2017 Greens (end of season notes)

Arugula: crowded between rocks and squash, all plantings successful, early plantings bolted
Bok Choi: both crops did well, transplanting into failed soybean bed worked well
Collards: single row worked well
Cress: 1st planting did well, 2nd planting mostly failed, try something else next year?
Kales: did well, but only after several plantings and caging due to bunnies eating seedlings
Malabar Spinach: good seedlings this year, not as tall as last year
Lettuce: Pirat, Little Gem, Sandy and BSS/Nevada good, replace Red Salad Bowl with New Red Fire
Mustard: 1st planting mostly bombed, 2nd planting did well (lasted into November)
Perpetual Spinach: did well in bad location (lasted into November) no screening required!
Spinach: both seedlings and seeded crops did well, grew in the same space, screen cover a success
Swiss Chard: slow start, bad germination, reseeded… use Rainbow Mix next year, start in warmer soil?, fertilize more heavily, screening worked well (removed mid-season)but remay might have been better

2016 Greens (end of season notes)

2016 greens image
Arugula: hedge planting worked well, planting schedule good – try starting 2nd planting 2 weeks earlier
Bok Choi: best ever, timing & variety good, second planting transplants into open spaces did great
Collards: did well – try one fewer row (for an extra row of Swiss Chard)
Cress: good crop, late planting did well – rotate with mustard next year
Kales: aphids & cabbage worms late in season for both types, curly type germination slow – find dinosaur type with larger leaves? find earlier curly variety?
Malabar Spinach: some seedling problems (due to transplanting and/or watering?), beautiful on entry arbor
Lettuce: most varieties did well, poor germination on (heirloom) Tennis Ball – find new green variety? try new red variety?
Mustard: good crop, late planting did well – rotate with cress next year
Spinach: early crop produced, but hit with aphids, fall crop had bad germination & stunted plants – try under row cover in spring, give up on fall crop?
Swiss Chard: row cover made a big difference (especially with drought) – plant an extra row next year (less collards) – reorder rows to stage height of bed?

2015 Greens (end of season notes)

Arugula: awesome planted w/zucchini, plant using on a 6-week schedule, dividing the bed into 3 sections planted every 2 weeks (alternate with lettuce)

Bok Choi: 4/25 planting produced good heads in 7-8 weeks, try seeding more heavily to take some plants and only leaves from others or replant in July

Cress & Mustard: tasty varieties, produced more than enough, plant in April, June & August

Kales & Collards: did well, try to find a larger-leafed dinosaur kale, go back to old curly kale?

Lettuce: mostly perfect, varieties & schedule good, one planting developed some type of rot in the heat, start planting Nevada earlier, leave more space for planting board, last planting was a bit late

Spinach: spring crop: bad leaf miner on plants seeded in garden – not on transplants from indoors, Shelby germinated better indoors – same as Verdil outdoors. Fall crop: Verdil germinated well though many plants died off, those that survived did great

Swiss Chard: bad leaf miner early in season, broadcasting worked better than planting in rows, find a bigger variety for next year, try not picking one plant to see how big it gets, try row cover

2014 Greens (end of season notes)

Arugula: sad 1st planting, later plantings (including zucchini bed) better – more sun next year, grow as mesclun?
Basil: awesome on all counts, seedlings & placement perfect
Celery: overall success, worked well with Beets, blanching was helpful – focus on improving flavor & texture
Chard & Bok Choi: harvested from same plants all season – broadcast on ends of bed
Cilantro: 3 sections well-timed – give less space & replant first section for 4th planting
Kales & Collards: great again, but hit with aphids late in season – spray @ first sign of aphids
Lettuce: mostly perfect (Little Gem, Black Seeded Simpson, Red Salad Bowl, Pirat & New Red Fire good) – try a green salad bowl variety, leave space for planting board, transplant into Bush Bean bed again, seed more evenly & thin better
Mesclun: not working for us again – just say no or replace with arugula, mizuna & mustard
Mustard: great variety & amount – grow as part of a mesclun mix?
Spinach: Emu not available, varieties grown were less reliable, fewer productive plants – try to get Emu

Kale Chips -- crispy, salty, good for you, and easy to make!

 As of a few days ago, we still had some greens in the garden, particularly kale.  Recently, I -- a bit of a "gourmet" potato chip fiend -- learned of kale chips as a healthy way to satisfy our cravings for crispy, salty snacks!  There are many, many recipes to be found online, most calling for oven baking, with a few instead calling for a food dehydrator.  I experimented a bit with the oven methods, since many people don't have a dehydrator and, also, I figured that baking was likely to give more flavor.  

The first step is to cut the heavy stem out from the kale leaves.  While some recipes I found suggested using a sharp knife, it turns out that you can tear the kale away from the stem readily.   Tear the kale into pieces that will be "bite size" once they're dehydrated.  About a 3 to 4 inch dimension seems to work fine. 

I washed the kale pieces thoroughly in water, and dried them as well as possible.  I used a salad spinner and then blotted them with a towel. 

Then, I placed the kale pieces in a bowl, and added some extra virgin olive oil (at least I hope it was EVOO -- mine was from Trader Joes). I massaged the olive oil into the leaves, so that all were as evenly coated as possible.  Then, I seasoned them generously with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.  The coated kale looks like this:

I then spread the kale in a single-thickness layer on a baking sheet.  Some of the videos stressed that the layer must be only one leaf thick, warning that if the kale is piled up, it won't become crispy.  (I chose not to test this theory, so have only tried the single layer.)  Before baking, it will look like the photo below, and will shrivel up considerably and darken in color, as described below, as it bakes. 

I baked the kale in an oven set for 350 degrees F.  Some of the recipes said that only 10 min was needed to get them fully dehydrated and crispy.  I tried the recipe in two ovens, and one took at least 15 min and the other took 20.  (Both ovens were set on convection, which automatically sets the temperature to 325 degrees.  This may have been the issue.)  It's a good idea to just watch them and make sure that they do not burn.  They should reach a fairly uniform dark green color, and appear curled up and considerably smaller than the original pieces. 

After they're fully crisped up as described above, the kale chips can be very gently blotted on paper towels to remove excess oil. 

These are incredibly delicious and crispy straight from the oven!  Whatever you do, do not store the uneaten chips in a sealed container. This makes them lose their crispiness.  If there are any leftover, I would suggest storing them in an open bowl.  The finished kale chips, with their dark green color, are shown in the third photo, below.  The moistness you see on the chips is residual olive oil.  These are definitely finger food, but you will want some napkins handy.  

While of course this is best with local, fresh-from-the-garden kale, if you crave this snack "off season", I found that a Trader Joe's bag of precut and washed kale works great.  One bag will fill two large baking trays.

By the way, this is by no means the "perfect recipe" for kale chips.  If anybody has variations to suggest based on their own kale chips experiences, please add them in the comments section.  I'm also curious about other seasonings, as well as other greens that might also be used to make chips.  

What to do with arugula? A simple, flavorful vegetarian pasta recipe.


Right now, the arugula is beautiful in the garden.  There is plenty of it, and it’s still tender, as well as spicy.  Last week, I used my arugula in a salad.  But, tonight, John used our share of  Saturday’s harvest in one of our favorite pasta recipes, “Pesto of Sundried Tomatoes with Arugula”.  The book Pasta Fresca by Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman features very simple, delicious pasta recipes and this is one great example, from their section on “Pasta with Raw Sauces”.  Note that, in the printed recipe, John changed the “3/4 cup” sundried tomatoes to “entire jar (8 oz)”.  We use sundried tomatoes from Trader Joe’s, though the cookbook authors urge readers to make their own.  I’ve not done that yet, though I understand that tomatoes can be readily oven-dried. 

As you can see, this dish is very colorful and, with the spicy arugula, sweet sundried tomatoes, dried hot pepper, and garlic, it has a lot of flavor!  It’s also vegetarian, as are many, though not all, of the Pasta Fresca recipes. 



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