Farm Replace: Fall 2023 – The Woks of Existence


Welcome to our newest farm replace! In some way, we’re once more on the finish of any other rising season at our farm (neatly—our “running mini-farm,” if we’re being technical about it). 

In between writing about meals and appearing tips on how to cook dinner it, we proceed in our valiant efforts to develop it, too. It’s been any other yr of experimenting and finding out, with some new and thrilling successes, and likewise some duds too. 

Display Me the Veggies (Our Fall Harvest) 

The most efficient a part of fall is the pretty foliage, in addition to reaping the rewards of the vegetation you’ve sown.

Perennial vegetation like our feathery asparagus endured on dutifully within the background (asparagus takes years to get a just right yield out of), and we had any other nice yr of tomatoes (and tomato mayonnaise sandwiches), potatoes, and minimize plant life, which bloomed all summer time proper up till the primary frost (learn our finish of summer time replace right here).

fall flower arrangement
rinsing harvested potatoes off with hose

However the true superstar of fall has been leafy inexperienced greens. Beginning in September, my mother couldn’t had been happier with the range and quantity of leafy vegetables we have been netting from the lawn. She attributes this to a thick layer of our personal home made compost, which we began making within the spring!  

wire framing for fleece over leafy greens

Ji Cai (Shepherd’s Handbag)

It is a tasty wild vegetable that we use regularly in frozen shape for our go-to dumpling filling. It’s were given a aromatic taste, and we’ve simplest ever been ready to shop for it frozen stateside. 

ji cai shepherd's purse harvest

My mother planted some in our small kitchen lawn within the spring with arms crossed.

It didn’t do too neatly, and temporarily bolted, flowered, and went to seed. On the other hand, the ones little seeds that have been launched in spring gave the impression to have self-sown themselves with out our assist, and we were given a tidy little crop in past due summer time/early fall that we stir fried with tofu and minimize into dumplings! 

Again in China, my mother recollects Ji Cai as a wild vegetable or weed, so this outcome tracked together with her reminiscences. 

harvesting ji cai or shepherd's purse Chinese vegetable

Bok Choy 

This yr, we were given the *absolute best* darkish emerald bok choy with white stems, aka, dwarf bok choy. It’s additionally also known as “small bok choy,” or in Mandarin, 奶油白菜 (nǎiyóu báicài), which kind of interprets to “butter bok choy” or “cream bok choy.” 

My mother mentioned this was once the primary time she’s *ever* been satisfied together with her bok choy harvest. Those may also be hungry vegetation that want numerous fertilizer, so we predict our home made compost—which we made with lawn trimmings, alpaca manure, dirty straw from the rooster coop and duck space (rooster manure could be very prime in nitrogen), grass clippings, dried leaves and pine needles, and extra—actually helped. 

bok chow growing

Leafy vegetables also are apparently the tasty goal of any and each lawn pest in the market, from slugs and snails to flea beetles, cabbage white caterpillars, and our mammalian pals as neatly.

Whilst springtime may also be tough for those veggies, we discover that fall computer virus task is somewhat decrease, giving those gentle greens time and area to develop. 

bok choy harvest

They have been gentle, scrumptious, and ample. And no bolting—temps have been very best! You’ll be able to’t ask for extra! Be informed tips on how to develop bok choy in Sarah’s complete submit!

Taiwanese Flat Cabbage 

This yr we skipped napa cabbage in desire of planting Taiwanese flat cabbage. To be fair, we’re nonetheless perfecting our cabbage sport, however we did get some tough cabbages with a cast head (i.e., they weren’t simply floppy bundles of leaves). 

We left them for somewhat too lengthy, consuming them slowly sufficient that the insects and slugs actually laid into them, however after we trimmed them up somewhat, they have been astoundingly just right!

For sure a miles more potent appearing than our napa cabbage experiments and taste-wise, you actually couldn’t inform the variation from store-bought Taiwanese cabbage. 

We shared a few of our older cabbages with the chickens and geese, who beloved selecting the leaves off of them like they have been bloomin’ onions!


Ever since we noticed this belongings and located a circulation working thru it, we’ve sought after to develop our personal watercress.

With the assistance of some store-bought watercress, which we rooted, we’ve been ready to develop a number of patches that we’ve been frequently harvesting from!

Judy holding up watercress harvest

On a discuss with again in spring, our aunt planted the roots in secure spots across the circulation, and they’ve since unfold into massive swaths of the stuff.

Sarah shall be liberating an advantage submit in our The way to Develop Chinese language Greens sequence about tips on how to develop watercress (you’ll be able to do it in bins!) later this month, so keep tuned.


One in every of our craziest experiments this yr was once planting ginger. We took natural ginger roots from the shop, propagated it in a bowl of potting soil in a heat spot within till they sprouted, after which planted them outdoor in past due spring. 

For the entire summer time, our ginger has grown in a decidedly tropical patch at the aspect of our decidedly not-at-all tropical colonial-style barn.

The spot was once heat with some solar, but additionally in part shady. Whilst ginger enjoys warmth and humidity, it in fact doesn’t love blazing solar, and desires phase coloration to thrive. 

Judy with ginger plants

The opposite day, we ventured out ahead of a projected frost (ginger can’t be uncovered to bloodless, or they’ll rot. They develop optimally in a lot hotter zones than ours), and we pulled they all.

What! A! Thrill! There’s one thing actually thrilling about rising that a lot ginger at domestic. Essentially the most attention-grabbing phase is this is regarded as “younger ginger,” as it hasn’t elderly and hardened underground (that’s the extra acquainted brown, thicker skinned ginger you’re used to). 

If truth be told, the unique propagated ginger items now resembled vintage ginger and had branched off into extra younger ginger rhizomes with the prettiest ombre berry stain that transitioned into inexperienced stems. 

rinsing young ginger in stream

After rinsing the ginger outdoor (we used the circulation), we introduced them in, bring to an end the stems, and dried them off somewhat. Simply take a look at that harvest! You’ll be able to see that the items of ginger that glance older and extra leathery have been the unique “seed” ginger, and the light yellow roots are the brand new enlargement. We were given a sexy great yield, I’ve to mention!

harvested ginger

A large number of other folks in fact develop ginger for decorative functions, as a result of it’s stunning, however we’ll be the usage of this gentle younger ginger in our cooking and freezing the surplus for later.

Younger ginger is in fact a lot more nutritious than outdated ginger (it incorporates 2x the volume of polyphenols/antioxidants), however it may be tougher to seek out, so this entire experiment has yielded an actual deal with. 

Judy and Sarah with ginger harvest

Daikon Radish 

We’ve planted our daikon radish as soon as once more this autumn (whilst we have been somewhat past due with it closing yr, my mother was once on it and were given the seeds within the floor in past due August). Now, we have now candy and gentle radishes that we’re harvesting as we’d like them. 

daikon radishes growing

We’ve plans to hide them up with a low tunnel to extend the time we will stay them within the floor, however as soon as it turns persistently frosty, we’ll be consuming numerous daikon radish. 

We’ve been boiling it merely as in this recipe and loving how nutritious, soothing and simple to digest it’s. We’ve additionally been consuming the vegetables, which can be highly spiced and filled with taste.

We additionally planted watermelon radishes, which took relatively a very long time to get going and have been somewhat sour and really highly spiced, however now not dangerous when thinly sliced and added to salads:

watermelon radish pulled out of ground

Fall Raspberries 

We planted two types of raspberries elsewhere—summer-fruiting and fall-fruiting raspberries. The summer-fruiting ones have been somewhat of a dud, taking on our kitchen lawn area and now not yielding a lot fruit. 

They’ve since been transferred out of the kitchen lawn to a “wilder” space of the valuables close to the beehives so we will simply stay a devoted raspberry patch there. 

On the other hand, the fall-fruiting ones have yielded some stellar little harvests. In the event you’re on the lookout for raspberries which might be low upkeep, opt for the fall-fruiting ones (AKA ever-bearing raspberries). And bonus, as the elements will get cooler, they get a lot sweeter than the extra tart August and September berries. 

picking fall everbearing raspberries


With the temperatures dipping, we’ve grew to become our consideration to sowing extra cold-loving leafy vegetables that we will get yet one more just right crop out of thru November and clearing out outdated plantings so we will mulch for the iciness (and likewise get started laying out our new plan for the lawn—extra on that later). 

Working example—now we have an enormous trash bag’s price of enormous scallions. 

trashbag of scallions in kitchen

We’ve already made a giant batch of Shanghai scallion oil noodles (cong you ban mian), and the remainder are destined to be washed, dried, chopped, and frozen in luggage for use via the handful all through the iciness. 

Fall Crop Duds

Now that we’re all feeling heat and fuzzies over the victories, a handy guide a rough rundown on duds and disappointments, which can be a fact in maximum, if now not all, gardening years! 

red maple trees in fall

Whilst closing yr, carrots have been one in every of our best possible acting vegetation (we didn’t have to shop for all of them summer time or fall, and so they grew large, fats, and filled with taste), this yr’s carrots have been a bust early within the season. 

We have been ready to plant a small new crop, harvesting some smaller-sized carrots this autumn, however they’re nowhere close to the bumper crop we had closing yr that powered us into Thanksgiving and past. 

rainbow carrots from the garden
Final yr’s carrots (we have been getting a couple of harvests like this all through the summer time and fall)
multicolored carrots harvested
This yr’s carrots (the autumn crop wasn’t dangerous, however it was once so much smaller)

Whilst iciness will minimize quick the stable enlargement we’ve gotten, we’re nonetheless grateful that the second one crop is doing higher within the extra predictably cool fall climate relative to the up and down, soggy summer time we had. 

Additionally in contrast to closing yr, we had a sexy lukewarm appearing on pumpkins. Whilst we had a dry spring on the time when the pumpkin vegetation have been simply getting going, we had a sexy rainy summer time. Temperatures have been additionally relatively cooler, and our pumpkins and iciness squashes were given somewhat stunted. They have been additionally beset via some pests! 

We were given one very stunning and really massive orange gourd that resembled a pumpkin, however it was once more than likely a ordinary move from seasons previous, for the reason that just one in our family who favored it was once Barley! It was once really inedible, and we don’t say that flippantly.


Principally, all of the rain this summer time made it relatively watery and bland. To a pumpkin-loving doggy despite the fact that, it added some fiber and taste to her nightly dinners for some time, so fortuitously it didn’t cross to waste.

Every other disappointing gourd was once the hulus that we at one level had such a lot of of.

birdhouse gourd growing

Recognized in English as birdhouse gourds, they’re in most cases dried and stashed within the pantry or someplace in the house to deliver just right power and auspicious vibes into Chinese language houses. You could acknowledge the silhouette from the QR codes in our cookbook! 

Technically, you’re intended with the intention to simply dry them at the vine and so they hole out and switch darkish. On the other hand, ours totally rotted and were given attacked via a horde of squash insects ahead of they may get anyplace shut. Perhaps we’ll have higher rising prerequisites subsequent yr! 

Fortuitously, surrounding native farms had a variety of pumpkins to choose between for fall adorning functions:

Within the spirit of sharing… 

We’ve been fortunate sufficient to have fellow neighbors who even have a inexperienced thumb. The similar neighbor who closing yr equipped us with a host of bamboo stalks to stake our inexperienced peas and snap peas talented us this yr with now not simplest bamboo shoots within the spring (learn extra about it in our spring replace), but in addition luggage of chestnuts from his tree within the fall!

It’s been one of these deal with. Those that we didn’t boil, roast, and consume right away have been cooked and saved within the freezer for long run braises and baked items.

He additionally did us the provider of salvaging some peach pits from an overly tough peach tree in the community that has nice yield despite tough rising prerequisites.

bag of peach pits for planting

Our mature peach tree might be described as precarious at absolute best (gummosis and rust are simply two fungal illnesses that experience attacked this tree in our two years right here), so it’s prime time we began propagating the long run technology of peach timber in case our mature one doesn’t carry out. 

Sharing actually is worrying! 

Different Tasks

We endured our salted duck egg experiments the usage of our far more than recent duck eggs, spearheaded via my dad!

duck eggs in straw

We’re finding out so much, so with a bit of luck we’ll have some helpful updates to our Salted Duck Egg recipe!

Salted duck egg experiments

We additionally made large batches of mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Pageant this yr. My mother made vintage Lotus Paste Mooncakes with Salted Duck Egg Yolks, and Sarah made Pecan Pie Mooncakes. We packed them up and shipped them off to friends and family for the vacation.

These days, we’re clearing the lawn and planting some quilt vegetation, together with Austrian iciness peas, with a view to upload nitrogen again into the soil:

Garlic and shallots, which develop over iciness, additionally went in:

We’re additionally planting extra spring bulbs! Those listed below are tulips moving into on an area we name “the mound,” which is a septic mound (ew) that we’re seeking to embellish across the edges with shallow-rooted vegetation. The purpose right here could also be to make it stick out much less like a sore thumb at the belongings!

planting bulbs

Making Strikes within the Lawn and the Barn 

The Lawn, Greenhouse & Potting Shed

One of the most thrilling issues taking place at the moment (now that we’re now not as busy tending our veggie patches) is updating our barn and increasing the lawn, which has been serving us neatly for the closing 2 years, however is falling aside somewhat: 

woks of life garden

We’re hanging a brand new wall across the lawn to extend it significantly (about 4 toes in all instructions). The decades-old, rotting picket fence is severely on its closing legs, and it’s getting changed via a brand new fence design with an actual stone basis.

foundations going up for fencing around garden

We’re additionally tacking on a potting shed/instrument shed and greenhouse to provide us extra garage and propagating area! It’s actually taking form, and we will’t wait to turn you the overall effects! 

progress on new garden

After buying groceries round for prefab greenhouses, we determined to do it our personal manner. (Which is what in most cases finally ends up taking place in our circle of relatives. The DIY impulse is robust. See: the construction of our duck run.)

We’re going for one thing somewhat extra home-grown and in line with the country spirit of the mini-farm. 

Excessive Barn Transformation 

The opposite large challenge we’ve just lately finished is redoing the home windows and siding of the barn.

barn prior to new siding

Our purpose was once so as to add much more home windows to the barn with a view to let in herbal gentle for pictures and filming, in addition to to re-do the siding, which was once already a long time outdated with the picket beginning to rot.

We went all in and made it pink pink, and we predict it grew to become out beautiful nice! It appears very cheerful in comparison to the pale siding from ahead of. 

Because it weathers, it’ll additionally begin to fade and mix into the panorama somewhat, however for now, we’re playing the pop of colour.

We did salvage one of the outdated picket from the barn, which was once nonetheless usable. We plan to re-use it for the construction of the potting shed!

working on new siding for barn

We’ve additionally begun considering the interior. We’ve selected home equipment and blocked out the brand new format for what (arms crossed) shall be a brand new studio kitchen for us to do our cooking and filming in! 

blocking out kitchen in barn with painter's tape

As you’ll be able to see, we added relatively a couple of home windows:

Windows added to barn

What do you recall to mind the transformation thus far? Tell us within the feedback, and satisfied fall! 

red maples along driveway in fall



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