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.