Harvest Monday July 24, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re having a hot summer here this year, and last week was the hottest week we’ve had so far. The high temperatures got over 100°F a couple of days, and the high humidity made the heat index reach 120°F. Despite all that, the garden is doing well, all things considered. And yesterday we finally got some much needed rain, almost two inches of it. Heat lovers like eggplant are happy for sure, and I got harvests of both Patio Baby and Fairy Tale last week. The first big fruits are setting on too, so we should be enjoying even more in the days ahead. These little ones got grilled as a side dish.

Fairy Tale and Patio Baby eggplant

Fairy Tale and Patio Baby eggplant

The tomatoes seem to be loving the heat too, and I found our first ripe slicers of the season on Friday. Better Boy is one of my old standbys, while it’s my first time growing Chef’s Choice Pink. The first big tomatoes are always a special thing for me, and these called for a BLT on some homemade whole wheat bread. Chef’s Choice Pink had a little catfacing, but still tasted great. I even managed to pluck a few leaves from the summer lettuce plants to go on the sandwich. It’s always a challenge here to have tomatoes and lettuce at the same time.

Better Boy(top) and Chef's Choice Pink(bottom) tomatoes

Better Boy(top) and Chef’s Choice Pink(bottom) tomatoes

Chef's Choice Pink tomato

Chef’s Choice Pink tomato

Another tomato worth mentioning is Sunpeach, which is a deep pink and slightly elongated cherry. This one is a sister variety to the ever popular Sun Gold, and was recommended to me by a local market grower who found it was not only tasty and productive but also didn’t split and crack like Sun Gold. I have to agree, and a little digging found there are more similar tomatoes from the same breeder (Tokita seeds), including Sunchocola, Suncherry, Sungreen and Sunlemon. I can see me trying some of these next year. Meanwhile, Sunpeach is a keeper, and I want to experiment with dehydrating it when I get more of them.

Sunpeach tomatoes

Sunpeach tomatoes

I pulled the last of the spring planted radishes last week so I could work up the bed for replanting. The last ones standing were a daikon type called Alpine. The largest one weighed almost two pounds, and the others would have gotten larger too if I had thinned them farther apart. It’s almost time to sow the seeds for fall radishes, and Alpine will be back again for sure. The spring planting gave me over 12 pounds of them, which has kept us well supplied and let me stock the frig with plenty of kkakdugi (radish kimchi) and radish pickles.

Alpine radishes

Alpine radishes

The pole beans are coming on like gangbusters now. I harvested a couple of pounds of them on Friday, with Fortex, Musica, Early Riser, Gold Marie and Trionfo Violetto all making an appearance. I got another two pounds plus yesterday, and I have started freezing them for later use.

pole bean harvest

pole bean harvest

The Rattlesnake beans are known for loving the heat and humidity. These beans have speckled/striped pods, and can be used either as a snap or dry bean. I harvest ours at the snap stage, where they are tender and stringless. I did a variety spotlight on this one back in 2013, and it remains one of my favorite beans.

Rattlesnake beans

Rattlesnake beans

Also showing up was a newcomer called Withner’s White Cornfield bean, an Indiana heirloom I got from Adaptive Seeds. Cornfield beans in general are vining types that are planted in the cornfield and allowed to vine up the corn. The long flat pods are stringless and tender, and the vines are quite vigorous.

Withner's White Cornfield bean

Withner’s White Cornfield bean

The blackberries are winding down. It has been a so-so year for them, and no doubt they are not liking the hot and dry conditions. We haven’t irrigated the plants, since we have plenty for our needs. If the dry conditions persist though I may give them some water to encourage new cane growth for next year’s crop. The size has held up fairly well despite the dry weather. It’s all Apache berries in the below photo.

Apache blackberries

Apache blackberries

The broccoli plants are holding on, and gave us another flush of side shoots last week. I’ll pull the plants in a couple of weeks as soon as I have the fall kale transplants ready to go in. I’ve harvested over 12 pounds of it too, which is pretty good for me from the spring planting which usually struggles once the heat of summer arrives.

broccoli side shoots

broccoli side shoots

And last but not least I cut a couple more of the Tromba D’Albenga squash, one of which had managed to get stuck growing through the garden fencing. I used that one to make a crustless zucchini quiche yesterday for lunch. Or was it a frittata? I never know what to call some of these egg dishes, not that it really matters as long as we enjoy eating them.

tromboncino squash

tromboncino squash

I sliced the squash thinly on a mandolin and then cooked it and some chopped shallots in the skillet for a few minutes before adding an egg, cheese and basil mixture and popping it in the oven to finish cooking. I used the Corsican basil for this dish, fresh picked from the garden.

tromboncino crustless quiche

tromboncino crustless quiche

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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Planning the Fall Garden

It’s hard to believe it is almost time to start planting the fall garden here. Our season is long enough we can double crop many of the garden veggies, and there are some things like turnips that I normally only plant in fall. I’m a bit behind in starting seeds for fall, but I now have brassicas up and going. I’m starting them indoors in 72 cell plug flats, and I’ll move them out to the greenhouse once the true leaves start coming on. I will likely pot them up into 3.5 inch pots before transplanting them out to the garden.

fall brassicas in plug flat

fall brassicas in plug flat

I like to keep the garden producing as much as possible, and over the years I’ve worked out a plan for succession planting. For instance, the garlic is out of the ground by mid July, which leaves that spot open for fall planting of brassicas like broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi. And by August the spring planting of kohlrabi and cabbage has been harvested and the broccoli is done producing, so I prepare that area to make room for kale. I’ve already planted about a dozen kale plants where the spring kohlrabi was growing. A few (if not all) of the summer squash plants are usually done for by August, and that leaves room for turnips to be sown. Later in fall, after the sweet potatoes are dug, I can replant that bed with next year’s garlic crop.

2016 fall planting

2016 fall planting

I’ve got a spot in the kitchen garden area where onions and shallots were growing earlier, and I’m prepping that bed for radishes and multiplier onions. I can only grow things the deer won’t eat in that area, and so far they have left the alliums and radishes alone. I don’t like growing the same thing in the same spot over and over, so next year I will grow the onions and shallots in the main garden. I also have a spot in one of the cold frame beds for more kohlrabi. That way I can close the cold frame cover at night to keep the deer from eating up those plants. I’ll also start some lettuce seeds soon to go in another one of the cold frame beds. For more information on timing on when to plant things in our area, check out my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

 

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Harvest Monday July 17, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. We’re heading into summer veggie season here, and the weather is all summer all the time here, with temps in the high 90°F range last week. Cool for us this time of year is a high in the 80’s, and any morning temp below 70°F is a cause for celebration! The summer crops love it though, and we have been rewarded with a nice supply of squash and beans. I have to say the zucchini plants are mostly done for though, with a squash bug explosion that attacked them worse than the other types. I plan on starting a few zucchini plants for a fall crop, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I do have one Astia plant growing in a Smart Pot that promises to crank out a few more zukes, and so far the squash bugs haven’t found it.

squash and beans

squash and beans

Even as the zucchini plants are going away, a zucchini substitute is just now coming on. I got the first Tromba d’Albenga last week, a big one that weighed two and a half pounds. I usually harvest them a bit smaller but this one surprised me! The vines are quite vigorous, and more squash are setting on already so I am hoping for a good crop on this one. In years past it has produced abundantly, and I imagine those who have grown a tromboncino squash know exactly what I mean. We spiralized this one and roasted it in a cast iron skillet. Since the flesh is much drier than a zucchini, it browned up a bit and turned out quite well. I can see us cooking it up that way again, seasoned with just olive oil and a bit of salt.

Tromba d'Albenga squash

Tromba d’Albenga squash

The Derby bush beans are also winding down just as the pole beans are starting to set on. That was my strategy, to plant a small amount of bush beans to give us an early taste and then lots of pole beans to supply us throughout the summer. The Derby beans produced quite well, and I have gotten right at 5 pounds of beans from a 10 foot row. The first pole beans to set were Early Riser and Trionfo Violetto. It’s my first time growing Early Riser and this flat podded bean from Adaptive Seeds seems to be living up to its name.

first pole beans

first pole beans

The Gold Marie and Musica beans weren’t far behind, and a few of the Rattlesnake beans should be ready today. Fortex is just starting to bloom. The pole beans have turned into a ‘speed dating’ site for the Japanese beetles, which is unfortunately an annual event. So I visit the beans daily with a cup of soapy water and invite them for a swim.

Musica and Gold Marie beans

Musica and Gold Marie beans

Another summer veggie starting to come on is eggplant. I have a couple of plants in containers, and the Patio Baby plant was the first to set fruit. This 2014 Regional AAS Winner is a true mini eggplant, making perfectly proportioned little fruits that are about 2 to 3 inches long. We used these in a mixed veggie stir fry, and the eggplant was mild tasting with tender skin. It’s my first time growing this one, and based on early results I need to grow more of them next year! I also want to try a few grilled. It will be awhile before the large fruited ones are ready, but the smaller Fairy Tale should give us a few before long.

Patio Baby eggplant

Patio Baby eggplant

The spring crops aren’t completely done though. I cut a big head of Late Flat Dutch cabbage last week. It’s hard to judge the size in the photo but it weighed a bit over six pounds. I have two more heads of cabbage in the garden, and the broccoli is still trying to make side shoots.

Late Flat Dutch cabbage

Late Flat Dutch cabbage

I have really been enjoying eating the radish kimchi (kkakdugi) I made with our daikon radishes. The Sweet Baby daikons have a pinkish purple streaked flesh that turns a solid shade of color after fermenting. The kimchi radishes are crisp, tart and mildly hot, and I eat them fairly often as a side dish. The spring radishes are all gone now but I will be planting a fall crop soon, and Sweet Baby is on my grow list for sure.

Sweet Baby kimchi

Sweet Baby kimchi

My wife and I slipped away last week for a quick trip to Berea, Kentucky. We each attended a couple of classes in their annual Festival of Learnshops. I took one class on Making Natural Artisanal Sodas and one on Shiitake and Oyster Mushroom Log Inoculation. Both were quite informative, and I came home with two logs (one each Shiitake and Oyster) plus a kombucha scoby. I drink kombucha occasionally, but I had resisted making it myself since it would be something else to feed and keep alive. I already have water and dairy kefir grains, a ginger beer ‘plant’, plus my sourdough starter to keep going. But I couldn’t resist, and now I have my first batch of kombucha brewing. Grow little scoby! It may take a couple of batches to get the hang of making it to suit my tastes. The instructor brought a batch of blueberry booch to the class to sample which was quite tasty, and that helped convince me to make my own. His tasted way better than any commercial ones I have bought.

kombucha scoby

kombucha scoby

While we were in Berea we also visited their annual Craft Festival. There were lots of artists there selling and displaying their works, as well as live demos. In the below photo I’m standing by one of the 12 hand sculptures scattered around town. They are part of the 2003 Show of Hands public art project, featuring the designs of twelve artists with ties to the Berea area. They moved this one in for the craft festival. To me the six foot hands are also symbolic of Berea reaching out to visitors as well as the artistic community. I wore one of my wife’s custom dyed tee shirts for the occasion, since she is my favorite artist. And let me also say how happy I am to have a wife who doesn’t mind when I load two big logs in the trunk along with our luggage for the trip home!

me by one of the hand sculptures

me by one of the hand sculptures

And I can’t resist sharing a pic my wife got of our cat Puddin. She has taken to lying on the floor on her back lately, but this latest pose makes us think she is practicing cat yoga. It’s not like the cat-cow pose though!

Puddin in a yoga pose

Puddin in a yoga pose

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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Digging the Alliums

Today I finished digging the last of the alliums. Lately I’ve been working in the garden early in the morning to escape our brutal heat and humidity. It was already 80°F when I got started at 7am this morning, but that’s better than the 98°F it reached this afternoon! First off I dug the remaining 35 garlic plants, which were all silverskin types including Idaho Silver, Nootka Rose and Silver White. I had thought earlier the garlic bulbs were running a bit smaller than last year, but these silverskins actually seemed a bit bigger than last year’s crop. I’ll know for sure when I weigh them up after they are cured, but either way we will surely have plenty of garlic to eat for the next year or so. The plants were falling over much like onions do when they are ready to dig.

silverskin garlic ready to dig

silverskin garlic ready to dig

The silverskins are good keepers, and I always save them for using last after the other ones are done for. Nootka Rose is one of my favorites, and last year’s crop of it was still usable as of last week. All the newly harvest garlic went to the basement, where I hang them up to dry. It’s the best place we have, and with the dehumidifier running they should be fully cured in three or four weeks. At that point I trim the tops and roots and put them into shallow containers for storage.

Nootka Rose garlic

Nootka Rose garlic

I also pulled the shallots from the main garden this morning, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some had done better than I expected. All of the shallots were planted last fall from sets, and all bolted in mid to late spring, so I had low expectations. I planted Dutch Yellow and Conservor, and the Dutch Yellow actually went ahead and made some decent shallots. We typically don’t use a lot of shallots here, but that could change with homegrown ones available. The Dutch Yellow is supposed to be a good keeper, even if it isn’t as mild as some of the other shallots. My plan will be to use the bigger ones and save some of the smaller ones for replanting this fall.

Dutch Yellow Shallots

Dutch Yellow Shallots

The Conservor shallots didn’t do as well, making mostly small bulbs. The two in the below photo were the biggest of the lot. The sets I got were huge, and that might have contributed to the poor performance. If they keep, I’ll try replanting some of the small ones and see if they do better next year.

Conservor shallots

Conservor shallots

I also planted Yellow Potato Onions last fall, and I think they did quite well. They didn’t bolt like the shallots did, and matured and dried down like they are supposed to do. These are a multiplier onion I got from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and their heirloom strain dates back prior to 1790. I didn’t get any of the 4 inch bulbs mentioned in the listing, but I did get lots of nice 2 inch sized ones. I grew these in the kitchen garden area, and I think this fall I will replant them in the main garden area where soil fertility is a little better.

Yellow Potato Onions

Yellow Potato Onions

Earlier in the week I pulled all of the remaining onions from the kitchen garden bed. I grew Candy, Super Star and Red Torpedo Tropea this year, with plants from Dixondale Farms. They did better than last year, and while none of them were huge they were nice sized and will be useful in the kitchen. I plan to grow these in the main garden next year also, assuming I can find room for the onions and shallots.

onion harvest

onion harvest

Red Torpedo Tropea usually does well for me here, and is the best red I have grown here in our intermediate day latitude. They are a tasty onion, and I especially like them grilled. None of the onions I grew are storage types, but they should keep for several months and keep us well supplied.

Red Torpedo Tropea onions

Red Torpedo Tropea onions

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the 2017 alliums, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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