Harvest Monday, July 29, 2013 – Wacky Weather + Garden Update + Cooking Sweet Potato Vines

The week of July 15 was a major heatwave week in the Hudson Valley. Thursday, 7/18, was so HOT, Locust Grove, where I am a garden volunteer, cancelled the usual veggie garden work day. Fast forward to this past Thursday, 7/25, a week later, woke up to autumn-like weather, needed a jacket to work in the LG garden.

Took advantage of having the help of 2 neighbourhood kids plus cooler weather to tackle the neglected and overgrown areas of the gardens. Pruned shrubs, pruned trees, divided perennials, weeded, mulched….., was very pleased with the progress. Still a lot more to do, but a gardeners work is never done and if everything had gotten done, what will I do the rest of the summer?????

Vegetable garden is coming along nicely even though it was put on the back burner this past week.

Tromboncino squash

Tromboncino  squash

Tromboncino squash flowerTromboncino squashFirst time growing tromboncino squash. Not sure at what stage to harvest. Need to do some research.

So far there are only 2 squashes on the plants. Many male flowers but no female flowers, hopefully some female flowers will appear soon.

Black soy beans

Black soy beans

Black soy beansBlack soy beans are doing very well, lots of pods on each plants and each pod is swelling with 2 – 3 beans.

Last year critters ate all my soy beans before I got to harvest any. This time I am keeping an eye on the beans. Will harvest as soon as they are ready and hopefully before the critters.

Look closely at the pods and you will see they are very fuzzy (hairy). The Chinese name for soy beans is mao dou. Mao means hair, dou means beans. Hairy beans, so original.

Did manage some harvest – cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red amaranth, Chinese chives, carrots, herbs and Swiss chard.
Swiss chard (5463)

Swiss chard
Left to right – golden, rhubarb red & fordhook giant

Cooked Swiss chardAll 3 varieties of Swiss chard I planted this year are doing very well, am very happy (they did not do well at all last year).

Decided to experiment with freezing, but instead of blanching, am trying partially cooked. (Forgot to take photo before freezing.)

Not sure if I am correct, but I feel blanching then cooling in ice bath would rob the chard of some of it flavor (also involved extra work, I am a lazy cook).

Last year, we, volunteers at Locust Grove, reinforced the fence surrounding the Heritage Vegetable Gardens to prevent woodchucks from entering and feasting. As a result, the garden is looking its best this year. Must bring my camera to LG with me on Thursday and write a post to show case the gardens.

Sweet potatoes vines at LG are growing extremely well so I cut a big bunch to take home for cooking. Hope the tubers underground are also doing as well.

Sweet potato vine (5486)

Sweet potato vines
Vine (photo lower left) is not edible
Leaf as well as the leaf-stem and the tender vine tip (photo lower right) are edible

Cooking sweet potato vines:
1. Harvest about 8 – 12 inches of the young tender section of the sweet potato vine.
2. Cut the leaf (including leaf stem), and the tender tip from the vine, discard the vine.
3. Separate the leaf-stem from the leaf. Cut leaf-stem and leaf 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 of 2. Add leaf, continue sautéing until reached desired doneness. (I like mine crisp-tender). Adding liquid, if needed, to prevent burning.
6. Stir in 1 – 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil if desired. Enjoy!

(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.)

Japanese anemone (5487)

Japanese anemone along one side of my garden shed

Japanese anemone (5489)

Japanese anemone

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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

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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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63 Responses to Harvest Monday, July 29, 2013 – Wacky Weather + Garden Update + Cooking Sweet Potato Vines

  1. Just this weekend I was eyeing my sweet potato plants and wondering how to cook the leaves. I will try this tonight! I’ve been wanting to try this since you mentioned eating the leaves last year (I think it was). Thanks!

  2. Dave says:

    I’ve never tried sweet potato vine. I know it’s good, because all the critters love it! Thanks for sharing how to cook it.

  3. I had no idea you could eat sweet potato leaves. I learn so much from you, Norma!

  4. hotlyspiced says:

    The weather has been swinging around in Sydney too. Last week we had some very cold days but today was amazingly warm and even the evening was warm. All my washing dried on the line which is very unusual at this time of the year – but I’m not complaining – I do like warm weather. And it’s good to see your Swiss chard is going well as are so many other things in your garden xx

  5. I love the idea of sweet potato vines – never knew you could eat them at all and I love the way you prepared them.
    Seems all of our seasons are out of kilter – thankfully our winter this year has been relatively mild in comparison to last year so I am not complaining.
    Have a lovely week ahead Norma.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  6. Shawn Ann says:

    Beautiful. I think I will just start calling them Hairy Beans!

  7. Since I developed an allergy to potatoes, I’ve been pondering trying to grow sweet potatoes. Do they take up a lot of room, relative to the size of the crop?

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Lisa and Robb,
      Sweet potato vines do like to roam and do take up lots of room, relative to size of the crop, I think that depends on the variety you grow and length of your growing season. If I were you I would give it a try and see what happens. Because of critters problem I am growing sweet potatoes in container this year, not sure what to expect but will post results at a later date.

  8. Patsy says:

    I always learn something from you! The Chinese name for soy beans and that you can eat sweet potato vines! Your chard looks so good! I tried trombocino for the first time this year too. So far just two squashes, but they were large and very tasty. I’m sure hoping for more from those gigantic vines!

  9. I miss the potato leaves my mom cooked for us for the lunch. Love those black soya beans.

  10. Your garden is looking beautiful! The young Tromboncino squash is so interesting, I heard they can take up a lot of room.

  11. The deer have been enjoying my sweet potato leaves!

  12. michelle says:

    The best thing about Trombocino squash is that you can eat it at any stage, from baby to hard skinned. I haven’t grown it in a few years but I’m thinking that I may have to put it in the squash lineup for next year.

    I do wish I could grow those hairy beans (love that) but they have never done well for me here. I don’t like to buy them because the only ones I see at the store are from China or Thailand and I just won’t buy vegetables that are shipped from half way around the world. I miss them, they are so yummy.

  13. nusrat2010 says:

    How I madly, deeply, truly love those green, purple, yellow photos of your precious garden! You’re such an inspiration, Norma. (and you have one more follower) 🙂

  14. Kim says:

    I was going to ask you if I could eat my ornamental sweet potato vines, they are growing like gang busters down here. I’ve been trimming them back and just sticking them in garden beds and flowering pots to add some color here and there and they root very quickly!

  15. Kristy says:

    I didn’t realize you could eat any kind of sweet potato vine. I love that I always learn something new here Norma. And can you believe this weather! It’s been just wild. I don’t mind autumn temperatures, but I’m still in need of a good few weeks of summer!

  16. Norma, not sure what you mean – the photos in your post are of female trombie fruit and flowers? We had to hand pollinate ours, as whatever the plant’s natural pollinator is, it wasn’t in our garden! I squealed with excitement when I saw the photos! You can harvest the trombie fruit at almost any stage – they’ll grow to about the size of the ones in your photo without being pollinated, and we’ll pick them at that stage for stir-fries if there are too many on the vine. Once they’re pollinated, they can grow huge – we usually harvest them when they’re about a foot long and use them as we would zucchinis. Your soybeans and chard look great too!

  17. Eha says:

    Oh Norma, DO listen to Celia, our own, personal, beloved trombocino Queen!!

  18. Hello Norma, Thanks for enlightening me on the fact that you can stir fry the sweet potato vines. I bet they are yummy. Almost like the concept of eating the zucchini squash flower. I have been trying to find some morning glory here in HK and believe it no luck here. Wei Shenma? Happy gardening to you. Take care, BAM

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      The reason you may not find sweet potato vines sold at the HK food market is because they are used as pig’s feed. Do you think any sane HK Chinese wants to be caught eating “pig’s feed”?

  19. Daphne says:

    I almost always boil my chard (and spinach) as it helps lower the content of oxalic acid. Though sometimes I’m too lazy to do it too if I’m doing a stir fry. It is easier just to throw it in. I love all your pretty colors. I only grow a white variety.

  20. cocomino says:

    The black soy beans are our favorite. It’s best to eat them with beer. 😀

  21. Jenny says:

    Very interesting, I didn’t know you can eat sweet potato leaf – will have to try it.

  22. ChgoJohn says:

    You’re right about the weather, Norma. How could we set records, both ways, in the span of a week? Last weekend were the coldest July days ever. Too crazy! For help with your tromboncino squash, you may want to check out Celia’s blog. She grew the squash this year and had a bountiful crop. You can see her first related post here: http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2012/12/19/tromboncinos/ Good luck! 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      Welcome back. Hope the remainder of summer is normal. Yes, Celia had bountiful tromboncino squash crop. If I only get 1/4 as much as she did I will be very happy.

  23. mac says:

    I grew Trombocino squash last year, love the taste and texture, may grow it again next year. Boy, it grew like crazy and the squash bugs love it!

  24. Eva Taylor says:

    Weather is abnormally chilly in Wisconsin too, brought all the wrong clothes and had to buy new ones! My dear Mom used to love Swiss chard, I don’t have a taste for it , but maybe it’s the recipes. Stay warm!!!!

  25. Purely.. Kay says:

    I completely learned something new today Ms. Norma. I didn’t know you could even cook the sweet potato vines. I’ve heard of the vines before but never knew they would be great in anything. I can’t wait to share this post with my mom.

  26. I had to google tromboncino to get some more info 🙂 I love how your black soy beans look. So big.

  27. Black soy beans and sweet potato vines? I seriously get an education when I visit you, Norma. I bet mama would LOVE sweet potato vines!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello SM,
      We are learning from each other, a good thing. I think your Mama would love sweet potato vine, she would probably add some Korean spice to the dish as well.

  28. Lrong says:

    The tromboncino squash looks very interesting… must be quite exciting to be growing it for the first time…

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