The Harvest Begins

Two and a half bushels of potatoes, 5 onions, a bushel of turnips, 15 carrots, several peppers, two tomatoes, and a handful of herbs. That’s what I harvested yesterday. Plus the veggies I picked for my mom from her garden, to lend a hand. My back is a little sore today from that work… as well as the work from several days before that, canning carrots, harvesting garlic, harvesting and canning beets.

I believe I mentioned the carrot harvest and canning in my last post. After writing that entry, I went outside and harvested all of our garlic. I haven’t taken a count of how many bulbs I pulled just yet, and I still need to lay them out to dry.

When I planted my garlic in 2019, I had marked out the rows to label which rows were which varieties, but the kids pulled out my markers, and everything ended up getting mixed. I think I had planted 4 varieties of larger bulbs, and then I also planted some cloves from the grocery store as well as some from the wild garlic patch that was growing in the yard. So, aside from being able to tell which cloves came from the larger bulbs versus the smaller ones, everything was mixed together, and I have no idea what’s what!

Without having removed the stems, I can’t say how much more volume I have this year versus last, but I think I should have substantially more than last year. That’s great news for me! Last year, I was able to set aside plenty of bulbs for some of my family and friends for their own planting and usage needs, plus have enough for our family. The only thing I should have done differently was that I should have cut up plenty of the garlic and dehydrated it. I’d like to be able to put a few bulbs in the produce stand, but we’ll see after I take a more official inventory.

On Monday, I pulled all of the first planting of beets. We planted Chioggia beets this year in one of the sections, and we really like the flavor of those. I haven’t tried many variety of beets, but the ones I have all taste very “earthy” to me. These still have an earthy undertone, but they taste a lot like buttered corn on the cob, raw or just boiled in water without any seasonings.

We ended up with quite a few pints of beets. Scott asked me why I canned them in pints instead of quart jars since we have a large family. My response is that I’ve seen how much the kids will eat in a serving, and it’s not a lot. There’s a natural instinct not to eat too many beets (they can really detoxify your intestines, which can lead to feeling sick or having… bathroom troubles). If we find we need more than a pint, we can always open a second jar.

Chioggia beets after skinning and cutting. Sometimes called candy-striped beets or candy cane beets.

The chioggia beets are really cool. I love trying different varieties of vegetables, because we’re so accustomed to store-bought varieties, and the ones you can grow at home offer such a variety of flavor and color. These beets are deep red on the outside, but have fuchsia/pink and white concentric rings. When you boil them, they become light pink and almost yellow. After pressure canning, they become a fairly bright yellow all the way through, but you can still see the rings. The water also turns yellow.

The jars to the left are canned, and the red jar is after boiling, before canning.

After harvesting the beets, I turned my attention to the turnips. We’ve already harvested quite a few, and I wanted to make sure I got to them before they got too big. I still have some in the ground for seed production, and then there are some that are still pretty small. Yesterday, I pulled as many as I could. I got smart and sprayed everything off in the lawn in front of the house, and I cut off all the tops right away. That allowed me to stick everything in the refrigerator until I have time to harvest. I probably should can them today, but I may end up waiting until tomorrow. I’m pretty beat from all of the harvesting and cleaning yesterday.

Once I had all of the turnips pulled, I dug up 2/3-3/4 of the Yukon Gold and Baby Red potato rows. So far, we have about 2.5 bushels of potatoes from the rows, and if I had to guess, we have about 3-4x that much to still harvest. Most of the remaining potatoes are our purple potatoes. I’m pretty happy with the results so far, because we already have about as much as we had in total last year.

Pictured: Several Yukon Gold potatoes, some Cosmic Purple carrots, and a young red onion.

I was feeling pretty anxious to start harvesting potatoes, because I have noticed a few potatoes rotting in the ground. They also died back really quickly. Once the leaves started to brown, they were largely dead or mostly died back within a week. I’m surprised at the early harvest timeline, because I remember harvesting around my anniversary a few years ago when we had our largest harvest. Granted we had planted about a month later than this time, but still, we’re about a month and two weeks early at least.

I’m anticipating having another long harvest day for potatoes next week. I’m hoping we have a spell of good weather for harvesting, because we’ve had to harvest in the rain in the past, and because we’ve had to harvest BECAUSE of the rain. A couple of years ago, we lost a lot of our harvest because it was raining so much that the potatoes started to rot. It’s rained a lot the last week, so that left me a bit uneasy, but the forecast is looking clear for now.

Paul helped me harvest potatoes, and then we hauled them back to the house in the wheel barrow. He sprayed them off with the hose, and we filled the barrow with water and washed them off and sorted them before bringing them inside. I was interested in seeing the comparison between the two types of potatoes. We ended up harvesting roughly the same volume of each variety (two equal rows, so it make sense), but there are far more red potatoes than yellow.

The Yukon Gold are much larger, and most plants only had a few potatoes on them. The Reds had far more potatoes per plant, but were a lot smaller. It makes sense, but it was neat to see such equal yields in terms of overall volume. I do wonder how much the potato beetles we had earlier on affected the harvest, if at all. (I think the most damaged plants produced poorly, but I didn’t mark them, so I can’t prove it. ) It also seemed to me that the reds may have done a little better in that they had more manure over them, and the soil was looser in that row. Maybe the yukon would have done better in more manure?

After harvesting the potatoes, I helped my mom out by picking veggies from her garden. I did a quick check on the garden over by the barn. The peas should begin to be harvested in the next couple of days, the green beans can be picked again, and there’s a smattering of other veggies that are beginning to ripen as well. It won’t be much longer before I’m putting up more carrots again!

We had my sister’s kids here the last couple of days, and I spent some time harvesting food for special meals with them. The youngest was having a lot of fun harvesting. On Monday, the girls helped me dig purple potatoes for supper, and they pulled carrots as well. We made shepherds pie with the potatoes, and we used the carrots instead of the corn we typically use. They thought the potatoes were so pretty and amazing!

Monday’s Shepherds Pie. The beef layer is topped with a nice serving of purple mashed potatoes, and topped with two different varieties of carrots. I made purple potato wedges last week when we had friends over, and one of them didn’t believe me that the potatoes were naturally that color. I agree that it’s pretty hard to believe, but it’s true!

Yesterday, the youngest helped me with the turnips, and then she helped me pick a few peppers, onions, tomatoes, and herbs for making pizza. My mouth was watering so much while I assembled pizza for the kids. I’m still a few weeks from going back to a more normal diet, and I have had some days of craving different foods, but so far, yesterday and today were the worst!

Our house currently smells like toast, and it’s making me so hungry! I let the girls bake cookies yesterday. Shortbread, one of my favorites. It took a lot of willpower to resist. I’ve got about two weeks left before I can consider reintroducing things to my diet. I hope I can hold out okay! I need to get creative with my cooking now. The good news in all of this Whole 30 diet is that a) I haven’t been sick in 2.5 days! b) I haven’t been terribly hungry, and I can tell I’m eating smaller portions, c) I’m cooking and eating better, and hopefully creating new habits, and d) I’m losing weight, and I have noticed a few other positive bodily changes. So, I just need to focus on the positives, and let that motivate me through the second half of this 30 days!

Also good news… I’m preoccupied enough with harvesting that I’m not actually thinking about food the whole time, even though I’m handling food day in, day out. In other words, less hunger cravings because I’m too busy. I also don’t really desire to eat whatever it is that I’m handling… it becomes a temporary aversion. Yet at the same time, we’ve got a non-stop flow of food coming in, and I always have something on hand to eat. Oh, and MORE good news… the first watermelon should be ripe in the next week? And I think if I take the time to look, I can probably find some apples to pick, too. I’d like to add a bit of home-grown fruit to the mix.

As for the rest of today, I’m not sure what my plan is. I might need a nap! I’ve got laundry to fold and put away, there are a few things in the house to put back in order after the sleepover, and I’m toying with the idea of picking more food, even though I still need to deal with the turnips. In reality, I should probably finish dealing with the garlic and potatoes I picked yesterday. The turnips can wait until tomorrow. I don’t know. My holdup is that I don’t feel like peeling them all! Ha!

What are you pulling out of your gardens this week? What gives you the biggest trhill to harvest?

Love and Blessings~Danielle

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