Austin weather…what can we say? One day it’s 75 degrees and sunny, the next it’s snowing. The plants are so confused, and gardeners start getting spring fevered a bit too early. Last weekend at the Natural Gardener I saw people buying tomato seedlings! Me, I am patient. My tomatoes never go in the ground until at least St. Patrick’s Day. But Valentine’s Day is another story: it’s the day when I plant potatoes.
After my failed container experiment of last year, I saved a large section of garden to plant four varieties I found at Natural Gardener that weekend. I have previously grown Red Pontiac with success, so I planted that again. But I also wanted some new things, so I got Desiree, labeled as a popular gourmet potato in Europe. This from Seed Savers Exchange: red-skinned mid-season variety introduced from Holland in 1962. Deep golden flesh with moist creamy texture, delicate flavor. Good disease resistance, very reliable and easy to grow. An excellent choice for a general cooking potato. 95-100 days.
I also planted All Blue and Austrian Crescent, both of which failed in the containers last year. This time I am doing it right and I hope I’ll have a good harvest of various potatoes. Really, homegrown potatoes are as satisfying as tomatoes.
This weekend I will also reseed my beds. I am not sure if they got washed away with the rain, or if the dogs had something to do with it, but my seeds for carrots, beets, radishes, arugula, spinach, and kohlrabi have not sprouted after 2 weeks. I am disappointed, now I am almost three weeks behind on these and with the weather around here it may be too late for some of them, like the kohlrabi. But the fennel I grew in a large pot did very well, and last night I harvested a beautiful large bulb:
I bought some radishes and beets at the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market from my friend Gary Rowland from Hairston Creek Farm, so last night I made this winter salad which was a great hit. The colors are beautiful and, dare I say, very Valentine’s.
Winter salad of beet, radish, fennel, and grapefruit
1 large Chioggia (aka candy stripe) beet
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 medium or half a large black radish
1/2 Rio grapefruit
Juice of half a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Wash veggies well with a veggie scrubber if necessary. Slice very thinly with a mandolin and combine in large bowl. Peel the grapefruit with a sharp knife, removing all white pith. Over the bowl, cut out segments from the membrane (aka supremes) and add them to bowl, letting any extra juice drip onto the veggies. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss. Let it sit for a few minutes. Just before serving add olive oil and toss. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.