Friday, March 16, 2012

Great Giant Greens

Progress is fine with the property. The surveyor says they'll be done Monday. It's hard not to daydream about gardening there. This little postage stamp yard is so prolific, what will we be able to do on an acre? And what will we do with all that food? Even a few plants can be more than enough for a single household. 

 This is a 3ft pile of gorgeous 2 foot long 'red giant' mustard leaves we harvested today

Tu helped me by getting them out of the garden and I washed and sorted about 4 big bundles (armfuls) - two dozen or so large, broad plants. I've already cooked a mess of 'em up and put in the freezer. A packed 12-qt stock pot wilts down to a couple of quart zip lock bags, so pre-cooking is the way to go. Also made some spiced sweet sour refrigerator pickles from pieces of the larger stems. Yummy! Perfect to put on the side of fried rice, or the peas-carrots-quinao pilaf that I made yesterday.

We've been getting handfuls of peas for a couple of months now. I picked the bushes bare today, about 2 lbs of snow pea pods and put those in the freezer, but the plants are still flowering and setting pods, so don't want to pull them out yet. 

The mustard, however, will soon bolt and the leaves are very very ready to harvest, so time to do it -- and have to do it all. It's an all day project -- and requires some creativity to use all the parts without wasting any.

The juice from these leaves is actually royal purple. REALLY. Uncooked, the mustard is very sharp, just like raw horseradish and the smaller leaves are amazing in salad with mixed greens. Cooked, they taste like regular mustard. I will make gundru (gundruk) with them, which is a naturally fermented pickle. I fermented a quart of mixed greens last spring and it worked wonderfully. They are tart, but a bit too aromatic since I put serrated chrysanthemum in it.

Most of my winter garden comes from Kitazawa seed company.  I love, love, love their seeds, packaging, and customer service; and they have wonderful recipes for traditional Japanese dishes and sauces. 

 Kyoto Red and Solar Yellow Carrots with Tokyo Market Turnips

The oregano (above), x 5 thymes, lemon balm, bird pepper bush and other herbs all wintered over well and are coming back very strong. 

Drinking coffee this morning it became clear that it is time to put tomatoes and peppers in the garden. I don't garden by the calendar, but by the feeling in my body. It just says "time to do it." I'll buy 6" pots at my local nursery for the first plants which should make fruit through June. But there are dozens of volunteers coming up in the garden beds, in between the peas and mustard. If things go as last year, the volunteers will be bearing fruit from September through December. 

Yeah, 2011-12 was a mild winter.

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