Jason’s MN Garden Update (July 30)

Here is a bouquet of cooking greens from my garden.  I can eat Collards, Chard, and Kale everyday, if I want to.  These greens are loaded with nutrients and are a great cleanser, after a long weekend of partying.  The Kale is the is the most hardy of the bunch and will survive even a hard freeze (24 degrees).  Generally, it dies off after the first significant snowfall.  I created a wild rice dish with these greens and some northern beans.  I am still fine tuning the recipe and will post it in the near future.  The dish is very earthy and most likely more suitable for a brisk Fall day.

These green beans were picked a couple weeks ago.  I used some in a pasta dish and with some grilled pouch potatoes.  Furthermore, I made a quart of pickled dill beans.  The green beans in this picture came from a bush variety.  I also planted pole beans about 55 days ago.  The pole beans are just beginning to flower, but the Japanese Beetles are starting to feast on the foliage.  I have been using minced garlic as a natural way to repel the beetles.  Any member of the Allium family (Garlic, Onions, Chives) will help repel these guys.  I hope to get a few more beans from my bush varieties before they die off.  By that time, my pole beans should be producing.

I dug up these new potatoes last weekend.  I was curious to see what was happening underground. Initially, I was only going to dig up one plant, but it was too much fun to pull those treasures out of the ground.  So, I ended up pulling all four plants from the bed.  It yielded around five pounds.  I will wait on my other potatoes until Fall when the plants die.  At that point, I should get 20-25 potatoes per plant, which will need to be dried for winter storage.  I made smashed potatoes and grilled pouch potatoes with some other veggies.  They were excellent. The idea was loosely based on this recipe. The new potatoes are sweeter and can actually be eaten raw right after harvest.  The sugar content is much higher upon picking and the solanine (Toxin in Potatoes) level is much lower with new potatoes. As time passes, the sugars turn to starch and solanine levels increase, especially when exposed to light.  Green potatoes are poisonous and occur when potatoes aren’t stored in a dark place.  Don’t ever eat them. Thoroughly cooking storage potatoes will breakdown most of the solanine, rendering them edible.  Storage potatoes unlike new potatoes are not to be eaten raw.  I chose not to be adventurous and cooked my new potatoes.

This is the first summer squash from my garden.  I planted the squash from seed about 45 days ago.  The plants are huge and will be big producers until the first frost.  I will have plenty to share, considering my aversion to summer squash.  I only like it grilled.  I planted a Patty Pan variety and a Zephyr Squash, as seen in the picture.  Even though I am not a huge squash fan, I have heard that the flowers are great in salads and can also be stuffed.  So, I will have to try that out.  The plants produce large yellow flowers that would impress any dinner guest.

This ugly guy is kohlrabi.  It is a member of the Brassica family and is closely related to cooking greens.  The part of the plant you see above is the stem.  It needs to be peeled, because the fibrous exterior is impossible to chew up.  The inside has a radish like texture, but is more mild in flavor.  I eat them with some ranch dip or cut them into cubes and throw them in a salad.  Kohlrabi can also be used like a potato and stores well if refrigerated.  You can also eat the green leaves from the plant, which should be prepared like other cooking greens.

Update on Jason’s MN Garden

Cinder Block Bed


1. I created a raised bed out of some old cinder blocks that I found in my garage.  The bed is 3×6 feet.  I planted some pole beans and constructed a trellis for them.  The beans started to germinate a couple of days ago.  We have had weather in the low 90s the last couple of days, so I have been watering heavy.

2. I have been harvesting snow, sugar snap, and shell peas over the last week.  They make a delicious snack, especially with some homemade ranch dressing.  With the recent heat, I doubt that I will get many more peas.  I also tried an experimental trellis system that was a minor fail. Look for a future post about it, with pictures.

3. My spinach and arugula are done.  I turned their beds and planted edamame to add some nitrogen to the soil.  If the soybean harvest is early, I may turn the beds again and plant arugula and spinach again in the fall. My spring mix is still providing great yields, but it doesn’t like this heat.  I keep the ground well watered in order to keep the soil temp down. This allows me to get 1 or 2 extra cuttings.

4. The cooking greens are looking great and will give me and my friends a steady supply of kale, chard, and collards through October.  Look for a future post with my sesame kale recipe.  I planted several different varieties of cooking greens, because I had a major pest problem with my lacinato kale last year.  Hopefully, that pest is a picky eater and it stays away from the other varieties.

Collards and Kale

5. The curcubits and nightshades are doing better after a rough week for some of them.  I didn’t harden off all of my starts.  Therefore, some of the plants got leaf burn from the intense natural light.  I trimmed the leaves that were burned, so the plants could spend all their energy on new leaf growth.  Overall, I lost one pepper plant, but all of my tomato transplants look healthy enough..  The cucumbers are taking off and I planted two summer squash varieties (Patty Pan and Zucchini) today.

Jason working on the soil and his manly guns
Tomato Start
Transplanting the Tomato
I did it!

 

6. I threw a final layer of dirt on top of my potatoes.  I did this 3 times.  It tricks the potatoes and increases yields.  Basically, I let the leaves break through the soil and then I cover them with more dirt.  This is the first time that I have grown potatoes, so I am interested to see how well this technique works.

Potato Bed Before
Potato Bed After

7. I have hops growing along a fence in my backyard.  If supported they will grow to be 20 to 30 feet tall.  They smell great and can create a natural privacy fence.  Oh, and of course you can brew some bitter ales with them come Fall.  Watch for brewing tips from agridude’s resident brew master, Austin Jevne from Driftless Brewing.