Monday, December 13, 2010

despite drought and pests, decent December vegetable harvest

Second (small) beet harvest
Caterpillars weren't satisfied eating the beet greens and moved on to the beets themselves.
Austin's officially in the severe drought stage again. I don't think it's rained since September. The fat, woolly, black and orange Giant Leopard Moth caterpillars have been eating everything in sight. And yet, I've managed to grow some cool-weather vegetables, and I'm extremely grateful.
first time I've tried growing Fall potatoes
I planted them a little bit late (early October, I think) but the Fall potato experiment worked! We made and ate buttery mashed potatoes within a few hours of digging them. Heavenly.
first time garlic: foreground bigger ones I planted in September; small ones were a November experiment
I planted my first-ever garlic in September, and they seem to be doing fine. After pulling out the spent green bean plants, I decided to try more garlic in their place, even though November is apparently a little late to plant garlic. I faithfully watered the new guys but wasn't expecting much. But Saturday, voila: the little garlic seedlings appeared. All 15 of them!
sauteeing chard, broccoli greens, and kale with onions, shallots, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes
My broccoli plants are producing large leaves but are just now showing tiny crowns, so I snipped bunches of those leaves, plus dinosaur and Russian kale, and some chard to make a big pot of green soup this weekend. I added roasted onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes; plus minced ginger/garlic/jalapeno, cumin, cinnamon, fresh cilantro, and salt. It tastes great but isn't pretty because I used the immersion blender. I love my immersion blender.
ugly but healthy, tasty ginger sweet potato-greens soup
Did I mention how much I love my immersion blender? Oh yes, back to vegetables. After harvesting the remaining beets, a third of which were destroyed by those dang black woollies, I weeded and composted that bed and planted even more beet seeds.

I asked Larry, farmer/co-owner of  Boggy Creek Farm , if it was crazy late to sow beet seeds. He said I had a decent chance as long as I cover the little seedlings (assuming they emerge) when it's cold. Carol Ann, farmer/co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm and married to Larry, told me that the evil black woolly caterpillars and their gray and beige cousins are a relatively new (past 2-3 years) scourge to this area and that birds won't eat them and BT won't kill them. Wasps are their only obvious predator. Hmm...may revise my previous pacifist approach.


renee said...

Your beets and potatoes are beautiful. Glad the woolies didn't go after everything. Your garlic looks good too. I bet your November planting will be just fine -- two farmers I spoke to recently said it's ok to plant through November.

Iris said...

renee--Thanks! Very happy to hear the November garlic may work out. I was really thrilled to see it come up at all. Once the little ones grow a bit, I'm adding a thick layer of compost!

vertie said...

i planted the garlic i'm eating these days in november last year so you should be good. thanks for info on the black fuzzies. they have been everywhere.

TexasDeb said...

You get gold stars all around for even trying to grow says me.

It is not woolies but racoons that have been wreaking havoc with my attempts to grow veggies. They dug out most of my seed potatoes and are making holes everywhere looking for grubs I guess. Seems there is nothing much working in our favor locally to try and grow food except a lack of hard freezes.

Iris said...

vertie--Good to know my November garlic has a good chance. Will need your advice when it comes to harvesting.

Deb--Thanks! I'm sorry to hear about your raccoons. Can't exactly squish 'em...

Kathleen Scott said...

I love when winter comes and you start in with the ginger-garlic-spicy soups. You're an inspiration for me to do more with greens. I know they're good for us but have never taken to the flavors...except beet greens and rainbow chard and spinach and the dark green lettuces.

PS We love the immersion blender too.

Annie in Austin said...

Just what we needed - another weird pest in the garden. The only things I've planted in the vegetable plot were one short row of garlic & a few red onions. Too much shade for crops here!

Your soup isn't that ugly, Iris ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iris said...

Kathleen--Thanks! I rarely get tired of garlic/ginger/curry-ish/spicy soups in "cooler"--ahem, today was 76--weather. I'm just really not that thrilled w/the taste of all my healthy greens, so I try to either sautee them with LOTS of onion & garlic or obliterate them into soup!

Annie--Thanks for sticking up for the appearance of my soup :) Vegetable-wise: it is kind of depressing, even if one has has sufficient sunlight, as I do! So many pests and so much water required at this point. At least we aren't having lots of hard freezes (yet.)

Caroline said...

I'm so jealous of your beets and potatoes. Only about a eighth of my potatoes came up, then the leaves were immediately mowed down by some pest. My beets aren't looking too pert, neither. I'll replant more beets in January and potatoes in February.

Iris said...

Caroline--Sorry about your puny potatoes and beets. Thanks for reminding me to replant potatoes in February: I'd forgotten when I planted my last spring potatoes.