Archive for November, 2008

More on Radicchio and chicories

November 26, 2008

It got a bit chilly here in NE Ohio but before the really cold weather hit I was able to move some of the radicchios and chicories into the house. I had two major types: Traviso radicchio and Belgian Endive. The Belgian Endive was clobbered by our potatoes. I only got two plants to make it to survival. The others were shaded out by constantly flopping over potato plants. The Travisos did well.

I dug the roots out and clipped off the leaves to about one inch of the crown. Then I packed them in sand in a plastic bin. The roots get buried  up to the crown. Then the whole thing gets moved to the cellar (50’ish degrees F) and covered with a lid to keep out the light. Here is the bin before it was moved to the cellar.

Travisos are the red ones

Travisos are the red ones

The forced growth from the plants are what you find in the stores … cream and green for the Belgian Endive and red and white for the radicchios. They will be ready in about six weeks but will cut and come again after the first head is cut until the root poops out.

The plants as they were in the garden also had some very nice inner leaves that I saved. They are not so bitter as the tough outer leaves.

Tender inner leaves

Tender inner leaves

We had these for dinner the evening they were picked … roasted in the oven with lots of olive oil and finished with some good balsamic.  I’ll post an update when the forced heads are ready.

New Garden

November 13, 2008

About six months or so ago, my wife and I bought a second house … a small old house in Oberlin, Ohio.  When we bought it we thought that we would do a bunch of cosmetic work on it and then try to rent it out for a few years to new or visiting faculty at Oberlin College. Well, to make a long story short, the cost of the house and the monthly cost of keeping it operating is not very substantial and we have decided not to rent it out.  Rather, we will use it as a “get-away” and, more importantly, make annual substantial improvements to it.  Our other house is on the market … has anyone seen the market by the way; it seems to have gone missing … and should it sell we will make adjustments and transitions into the Oberlin house.

So … last Tuesday (Veterans Day) , we were at the house and I was talking to a tree man about taking out a rogue Walnut, trimming a gross Ash and taking out a few other trees that would shade the backyard. It was then that I decided that now was the time to start the new garden. I aim to do two things between now and next spring. The first is to build my initial set of raised beds. I will probably do one row of beds 4′ wide and 32′ long (see my previous post on building raised beds). Since I will not be at the Oberlin house every day next year, I will use these beds for crops that go in, get the occasional weed/thinning and otherwise get left alone. I will plant potatoes, onions, storage carrots, parsnips, and maybe some Belgian Endives.  These are all things that can go it alone with the occasional attention like thinning the carrots once or twice, weeding and mulching the potatoes. Moreover, this will free up space they would take in my current garden.

The other thing I will do is gather together shrubs, perennials, berries and such from my current garden and migrate them to Oberlin. I have lots of things that can be divided and will wind up being better for it in both locations. I have red and black raspberries, all the ribes plants, my fig and horseradish.  I will also be on the lookout for fruit trees that nurseries might like to sell me now (great time to plant fruit trees … believe me).

I’ll work on a parallel site for the new garden so that you can follow along in its development. Stay tuned.

Early November Garden

November 3, 2008

November 2nd was a particularly beautiful day so I shot a few pictures of the garden and some of the things left in it. I didn’t bother with the carrots, parsnips, fennel, leeks and such but maybe in some of the shots you can see them. Here is an overview of the raised bed portion of the garden.

If you follow the fence to the far left, as it goes to its left, you would find the part of the garden that has the kale and collards.  The fence to the rear has fruit trees that are espaliered. The structure in the upper left is my chicken coop/run that is not now occupied.

Here are some details from the garden.

Radicchio Traviso

Radicchio Treviso

The treviso radicchio will be pulled soon and put to work. Like Belgian Endive one pulls the radicchio out by the roots, cuts the tops off to an inch of the top of the root, puts the root in a bucket with other roots, puts water in the bucket, puts the bucket in a moderate cellar of 50 degrees (fahr.) and covers the whole thing with a light-blocking cover. What grows is the traditional conical red/white head that is radichio treviso. Beow is a pict from a catalog. The time from harvest from the garden to produce is about 8 weeks. BTW … one can get a good product from a big root of the cousin of Radicchio, the dandelion.

Stock footage

Stock footage

There are a number of nice lettuces and other salad greens growing in the garden. Thanks to breeding for cold tolerance, a bit of global warming and floating row cover, they are doing right well these days.

escarole

escarole

Classic Batavian Escarole is ready to be harvested. I could try to blanch the centers a bit. We have eaten it already and it is really good as a cooked green. If I wanted to eat it raw, blanching would really improve the flavor (less bitter) and the texture (more tender).

Spinach and L. Rosso

Spinach and L. Rosso

The spinach was planted to winter over but it has developed so well that I will probably just keep it protected and eat it this month. The Rosso Lettuce is doing very well indeed. Scattered in the bed are a few plants of coriander.

mixed greens

mixed greens

Often when I am starting plants for placement into the beds in mid season I have a few that don’t fit where I plan them. If I am lucky, there is a bed that can handle the overflow. This is that bed. You can see some frisee endive, escarole, a couple of Cimmeron Cos and some nice Speckles lettuce in the foreground.

Winterbore Kale

Winterbore Kale

Here is a section of the fence line that has my Kale … Winterbor is a fantastic kale variety. It is very tasty and will hold up to temps into the teens. You can notice on the left one of my two Tuscan Kale plants (tall and skinny leaves). They taste great in soup but they are not very hearty … maybe 28F or so.

Collards

Collards

The debate in our family is Kale vs Collards. My wife and son Peter prefer Kale while my son Alex and I prefer collards. I do think that Kale has the better texture while collards have a better flavor.

Chard Bright lights

Chard Bright lights

The remains of the family Chard plant. There were two of them but one got a root borer and passed. Two well cared-for chard plants will keep a normal family with a diverse garden in chard for the year. It is, however, one of the most beautiful plants in the garden, esp. Bright Lights.