Harvest Monday, July 23, 2012

This past week’s harvest saw a few firsts. First harvest of bittermelon (karela). Harvested 2, gave one to a friend.  To learn more about bittermelon click here

In my basket, left to right: gai lan side shoots, nappa cabbages (first harvest), broccoli & side shoots and cucumbers (Japanese cuke: long dark green one; kirby cukes: lighter green ones, gave most of them to my neighbour).

These cukes were harvested at their prime, taste and texture were much better than the ones harvested the week before (sweet and crispy, the seeds were tiny and the skins were thinner).
The harvested nappa was twice the size shown above, but (I am guessing) because the weather outside was so hot and dry while the inside of the nappa was moist and cool, many critters took up residence and made a huge mess of the outer layers of the leaves, I had to remove and discard many layers.

First harvest of sweet potato vine, gave a shopping bag full to a friend. Stir-fried in a bit of oil, garlic and salt to taste, delicious. I am told not all sweet potato vines are edible, the person did not know how to tell which is edible and which is not. I have eaten the vines from all the varieties I planted through the years and am still here writing about it. I do think the ornamental sweet potato vines are not edible.

Swiss chard, collard and kale are doing very well. A friend came by during the week. Sent her home with 2 shopping bags full.

Also picked a few raspberries and blackberries (another first). Neither made it out of the garden. Must remember to take my camera to the garden for photos.

Spent many hours trying to get the garden back in shape. Pulled up all the pea vines, turned over the soil, transplanted some seedlings, did some weeding, tidying up …..

The headline on the front page (above the fold) in the Mid-Husdon section of Sunday (yesterday) Poughkeepsie Journal (our local newspaper) read:

Lab confirms late tomato blight
Fungus was found at town farm, also can infect potatoes

This is bad news. After reading the headline, I quickly went to the garden to inspect my tomato plants. All healthy, so I brought out my pruner and pruned out the lower leaves as well as some of the branches of all the tomato plants to allow for better air circualation and hopefully help them to remain healthy. Will dig in all my potatoes this week, ready or not.

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

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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78 Responses to Harvest Monday, July 23, 2012

  1. Your garden gets fresher and healthier every time my friend – wonderful greens and so many first like some berries!
    Awesome 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Liz says:

    I love the shape and texture of the bitter melon – fascinating vegetable.

  3. Blackberries and raspberries right off the vine are the best. Your greens look beautiful, too.

  4. I just want that bitter gourd, please! You have a wonderful garden!

  5. Shawn Ann says:

    Very nice harvest. I can barely get the raspberries past my daughter! They do get eaten fast! Never tried sweet potato leaves before, maybe I’ll have to try it sometimes.

  6. kitsapfg says:

    Excellent heads of napa cabbages. I always have to strip the outer leaves off of all cabbages – as the slugs find them no matter what precautions I take. Good job on getting the tomatoes pruned to help fight the possible blight and other fungus issues. Since you have a confirmed case of late blight in your region, you might want to consider a proactive application of the organic fungicide – Serenade.

  7. leduesorelle says:

    The hot, dry weather’s been great for this year’s tomatoes, but we’ve a reported case of Late Blight here in Maine also. I especially love your hearts of napa cabbage!

  8. When I was at my VF garden Saturday PM, there was someone at the Pok.Farm Project, dressed in full pesticide applicators regalia (tyvek jumpsuit, air-filtering mask, chemical resistant shoulder length gloves) and wearing a powered sprayer, spraying their tomatoes. I do wonder what they are using. I sprayed with copper Sat., but today’s rain probably washed it away.

  9. maryhysong says:

    So far I’ve just had a few tomato plants go under from a wilt; probably verticilium, but the remainder are doing very well, so fingers crossed. Lovely harvest as usual Norma!

  10. Dave's SFG says:

    When I saw your Napa I wondered if they were that perfect when picked, then I read the rest of the article. I had the same problem with my large heads of escarole. The slugs and whatnot had slimed most of the outer leaves, particularly where two heads touched each other and provided shelter.

    Late blight is definitely around now and I’m worried about some of my tomatoes. I started using an organic copper spray, repeated weekly, and trimming leaves. If using scissors you have to disinfect them between plants or risk spreading blight to healthy plants.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Dave,
      Wouldn’t it be nice if the picked nappas were that perfect and no waste!!!!! Need to get to the garden center to get copper spray before it is too late, the problem is I hate to spray, organic or not.

  11. Sounds like you were busy in the garden. “Tidying up” can indeed be time consuming! I had no idea that sweet potato vines were edible. I presume they actually taste good since you continue to eat them (since being “edible” is not the same as being “tasty”!).

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    You’re as good a berry picker as I am. When the wild strawberries are in season in Michigan, we’ll go pick them for breakfast and none ever make it to the table. With such a large weekly harvest, there’s a much higher probability that most of it will make it to table. 🙂

  13. machisan says:

    bitter gourd my favourite especially soup or fried with eggs. yummy!

  14. Lovely produce, Norma! I eat bittergourd, but probably don’t love it enough to grow it. And I hope your plants escape the blight!

  15. zentMRS says:

    Your bittermelon is very intriguing!

  16. Daphne says:

    Beautiful harvests. I had to do the same thing with my Chinese cabbage. They really had a lot of earwig damage that I had to pull off. Luckily the centers were fine.

  17. Eva Taylor says:

    Your harvest is outstanding as usual. I’m going to check what to do with bitter Mellon, but I have to say the name frightens me, how bitter?

  18. Rick says:

    Everything is looking great this week. We are excited to see our first cucumbers this week. In fact I’ll have to go check they may be ready tonight!!

  19. Juliana says:

    Norma…every time that I visit you I am anxious to see what you have to share…and wow…you always surprise me 🙂
    Your bitter melon looks so pretty and your sweet potato vine just reminds me of my mom’s cooking…
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Juliana,
      Glad my sweet potato vines reminded you of your Mom’s cooking. Guess your Mom cooks sweet potato vines also. Do you? Wonderful week to you too.

  20. So envious of your garden Norma. And yes, I have had bitter melons before. Can’t say that I loved it, but I haven’t had it in so long! This vegetable reminds me of my grandma and her cooking though, thanks for the memories.

  21. Oh wow Norma you even have your own bittermelon! wow! Mr Bao loves them…but lol they’re simply too bitter for me!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Daisy,
      Yep, my bittermelon are just coming in. Sending this one over the internet to Mr. Bao. You can blanch the sliced bittermelon and that will take away some of the bitterness.

  22. What a wonderful week of harvests! Thanks for the info on the bittermelon! I’ve never even heard of such a thing…sounds very intriguing!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Melissa,
      Bittermelon is used in many cuisines, especially Indian cuisine. It goes by the name “karela” The Indian bittermelon is “bumpier” and has a drier texture.

  23. Great harvest. Your cabbage is just fantastic!

  24. Now I know why my garden doesn’t look as good as yours. I need to spend more time tending to it! Hopefully your tomatoes stay healthy!

  25. Hotly Spiced says:

    Love all the greens you have harvested. I’ll have to click on your link to find out what to do with a bitter melon. Your friend is very fortunate to go home with two bags full of your produce. And yes, I would love to see a photo of your blackberries and raspberries – what treasure is in your garden xx

  26. I love reading about your garden Norma! So inspiring 🙂

  27. What a gorgeous garden you have, Norma. I really wish I had a green thumb like yours.

  28. Wilderness says:

    Norma Lovely harvest. I too am worried about the blight. I got it 2 years ago and lost everything. Mine are getting lots of circulation out there right now blowing in the breezes and they are still small.

  29. There is so much exciting stuff here! I was very interested to read about the sweet potato vine leaves. I picked a savoy cabbage the other day and I too lost about half of the leaves while evicting added protein. I guess you can’t blame the bugs for liking them as much as we do! Can’t get Napa cabbage to grow properly here, but maybe the drip irrigation will change that…

  30. Charles says:

    Ah, I saw a bittermelon in a store the other day and really wanted to try it… I almost bought it but then chickened out because I thought I didn’t really have any good recipes and probably would use it for anything good. Got any good recipes yourself? The bittermelon cups recipe on the page you linked to look great though anyway!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charles,
      The bittermelon cups is my favorite way to prepare bittermelon. If you decide to give it a try, cut your “cups” into about 1/4 inch thick rounds, friends who dislike bittermelon love it when I make the cups this size (can hardly taste the bitterness, just a hint). The salad is also very good. Give me feedback if you decide to give it a try.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Again Charles,
      Did the bittermelon you saw look like the one in my photo? The Indian bittermelon looks quite different.

  31. That bitter melon is so interesting looking. I’ve never tried it, but must peruse your link to see what one does with it. Looks like your harvest is coming along, and I didn’t know that any kind of sweet potato vines were edible…they sure are pretty!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello B&B,
      Yes, beside China, sweet potato vines are eaten in many south east Asian country. Highly nutritious and easy to prepare. I prepare it like spinach.

  32. I had no idea you could eat the vines of sweet potatoes..I love visiting your blog Norma..I always learn something new.

  33. Kristy says:

    The raspberries and blackberries would never make it into the house here either. 🙂

  34. Hello Norma, I am so happy to have found your website. I am currently living here in Hong Kong and was interested in finding some recipes to use with the bitter melon (Chinese soup?). Looking forward to keeping in touch. Take Care, BAM

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      I am so happy you stopped by. Wish I was in Hong Kong. Let me know what you think of my bittermelon recipes. I too am looking forward to keeping in touch. Hopping over to your blog now.

  35. Marta says:

    I’ve never seen a bitter melon before. Your basket is so beautifully green.

  36. Sammie says:

    I have a love-hate relationship with bitter melon. I know it’s great for my skin and very nutritious but I’m a weakling when it comes to consuming bitter stuff! haha..

  37. Sophie33 says:

    Your garden is thriving, my friend! All of your produce is looking great & tasty too!

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