Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lemons and Some Rough Math

I'm not a big numbers guy, but I'm excited about this year's pending lemon harvest.  I bought my little potted lemon plant two years ago for $15.99.  The first year I harvested 5 lemons.  Then the plant grew a little bit.  This year I've got 14 on the tree.  Organic lemons sell for $0.99 at the local grocery store.  19 lemons x $0.99 = $18.81.  I figure I've spent approximately the positive difference of $2.82 on water and fertilizer since I bought the lemon.  So by my rough estimate this little tree just paid for itself.

I'm already looking forward to the smell of citrus blossoms, more growth, and more lemons next year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beets are Good Eats

Chioggia Beets.

Back in August I planted two short rows of Chioggia beets, an Italian heirloom that has a striped interior rather than the traditional beet red color.   I tried growing beets 2 years ago and only succeeded in growing greens with small roots, so this was my second attempt.  After some soil preparation I planted the seeds in 4-foot rows and kept them watered very well.  It wasn't very long before the seeds had germinated and I had greens reaching for the sun (and hopefully roots reaching for nutrients).  I kept a close eye on them and sure enough -- my plants actually looked like beets!

I decided to harvest them today because my taste buds ordered me to do it.  Based upon what I saw on top of the soil I figured I was in good shape.  But once I started harvesting them I noticed dozens of hairy roots all over the beets.  This was not what I was expecting.

Hairy Chioggia Beets.

I started to get sweaty and nervous as each beet I pulled yielded the same results.  Masses of hairy roots.  I decided to put my fear aside and harvest them all, let the taste of the beets do the talking.  After rinsing them, cutting and saving the greens for tomorrow, and slicing them open, I was quite pleased.  The interior revealed the classic swirl-like (some say bull's eye) pattern that makes the Chioggia so unique.

Quartered beets on a baking pan.

My wife also added some freshly picked carrots, garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano, thyme, toasted walnuts, and salt and roasted them in the oven.  She topped off her bowl with chevre, and I opted to keep mine plain.  Goat cheese is a bit too goaty for me.

The final product.

The roasted beets and carrots were good eats for sure.  I'd definitely consider it a successful crop this season.  But I'm still wondering why my beets didn't look like what I expected them to look like.  Guess that means I need to hit the books and read more about soil preparation, watering, etc.  But as I always say, the most valuable information comes from actually attempting to grow things in the first place.  You'll never know if you don't try.