Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ready for Harvest

Though I'm still rather behind on getting things planted, there are a few items in the garden that are ready for harvest!  In the winter I planted some rainbow chard and then proceeded to ignore it as the Brassicas bolted around it.  After all this spring rain it is looking pretty good so it's time to do a little picking.  Fun chard fact- it's a member of the beet family that is grown for the greens a.k.a. beet tops.  That's why some varieties are called Silverbeet rather than chard.  You'll want to keep that relationship in mind if you're practicing crop rotation.

First harvest: Bright Lights Chard
In addition to the chard, a "volunteer" lettuce has appeared in the garden, too!  Last year I planted a mix of lettuce seeds and they didn't do too well (*ahem* I kind of didn't water them).  This one little trouper of a green lettuce (Australian Yellowleaf?) tried hard to grow but never really got going.  When it died I didn't really worry about it.  But now, it's returned!  I'm sure it's the same plant as the leaves are the same, it's in the same spot, and it never bolted (went to seed).  I called it a "volunteer" but it would be more accurate to call it "a really determined little lettuce that resists my off-handed attempts to kill it."

Leafy greens such as chard and lettuce can be picked over an extended period if you treat them right.  Just pick the largest, outermost leaves and leave the smaller internal leaves to grow.  You'll find that your plant just replaces what you pick and keeps on growing.  It's pretty excellent.

Should you find yourself with a nice harvest of chard, kale, or collards, I highly recommend cooking up some Potstickers with Garlicky Greens!  This recipe from DigginFood has been a standby of mine ever since I first tried it.  I've also managed to convert at least three friends to its deliciousness.  The garlic and hot pepper add just the right flavor to the greens, the potstickers provide some savory crunch, and the broth just brings it all together.  Yum!

Dinner with fresh-picked garden chard!

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