Last week brought our first real frost of the fall season, and also a hard freeze. With temperatures expected to fall to near 25°F Sunday morning, that meant it was time for a sweep of the garden to harvest anything that couldn’t handle those temps.
I had several heads of cabbage that were pretty much ready to harvest. Cabbage can take some frost, but I didn’t want to lose the heads to a deep freeze so I cut them all on Friday. I wound up with about eight pounds of it all told. That was perfect for making more sauerkraut, plus having a bit for other things too. I love the flathead KY Cross for flavor, and I also had a few small heads of Parel and Farao.
Right next to the cabbages I had some Kossak kohlrabi that was also ready to harvest. I think kohlrabi does better here in spring, but I still grow it in fall anyway. The Kossak produced six pounds from as many plants, which is certainly enough to make growing it worthwhile in fall. I had plans to make kraut with some of it too. There was a lot of slug damage to the skin, but since I always cut the peel off it really doesn’t hurt anything.
While I was in the Brassica bed I cut several of the last main heads of broccoli. When I started plants for fall I cleaned out some old seed so I could trial several varieties. I wound up with a nice succession of harvests, and I also found out how they all perform in fall. That’s Imperial in the above photo. The largest of the heads weighed right at one pound.
And I finally cut one head from the two Arcadia plants, which weighed right at eight ounces. The other plant is just now thinking about starting a head. That’s the Arcadia in the above photo, plus some side shoots I cut from other plants. Needless to say, broccoli will be on the menu a lot for a few days, since we have plenty frozen already from the spring planting. Fortunately my wife and I both love it, and for the most part I never get tired of eating it. Of all the varieties I grew this fall, Packman was the first to produce, followed by Diplomat and Green Magic, then Imperial and Arcadia.
Since I was planning to make sauerkraut, I decided to pull a few of the biggest Tsugaru Scarlet turnips. These have a red skin and sweet white flesh. They will make a pretty turnip kraut, and I may make pickle some as well.
With all that produce coming in on the same day, the refrigerator was going to be stuffed, so I went ahead and made sauerkraut. I cut the cabbage into fine shreds with a knife, and used a medium grater for the kohlrabi and turnips. You can read about how I make this in-the-jar sauerkraut with: Homemade Sauerkraut. It should be ready to eat in about a week, though we still have a bit left from what I made back in July.
I also decided to bring in all of the winter squash left on the vines. The Thai squash Rai Kaw Tok had set quite a few fruit late in the season. I brought in five of them that seemed mature, with a hard rind. The five in the above photo weighed a total of 49 pounds.
The largest one maxed out our digital scale, so I had to use the old fashioned one instead. I called it 13 lbs, 11 oz, which makes it the largest squash I harvested in 2014. I had to pry this one out of the fencing where it had decided to grow.
Not to be outdone, the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash put on three late fruits itself. Two of them have turned tan, and I am sure they will be usable. The other one has a hard but still somewhat greenish rind. I am not sure if it will be edible or not, but I think we will have plenty of winter squash to eat regardless. The three squash weighed right at 12 pounds, making it a total of 61 pounds of winter squash for the day.
A day earlier I cleaned the pepper plants of all of the sweet peppers and all of the hot peppers I wanted to use. The two cayenne plants are so prolific I can’t use them all. Next year I need to plant just one cayenne. I won’t bore you with photos of all the peppers, but the above shot shows some of the bell peppers. I chopped and froze most of the green ones for later use.
I harvested quite a few peppers that I wanted to smoke. In the above photo is the orange Sweet Happy Yummy and the red Dulce Rojo. I know both of these dry well, so I thought I would try smoking them first. I also targeted some of the jalapenos and other hot peppers for smoking. I decided to try smoking the peppers a couple of different ways.
I used my gas grill for one batch and my Weber charcoal grill for the other. I used dry apple wood chips wrapped in heavy duty foil as a source for the smoke. Using the gas grill proved to be difficult, as it was hard to keep the chips smoking without overheating the grill. The charcoal grill was much easier, and once the chips were smoking I damped down the fire and let it slowly smoke for about two hours. Michelle (From Seed To Table) did such a great job describing the process with her post on Smoking Peppers that I won’t go into any more detail here. Now the peppers are in the dehydrator, where they will stay until they are thoroughly dried. I will be sure and share the results once they are done.
Today I hope to get the garlic crop planted, but first I have to finish prepping the bed by adding compost and a few other amendments. Later this week I am hoping my wife and I can have a soap-making session. I am anxious to try a new neem oil soap recipe I’ve come up with, plus a soap using calendula infused oils. I hope you have enjoyed this look at what’s going on here in a frosty November. To see what others are harvesting and cooking from the garden, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.