny driveway and the nights in the garage. This ritual continued until around mid-May when the weather was warm enough for the SP to remain outdoor (day and night) on the south side of the house where it received full sun.


Container Okinawan Sweet Potato plant just before harvest, 10/18/16.

After cutting away all the vines I dug around carefully and removed the loosened potting mix and fine roots. Surprise! I encountered the tuber in the photo below. Kept digging as the tuber was buried deep into the potting mix. Whew, glad I got it out in one piece. Check out the length of this baby (15 inches) in the first photo.


I then turned the container over and below is what appeared. Yes, more tubers, not as large as the one in the above photo but still good edible sizes.


Had to carefully untangle the roots so as not to break too many of the tubers.


Harvested a total of 4½ pounds. The tuber at the top weighed 2 pounds.

Next year I will again plant 1 slip in a container and also 1 maybe 2 in the garden for comparison.I will also choose a much deeper container and hopefully I will get straighter and less root tangled tubers.

I read that adding phosphate to the soil will increase the size and yield so am going to amend the soil with rock phosphate.

∗ ∗ ∗

Also experimented with growing Ginseng Red Sweet Potato in container. This is my first experience growing Ginseng Red SP so had no idea what to expect. And,

Thinking: Ginseng Red SP being a semi-bush plant would make a great ornamental plant in a container. The leaves are very attractive (edible also) and at the end of the season harvest the tubers for food, an all around winner.


Container Ginseng Red Sweet Potatoes just before harvest, 10/18/16.

Had one very large tuber, a few good size tubers and many pencil-sized tubers. Guessing those pencil-sized tubers would size up if the container was larger. Will repeat again next year using a larger container.


Container Ginseng Red Sweet Potatoes

Harvested a total of 3½ pounds from 1 slip. Tuber on the left weighed 1¾ pounds.

The photo below is also of Ginseng Red SP that was planted in the ground at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden. The tubers had more room to grow so were much larger and more uniform in size compared to my container grown tubers.


Ginseng Red Sweet Potatoes from Locust Grove

Next year I am going to again plant 1 slip in a larger container and 1, maybe more, in the ground for comparison.

Am curing both the Okinawan and Ginseng Red SP.

Understand the flavor of the Ginseng Red will improve if kept for 6 week. They will be a special treat at the Thanksgiving table.

∗ ∗ ∗

Goji Berries mystery solved.

The Goji shrub was full of unripened berries and I was so looking forward to a bountiful harvest of those red beauties. Then one day, while watering, noticed there were very few berries on the shrub, what happened? Couple days later when I approached the garden a flock of birds flew out of the Goji shrub, aha, birds, they were the thieves. Next year I will need to net the plant to save the berries.

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

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 Monday

Posted in Heritage vegetable garden, Husdon Valley, Locust Grove, New York, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Harvest Monday, October 17, 2016 + About Lutz Beets

Yeah! The lettuce thinning I brought home from Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden mid-September and transplanted into window boxes are all growing well and all survived Friday night’s frost.


According to weather forecast this week day time temperature will range from 57°F to 84°F with night time temperature above freezing. Lettuce should grow quite a bit more. Planning to harvest the outer leaves sometime this week.

∗ ∗ ∗

Needed some carrots so pulled a few from the container. Pretty good size, sweet and tender.


The remainder carrots should be sweeter after Friday night’s frost.

∗ ∗ ∗

 Got a basket of Red Giant Mustard, all are volunteers.


Made a simple stir-fry using the same method I used with the Semi-Heading Mustard. Click here to learn how.

∗ ∗ ∗

Leeks sized up quite a bit since mid-September. The beautiful long leeks in the photo below are a little under 4 inches in diameter. Long and fat, so cool looking! They went to a friend’s home.


King Richard Leeks

King Richard has produced well for me every year, a keeper.

Now if only I could grow onions. Tried again this year and the results were better than last year, will try again next year and hopefully I get a good onion harvest.

∗ ∗ ∗

My Lutz beets continue to grow. The 2 in the photo below each weighs 1 pound and even at that size is not at all pithy.


Lutz Beets

Below is the cross section of the beet on the left.


Cross Section of Lutz Beets

While shopping, came upon packages of nice looking pork soup bones. Just what I needed to make a big pot of Pork and Beet Soup.

There is no recipe for the soup, besides pork bones and beet, I added tomato, leeks, bay leaf, peppercorn, fresh ginger and salt to taste.

While going through seed catalogs, I learned that my Lutz Beets are not true Lutz Beets.

True Lutz have glossy green tops without any purple veins.


True Lutz Beet (Photo courtesy of Sustainable Seed Company)

But as you can see from the photo below my Lutz leaves are sporting purple veins and stems.



What happened?

Some years ago Lutz got crossed up and as a result true seeds were hard to find. Thankfully Fedco Seeds has the real McCoy so for next year’s planting I am ordering from Fedco.

∗ ∗ ∗

Other harvests for the week include: sweet potato leaves, Peppermint Swiss Chard, broccoli florets  and baby bok choy.

Got my garlic bed ready for planting. May plant later this week but most likely next week. Definitely planting German White and Duganski, both hard neck, may plant a row of German Red, also a hard neck, can’t make up my mind. Toying with the idea of  planting a soft-neck variety as well.

Washed and sterilized my seed starting equipment. Sure glad that’s done, this is my least favorite part of gardening. Hoping to complete my garden clean up this week, if not next week the latest.

Still waiting for RAIN!

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

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 Monday

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

Harvest Monday, October 10, 2016 + Growing Garlic in Container

Last of the fall crop of container grown Purple Kolibri Kohlrabi (seeds were sown 7/9/16).


Purple Kolibri Kohlrabi

The above kohlrabi were grown in window box. They did much better than the ones grown in the garden. From now on I am going to stay with window boxes.

∗ ∗ ∗

Harvest the last of the container grown China Express Daikon and the first of the Tae Baek (a Korean daikon) also container grown.

As the photo below illustrate, the China Express Daikon is twice the length of the Tae Baek.


Top: China Express Daikon. Bottom: Tae Baek Daikon

About 1/3 of the root of both daikons grew above ground, if you look carefully you can see the soil mark.

I prefer the texture and taste of the China Express, it is crisp with a hint of sweetness.

∗ ∗ ∗

In my September 19 post I illustrated the different results of the Win-Win Choy due to spacing. Happy to report that the thinned out choy in the window box caught up and grew robust, proving it is never too late to thin.


Win-Win Choy

In the above photo the plant on the left is from the thinned out window box.

∗ ∗ ∗

Growing Garlic in Container

This year I experimented with Growing Garlic in a Container, and yes, it is doable.

The following is a step-by-step account from start to harvest.

1. Early November, 2015, I placed whole heads of perfect German Red (a hard neck) garlic in a paper bag and put the bag in the vegetable bin in the refrigerator where they remained until the end of February, 2016, checked every now and then to make sure they were still in perfect condition.
(In order for hard neck garlic to form bulb (head) it needs to be exposed to temperature below 40°F (4.44°C) for at least 6 (up to 12) weeks.)

2. End of February, 2016, filled container with Pro-mix (you could use compost instead) enriched with well rotted cow manure. Because garlic prefer slightly acidic soil (6.2 – 6.8) I mixed in some peat moss as well. Also sprinkled on some granular fertilizer. Ready to plant.

3. End of February, 2016, removed the heads of garlic from the refrigerator, separated the cloves and planted the largest cloves (pointed end up) 4-inches (should really be 5-inches) apart and 2-inches deep (do not plant close to edge of container).


German Red Garlic in Container

Container should be at least 14-inches deep with good drainage. I prefer to use a straight-sides  rectangular or square container but a straight-side round container will work as well. For this experiment I used a foam ice chest.

4. Covered cloves, watered well and left outdoors on the south side of the house where it received full sun, watering every now and then to keep soil moist.


All 11 cloves of garlic sprouted and grew well (forgot to note date and take photo of this stage).

5. Mid-June, 2016, all 11 plants sent out garlic scapes which I harvested and used in cooking.


German Red Garlic with Scapes

Harvesting the garlic scape will result in larger bulb.

6. Mid-July, 2016, garlic plants were ready to be pulled.


7. Garlic plants were bundled together and hung in the shed to dry.


8. Mid-August, 2016, garlic were ready for cleaning.


9. Saved 3 of the largest bulbs for planting and enjoyed the remainder.

The is my first Growing Garlic in Container experiment, will be repeating and updating the above as needed. I am also planning to experiment with soft neck garlic. Need to do research to see if there is any difference in cold treatment between hard neck and soft neck.

∗ ∗ ∗

Started putting the garden beds to sleep for the winter. Lots to do but at least I got started and hopefully everything is completed before it is too cold to be outdoors.

Also started the chore of cleaning and sterilizing the seeds starting equipment and the other containers and trays. This is a messy job that I prefer to do outdoor so must be completed before the outdoor water supply is turned off for the winter.

Must remember to drain the garden hoses.

Oops, I need to prepare the garlic bed/s in the garden and get the garlic planted before the end of the month. Cannot decide if I want to stay with just the 2 varieties, German White and Duganski, that I have been planting for the past 2 seasons or add another variety. This is serious decision🙂

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

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 Monday

Posted in Container gardening, Gardening, Harvest Monday, Herbs, Uncategorized, Vegetables, window box gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Harvest Monday, September 19, 2016 + Some Firsts & Some Lasts

Harvested my first Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, well plus another small one that’s heart shaped. At the moment both are sitting in the fridge.

Also dug up 4 Purple Sweet Potatoes, another first. I noticed they were partially exposed so decided to bring them in before the critters discover them. They are curing now an should be ready for eating in 2 weeks.


Left to right: Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, Red Noodles Long Beans, Green Long Beans, China Express Daikon & Purple Sweet Potatoes

Also in the above basket are 1 China Express Daikon and a few Red Noodles & Green Long Beans. These beans will most likely be the last harvest as I see no flowers on the vines.

∗ ∗ ∗

I am growing Win-Win Choy in 2 exact size (29 inches) window boxes. One has 6 plants the other has 12 plants.

In the photo below, the Win-Win Choy leaf on the left is from the box with only 6 plants. The leaf on the right is from the box with 12 plants.


Win-Win Choy

The size difference between the 2 leaves is quite striking.


Win-Win Choy

Decided to thin out the window box with the 12 Win-Win Choy.


Removed the outer leaves from the remaining 7 plants also. Be fun to see if these will grow as robust as the ones in the box of 6 plants.


All the above Win-Win Choy were processed and froze using the method mentioned in last Mondays post.

∗ ∗ ∗

Harvested another 6 Black Summer Pac Choi.


Black Summer Pac Choi

Separated most of the leaves for easy cleaning leaving just the few center leaves attached to a stub.


Peeled the stub to reveal my favorite part of the Pac Choi. That stub, when cooked, is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Would love a serving of just the peeled stubs, but can you imagine how many Pac Choi plants I would need to have just one serving of the stubs?

Steamed the heart of the Pac Choi (uncut, whole with stub) for 3-5 minutes, then drizzled with a bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil, was a real treat.

∗ ∗ ∗

First harvest of Lutz Beets and Leeks.


Lutz Beets

Lutz beets is one of my all time favorite. Easy to grow and good winter keepers. I plant them in the spring, harvest as need throughout the year (didn’t this year as I was also growing other varieties) and harvest remainder before the ground freezes. They can grow quite large without getting pithy.

I store the unwashed roots, covered with Pro-Mix in a container, in my garage and they last through the winter.

∗ ∗ ∗

The leeks are not as fat as last year’s and I think it has to do with the hot dry weather we have been experiencing.


King Richard Leeks

Check out the length of leek at the top!

Was visiting friends and knew they would appreciate goodies from my garden so brought them a basket of lutz beets, leeks and some other garden goodies.

∗ ∗ ∗

Sadly, below is the last of my lettuces.


But all is not lost for the season. Brought home some lettuce thinning from Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden on Thursday and transplanted them into window boxes.


Seedlings were bare roots and are looking a bit limp but should perk up in a day or 2.

∗ ∗ ∗

Do not want to think about it but winter is fast approaching. The leaves on my Katsura tree are starting to fall, signaling to me that it is time to start thinking about putting the garden to bed for the winter. Where did the year go?????

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

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 Monday

Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Heritage vegetable garden, Locust Grove, Uncategorized, Vegetables, window box gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Harvest Monday, September 12, 2016 – Bees & Figs + Freezing Asian Greens + Cooking Sweet Potato Leaves

The birds were getting blamed for my damaged figs until I saw the following sight.


The bees discovered my ripened figs and decided they really, really like figs. Now I must pick my figs as soon as they are ready, no more waiting another day or 2 for them to get sweeter.

The good thing is it appears the same bees will return to and stay with the same fig for days until it disappears and not take bites out of multiple figs so I don’t mind sharing with them. But because there are so many bees I have lost many figs. Wonder what the honey taste like?????

∗ ∗ ∗

Planted a fall crop of Hon Tsai Tai in foam ice chest and they certainly are doing well. Cut in all the flowered stems. Below photo is showing a portion of the harvest.


Hon Tsai Tai

Leaves, stems and flowers are all edible.


Cooked Hon Tsai Tai loses some of its color (photo right), but add vinegar, lemon juice or white wine and observe the magical transformation (photo left).


Hon Tsai Tai

Look closely at the plant at the lower right in the above photo, you can see where I cut the stems. The central stem was quite stout, ½+ inch in diameter, the side stems were thinner. All were tender. The plant will continue to produce more flower stems. These will all be about pencil-size but still tender and delicious.

∗ ∗ ∗

Hip and back are much improved. Just in time for me to be able to bend and harvest my first crop of Black Summer Pac Choi from the garden.


Black Summer Pac Choi

Above are 2 of the 6 I harvested. They were planted in partial shade and I believe that is why they are doing well despite the heat and drought. There are 12 remaining in the garden hope they continue to do well.

Also harvested more Win-Win Choi and more Green Lance Gailan.

Despite the heat and drought, all my fall planting of Asian greens are doing extremely well, from now on I will concentrate on fall planting of Asian greens and forget about spring planting.

With so much greens coming in at once decided to freeze most for winter enjoyment. The frozen greens are great in soup, stews and braising, not that wonderful for stir-frying, but acceptable.

The traditional method to freeze vegetables is to blanch then shock in ice water, drain and freeze. With all the blanching, cooling and draining I always felt I was pouring the nutrients down the drain.

Last year I decided to think outside-the-box and experiment with a different method and was happy with the results so am doing the same this year.

Freezing Asian Greens:
Cut vegetables into desired lengths after cleaning and washing.
Add prepared vegetables and a few tablespoons of water (see NOTE) to pot or frying pan.
Turn heat to high and stir and mix vegetables until they turn bright green, lower heat to medium and continue stirring and mixing for another 3-5 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent pot from drying out.
Remove from heat and spread on a sheet pan to cool (vegetables are partially cooked at this point).
Once cooled, place in freezer bag, date, label and freeze.

NOTE: The amount of water needed will depend on the water content of the vegetable. Bok Choi and Napa Cabbage are high-water-content vegetable so the residual water from washing may be sufficient, Hon Tsai Tai, Choy Sum (aka Yu Choy) and Gailan on the other hand are low-water-content vegetable and will need more water.

∗ ∗ ∗

Also brought in some sweet potato vines. I cut about 8-12 inches of the tender tips from the vines of the different varieties of sweet potatoes I grow. Leaves from all varieties (both the cut leaves and the heart-shaped leaves) are edible.


Sweet Potato Vines

Sweet potato leaves are highly nutritious. Use as substitute for spinach, kale, collard or Swiss chard, as a side, in soups, stir-fries, toss with noodles/pasta, quiche, combine with curry and coconut milk …

Sweet potato vine (5486)

Sweet Potato Vine. Vine (lower left) is tough and not edible. Leaf as well as leaf-stem and tender tip (lower right) are all edible.

Cooking sweet potato leaves:
1. Harvest about 8 – 12 inches of the young tender section of the sweet potato vine.
2. Cut the leaves (including leaf stems), and the tender tip from the vine, discard the vine.
3. Separate the leaf-stem from the leaf. Cut leaf-stems and leaves to desired lengths, I cut to about 1½ inch lengths.
4. Add a bit of oil, garlic, ginger slices and salt to wok or frying pan.
5. Add leaf-stems, sauté a minute or 2. Add leaves, continue sautéing until reached desired doneness. (I like mine crisp-tender, see NOTE). Adding liquid, if needed, to prevent burning.
6. Stir in 1 – 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil if desired. Enjoy!

Keep in mind sweet potato leaves reduces in volume by more than ½ when cooked.

NOTE: I like the contrasting texture of the soft melt-in-your-mouth texture of the leaves and the crunchy, a bit chewy texture, of the leaf stems and frequently toss the leaves and leaf-stems into the wok at the same time.

(NOTE: I only eat vines grown from edible sweet potatoes tubers. I was told not all sweet potato vines are edible and not to eat ornamental sweet potato vines, not sure how true that is.)

To learn more about sweet potato leaves and recipes, click here for an article from Prevention, here from Epicurious and here from Botanical-Journeys-plant Guide.

∗ ∗ ∗

Other harvests for the week included: more Figs, Peppermint Swiss Chard, Amaranth, Long Beans and Lettuces.

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

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 Monday

Posted in Gardening, gluten free, Harvest Monday, meatless, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments