First Harvest Monday of 2012

My garden year is off to a rip-roaring start. My harvest goal for 2012 is  an ambitious 350 lbs. I say ambitious because that is 115 lbs more than I’ve grown in either of the past two years.

Snow peas and cabbage went into a yaki soba (Japanese stir-fried noodle dish) along with a few other vegetables.

However, that amount is nothing compared to what gardeners in the Midwest and East Coast are able to produce with their large yards. They report 750-1000 lbs of produce. Wow. I can only imagine.

Orange juice and zest went into a Colonial Williamsburg Lodge Orange Cake, which is a dense cake made with pecans and raisins.

I have a tiny yard plus a small community garden plot. So my goals are more modest. But can I grow a third more produce this year than last year in the same space? Dunno. My fruit trees are more mature this year and that should really help.

Both my dwarf navel orange and semi-dwarf avocado trees are producing bumper crops this year. But given the small size of the trees, 50 oranges and 20 avocados on each tree constitutes a bumper crop.

Reaching my harvest goal will require more diligent attention to my garden and more vigorous control of the night critters than I managed last year. I constantly battle bunnies, rats, opossums and raccoons for the right to eat what I labor to grow. Last year I lost the battle and the night critters got a good part of my harvest, including all of the apricots and most of my peaches and nectarines.

Snow peas, spinach, Deer Tongue and Black Seeded Simpson lettuces, avocado and carrots made a fine salad, all from my garden.

I picked 350 lbs as a goal because it is about half of the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that the average American couple consumes annually. Surely I can grow half of our fresh produce needs. I also hope the hens will produce at least 350 eggs, but that is pretty much beyond my control. It is more a function of their age and health.

Miss Hillary, our newest hen, provided four eggs for our dinner. I made baked roast beef hash and eggs along with the salad, which was topped with pine nuts.

To reach my harvest goals, I will need to average nearly 7 lbs of produce a week (7 x 52 = 364). Last January, I harvested a bit over 7 lbs in the entire month.

Well, I’m off to a rousing start this year with a “first week in January” harvest of over 9 lbs! Woohoo!

Winter is citrus and avocado season. Here are three navel oranges, three Meyer lemons, a Eureka lemon, a lime, and a crazy lone tomato that ripened in January.

But more important than my poundage goals are my other gardening goals for 2012. I want to try new varieties to tickle my taste buds. I want to have FUN with my garden. I want to savor and enjoy the healthy organic produce that I grow. And I want my garden to be beautiful as well as productive.

As far as growing new varieties, I have already placed an order with Native Seed/SEARCH, a non-profit that offers heirloom seeds from Native people of the American Southwest and Mexico. I plan to plant Hopi Black Beans, Taos Red Beans, Chihuahuan Ojo de Cabra (Eye of the Goat) beans, and Frijole Chivita. I will also plant European Soldier Beans, one of the finest tasting soup beans I’ve ever had, as well as Cherokee Trail of Tears, a lovely dried black bean that I have grown before.

In the winter squash and gourd category, I ordered Mayo Cushaw, Calabaza de las Aguas, Mayo Blusher, and Navajo Gray Hubbard squashes as well as Mayo Gooseneck gourds. I can hardly wait to plant them and see what I get.

Here is my first week’s harvest for 2012, a propitious start.

FRUIT
22 oz Avocados
17.5 oz Lemons
3.5 oz Lime
56 oz Oranges

SUBTOTAL 6.2 lbs FRUIT

VEGETABLES
22 oz Cabbage, green
2 oz Carrots
2.5 oz Eggplant, Japanese
1.5 oz Herbs
1.5 oz Kale, Lacinato
3 oz Lettuce, BSS and Deer Tongue
11 oz Snow Peas
1 oz Spinach
2 oz Tomato, Beefsteak

SUBTOTAL 3.2 lbs VEGETABLES

TOTAL 9.3 lbs PRODUCE plus 4 eggs

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others harvested this week.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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7 Responses to First Harvest Monday of 2012

  1. Bee Girl says:

    What a great start you have! Congratulations!!! I’m completely jealous of your fruits!

  2. kitsapfg says:

    Good work on setting goals for your garden this year. It really does not create some hard line in the sand, but rather provides a focus and direction that usually results in greater production (even if the goal is not reached specifically).

    Beautiful fruit harvest this week. Totally jealous!

  3. Well I’m glad this glorious weather is doing something useful. Up here our gardens are getting so dry! Your oranges look lovely, and that cake…mmm… We have our first oranges still hanging on the tree. Oh so close, but not quite ready yet, but I’m excited to try them. Your cabbage looks absolutely gorgeous. Unlike mine, NO HOLES! 😉 Good luck meeting your goals, it looks like you’re well on your way!

  4. Brenda K says:

    Wow, that is a great start! I have no aspirations in terms of poundage to harvest (my front yard is about 10×10′, and I have a few wine barrels out back), but share your other 2012 gardening goals, especially in terms of stepping up my efforts with critter management – both 4- and 6-legged. That same rodent-like marauder that ate my Japanese cucumbers last summer/fall has recently absolutely DECIMATED the Italian heirloom summer squash plants I direct-sowed in the barrels in late October (a wild bet on temperate weather this winter) just as they were growing beautifully and beginning to flower 😦 Hopefully we’ll get our chickens in spring as planned!

  5. Norma Chang says:

    Great start, I am sure you will exceed your goal. That cake looks sumptous and the egg yolks, gorgeous color.
    Yep, the critters are a major issue. Don’t know how to prevent the critters from eating my sweet potatoes. Lost about 1/3 of my soy beans last year …..

  6. Wow! What a great start! I hope you make your goal.

    Lynn

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