Harvest Monday, June 4, 2012 – Ginger and Garden Update

Giant red mustard flowers

Harvested more giant red mustard, weight 4½ pounds. Gave some to my sister. Cleaned and  blanched the remainder. Packaged and froze for future use. The mustard is very happy in that section of the garden so am  allowing one plant to flower and go to seed. I will let the seeds ripen and fall to the ground where they will germinate and I will have a fall crop. True, I should not repeat the same crop in the same location, but nothing else will grow there and the mustard like the spot so why not give it a try?

First harvest of gai lan (Chinese broccoli), weight ½ pound. Not as fat as the store bought ones, is it the weather or the variety? Will have an idea when I sow my fall crop. Actually I should have waited a few more days to harvest as the flowers are just beginning to form. The leaves, stems (root end may need peeling) and flowers are all used. Combined them with garlic scapes (read about grlic scape on Friday, 6/8) and asparagus (from my son-in-law’s garden) to make a very simple (just a bit of oil and salt) vegetable stir-fry, very tasty indeed.

Ginger roots started the week of April 16 are finally showing sign of life, transplanted them into the garden and they seem happy. The one in the container is still the same size, hope something is happening underground.

Got a few more strawberries, again picking before completely red. Not only am I battling the birds but also the slugs and other insects. I am having a bad critters’ year. Wondering if sprinkling table salt on the beds will help????? But I will need a lot of salt and will the salt change the pH and/or the chemical composition of the soil. Should look into that.

Transplanted tomatoes, sweet potatoes and summer squash. Direct sowed soy beans, carrots and radish (finally). Garden is coming along nicely.

People-loving-flying insects are out in full force, got to bring out the listerine. Yes, you read correctly, LISTERINE. Works as an insect repellent for me, but it has to be the original (yellow) product. I fill a small spray bottle, right photo, and bring it with me to the garden. The drawback is I need to spray every couple of hours depending on how much I am sweating.

Copyright © by Norma Chang

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

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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82 Responses to Harvest Monday, June 4, 2012 – Ginger and Garden Update

  1. cocomino says:

    The spray is a good idea. I heard it before but I have never tried it. I should try it soon.

  2. Liz says:

    Yay for ginger. I think I might harvest the rest of mine in the next week or so. I’m really keen to see how much I get. Jealous of your strawberries, yum!!!

  3. Daphne says:

    I had trouble this year with my choy sum getting thin and tough stems. The early ones were bad as they saw too much heat. The later ones had a good first harvest as they saw only cool temps, but then the heat came in and the stems got thin again. I’m guessing the gai lan has the same issues with heat. I find fall a much easier time to grow them.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Daphne,
      Glad to learn that it is the weather and not me. Yes, fall is a much easier time to grow them, but after the long winter, I am anxious to get going. The weather so far this year have been challenging, last week daytime temp was in the 90’s, this week nighttime temp expected to be in the 40’s. My sweet potatoes are already in the ground, hope they will not be affected by the low temp.

  4. I use Listerine too. I like it better than those heavy duty bug sprays.

  5. Hi Norma,

    Really looking forward to hearing how the ginger does-all the best!

  6. kitsapfg says:

    Salt in significant amounts is actually very bad for garden soil and can make it unfertile. A better alternative for slugs and snails is iron phosphate pellets (sold around here under the brand name “sluggo”) which turns into naturally occuring iron as it degrades (which is actually a fertilizer) and does a great job of keeping slugs and snail populations in control. I try to use anything (natural or not) sparingly, but strawberries and certain greens are much benefitted from a light application during strategic periods of the plants life and fruit setting.

    Lucky you to have ginger growing! I am trying to get some started in a pot in my greenhouse but so far no luck. I think it is just too cool around here for them.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Kitsapfg,
      Thanks for the info. I shall look for sluggo next time I go to the garden center.
      Ginger takes an awfully long time to show any sign of life, mine took over 1 1/2 months to break through the soil, actually I had given up hope but dediced to continue to water the pot and then one day I saw a tiny growth. So don’t give up.

  7. Thanks for the tip about listerine. Bugs love to nibble at me; the dh doesn’t get a single bite.

  8. Charles says:

    That Chinese broccoli looks awesome – I think I’ve had it before, though not much. Did you try putting straw under your strawberries btw? Should help keep the slugs out at least, though probably not the birds.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charles,
      Straw actually makes a great hiding place for slugs.

      • Charles says:

        LOL 😀 I wonder, are we thinking of the same “straw”? I can imagine hay making a good hiding place for them – it’s soft and easy to “slither” over – my mother used to pack straw, the real hard thick spiky stuff under the plants which always did an ok job, though maybe she was just lucky!

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Charles,
        Yes, we were not thinking of the same straw. The straw I can purchase is not like the ones your mother used.

  9. Erik H says:


    I usually have pretty good luck with my strawberries, but I do keep them covered with a bird net. If I didn’t, they would be devoured. I also use SluggoPlus a couple times a year – the Plus version has Spinosad, which kills earwigs, which are a HUGE problem for me. Good luck!


  10. I agree with letting the mustard grow in the same place, given your circumstances of not being able to grow anything else there. I’m sorry to hear about your critter problem – slugs aren’t a problem for us here, but I would think that overuse of salt could damage the quality of your soil. Most plants do not grow in saline soil…

  11. Gorgeous berries and gai lan.

  12. Juliana says:

    Oh Norma, such a nice harvest…so far I just got 2 strawberries…so interesting, because I make a mix by diluting listerine and a few drops of dish detergent on water to get rid of bugs in my plants.
    Hope you have a great week ahead 🙂

  13. The produce seems so fresh though those pesky invaders are a pain! I’m sure you will find a solution soon 🙂


  14. I always look forward to your Harvest Mondays posts and seeing what’s happening in your garden. Lovely berries and Chinese broccoli. And the Listerine idea is brilliant! Does it work to repel mosquitoes? We have them bad here, but I try to only use Deet spray when I absolutely must while camping. Still, I don’t want to get mosquito bites or diseases. If Listerine works, I’ll be all over that.

  15. Lovely fresh produce, Norma! And I love the idea of Listerine as an insect repellant, thank you!

  16. You have some great things growing in your garden. Ginger rocks!! Your gai lan is pretty. I tried last season and wasn’t successful. I’ll have to try again.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Holly,
      Thanks, yes I do. My gai lan did much better last year, the stems were fat, I think the very hot and then cold weather got them all confused.

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    I bet the Chinese broccoli is delicious. Too bad you’ve only gotten a half-pound so far. Thanks for the Listerine tip. I wonder if it’s the alcohol that keeps the bugs away? No matter. It’s worth a try. 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      I don’t know but you must use the original yellow color the blue and other colors will not work.
      Yes, the Chinese broccoli was tender, sweet and delicious, got along well with the garlic scape and asparagus also I was pleased.

  18. Kristy says:

    Listerine?! I love that tip Norma. That’s fantastic! And you still get me with those strawberries. 🙂

  19. Thank you so much for the tip about the listerine
    beautiful garden pictures as always Norma

  20. Norma, looking forward for the recipe of stir-fry. I love your ginger, I want it too. It should grow in this part too, right? Or it doesn’t like to be hot? I want some of your strawberries, I can smell it through the screen! 🙂

  21. I want to try growing ginger in a container. I`ll be interested in seeing the progress of your plants. I like fresh ginger when the root is not so fibery.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello CCBG,
      For growing do get your ginger from the healthfood store. It is very slooooow to show sign of life so don’t worry if nothing happens for months.

  22. Andrea says:

    Love the way you cooked the Chinese broccoli………………
    I have tried sprinkling lime beside rocks and timber edges of the garden beds(where critters hide) and it seems to have discouraged slaters and slugs. Also small containers of beer attract grubs/slugs/earwigs and once they crawl into dish they drown.

  23. leduesorelle says:

    I’ve heard of drinking cider vinegar to repell bugs, but will have to give Listerine a try — mosquitoes are sure to follow all this wet weather, and they always seem to find me! How did you find out about using Listerine this way? Looking forward to following how your ginger goes!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Leduesorelle,
      I have heard about drinking cider vinegar, but somehow the idea did not appeal to me.
      Read about the listerine somewhere years ago and using it since. I spray it on my arm, face, neck, hat clothing… Mosquitoes just love me so I must cover every inch.
      Will post update about my ginger.

      • leduesorelle says:

        I’m a mosquito magnet also, so very much appreciate this tip! I dislike the scent, and how heavy and oily most natural repellents are, Listerine sounds like a more wearable alternative!

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Leduesorelle,
        I hope the listerine works for you also.

  24. Barbara Good says:

    I love all your Asian greens, they just look so healthy and delicious, I can almost taste that gai lan. I remember you wrote last week about the time it takes to clean home grown crops, I usually fill the sink to about a third or half full, depending on how much I need to clean, and dunk everything in there and leave it for a while. That seems to get rid of quite a bit of the dirt, which then settles on the bottom as well as drowning any critters hiding in there which usually float to the top. Then I just give each leaf a quick inspection and wash off any bit remaining. This seems to less actual hands on work and take less water than washing it all under running water.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Barbara,
      I soak my veggies in a sink full of water and sometimes add salt to the water, like you said, this makes cleaning easier, but with leaf miners, I really need close inspection of all the leaves.

  25. maryhysong says:

    I learn something new from you almost every week Norma! Never heard of the Listerine before, either for plants or people! Will have to try that! I have had pill bugs getting my berries just before they are red enough to pick, since I only have about 7 plants, I have been picking each berry up and laying it across the middle of the plant to get it up off the straw mulch and that has helped most of them stay whole until ripe.

  26. Eva Taylor says:

    So many questions: does Chinese broccoli taste the same as our standard variety? Is that plain ordinary ginger? It looks great. I’ve not heard of the Listerine remedy but as kids we always used Avon Skin So Soft (the original fragrance), which didn’t smell too bad and it was nice and nourishing for the skin. The only thing you have to watch is the sun as it is quite oily.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      Chinese broccoli is milder than our standard variety has a sweet taste, crunchy texture (you can cook it until soft also) and you eat all parts that you paid for.
      Yes, it is plain ordinary ginger that I purchased from the healthfood store. Tried growing the ginger from the food market but it just rotted.
      I used Avon skin so soft but prefer listerine, cheaper and easier to find.

  27. I am very excited to learn about Listerine. I will buy a bottle of the yellow stuff immediately; mosquitoes love me, and they are coming out in droves.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello GC,
      I hope the listerine works for you. Mosquitoes love me too, wish they didn’t, I keep telling them that I do not love them but they still come around.

  28. Sorry to hear about all those critters Norma. Looks like another productive Monday harvest with the red mustard. (I haven’t been able to comment until now Norma, as all of my comments have been blocked for Akismet the past week!)

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Barb,
      Those critters need to survive also and i don’t mind sharing, if only they will have some manners, finish eating one before moving to another. Yes, I am getting a lot of mileage out of my volunteer mustard.

  29. I’m really excited about your ginger! I can’t wait to see how it turns out! 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  30. Gai Lan is one of my favorite greens! If I grew it, I would need rows and rows of it!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Alyssa,
      Gai lan should grow very well in your area, may you can grow some in pots. How are your herbs doing?

      • I think I am out of room (for sun) or I would happily add Gai Lan to the mix. Surprisingly, the rosemary and thyme aren’t doing well but the oregano, parsley and mint are amazing! I am going to add some basil and thai basil this week along with cherry tomotoes and i am out of room 😦

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Alyssa,
        Both rosemary and thyme need full sun. Glad to hear the other herbs are doing well, so exciting to pick fresh herb as needed and add to the cooking, all garden fresh and no waste!

  31. Sissi says:

    I start having bugs on my balcony (brought by nasty birds I’m sure!), so thank you a lot for listerine tip!
    How do you plant your ginger? Simple ginger bulbs and they start growing roots? I’m very curious to see how it grows!

  32. Those strawberries look very promising!

  33. joyce says:

    Norma, Am going to try the listerine pest repellant. Will let you know if it works. Joyce

  34. joyce says:

    Norma, I had forgotten how beautiful the peonies are. Yours ar all gorgeous. The bush peonies that you gave me years ago did not survive their life in Florida after doing so well in NY. Do you know if the tree peonies would do well in Florida? Joyce

  35. mac says:

    I have no luck with choy sum no matter when I plant it, I must have gotten the timing wrong or the seeds don’t like our water.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Mac,
      Some years I do better than others, I am still trying to figure it out. Last year was a good year, this year not, I think the weather plays a major role. This fall I am going to plant them in container and see what happens.

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