red carrot, white beet, watermelon radish . . .

digit(ID/WA)December 10, 2007

Good Morning from the snow blanketed north!

With all my interest in colors lately, you might think that my color vision is acute. Not so - and it was something of a problem when I worked at a rose greenhouse and as a wholesale florist. You can imagine.

I think I'm made curious by the discernment of others and find myself in a shades-of-gray world for too many months each year.

Over on the veggie forum, I took an interest in trying to find larger seed packets for a guy who grew Kyoto red carrots last season. Apparently, he thought that they were a cut above the Atomic Red carrot that is more commonly available. Kitazawa has them and Territorial has a Samurai Red carrot this year.

Does anyone fail to find brightly colored garden produce infatuating?. Only the world-weary eye would be bored with an Easter egg mix of radishes. At the farmers' market this year, a grower had some of Jali's Calliope eggplants. Wow! They sure are pretty.

The new Touchstone beet in Johnny's and elsewhere and that Blankoma beet look tempting. I've tried growing golden beets before with nearly zero germination but Touchstone supposedly has "very good germination." DW claims not to like the purple-red color of regular beets but I'm wondering about white. I mean, would these end up as gray coming out of the pot?

I think we could drift a little far from flavor in a quest for the unusual in color but I find good color stimulating to the appetite! Plant pigments are also, somehow, tied to anti-oxidants and healthfulness. And, about a white color in a carrot, I'd say forget about it. Parsnips are wonderful but the white carrots I grew this year are bland, bland, bland.

How 'bout you, any ideas on unusual veggie colors in the garden for 2008? Any experience in preparing them for the table?


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aliceg8(CO 5)

I can only continue to rave about my Golden Sunrise Swiss Chard from Nichols. This is not a very good photo. It was taken mid to late September, and I think the garden was in shadow, so the flash came on which washed out the color somewhat. But you can see the stalks of the plants just barely. I think this is so pretty I'm going to try some in my new lasagne garden next spring.

And I do want to do some beets next year. I've been kind of intrigued by the golden ones, but maybe I should stick with something tried and true to start with?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 5:10PM
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I have a tiny front yard, especially if one considers adequate sunlight for growing anything. The flower beds are open and available early in the Spring so often they are exploited for growing Asian greens.

I know some of the neighbors think we're idiots but there are lots of reasons for that. But, having a green plant that's there and then one day it's not . . . hardly seems idiotic to me. Better yet would be plants that are attractive all thru the season with more uses than just lookin'.

A Tried and True beet - I'm not going to recommend Bull's Blood. I suppose it must be the most intensely colored beet. Pine Tree sells it as a dyeing herb!! Well, it should be good for that.

No complaint about the quality or taste - it's just that the plants are small and slow-growing. I think all the intense pigmentation impedes growth.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 6:18PM
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I have grown a rainbow mix of carrots--orange, yellow, pink (calling them red is REALLY pushing it) and white--and I still grow yellow carrots every year. I was going to try the watermelon radish this fall, but DD spilled the seeds. I think some came up, but they weren't in garden soil, and they didn't get watered enough, so we gave up on them. I had the same spotty germination on golden beets as you had, but I considered that a bonus--no thinning!

We also grow purple podded pole beans, purple and yellow podded peas, lots of red lettuce (okay, I eat that, the kids only occasionally nibble the red leaves), and yellow, orange, and red tomatoes. I prefer perpetual spinach chard, though, because I like the greens and consider the stems a waste, even if they are pretty colors.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 4:37AM
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david52 Zone 6

Huh - I tried to post on this yesterday, and it seems not to have worked.

I'd give white beets a pass, they're sort of like bland sugar beets - something missing flavor wise. The greens are ok, I guess. I'm a big fan of the golden beet, germinating them either indoors, they transplant well, or under a plank in the garden. Everyone likes them - and cooking, eating, and digesting them moves away from that "I just slaughtered a goat" visual.

We also like the red and white stripped one, but I forget the name.

I'm just starting to grow carrots successfully, so I'm following along here.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:15AM
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Azura(z5 CO)

I havent grown beets yet mostly because Ive never eaten them other than the retail canned variety. How do you prepare beets and how would you describe their flavor?
I am planning to grow watermelon radishes if I can find the room tho. Has anyone ever grown them before?
I am also planning on growing purple carrots but I cant remember the variety this early in the morning.
Where is my coffee??

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:48AM
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Does a yellow carrot taste like a carrot?

I think more folks would appreciate purple beans if they just EXPECTED that they won't stay purple after a few minutes in boiling water. For that matter, yellow beans aren't very yellow after cooking. Is there a way to preserve the color?

The nice thing about purple beans, other than that they seem to be LOADED with good flavor, is that they are bright green after cooking! And, what's wrong with that?!? (Perpetual spinach has that same pronounced color.)

I don't think real dark tomatoes are goin' to be a hit with DW. She goes for mild tomatoes and sweet everything. I assume that a black tomato would have a pronounced flavor. DW is barely willing to eat an orange. Speaking of orange - it's persimmon season at the green grocer's!

Some folks must have persimmon trees in NM, right?


    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 11:00AM
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david52 Zone 6

In the '52 kitchens, a beet is washed and baked for 45 min at 350, then peeled, chopped up then salted & buttered. Alternatively, its peeled, diced, microwaved, then salted & buttered, or bestest of all, after microwaving, is fried a bit in butter to get some caramelized sides, and dolled up with chipotle pepper powder, or lime juice, or both.

The greens are greens, and good anyway greens are prepared.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 11:21AM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

The best thing EVER with a beet was something I had while living in Seattle. It was a roasted beet filled with red cabbage, walnuts, croutons and topped with a lemon goat cheese sauce. It may have been one of the best things I ever ate in my life, not just beet-wise!

My mom found a recipe that was somewhat similar (roasted beets & goat cheese) but it didn't approach the yumminess of this.

If you're ever in Seattle, this is a great, hole-in-the-wall place. The schnitzel is great, and they used to have a great appetizer - some kind of sausage with cooked apples. But I don't see it on the menu anymore. :(

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 11:41AM
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And if you are there on a Sunday, you can walk a half block and visit the Ballard Farmers' Market.

- lime juice is a wonderful alternative to lemon but I'm trying to picture a "dolled up" beet . . .

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 3:58PM
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>>Does a yellow carrot taste like a carrot?Yes, it tastes much more like an orange carrot than the white ones I have tried. I grow Yellowstone.

>>I think more folks would appreciate purple beans if they just EXPECTED that they won't stay purple after a few minutes in boiling water. For that matter, yellow beans aren't very yellow after cooking. Is there a way to preserve the color?I don't know of a way to preserve the color. I just told my kids early on that it was "magic" and we would know when the beans were ready to eat when they turned bright green. The Purple Pole bean teepee is my son's domain, and he rarely lets the beans get more than 5 inches long and pencil thick before he picks them. I have to tie flagging around the pods I want to let mature for seeds!

>>Some folks must have persimmon trees in NM, right? I don't know of anyone with a persimmon, although I didn't take the gardening tour of the permaculture house here in town last spring. I have heard they have a couple of pawpaws, so persimmons wouldn't surprise me, either.

I've only eaten Japanese persimmons, which wouldn't be hardy on my mountain. Do American persimmons taste the same, or is there a big difference? I have a large yard which I have foolishly not planted many fruit trees in, just the two apples and one apricot that were here when I bought the place 17 years ago.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 7:11AM
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Catherine, I have only seen the persimmon in California's Central Valley & south. Here's what the CA fruit growers say: "Origin: The oriental persimmon is native to China . . . It spread to Korea and Japan many years ago . . . The plant was introduced to California in the mid 1800's.

"Adaptation: Persimmons do best in areas that have moderate winters and relatively mild summers--suitable for growing in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10. It can tolerate temperatures of 0 F when fully dormant. However, because of its low chilling requirement (less than 100 hours), it may break dormancy during early warm spells only to be damaged by spring frosts later. The leaves are killed by 26°F when growing. Trees do not produce well in the high summer heat of desert regions, which may also sunburn the bark."

They are pretty trees but that tendency to break dormancy after only a few warm days looks problematic. I find it interesting that the persimmon is classified in 2 groups - astringent and non-astringent. Boy, they've got good reason for that! Apparently, the astringent varieties are not necessarily bad - they just require full ripening. Conversely, non-astringent types are not necessarily good. Confusing . . . I enjoy whatever they have in the produce aisle when they are still somewhat crisp.

I could be wrong but it looks from Wikipedia that the American persimmon isn't grown for fruit - golf clubs and billiard cues yes, fruit, perhaps no. The pawpaw is a different genus & species.

See, that idea that fruit trees take too long has come back to bite you (I don't really know if that was your thinking, Catherine, but I've heard that so many times from younger people.) My apple butter is from a tree that I planted as a young guy at my place then promptly dug up and moved to my father's backyard. It is now about 35 years old.

Actually, it is the last of the dwarf/semi-dwarf trees I moved there. I bought an apple for Mom & Dad not long after they moved to that house. It has been gone 6 or 8 years now. The Northern Spy survivor once had a sister which grew but didn't want to make fruit. Dad always seems too willing to attack trees with a chainsaw to my way of thinking. That tree went out the gate about 10 or 15 years ago.

The French plum was damaged by a lawn mower incident and then began to have serious peach borer problems. It was such a fine tree that Dad cut it down and replaced it. That 2nd plum is now about 20 years old and usually produces really well.

The peach tree didn't have borer problems but fire blight weakened it every year. It died without ever producing a single fruit. We planted a doughnut peach a couple of years ago. It is going great guns as is the white peach in my own backyard. I had big hopes for that one this year but it still hasn't set any fruit - only about 4 years old now.

One thing seems to be for sure, as night follows day, seasons follow season . . . Like sands through the hourglass . . . blah, blah, blah . . . but even a little tree on dwarfing root-stock can ripen boxes and boxes of fruit after the kids have grown up and left . . . Okay, so that means they have a reason to show up during harvest anyway.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 12:31PM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

When I was a kid we lived in central California. We bought a brand new tract home and lived there for 4 years. During this time my parents planted and landscaped the you know what out of that yard. I remember...

A plum tree that had the most delicious fruit on it.

3 dwarf citrus trees that produced, but I don't remember eating anything from them.

2 or 3 grape vines planted against the fence. I don't remember eating any grapes, but I do remember my mom trying to make homegrown wine. I believe it was a less than satisfactory experiment.

A fantastic vegetable garden...especially the melons.

An espaliered (sp?) apple.

A weeping willow I insisted we had to have.

A mulberry tree out by the front driveway that my parents came to regret due to the messy fruit everywhere.

A row of tall cypress on the front yard property line.

A pyracantha growing alongside the garage door.

A couple of tree roses by the front walk.

And I know there was more, much more, that I've forgotten.

My parents kept in touch with the person they sold that house to. They were told a few years later that he had to remove some of the stuff they had planted. Namely the grape vines and the weeping willow, as they were threatening to take over the yard.

I visited the place about 5 years after we moved. It was absolutely gorgeous. And those cypress were about 30 feet high, it seemed to me.

I guess my point was (other than a self indulgent trip down memory lane) that the fruit trees produced very early on. Of course they did have an optimal growing climate there.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 4:51PM
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Of course, here we see the difference between warmer zones/lower elevations and higher, drier, colder-Winter climates.

The forestry people are now using "growing degree days" to determine growth stages of perennial trees - good idea! When all other factors are equal, growth becomes an issue of how warm it is and for how many days.

Of course, there are some values in living somewhere colder than California's Central Valley even tho' we can not grow as many pounds of crops nor have perennials like fruit trees reach maturity as quickly. First of all, we can all figure we will "keep better" where it's colder!! In fact, we should all move to Minnesota for this reason.

Fresno, CA 5149 growing degree days in 2007
Denver, CO 3620 growing degree days in 2007
Kalispell, MT 2362 growing degree days in 2007
International Falls, MN 2138 growing degree days in 2007

Hello, this is Carlton your doorman.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:26PM
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