Morning Harvest

Morning Harvest

I don’t have a lot to say today. This post is more about bragging. (“Really, you’re going to brag, Leite? Is that how Momma Leite raised you?” I can hear you all thinking.) [Editor’s Note: I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this is not the first time David’s been a braggart.] Come on people, cut me some slack. I just harvested our first cucumber from our garden this morning—the first cucumber I’ve ever planted. Plus I pulled our very first beets ever out of the earth. What an extremely satisfying experience. They practically popped out themselves.

When I worked on Mr. Silvia’s farm when I was a kid, he never planted beets, so I never understood how they grew. In fact, this morning, my heart sank when I saw the tops of them cresting the soil. “Damn it,” I thought. “I screwed up again.” But before I did what I wanted to do, which was to yank each and every one of those suckers out of the ground and hurl them into the woods, I read up on them. They’re supposed to crest. It’s called “bulbing up.” I left the other 60 or so plants in the ground, right next to the carrots I’m desperate to pull out and take a peek at.

However, all is not glorious in Jardim de Leite e O Um. (That’s Portuguese for the Garden of Leite and The One.) We have tomato blight, which I had to battle with shears dipped in a bleach solution and then a spray of baking soda, vegetable oil, and water. And the basil plants, which until this year never took hold much, are practically shrubs. The problem? Japanese beetles. Plus the summer squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon have encroached on the pepper plants. We’re desperately trying to get the creepers to weave up the fence and away from the other produce. Stay tuned.

Yet through it all, I’m already designing next year’s beds and contemplating extending the garden by half. I am just so freaking proud of myself. (I know, I know, there I go bragging again.)


Well, I’m not bragging now. Our beets tasted very earthy, hardly sweet at all. Anyone have any ideas? They’re Detroit Reds.

If you’re looking for recipes for your bounty, try these

Beet and Carrot Fritters
Hibiscus Beet Sorbet
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Tomato and Goat Cheese Cobbler
Israeli Pickles
Japanese Cucumber Salad

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

‘Tis the Season to Feel Guilty

Every holiday season, do you think THIS year will be the best ever only to be wracked with guilt because you’ve fallen short? David’s got your back.

They’re Alive!

David finds he may have a green thumb after all as he looks upon the chlorophyl duking it out in his garden in Darwinian style.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I have that blight on my tomato plants too. And spent the better part of the day in my garden with scissors too. My back is killing me today from bending and reaching, but those BLT’s are worth every moan and groan in the garden. As far as your beets go, I’d say you pulled them to soon. Let them ripen in the warm soil and let the sugars develop more. And enjoy and brag about your harvest, it comes but once a year!

    1. Angie, thank you for your help. One of the things I love about my blog is the help I get from readers. We are now up to our ears in tomatoes!!