Harvest Monday – November 14


We are getting our garden plot ready for winter. We pulled out the last of the pepper plants and covered two beds with three tall bagfuls of mulched leaves collected from our yard and my mother’s yard. Some cold hardy plants are not ready for the winter “tuck-in” yet. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, turnips, lettuce and parsley are still growing in our plot. I harvested over three pounds of turnips, a handful of cherry bomb peppers and a large bunch of parsley this week.

We had our largest turnip harvest this season. This is the first year the turnips were larger than golf balls. I had enough turnips to fill up a casserole dish. I made a delicious Turnip gratin by adapting a recipe I found at Simply Recipes.  I peeled, then cut the turnips into thin slices with my mandolin slicer, blanched the slices for 3 minutes in boiling water.  I double layered the casserole with turnips, bread slices, onions, goat cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I baked the gratin at 375 for 30 minutes. The pungent flavor of the turnip decreased after baking.  My husband and son even enjoyed this not-so-popular root vegetable.     I am glad since it is loaded with vitamin C.

A Fall Harvest

We dug out 30 pounds of sweet potatoes last Sunday. They were smaller than last year’s crop. We wonder if its because we did not cover the ground with black plastic this year. The plastic keeps the soil warmer and prevents over-watering from flooding rains. We will use the black plastic next year.
We had a surprise harvest of beans this fall. In August, Mexican bean beetles almost destroyed the young bean plants. Now it is too cold for the beetles to stick around to eat the hanging beans. More turnips, radishes and beets are ready to harvest.

I sauteed a bunch of turnip greens with garlic in olive oil, but they were too bitter to eat alone. The greens tasted better in chicken pasta soup. I am certain I can get my husband to try the greens again if I combine them with bacon. We’ll see on the next fall harvest.

Turnips and Spinach

We visited our community garden plot at Howard County Conservancy yesterday. We found some treasures in the soft thawed soil.

our winter spinach

one of our many winter turnips
Turnips and spinach are growing under our row covers. Our first experiment of over-wintering our late fall crops worked!  Last fall, I planted lettuce, turnips and spinach seeds a bit late.  We did not have a good fall harvest of these crops.  In November, I covered the growing crops with row covers.   What a thrill to peel back the row covers yesterday to find green turnip tops and purple and white turnip roots, tender dark green spinach leaves and curly bright green lettuce sprouts.  I even pulled weeds out of the spinach bed.  Row covers are good winter blankets for the garden!

The Unexpected Sprouts

A clear blue sky, crisp cool air, warm sunshine plus adventure equals a perfect Saturday in autumn.  We headed for our garden plot this afternoon but had a few diversions before arriving there.    We stopped at a pet store and a fall festival.  We went to the pet store to purchase biscuits for our dog and my son discovered a playful kitten.  My son slipped a thin metal wire through the kitten’s cage.  The cat flipped, batted, jumped and kicked at the bunch of cardboard strips hanging at the wire’s tip.  My son roared in laughter.  He did not want to leave the pet store.  We redirected  him with hope of a hayride at our community garden site.    The Howard County Conservancy was full of activities for its fall festival.   We bumped through rolling fields and woods on a hayride pulled by a tractor with wheels taller than my son.   A master gardener at the compost demo gave my son a bunch of pink and blue balloons.  My son slurped honey from a straw and chatted about bees with a woman from the Howard County Beekeepers Association.  We listened to steel pounding on steel as a blacksmith hammered a hot orange metal rod into a fork after heating it in a coal fire stoked by large bellows.  My son said the banging was his favorite.   While my husband and son lingered and asked questions  in the blacksmith shop,  I finally visited our garden plot.


Turnip Seedling


Our plot is still producing tomatoes, peppers and beans.  I picked two grocery bags full of red and green tomatoes and peppers.  I pulled out and composted three tomato plants that had toppled to the ground.  Our fall plantings sprouted!  Radish, turnip, spinach and lettuce seedlings  now sprinkle the brown earth in unplanned patterns of curving rows, circles, clumps, pairs and triples.  Some extra seeds must have dropped from my hand during planting.  Many seedlings will need to be pulled out to allow more space for underground growth.

Those unexpected sprouts remind me of our day.   Unexpected adventure and fun popped up despite my plans.  Thank you God, for your goodness and for dropping some extra seeds outside my rows of plans.

The Rain

It started raining early this morning.  We felt the thick air move through our open windows.  We heard our dog whine as he sensed the coming storm.  Then the rain fell.  It felt like water from hundreds of  hoses with nozzles set on “soak” blasting our townhouse.   All day the rain came in mists, showers and  downpours.  The rain caused flood warnings,  some schools districts to close two hours early, a relative’s  roof  to leak,  traffic delays and my hair to frizzle. Rain can be a nuisance in our busy lives, but it is never a bother to my son or to a garden.   The rain gives my son the chance to wear his  big yellow rubber boots,  hold a fancy striped umbrella, and search for the perfect puddle to splash in.   The rain gives our garden the chance  to thrive and grow new crops in autumn.  Last week I planted  lettuce, spinach, turnip and radish seeds in our garden.  They must be  bursting and sprouting strong roots  in all the wet soil.    I hope to see little seedlings peeking out of the ground in our garden plot this Saturday.    Thank you rain.