The Good, the Great, and the Terrible

The good in the title of this post is the Good Mother Stallard pole beans. They have taken quite a long time to produce, at least a month longer than Cherokee Trail of Tears and Rattlesnake, but I have finally started harvesting them. GMS makes plump beans that sort of remind me of the French Horticultural variety in their size and shape, though the color is different. I bought some of these beans last year for cooking, and decided to try and grow them myself this year. The results so far look promising, and I believe they will be worth the wait. They are a good bean for cooking, that much I know already.

Good Mother Stallard beans and pods

Good Mother Stallard beans and pods

closeup of Good Mother Stallard beans

closeup of Good Mother Stallard beans

It has been a great year here for summer squash. I’m still harvesting the Striata d’Italia zucchini and the Enterprise and Gentry yellow squashes, which is amazing for September. Normally the vines have died out by now, but these three are still going strong and rambling all over the place. I have hauled in over 150 pounds of summer squash already this year. Needless to say the two of us can’t eat that much, so we have given a lot of it away. We are still enjoying them while they last though. And there’s plenty in the freezer for later use. I took the big zucchini in the below photo and made stuffed zucchini with it one night for dinner, topped with some dairy-free Daiya cheese.

September harvest of Striata d' Italia, Enterprise and Gentry squash

September harvest of Striata d’ Italia, Enterprise and Gentry squash

stuffed Striata d'Italia zucchini

stuffed Striata d’Italia zucchini

The winter squash have done great too, and I have harvested 150 pounds of them as well, with quite a few large ones remaining on the vines. We’ve been giving these away too, though we have held on to most of them since they aren’t perishable like the summer types. One notable performer is Kumi Kumi (or Kamo Kamo), which is a New Zealand heirloom variety that can be used as both a summer squash and a winter squash. This variety is not for small gardens, as it has vined all over our fencing in two different directions! We haven’t tried it as a winter squash yet, but it is very good when used like zucchini. The green ribbed skin matures to a yellow/orange color.

mature and young Kumi Kumi squash

mature and young Kumi Kumi squash

And now for the terrible news, at least to me, and to our honeybees. My wife’s first visit to the hive was not a happy one. We opened up the hive prepared to harvest 7 or 8 frames of honey that were capped and ready (20-25 pounds), and what we found was a hive literally covered with the larvae of the small hive beetle (SHB). This pest crawls in the hive and lays eggs on the frames, and when they hatch the larvae start eating everything in sight, including the wax, honey, pollen and young bee larvae. It was not a pretty sight to behold.

me surveying the damage

me surveying the damage

small hive beetles on inside top cover of beehive

small hive beetles on inside top cover of beehive

hive beetle larvae crawling on top of frames

hive beetle larvae crawling on top of frames

Mind you, I had last visited the hive just a little over a week earlier, and saw no signs of the beetle larvae. But the tiny eggs hatch in 2 or 3 days, and can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. The bees can defend the hive against a small number of beetles, but when the numbers are this big they don’t stand a chance. The queen and the bees have left the hive, so we will start over next year with some new bees. Beekeeping is not a slam-dunk, easy operation for sure, and I had no delusions that our hive would escape problems. Pests like varroa mites, wax moths, and small hive beetles are always a possibility as are diseases like foulbrood and nosema. Still, this one caught me totally by surprise, as the hive was going strong and we were harvesting an incredible amount of honey. So it goes.

nothing left on this frame but SHB larvae

nothing left on this frame but SHB larvae

What’s significant in the above photo is what’s not there – no honey, pollen, bee eggs or bee larvae, just hive beetle larvae and their slimy residue. The only silver lining I can find in that cloud is that when we start over next year, my wife will be heavily involved in all the operations. She has already volunteered to paint the new hive – this time in pastel colors. How cool will that be! I’m surprised she isn’t wanting to tie-dye or marble the exterior, given her fondness for those activities with fabric and other media. At least we have a good amount of honey harvested to hold us until the next harvest, which might not be until 2015. We will see, and hope for a quick buildup next year with the new bees.

Dancer eggplant along with Alma and Dulce Rojo peppers

Dancer eggplant along with Alma and Dulce Rojo peppers

Enough of the bad news from the beehive. I’ll close with more good news from the harvest department. I’m still getting a steady harvest of eggplant, and now more and more ripe peppers are ready. In the above photo we have Dancer Eggplant along with the round Alma pepper and the long slender Dulce Rojo. Both it and the Alma are good for making paprika, which will be the subject of an upcoming post. And I harvested quite a few of the Italian eggplants last week to make a batch of Baba Ghanoush.

Nadia and Galine eggplant

Nadia and Galine eggplant

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

Many of the peppers are winding up in the dehydrator, where I am drying them for both paprika and chili powder. That’s some of the homemade paprika topping the Baba Ghanoush in the above photo. It is my new favorite thing right about now! I’m getting all sorts of ripe peppers, from Anaheim and Biggie Chili to Aji Dulce, Trinidad Perfume and Aji Angelo. I want to do some taste tests on the new peppers once I have a few more of them. I also have lots of the Happy Yummy peppers ripening now. I am trying to accumulate enough of them to make a fermented hot sauce. Last year I used them to make a lovely orange colored Sriracha-Style Hot Sauce, and I will probably make some more of that too.

Anaheim and Biggie Chili peppers

Anaheim and Biggie Chili peppers

Aji Angelo peppers

Aji Angelo peppers

ripe Big Bertha bell peppers

ripe Big Bertha bell peppers

It was great news yesterday when I found one more ripe Ambrosia melon. I thought they were done for the year, but this one managed to ripen. It was ‘only’ three pounds, but it made for a tasty and unexpected treat.

Ambrosia cantaloupe

Ambrosia cantaloupe

And last but not least, a summer planting of Verde da Taglio Chard has produced its first harvest. It was lovely chopped and sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic. The dozen plants should keep on producing until really cold weather hits.

Verde da Taglio chard

Verde da Taglio chard

That’s about it for this harvest news roundup. To see more gardening news, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA!

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20 Responses to The Good, the Great, and the Terrible

  1. Will - Eight Gate Farm - NH says:

    Sorry to hear about your hive. I kept bees for awhile many years ago, and know they are hard work. And when you don’t get the reward it can only be terrribly frustrating. You grow such unusual varieties–where do you get your seeds? I am interested in your squash and eggplants in particular.

    • Dave says:

      The seed for the eggplants in this post came from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I get my squash seed from a number of sources, including Fedco, Baker Creek, Seeds From Italy and Nichols Garden Nursey.

  2. Norma Chang says:

    So sorry to learn about your bees, that’s so heart breaking.
    The Good Mother Stallard beans are so pretty, do they lose their colors after cooking?
    Norma Chang recently posted…Harvest Monday, September 16, 2013 – Pea Shoots Update + Asian PearsMy Profile

  3. Stoney Acres says:

    A great harvest week!! But I’m really sorry to hear about your bee!!
    Stoney Acres recently posted…Monday Harvest Report – September 16, 2013My Profile

  4. Marcia says:

    Too bad about the hive. It had been doing so well. A beekeeper tried to talk me into having bees but I deferred. Your post confirms that it wouldn’t be for me.
    Marcia recently posted…What I’m HarvestingMy Profile

  5. Susan Klein says:

    Sorry to hear about the Bees, Dave. The vegetables look amazing! Thanks for the informative post.

  6. Debi says:

    so very sorry for the loss of your Bees

  7. I am sorry about the loss of bees. My eggplants did not do well at all this year, and I really have no explanation for it. Yours are lovely. I am glad you are getting so many.
    crafty_cristy recently posted…Feasting VisuallyMy Profile

  8. Dave, I love reading about your garden, even the sad story about your bee hive. It makes me sad at a distance that the beetle grubs got all of your honey harvest AND your bees. I hope your hive can recover.
    Lou Murray’s Green World recently posted…My garden in macro: insects and budsMy Profile

  9. Dan says:

    I like the look of that stuffed zucchini.
    Dan recently posted…Harvest MondayMy Profile

  10. Daphne says:

    That is so sad about the hive. I hope next year your new bees are happy there.

    Love the dried beans. They look so pretty. I spent part of today shelling my own dried beans. It looked like rain so I ran out and picked before it could start. I got most of them.

  11. Michelle says:

    The good is indeed good. GMS looks to be very productive from your photo. That is terrible what happened to your hive. It’s amazing how quickly it happened.

    I just took a look at my fermenting hot sauce. It smells great, had a bit of mold on top but seems fine, I took a tiny taste, good so far but I think it needs more time to get a bit more character. It’s been going about 10 days so I’m give it a few more days before I check it again.

    Your Aji Angelos look great! As do the rest of your peppers. My Happy Yummy plants are loaded but nothing is ripening yet, but that’s ok, there’s plenty of time left here for the peppers to ripen.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – September 16, 2013My Profile

  12. Mary Nisley says:

    I’m sorry about your bees; I know how you feel. We lost our hive early this spring. We saw them flying a few times in Jan & Feb which may have been the problem – they were too active in the warm winter and used up all their stores plus spring was later than usual lately.

    So after some serious thought, we decided we are not beekeepers and gave away the remaining equipment. There are lots of pollinators in the neighborhood – both honey bees and solitary bees forage in my garden so I’ll try to encourage them.
    Mary Nisley recently posted…Harvest Monday 9/16/2013 Watermelons!My Profile

  13. Shawn Ann says:

    What a bummer about the bees! That would be so disappointing! The rest of your harvest looks great though. I like the squash. Did you see my Longneck pumpkin last week? It was my biggest one at 12 lbs. I do enjoy your suggestions.
    Shawn Ann recently posted…Harvest Monday 9/16/13My Profile

  14. Jason says:

    Bad news about the hive. It’s hard to compete with nature’s 24/7 schedule. At least you got honey, and the chops to get back at it next year.

    Any tips for getting a load of dry beans? I haven’t had quite the harvest you have.
    Jason recently posted…PropsMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      I’m still learning about dry beans myself. This year the bush bean Jacobs Cattle was most productive for the given amount of space. I want to experiment with another bush type next year. Certain varieties definitely do better in certain climates, so I think finding something that works in your own garden is the key.

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