Garden Journal ~ November

A few days ago I woke up to a thin layer of frost on the grass…worried about the tomatoes, I rushed outside to check on everyone. To my relief, all is well. Both plants are loaded with fruit in different stages of growth. The larger ‘Super Fantastics’ are beginning to blush, and I actually picked two that were not fully ripe but beginning to crack (I hate that.) A few “Juliettes’ have already graced our salad plates and Rosie and Benji have each enjoyed one.

Plenty of tomatoes on the vines. Will add light strings and blankets as we are expecting a freeze Thanksgiving night!

Concerned about the changing weather, we are getting the Xmas light strings and blankets ready as a cold front is expected to arrive on Thanksgiving day, bringing night temps to near freezing. I am not about to give up on my fall tomatoes yet. Last weekend, Willy made us a makeshift temporary greenhouse. The first ramshackle prototype blew over the first night of strong front winds, so after a few amendments, our tender tropical pots will have a (hopefully) safe place to hang out while saving Will’s back and living room space. The greenhouse is also going to come in handy for propagating plants and starting seedlings. The plumeria cuttings I made (so I could fit the trees in the greenhouse) are thriving so far.

A few PVC pipes and heavy duty plastic become a quick greenhouse for the winter.

The coolest thing so far this season was a complete surprise. While building the greenhouse, Will noticed Rosie running away with something green in her mouth. Since she’s been eating way too many pecans and hence throwing them up later, so I chased her to see what it was she was about to gorge on. Pulling the green oval out of her mouth was a revelation. A pineapple guava!!!!

Feijoas, or pineapple guavas in English, are delicious tropical tasting fruit. The shrubs grow easily here, are evergreen and make excellent hedges. Buy more than one!

I had read that they require pollinators, and have wanted to buy a few more but money has been tight. So earlier in the spring, when the flowers on the 8-year-old shrub began to appear, I actually went around hand pollinating them. I had forgotten all about it, not noticing any fruit development right away, until Rosie’s discovery.  I was wondering why she spent so much time hiding under that shrub. My gardening dog comes to the rescue once again! Looking carefully, I managed to find 5 fruit. I read that they are only ready when they naturally fall off the tree, and then need to give a little bit to pressure. Best way to eat them is fresh out of hand, they have a grainy, custardy texture and a highly aromatic, floral scent and taste.

Elsewhere in the garden, the eggplant I was going to pull a month ago rebounded and is loaded again with tiny fruit, which will definitely be pulled on Thursday. There are tiny cauliflowers on both plants although no sign of broccoli or Brussels yet. We’ve been harvesting and eating radishes like crazy. I like cooking the leaves like I do greens, but Will thinks they are too bitter. Researching, I found an old-school recipe for radish green soup. Of course I tweaked the recipe a bit. I didn’t have heavy cream so I left it out, but the potatoes gave it a perfect creamy texture.  It turned out a bright green color and absolutely delicious, and it was practically made for free.

Radish Greens soup Serves 4

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bunches radish greens (about 2 cups), washed and stemmed
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in onions and saute until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add radish greens and cook just until wilted. Add potatoes and chicken stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor. If desired, strain the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the original pot (I didn’t). Season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to a simmer over medium heat, check seasoning again. Serve garnished with radish zest or croutons, if desired.

We liked this so much I may make it again for Thanksgiving, but that’s tomorrow’s post.

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