Garden Progress Update

Starting with the soil; laying out the plan; making the beds; soon the veggies will obscure this view but it is the foundation of my annual gardening. 


  • Winter Gray

    How beautiful. Brings back memories and makes me salivate thinking of all the lovely dishes that will come from its bounty!!!!

  • jim

    So strange thinking about gardening in an environment where you have to wait for the snow to melt. (Sorry, Houston has spoiled me.) Anyway – a couple of notes. Every few years I get bored with that boring old Fordhook Giant Swiss chard, and try one of the colored stem variants. Then I remember what I was bored with was huge, trouble-free crops of great big long leaves all season long. Finally getting a crop out of Rainbow chard, but it took forever. It does look pretty in the garden, though. Also trialing Magenta Sunset chard from Johnny’s Select at a couple of locations and it is doing well. Still, I think I’ll be going back to Fordhook this fall. Speaking of Johnny’s – you have got to check out the Golden Frill mustard green from Japan. Not a standard-looking mustard – very ferny appearance, which is good because the flea beetles don’t know what it is and leave it alone – but a super producer. Very good in salad mix as a baby or as an adult cooked green. (Mizuna and Japanese mustards in ham-hock stock – yum!) I’ve trialed Golden Frill in several locations over the last few years, and it is a main-crop keeper.

  • Leni Sorensen

    I LOVE chard! And after trying the rainbow type I went back to my two favorite standbys; Fordhook and red. Last winter I never got around to pulling up the season’s plants so they hung in over the winter and this spring have shot up enough to give us a lovely serving the day before yesterday. So I’m gonna leave them to see what happens and at least until the new crop comes in. I blanch the large leaves quickly in boiling water, chill them in ice water, and then roll up cool fillings in them like stuffed cabbage or grape leaves. Chard prepared this way goes really nicely with rice, raisons, and pine nuts. Chopped lamb is also nice.
    I’ll try the Golden Frill from Johnny’s Seeds; we like that nice bitter edge to greens. Do you like mustard and turnip greens too?

  • jim

    For turnips – Johnny’s also sells a small quick-crop Japanese gourmet turnip called Hakuri that is a lot of fun. White root, grows to radish size in a month or so at which point it is ready. I halve the bottoms and cook them in chicken stock for a while and a few minutes before serving I toss in the rough-cut greens (they are very tender) and put the lid on. Expensive seed and the flea beetles require a daily garlic drench but a fun crop and very marketable.

    For the most part, I tend to harvest mustards at the baby stage and put them in the salad mix. (As a chef friend remarked, lettuce ain’t nothing but crunchy water.) So I use about a 50% mix of lettuce leaves, toss in a lot of friesee escarole, and then add mustards, mizuna, arugula, etc. and then balance out the spicey/ bitter with the sweet from baby chard and the Bull’s Blood beet leaves, which is another old favorite.

    Oddly, I didn’t discover greens – at least as they are cooked in the South – until I was in my early 20s. (That straight-out-of-a-number-10-can spinach served in the school cafateria may have been a factor; also, my mom, being a child of the Great Depression, had a status-addled notion that Only Poor People Eat Weeds.) But in the early 80s KFC was selling – only at stores in black neighborhoods, at least in Kansas City – a mix of collards, turnip greens and mustard with ham and bacon called Mean Greens that was the best fast-food side I’ve ever had. I had a childhood friend who was living at 26th and Prospect near a KFC, and whenever I went to visit the Beaver (he had an older brother named Walter, of course) I would make a point of getting my greens on.

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