Harvest Monday June 27, 2016

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It seems like harvesting kicked into overdrive last week, with more garlic needing to be dug plus blackberries and squash coming on. I dug all the Artichoke type garlic I grow, including Red Toch, Lorz Italian, Siciliano and Simonetti. I first grew Red Toch back in 2011 and for whatever reason it did not do well, so I didn’t replant it. Last year I decided to give it another try and ordered new bulbs from Filaree Garlic Farm. I’m so glad I did, and earlier this spring I noticed it had huge stalks, which is always a good sign. I predicted it was going to make big bulbs, and I was right. It made the biggest bulbs I’ve dug so far, and I can’t wait until it is cured and I can give it a taste test.

Red Toch garlic

Red Toch garlic

Red Toch was collected from the small village of Tochliavri in the Republic of Georgia. Simonetti (or Simoneti) is another Georgian garlic, one I’ve been growing for about five years now. I got my original planting stock from We Grow Garlic, and have been saving the biggest and best for replanting each year. Simonetti has consistently been one of my best producers, and last year made the biggest bulbs of any garlic I grew. I’ll wait until the garlic has cured to clean the bulbs up and weigh them. Meanwhile, the Rocambole and Silverskin types are still in the ground, but almost ready to dig. So far it looks to be a great year for garlic.

Simonetti garlic

Simonetti garlic

In other harvest news, I got a nice big bucket of Simpson Elite lettuce to use for wilted lettuce salads. It was beginning to bolt, and not nearly as tender as lettuce grown in cooler weather, but it was still nice for wilting. We will have a little ‘lettuce gap’ here until the crisphead lettuces size up, assuming they survive the heat and give us something edible. We will see!

Simpson Elite lettuce

Simpson Elite lettuce

I harvested the last of the Kolibri kohlrabi, and the first of the giant Kossak. The five in the below photo weighed over seven pounds total, with the largest one weighing in at 28 ounces.

harvest of Kossak kohlrabies

harvest of Kossak kohlrabies

I used about half of them to make more kohlrabi kraut, and the rest will be used in the kitchen raw or cooked. My wife is planning on roasting some this week, as she takes over the cooking duties. Kossak stays tender even when it gets big, and is also a good keeper. I have more in the garden sizing up and waiting for harvest.

giant Kossak kohlrabi

giant Kossak kohlrabi

The first zucchini honors this year was shared by three different kinds. In the below photo it’s the dark green Astia on the left, the striped Striata d’Italia in the middle, and two of the hybrid Romanesco to the right. A few days later I harvested one of the light green Clarimore, the dark and light green mottled Bossa Nova, and a couple of the yellow straightneck Enterprise. I also spotted my first squash bugs, so it’s time to start squishing (or is that squashing?) the adults and looking for eggs on the leaves. I’ve found that hand-watering the plants where the stem comes out of the ground tends to flush out some of the adults, so that is now part of my morning ritual.

Astia, Striata d'Italia and Romanesco zucchini

Astia, Striata d’Italia and Romanesco zucchini

One of the things I did with the first zucchini is to make a spiralized ‘zoodle’ salad. I added some dried tomatoes (after rehydrating) and fresh basil to the zoodles, and tossed with a light dressing I made from lemon juice, olive oil and minced fresh garlic. It made a nice cool salad to go with some trout I fixed for dinner one night. I can see making this salad again in the near future, as my wife and I both enjoyed it. The pecan and panko crusted trout wasn’t bad either!

zucchini zoodle salad with trout

zucchini zoodle salad with trout

Some of the zucchini also went into a main dish Freekeh, Chickpea and Herb salad I made. I added some diced zucchini and dried tomatoes to the recipe in place of the celery it called for. Cucumber would also have been nice but I don’t have any ready yet, though the plants in the greenhouse are close to giving up their first cuke. This recipe was another keeper for me and my wife, and I used our fresh parsley and mint in there too. I also like to make tabbouleh with the freekeh, which will also likely be on the menu when it’s my turn to cook again and the cucumbers and tomatoes are coming on.

Freekeh, Chickpea and Herb salad

Freekeh, Chickpea and Herb salad

I mentioned blackberries earlier. The Natchez plants are ripening now, and I’ve taken in over a quart total so far. We’ve been eating some of them fresh and freezing the rest. Last year was a terrible year for blackberries here and I am hoping to replenish our supply in the freezer.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

I found enough of them yesterday to make us a small Blackberry Cobbler. It’s nice to have one made with fresh blackberries, since usually we use ones from the freezer. I ground some soft white wheat flour for the cobbler, which my wife then baked up. It was a team effort for sure, both in the prep and the eating! I’m hoping we have enough blackberries this year to make some Blackberry Syrup and Blackberry Leather, which are two things we like to make when we have a big year.

blackberry cobbler

blackberry cobbler

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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Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Berry Secure?

I mentioned the other day that the deer had eaten all our gooseberries. I know it was the deer, because I caught them in the act, brazenly eating them in broad daylight. With the ripening blackberries right next door to the gooseberries, I knew we had to do something to protect them. The blackberries are planted in a single row about 30 feet long, adjacent to our asparagus beds. The asparagus is surrounded by some dog fencing that was there when we bought the place. It’s only about four foot tall, certainly not deer-proof, but it does limit their access and keeps them (mostly) away from the asparagus. I considered making a temporary fence using wire fencing, but decided it would be too hard for me to get in and pick the blackberries. After a little research, I settled on  a solution using bird netting.

netting secured to fence

netting secured to fence

The netting I have been using for several years now is made of UV-stabilized high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and is green in color with a 3/4″ square mesh. It is lightweight and flexible, and I use it to cover my cold frames in summer as well as for protecting newly planted seedlings. I get it from American Nettings and Fabric, and they have a good selection of netting materials. To protect the blackberries, I got some that was 15 feet wide. I needed about a 60 foot length so I ordered a 100 foot roll which will give me some leftover for other uses around the garden. It’s pricey but it should last for many years, since I only plan on having it in use for perhaps two months of the year or less. Considering that fresh homegrown blackberries are priceless to me, the netting was money well spent.

bird netting around blackberries

bird netting around blackberries

I decided on a setup not unlike what I use to support my pole bean trellis. I sank metal t-posts at about 10 foot intervals. Then I ran a length of braided polypropylene rope along the top of the t-posts, securing the ends to the existing t-posts for the asparagus fencing. The rope serves to support the bird netting, which we ran vertically around the perimeter of the blackberries. I looped the rope around the other t-posts, and used wooden clothes pins to secure the netting to the rope.

poly rope support for netting

poly rope support for netting

The netting is secured to the ground using landscape staples and rubber disks. To be sure, the netting won’t stop a determined deer, and it won’t keep out rabbits, groundhogs or squirrels. And it’s not designed to keep birds out, since the blackberries are uncovered on top. But it will keep the deer from having easy access, and in my experience that is often all it takes to keep them away. I will spray the netting with Bobbex or Liquid Fence deer repellent, which should keep them from even nosing around too closely.

staples secure netting to ground

staples secure netting to ground

The whole project only took about an hour from start to finish, with my wife helping me put up the netting itself. The berries are ripening, and you can see in the below photo there are lots of them on the plants. We have two thornless varieties planted, Natchez and Apache, with Natchez ripening right now with Apache not far behind. I think it is safe to say there are several gallons of berries on the plants, certainly enough to keep us and the freezer full of them.

Apache blackberries

Apache blackberries

As the season progresses I’ll let you know how the netting is working. As long as the berries keep coming in I will view the project as a success!

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , | 7 Comments