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Posts Tagged ‘beets’

A Still-Life of Hidden Treasures

Beets did okay this year, especially given my lack of proper care for them.  I harvested a lot of them early in the summer, and left a lot of little weedy looking ones for later.  It didn’t look like those remainders were doing much, since the beet greens never got very big or lush.  I gave up on them and decided to re-seed for fall.  And yet, when I went to clear out the bed, there were a lot of fat little red and yellow baby beets underneath the surface.  I took them home, boiled them enough to get the skins off, and then ate them with a hillock of goat cheese.

The golden beets continue to be my favorite.  The flavor is really superior.  I think next year I’ll only plant the goldens.

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I had a nice little harvest last weekend.  More salad greens, some garlic (which will need to cure for a while), plenty of herbs, and two baby beets.  This year I planted a variety called Cylindra, which is a long skinny red beet.  I figured that would be a good space-saver.  (I also planted golden beets, but they’re not ready yet).  I’ve been making a salad recently using my home-grown greens topped with bacon and Humboldt Fog aged goat cheese.  I figured some hearty chunks of quickly boiled beets would be a great addition.

I top this salad with a vinaigrette made with aged cherry-infused balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.  It’s heaven.

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Round-the-Calendar Salad

I’ve got lots of salad greens coming out of my garden now.  In fact, last week’s heat made the arugula bolt, although I think I was able to pinch enough off to keep some plants going.  But the rest of the lettuce is doing fine, so I’m enjoying some nice salads these days.

Just to have a poetic celebration of the changing of the seasons, I paired the fresh salad greens of spring with pickled beets from last fall.  Add in some chive blossoms, goat cheese, and orange champagne vinegar, plus a radish ‘n’ butter sandwich on the side, and it’s a light meal for all seasons.

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I sowed my fall beets and carrots at the beginning of September.  I knew I really should have planted them earlier, but August was so hot and gross, and it seemed like so much work to clear away all the detritus of my summer garden.  And since it felt like it would be hot forever, I figured there would be plenty of time for my September seeds to grow and fatten up.

Alas, I don’t think I’m going to get much of a crop.  I’ve been thinning the carrots, and they’re still extremely tiny.  The beets are even sadder.  Sure, the leaves are growing, and they’re doing okay in the cold, but I don’t think the roots will fatten up before the regular frost sets in.

Ah well.  Next year I’ll prod myself into clearing out the summer stuff earlier and getting those seeds in by early August.  Live and learn.

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There certainly have been a dreary stretches this fall in DC.  They may have turned off the water at my community garden, but my fall vegetables are not wanting for rain.  Still, we’ve also enjoyed some really beautiful stretches.  It’s going to get up into the upper 60s and low 70s for the next few days.  When the air is warm, but not too warm, and there are crisp and colorful leaves on the ground, it just feels good to be alive.

Misc Fall Leaves (Large)

Don't worry, the leaf porn will be over soon.

Misc Busboys and Poets (Large)

Outdoor dining in November. I love DC.

Misc Beets (Large)

New fall beets at the market.

Misc Baby Kale (Large)

The sun is helping my fall kale grow big - and then a good frost will help it get sweet.

Misc Asian Vegetables (Large)

A lot of Asian vegetables do very well in the fall. Look at the size of those Daikons!

Misc Ginko Leaves (Large)

Fallen ginkgo nuts are smelly and gross, but fallen ginkgo leaves are lovely.

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My fall garden is doing very well, and now I’m once again dealing with an excess of greens.  And some of the stars of summer are producing into the fall.  I’m still getting jalapeños and other peppers, plus a few tomatoes here and there (Romas and Dr. Carolyns).  And the Swiss Chard is as productive as ever.  But the fun stuff is all the tender, new plants I sowed in early September.

This bed is mostly arugula, with a little lettuce and basil and dill here and there.

This bed is mostly arugula, with a little lettuce and basil and dill here and there.

In the foreground, there's lettuce I planted from starts.  The middle section is carrots and the back section is beets, both of which have a way to go to reach maturity.

In the foreground, there's lettuce I planted from starts. The middle section is carrots and the back section is beets, both of which have a way to go to reach maturity.

In one bed I scattered many assorted lettuces and mesclun mixes.  Now they're perfect for a tender salad.

In one bed I scattered many assorted lettuces and mesclun mixes. Now they're perfect for a tender salad.

The chard is still robust.  I always have too much.

The chard is still robust. I always have too much.

The Mexican Sour Gherkin vines are also still incredibly productive.

The Mexican Sour Gherkin vines are also still incredibly productive.

Me in my garden plot!

Me in my garden plot!

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AH root veggies (Large)Yesterday I reviewed all the tomatoes I grew this year, and yet there are still so many other veggies that I can’t possible fit the remainder into one post.  So today I’ll tackle all the root vegetables. I’ll start with the alliums and move on to beets and carrots and potatoes.

Cipollini Onions: These have been a lot of fun to cook with (see my cipollini onion tart from earlier this week). I bought these and the next two onion varieties as onion starts from Territorial. The cipollinis grew well in a compact space. Given that these onions are expensive and hard to find, I get a lot out of growing them myself. I’ll do these again next year.

Leeks: I haven’t actually harvested any of my leeks yet, since they’re only now getting nice and fat. A disappointing number of the starts shriveled and died, but those that survived are looking nice. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll plant these again.

Red Torpedo Onions: A skinny, cute Italian variety, I only got these because the starts came as part of variety pack with the cipollinis and leeks. They’ve been alright. But I think I’d rather have a bigger, meatier onion next year.

Shallots: My shallots multiplied nicely, but the bulbs never got very big by the time the tops withered (which is when it’s time to dig them up). I love shallots, so I will definitely grow them again, but I might try a different variety. Does anyone know if they can be fall-planted like garlic?

Early Wonder Tall Top Beets: A classic red beet, with greens that are good in salads as well. I jumped the gun and pulled a lot of these beets up when they were still small. I pickled the few remaining beets, but haven’t eaten them yet. I will probably plant red beets again, either this variety or something else.

Golden BeetsGolden Beets: These took a long time to get big, but they were a real revelation when I finally got to eat them. I absolutely love their flavor. I will definitely plant lots and lots of these again. I think it would be totally fun to make a golden borscht with them.

Chioggia Beets: This is the “bullseye” beet they serve in trendy restaurants. They’re good, but I found I actually liked the true beet flavor of the other varieties a bit better. I might plant some Chioggias just to use up the seed I have left, but I may not buy more seed after that. Plus, I kind of hate having to say the word Chioggia. I feel pretentious if I pronounce it the Italian way, and uncultured if I pronounce it the American way.

Scarlet Nantes Carrots: Don’t let the name fool you, these are not red-colored carrots. These Nantes were supposed to get to be at least six inches long, but most of them stayed kind of stubby. But I think that has much more to do with my soil not being sifted enough. I liked the flavor of these carrots, although I could certainly be persuaded to try a different variety if anyone has suggestions.

Red Bliss Potatoes: I planted the sprouting remains of a Trader Joe’s potato variety pack waaay back in late winter, so I was able to dig up these potatoes very early in the summer. The Red Bliss performed well, producing many large and small potatoes with good skin and crisp flesh.

Red and Yellow Potatoes (Large)Yukon Gold Potatoes: These were also from the Trader Joe’s pack. I’d been told that this variety does poorly here, but mine did fairly well, given how few I planted. This seems to be a good variety for producing new potatoes that will hold me over until the fingerlings are ready.

Purple Potatoes: Total dud. This was the last variety from the Trader Joe’s pack, and even though I planted three or four sprouting pieces, I only got one tiny new potato out of it. The vines couldn’t really compete with the other varieties growing up around them, I guess.

La Ratte Fingerling Potatoes: These were delicious and productive and fun. They weren’t ready until late in the summer, since Moose Tubers doesn’t send out their seed potatoes until pretty late in the spring. But I will definitely plant these again. Like cipollini onions, fingerlings are expensive to buy and not always available, so it makes them a comparatively good thing to grow yourself.

A general note about root vegetables: they are SO easy, and so good. I’ve already made my feelings about roots known on this blog, but it’s worth reminding myself of their benefits. Next year I will probably take space away from some of the fussier vegetables and devote more space to roots.

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