Ahhhh harvest time! Over the last few weeks, we’ve been digging up potatoes, pulling up beets and (tiny) carrots, picking tomatoes, beans, squash and zucchini, and finding some odds and ends like garlic we planted last year and a couple hot peppers from a pepper plant that we received in the CSA.
If you’re in the Calgary area, you’ll be able to sympathize with the fall weather we’ve been having so far. We’ve had a few frost days and a couple of snow days already and we started working to get most of the veg from our garden harvested from the beginning of October through to last week.
Coming home from work and then hitting the garden for a few hours was definitely a bit overwhelming for a couple of days and we couldn’t help but think that we should go back to a system where you get time off of work to help with the harvest at home! Sure, we only have our backyard, but it was still a lot of work. Up until this point, our garden hasn’t taken a lot of extra effort or time, but the harvest (and harvesting everything by hand) kept us pretty busy.
We learned a lot this year and will have a lot of changes to make to the garden for next year. We have yet to figure out carrots and radishes, but seem to have a knack for potatoes and leafy brassicas.
Some of our successes this year included:
potatoes, lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, beets, tomatoes, calendula
Not so hot in the garden were:
carrots, peas (oops, forgot to water them!), beans, turnips, squash
Enjoy the pictures! Leave us a comment…
Potatoes were our best success this year. We tried out 7 different varieties, starting with 4 seed potatoes of each kind. We’ve got Linzer Delekatass, Lady Lenora, Kennebec, Norland, Sangre, Viking, and Russian Blue potatoes. We ended up with around 40 kg!
We had the whole range of potato sizes – from potatoes the size of a marble to some large Russian Blues that were easily as big as a softball!
We planted one large tomato plant that ended up sprawling quite a distance through the potatoes along the top of the soil. We had a few of the tomatoes plants that we started from seed end up with actual fruit, but the bulk of our tomatoes came from just one plant!
The first frost came before a lot of the tomatoes were able to ripen, but we’ve brought the green ones inside and are using them up as they turn red in the windowsills of our house.
Beets & Beet Greens
Beet greens are a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and antioxidants. They can be cooked just as you would spinach or chard and have a very subtle beet flavour. They often get tossed out, but if you are able to buy the whole beet plant including the greens, they are worth keeping and using in your cooking.
We had planted a few rows of beets and tried a few different types: golden beets, forminova, and Bull’s Blood beets. We ended up with a nice big bowl of beets and tons of greens to work with. It took us approximately 3 evenings after work to get through all of the greens, separate leaves from stems, blanch the leaves and pack them into containers to freeze them.
We’re planning to use the frozen beet greens in stews, stir-fries or omelettes.
Carrots were the biggest disappointment in our garden this year. We had planted a few different types: Nantes, Yellow Amarillo, Purple Dragon and Little Finger carrots. Across the board, our carrots ended up being very short and stubby – like toes! A lot of them were quite woody and had tall greens but not much going on down below! We did pick what we could and used the stubby, little carrots in a squash soup.
It’s hard to admit, but we have serious carrot envy when we see other gardener friends with big, beautiful carrots. What could we do differently that would help encourage carrots to grow longer roots?
Kale & Chard
Kales and chards have been one of our better successes in the garden as well. Rainbow chard grows like crazy no matter where we put it in the yard, shady spots or sunny spots. Kale was a bit slower to start, but the few different varieties that we planted all did really well and all summer we could cut bunches for dinner when we needed it and the kale would grow right back.
Kale and chard were the plants that we harvested last, after a couple of frosts and even a but of snow. Both plants do just fine in cold weather and kale is supposed to actually get sweeter after a frost. We’ve now picked and washed all of the chard and kale and have large bags of fresh greens that we’ll use until they start to turn. After that, we’ll blanch and freeze the rest for later.
We dehydrated a large bunch of kale with some olive oil and sea salt and made kale chips. They are best when they are fresh and get a little stale when stored, but they can be reheated in the oven to crisp them back up.
Odds and ends
We ended up with a few handfuls of beans throughout the summer, but would definitely like to try and grow more for next year. The scarlet runner beans outgrew the bamboo teepee that we built within a couple of weeks, so we’ll have to try building a much taller one next year.
We ended up with a surprise zucchini from what we thought was a squash plant transplanted from an abandoned community garden plot.
Out of the dozen stalks of corn we planted, we ended up getting two nice looking ears of corn. Calgary isn’t the greatest place for growing corn, so we didn’t have high expectations, but the two ears we did get will be very much appreciated!
Our squashes were on the small side and the turnips ended up a little bit woody, but both were fantastic in soups!