Harvest Monday August 21, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’m calling today the Great Eclipse Edition, since this afternoon we will be having a partial solar eclipse with about 99% of the sun blocked out by the moon. Sunshine or not, I’m still bringing in lots of tomatoes. That’s about 18 pounds of paste tomatoes in the below photo. I used them to make another batch of tomato paste, plus pizza sauce, marinara sauce and unseasoned tomato sauce last week. We are about to get the freezer full of tomatoey goodness! I may well do a bit more drying and roasting in the next week or so though.

harvest of paste tomatoes

harvest of paste tomatoes

We’re still getting a lot of nice slicing tomatoes too. In the below photo it’s Chef’s Choice Pink, Chef’s Choice Orange and Chef’s Choice Green hanging out with a Dancer eggplant. I harvested about 40 pounds of tomatoes last week total. I’ve brought in about 148 pounds of them so far this year, and we have eaten or processed them all.

harvest of slicing tomatoes

harvest of slicing tomatoes

I’m bringing in more of the winter squash now as they mature. Honey Boat Delicata is one of my favorites of the Delicata family of squash. We usually cut these into slices and bake them. They don’t keep as well as some of the other winter squashes, so we will begin eating them soon. They averaged right at a pound each, which is a nice size for us. They’re hanging out with another tromboncino and a couple of Pepitas pumpkins. The tromboncino is technically a winter squash, though it’s most often used at the green, immature stage.

winter squashes

winter squashes

One of the two Pepitas pumpkins weighed 8 pounds and the other weighed 5.5 pounds, though I don’t usually eat the flesh or tally it. I grow these for the seeds, which are hull-less (or naked) and easy to process and eat. They are decorative as well as tasty, though last year the skin changed to a solid orange color fairly quickly after harvest. I’ll work on getting the seeds out in a few days. I did a Variety Spotlight on this one last year if you want a peek at what the seeds look like and how I process them. Of course they are edible as-is straight from the pumpkin.

Pepitas pumpkin

Pepitas pumpkin

The Bush Delicatas were ready for harvesting too. They did not do as well this year as most of the other squashes, but we will have plenty anyway. The lettuce is some of the last of the summer planting. I have started seeds for a fall planting, but we will likely have a lettuce gap here for a month or so.

Bush Delicata and summer lettuce

Bush Delicata and summer lettuce

I got three Metro butternut squash from my one plant this year, and they weighed between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds each. These are bigger than individual size, but smaller than giant butternuts like Waltham. I’ve been looking for a butternut this size, and if Metro tastes as good as it looks it might just be the one.

Metro butternut and Bush Delicata squashes

Metro butternut and Bush Delicata squashes

I also harvested one of the Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squashes last week. This is an heirloom acorn type I’m growing for the first time. This one weighed around 2.5 pounds, and I’ll let it cure and age for a bit before we get a taste. I’ll be looking for recipe ideas for stuffing them too.

Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash

Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash

I harvested the first peppers last week, though I’m still waiting on ripe ones. Mellow Star shishitos are a mild version of the popular Japanese pepper, and these first ones I grew had no heat whatsoever. I sauteed them briefly in a bit of olive oil and enjoyed them as an appetizer while I was cooking dinner one night. I’m not usually a fan of green peppers but these are an exception. I decided to grow them after Will (Eight Gate Farm) had good luck with them last year. I get a lot of great ideas from my fellow bloggers, and there’s another example coming up later.

Mellow Star peppers

Mellow Star peppers

We’re getting a steady supply of eggplants though, enough I made a batch of eggplant rollatini last night for dinner. I slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices and bake it briefly to soften it up. Then I spread the eggplant with a mixture of cooked kale, parmesan and mozzarella cheese and egg before rolling it up and placing in a baking dish. Then I topped it with some freshly made tomato sauce I made from the Marzano Fire tomatoes. I baked it for about an hour, then topped with a bit more mozzarella. For me this dish has all the flavors of eggplant parmesan but without the fried eggplant treatment. It made for a nice meatless main dish.

Nadia(L) and Galine(R) eggplant

Nadia(L) and Galine(R) eggplant

For the stuffing I cut a bit of the spring planted Prizm kale. I spruced these plants up a few weeks ago, cutting off the older leaves and giving the plants a top dressing of compost and fertilizer. They responded with a flush of new growth, and I cut some of those leaves for the rollatini.

Prizm kale

Prizm kale

The greenhouse cucumber vines are still giving us cukes. The last two producers still going are Corinto and Excelsior, and both have been great producers this year.

Corinto and Excelsior cucumbers

Corinto and Excelsior cucumbers

In other cucurbit news, I finally remembered to get a pic of the Ginkaku melons. These may well be the taste sensation of 2017 for me. I first heard about these last year when Phuong (Kentucky Fried Garden) grew them. I found a similar Korean melon at our local Asian market back then, and liked them enough I decided to grow them myself. Not surprisingly, the homegrown ones taste so much better than the ones I bought. These weigh about a pound each, and are produced in profusion on medium length vines.

Ginkaku melons

Ginkaku melons

The taste is a bit hard to describe, definitely related to cantaloupes and honeydew melons, but really crisp and sweet with perhaps a hint of pears. Like a cantaloupe they slip from the vine when ripe, making it easy to tell when they are ready. The hard outer rinds seem to keep them from rotting on the ground though, like cantaloupes too often do for me here. After harvesting I chill them, then clean out the seeds and peel the thin yellow rind. I got these seeds from Kitazawa, but I see that Pinetree has them too. My wife has been enjoying the watermelon and leaving these Ginkaku for me to eat, which sounds like a good deal to me since I grew the watermelon for her anyway. I’ve been eating some most every afternoon for a snack.

Ginkaku melons ready to eat

Ginkaku melons ready to eat

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Winter Squash Update

It looks like it’s going to be a good year for winter squash here. I’ve already started harvesting some of the early maturing types like Honeybaby butternut and Buffy. These are both individual sized ones that weigh around a pound each, and it looks like there might be upwards of 30 or more of them. Both are supposed to be good keepers, so we should be enjoying these well into winter.

Buffy winter squash

Buffy winter squash

Others will be ready soon, like the naked-seeded Pepitas pumpkin. I grew this one last year and the seeds are so tasty and easy to prepare, since they lack the hulls that most pumpkin seeds have. The flesh on this one is edible too, though I find the C. moschata pumpkins a bit more flavorful. One of the Pepitas vines in the below photo grew through the garden fencing and set fruit out there, which is a problem I have with some of the vining types. But I have a solution in mind for next year.

Pepitas pumpkin

Pepitas pumpkin

I’m experimenting with trellising some of the winter squashes this year, using concrete remesh panels tied to metal t-posts. The remesh panels are 4 feet wide by 6.5 feet tall, and I used zip ties to secure them to the t-posts. I got this idea from Michelle (From Seed To Table) who grows her vining squash this way with good results. In the below photo you can see one of the trellises surrounded by the other squashes that are vining all over the ground.

trellised winter squash

trellised winter squash

I setup three trellises this year, and planted Buffy, Tetsukabuto and Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash nearby and trained the vines to go up them. I am very pleased with the results, and next year I plan to put even more trellises to work. They are quick and easy to assemble, and really help make good use of vertical space in the garden. Tetsukabuto is a C. maxima X C. moschata hybrid squash that produces round 4 to 5 pound fruits with dark green skin. Some of these should be ready to harvest soon, and I’ve counted at least 6 of them on the vines so far. I guess it is considered a kabocha type squash even though it has a moschata parent.

Tetsukabuto winter squash

Tetsukabuto winter squash

Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash is an heirloom acorn type with a creamy white skin. It’s listed on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, and seeds for it were first offered on the Seed Savers Exchange in 1981. I am looking forward to trying this one, which is supposed to be the sweetest of the acorn squashes according to Amy Goldman in The Compleat Squash.

Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash

Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash

The Tromba d’Albenga squash would be a good candidate for trellising next year. The tromboncino squashes are vigorous growers, and this year I’ve got it planted near the outside edge of the garden so it can vine along the fencing. One downside is that the long squashes can form outside the fencing, and sometimes get stuck in the fencing as they grow. I think that will be less likely to happen on a trellis, though I’m not sure if I will be able to keep the wandering vines trained to it. If nothing else they should be easier to find!

Tromba d'Albenga squash on the vine

Tromba d’Albenga squash on the vine

A newcomer here this year is the hybrid neck pumpkin called Turkeyneck. I’ve grown a couple of the so-called ‘neck’ pumpkins over the years, including Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck and Canada Crookneck, but this is the first hybrid type I’ve ever seen. So far the immature fruits sort of look like an oversized butternut. The neck pumpkins are actually the forerunners of the butternuts, so I guess that’s not surprising. The skin should turn tan like a butternut when it matures.

Turkeyneck squash

Turkeyneck squash

Another newcomer is the Dickinson pumpkin. This C. moschata squash is the variety used by Libby’s for their canned pumpkin puree. The vines are taking over one corner of the garden, and so far I have spotted at least 4 pumpkins setting on. If they all mature we should be eating a lot of pie, custard and pumpkin bread in the months to come! This one is probably not a good candidate for trellising considering the size of the pumpkins. I have no idea how big ours will turn out, but they can reach up to 40 pounds. It’s hard to tell in the photo but this one is over a foot long and almost that wide. I’m guessing it is well over 10 pounds, though it will be a few weeks before I harvest any of them.

Dickinson pumpkin

Dickinson pumpkin

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the 2017 winter squashes. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Harvest Monday August 14, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The past week was a busy one here, with lots of both harvesting and kitchen time. We are at the height of tomato season (or is that the throes?), and I brought in over 60 pounds of them last week in all sizes and colors. I felt like a magician trying to make them all disappear! There’s a big tub of Juliet in the below photo, along with a mix of paste tomatoes in the strainer. We used the processing types to make unseasoned sauce, ketchup, and tomato paste. It was a joint effort between me and my wife that sure involved a lot of stirring on the stove! I also dehydrated more of the small fruited types, and made a batch of marinara sauce for the freezer.

August harvest

August harvest

We’ve been eating a lot of the big slicing tomatoes either on sandwiches or as a side dish. They’re all AAS Winners in the below photo, and from the top it’s Chef’s Choice Orange, Chef’s Choice Pink and Chef’s Choice Yellow. All have been giving us lots to eat lately, and I’m not sure I have a favorite among the three. More tasting is required!

Chef's Choice tomatoes

Chef’s Choice tomatoes

The Chef’s Choice Pink is a lovely pink beefsteak with meaty red flesh. It has a nice sweet taste, with few seeds, and it has starred on several sandwiches so far this year. It met up with grilled eggplant and cheese one day for lunch, stacked on some of my fresh-baked whole wheat bread. That sandwich came back again yesterday for lunch, with the Chef’s Choice Yellow tomato.

Chef's Choice Pink tomato

Chef’s Choice Pink tomato

The summer planting of lettuce is still giving us decent tasting leaves, despite our hot weather. I often pluck off a few leaves as needed for sandwiches. I’m not sure which one is in the below photo, but it made an appearance on a BLT one day. I need to start some seeds for a fall planting too.

summer lettuce

summer lettuce

Another of my favorite slicing tomatoes is Captain Lucky. It is a green when ripe o/p tomato with flesh that is a lovely mix of green/pink/yellow. Pretty only gets you so far though and Captain Lucky has a great taste to match the striking looks. I was forced to eat the first one all by myself one day when Lynda was out for lunch! She got to join in on the second and third ones though.

Captain Lucky tomato

Captain Lucky tomato

sliced Captain Lucky

sliced Captain Lucky

A couple of 2017 AAS Winners showed up in harvests last week too, the Midnight Snack tomato and Mini Love watermelon.

Mini Love watermelon and Midnight Snack tomato

Mini Love watermelon and Midnight Snack tomato

Midnight Snack is a new indigo-type cherry tomato that has the anthocyanin pigment, which gives it a blackish-purple look. The first ones on my vine ripened in the shade so the skin is mostly red. Newer ones setting on have the distinctive dark coloring though. I tried Indigo Rose when it was first released and I was not impressed with the flavor at all, but my wife and I both agree Midnight Snack is very tasty indeed. It’s also a nice size, and should prove very useful for all the things we do with cherry tomatoes.

Midnight Snack tomatoes

Midnight Snack tomatoes

Mini Love is a personal-sized watermelon with red flesh and a minimum of seeds. The vines are compact, and poor placement on my part had them being overrun by more vigorous neighbors. Still, I’ve found couple of fruits and hopefully the vines will give us a few more. Next time I’ll plant them near less rambunctious growers.

Mini Love watermelon

Mini Love watermelon

Other than tomatoes, more of the winter squash are starting to mature. It’s the cream colored Buffy in the below photo, along with Pinata delicata and a big tromboncino. The tromboncino have wound up in a lot of meals, including one where we spiralized and roasted it before covering it with a marinara sauce.

Pinata, Tromba d'Albenga and Buffy squashes

Pinata, Tromba d’Albenga and Buffy squashes

The eggplant are coming on strong now too. In the below photo the Dancer in the middle is sporting a racing stripe, with the purplish-black Nadia on the left and Galine on the right.

Nadia, Dancer and Galine eggplant

Nadia, Dancer and Galine eggplant

That’s a sampling of what I’ve been harvesting. Things have been coming in so fast I’ve had a hard time keeping up with it all , which is not a bad problem to have for sure. I did manage to bake a couple of loaves of bread, one of which was not camera shy. It’s a whole wheat sandwich loaf, made using some freshly ground red and white wheat from Bluebird Farms.

Whole Wheat sandwich loaf

Whole Wheat sandwich loaf

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Planting For Fall

I’ve been busy the last week or two getting things started and planted for the fall garden. I actually replanted the I’itoi multiplier onions almost a month ago. They had died back so I lifted and divided them up. I’ve been using these mostly as green onions, and it is so handy to have a perennial onion around for that purpose. In addition to ones outside in the ground, I have more planted in a container and a small planting in the greenhouse bed. The ones in the greenhouse kept us supplied through most of last winter.

I'itoi multiplier onions

I’itoi multiplier onions

I started seeds for broccoli, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi four weeks ago, and those plants are ready to start going in the ground. I’ve been hardening them off outside while they wait to be planted. That’s kale in the below photo, mostly open-pollinated types like White Russian, Lacinato, Dazzling Blue, Red Ursa and Improved Siberian plus a few hybrids including Darkibor, and Starbor.

plug flat of kale seedlings

plug flat of kale seedlings

I’ve already  planted a few of the Darkibor amongst the spring planted Prizm kale. Hopefully the new seedlings can find their way up through the much larger neighbors. I really had planned on pulling all the spring planted kale, but these Prizm plants looked pretty healthy after I trimmed them up a bit. I also spread some compost and organic fertilizer before setting the new plants, and gave everyone a drink of Neptune’s Harvest fish and seaweed fertilizer. Everyone seemed to appreciate that and responded with a flush of new growth.

the old and the new kale plants

the old and the new kale plants

A couple of doors down from the kale I set out 30 kohlrabi plants in another coldframe bed. I planted a mix of Kolibri, Konan and Quickstar there. I’ll grow the larger Kossak kohlrabi in the main garden area where I can give them more room. I’ve got another coldframe bed ready for lettuce once I get some seeds started.

kohlrabi in coldframe bed

kohlrabi in coldframe bed

In the main garden, I’ve got a couple of things planted already. I set out two Red Racer cocktail tomato plants back on July 13th. This is a 2018 AAS Winner that was just announced this summer, and Harris Seeds and Garden Trends Wholesale made transplants available for garden communicators and the media to try out. These compact determinate plants get to about three feet tall, and I’ve got them supported by some galvanized wire round cages. I set out two in the main garden and a third in a Smart Pot behind the greenhouse.

Red Racer Cocktail Tomato

Red Racer Cocktail Tomato

They are just now starting to bloom, and I hope to have the first ripe ones in early September. You can read more about them in a post I wrote when they were announced.

blossoms on Red Racer tomato

blossoms on Red Racer tomato

I’ve also set out a few late summer squash plants nearby. The spring planted ones were all done for, so I decided to see if I could get a few from a fall planting. Powdery mildew is sometimes a problem here in fall, and Astia is a zucchini with a compact growing habit that is supposed to have PM resistance. I also set out a plant each of Flaminio and Clarimore. I started the seeds about three weeks ago in 3.5 inch pots, so they have a head start and should take right off.

zucchini plant

zucchini plant

And lastly I pulled the spring planting of Derby bush beans and resowed them in the same spot for fall. These have been doing so well I hated to pull them, but I believe a fresh planting can do even better. Meanwhile we can enjoy the pole beans.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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